In the run up to Christmas the issue of parents getting presents wrong raises its socially awkward head.

Personally I'm rather glad that my family doesn't really do presents any more. Tasty food and good company is preferable to anxiety and awkwardness that would happen when we did things the traditional way. I wouldn't say I was a spoilt child but I certainly wanted things, as kids do. Hopefully my parents have forgiven me for that by now, but I doubt it. I'll probably continue to be repentant and apologetic for the rest of my days. Sure, I was just a little lad and I was hardly Veruca Salt but they still deserve better. I don't think it helped having peers receiving vast mountains of gifts, admittedly.

On the more positive side there were many wonderful gifts. Starfox 64 (in the big box with the rumble pak) was probably one of the best gifts. I don't still play it, although I still have it, but that only means I don't play specifically that cartridge. I still love the game!

I was fortunate though and don't recall receiving any video games that didn't match the systems I owned. I suppose it was a little easier as I only had a Gameboy Pocket (obtained by trading things with someone at school) and an N64 (saved up for). Friends had things like the NES, SNES, Master System, MegaDrive, and so on, but not me. That isn't supposed to be a moan, it's to clarify that there were plenty of systems around but by the time I had one the market was essentially it and the PlayStation, simplifying things for my folks.

What confuses me is that to this day there are stories of parents giving the wrong games as gifts. It was a minor plot point in a Simpsons episode...in 1995 and a bit of a cliché at the time. When it comes to presents I could understand if a child wasn't clear what they wanted but when is that ever the case?

I don't know about you but when I was little I knew precisely what I wanted when it came to toys! If anything as I've got older it has got hazier making me much harder to buy for, but back then I remember really wanting the Action Man Stealth Jet. It would cost about £84 in today's money, so pretty pricey. If I didn't get something I consider myself lucky in that I wouldn't get something like it. That doesn't seem to be true of many others though, even today.

I can almost understand my parents' generation making mistakes about these things. What confuses me is about today's parents. Did they not experience this as children?

It's especially baffling when it comes to console games. They're colour coded. A quick glance at a child's games collection would be enough to see which they have. Hell, listening to them for a few minutes and making notes would be enough. Instead we still seem to have parents that call ever games console a "Nintendo" (or in the US for some they're still all "Atari"). How can they manage to discern which kind of coffee they like, or how to do their jobs?

Now that home video games are on their fifth decade it's getting more than a little pathetic. Confusion about which game a child wants is fine, but what it's to be played on? Do people still receive second hand VHS cassettes when they only have a blu-ray player?

Actually, they probably do. Nevermind!

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