Letter from Gonzalo (frasca.at.dragonbox.com) - October 2020
We briefly emailed me about a decade ago about my
Indiana Jones flipper. You were incredibly kind with your help and advice and
that kindness stuck with me during all these years. I'm a videogame designer (I'm based in Uruguay but I work at
a Norwegian company, DragonBox, making games and books to learn math - we're
also part of Kahoot!, the game quiz company). Anyway, as I said, I always remembered your kindness and
your super interesting job at NASA. As a writer, I sometimes collaborate with
Revista Late, which is a magazine written by Latin American journalists. A few
weeks ago, as part of their newsletter, I wrote this text about the importance
of playfulness and yourself.
I hope this finds you well.
Hello, my name is Gonzalo Frasca. Next week I will be 48
years old. I play. Since always. With stones. With sticks. With words. Dancing.
Scribbling. Alone or accompanied. Since ever. I also play with screens. I
played making television programs. I played on online news sites. Now I play
making video games. It is easy to assume that making video games and playing
them are two similar activities. They are not. Eating and cooking are radically
different, although you have to know how to eat to cook. People think I spend my time playing video games. I don't. I
try less and less but I look for those that change my way of seeing the world.
In the living room of my house, it is true, there is a video
game console. But there is also a flipper (or pinball, as the gringos call it).
I bought it many years ago when my cousin Pablo died. I don't play much but
when I play I think about him. I bought the pinball machine with money I made making video
games from Uruguay. A couple of decades ago very few people created video games
in Latin America. Today, fortunately, there are many more.
It shows Indiana and his father. Harrison Ford and Sean
Connery. Indiana Jones and the last crusader. One of my favorite movies. When I
saw it in the cinema I liked it so much that I sat down and watched it again.
The pinball machine was old when I bought it. Many parts
didn't work. I had no idea how to fix flippers. But I did know that things can
be fixed. I learned that as a kid, watching my dad put together and take apart,
change wires and plugs.
I'm tempted to write that there were more friendly strangers
on the Internet before, but I realize that's an old-fashioned comment. Part of
the daily exercise to keep the place child resistant is to play every day and
have an internal alarm against old fart comments. The alarm is failing me more and
more, but I don't give up.
Ed Cheung is from Aruba. He lives in the United States.
Besides repairing flippers he works at NASA. Among other things, he worked on
the Hubble Telescope and the Space Station.
I don't know Dr. Ed Cheung. I only wrote to him once. But I bet he plays. I know he's played since forever. And I'm betting my moose head that he's going to keep playing until the end of his days.
Link to the article in Spanish:
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)