The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Saturday, May 19, 2012

MGCCon: Malaysian Games and Comics Convention: a strange reaction.

Today, I brought my two elder sons to see the Malaysian Games and Comics Convention, at KDU University College, Damansara Jaya. The reason for doing so was simple: Ainan was participating at the Astromedia stall, as an animator. In his one hour in the booth, he created a comedic animation – a short tale about the life and times of two rabbits. It was very funny. Yet, that is not why I write...something else is.

Whilst I was doing a tour of the booths at the convention, I came across one that was clearly marketing an online game. It was by Garena. I looked curiously at the game paraphernalia on display. At that point, a young man in attendance approached me.

“Have you ever played computer games?”, he asked, in a curiously condescending manner. He seemed to look at me as if no-one as old as me could possibly have ever experienced such pursuits.

“Yes.” I replied very mildly and softly, though well aware of what he thought about me.

He seemed hesitant, as if he still didn’t believe me.

“What have you played?”, he asked, seemingly convinced that the answer wouldn’t be much.


“Oh, Oblivion!”, he dismissed. “This is very different from that.”

He then went on to explain why this game was different from the one I was familiar with.

“Would you like to open an account?”, he asked, at the end of his pitch. “If you do, we will give you the free goodies.”

I looked at the bag of goodies, back at the screen where an account opening procedure awaited me and then back up at him.

“What is the subscription?”

“Oh it is free.”

“Is it an online game?”


“I’ll be back.”, I said and walked away.

Little did he know, but he had lost me the moment he spoke condescendingly to me. The young are sometimes so very stupid. They believe themselves to be superior to the old – and yet, in almost every way, they are the inferior of their elders. This young man looked down on me because I was more than twice his age. He thought that I could not conceivably have any experience of modern gaming culture. So he treated me, from the very beginning, as some kind of lesser life form. It came through in his every word, tone of voice, attitude and demeanour. He just thought I wasn’t likely to have any experience of the kind of game he was marketing. Yet, of course, I have a very good idea of what kind of game he was selling. I have played similar games in my life – as most people have.

There was another reason I didn’t sign up for his game. I really didn’t like the idea of bringing another addictive gaming experience into the house, to waste everyone’s time on. There was no beneficial or productive reason to do so. The kind of product he shifted, is corrosive to family life, in I would just rather not get involved. So, I actually turned down a FREE game!

The truth, of course, is that I knew rather more about his type of game than he realized – which is just why I didn’t “buy” it. That, and his attitude, of course.

I never did go back to his stall, though I passed it by many times in the course of the afternoon.

For me, the highlight of the event was seeing Ainan’s animation. It was by far the most creative thing I saw there. 

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:40 PM 


Blogger Adelaide Dupont said...

Yes, Valentine:

In this sense and in these circumstances - a convention can be very ... conventional, especially when it is focused on selling things, rather than creating concepts and meeting people.

Would love to see Ainan's rabbit animation.

Really do not like the stop-you-at-the-door approach or bait-and-switch.

I know which company I'll remember in future: Astromedia or something similar, rather than Garena.

(You can see why many comic and game people might like to find out about things for themselves or use peer-to-peer marketing).

2:50 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I am in a hurry, but Astromedia is a company with which Ainan has been taking computer animation courses...with noticeable progress and success.

Yes. I rather agree...peer to peer information is important in this context.

Thanks for your comment.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Ivan said...

Hi Mr Cawley,

Ivan here from KDU and I'm glad you brought your kid to the event. Its cool to see more parents really being open to the idea of their kids learning animation being an animator myself.

I hope the incident with the salesperson did not mar your experience or perception too much.
We are running game development courses and at times I personally find myself out of touch with the latest games on the market. :D
I resort to watching videos of games nowadays just to understand some of their lingo.

But again, thanks for coming to the event and we hope you had a blast.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you Ivan, for your kind words.

The boys enjoyed the convention - but mainly because they used the time to create an animation.

Computer games are much alike these days. There are broad categories in which all examples have many things in common - so you really don't need to have played every game, to have a good idea of what the games involve. This is, perhaps, an indication of a lack of imagination on the part of games designers. Games should be more varied and unique...but are generally not.

I have played enough games to know what they are about. The rate of change of game technology is not so impressive that one can become truly "out of date" in a short time. At least that is my take on it.

Good luck teaching Games Development!

1:10 PM  
Blogger EbTech said...

On the subject of games, I recently played Braid and whole-heartedly recommend it. It feels like a unique blend of art and science. Short but memorable.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for the recommendation EbTech...I shall find out more about it and see if my kids might like it.


10:35 PM  

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