Parallel Universes Discovered in Havana Lockdown

Por Paula Henriquez

HAVANA TIMES – We are in a time when the world is experiencing one of its worst crises in recent history. Social distancing stops being an alternative or individual choice, when people seek refuge in other colorful and dreamlike realities.

They are virtual worlds full of interesting stories that put our skills to the test. There are many creative styles or genres. I think about this and many other things, while watching my husband on his computer.

It’s been a long time since he’s had so much free time to dip his feet in these waters… me too. I wasn’t that interested in it either, not like I am now.

I’m sure that this videogame mania isn’t something that has popped up with this pandemic. According to my husband, the reality is that the first prototypes first appeared in the ‘50s, soon after World War 2. Of course, they were not being called videogames at that time, they were just very simple and experimental electronic games. However, they laid the foundations for what was to come afterwards.

The arrival of the “Ataris” in Cuba

It wasn’t until the ‘70s that the world of digital entertainment took a really significant leap forward. It started to take real shape with the birth of Atari, an icon in the entertainment industry. It was so popular here in my country (Cuba) that it was normal for us to call any videogame console or platform “Atari”, even if they belonged to another company.

My generation began to enjoy the growing phenomenon a little later, due to the limitations here at the time. “Ataris” were only found in homes where a family member, had a chance to travel abroad, like sailors. Although, there were also a few recreational spaces where you could start seeing these devices.

This parallel universe didn’t escape my husband. Although he told me that he wasn’t so lucky to have a sailor in the family. Nevertheless, he managed to enjoy playing these much-desired devices. If there’s one thing that defines us Cubans, it’s that we know how to share whatever we have, I think.

Somebody would always turn up with a console and some games, another person would turn up with a TV and connect it up, and then it would be ready for adventures. It was a period full of shortages, but he remembers it with nostalgia, he tells me.

We finally reached the conclusion that friends continue to meet up, but remotely. New telecommunication technology allows us to play a lot of well-elaborated, complex and well-thought out games, real masterpieces, in real time and online.

At the end of the day, this virtual encounter is what the current situation calls for. It is one of the many options that allows us to keep in touch, to not lose our relationships. While at the same time keeping the much-needed physical distance we need today.

We are adventurers with our own avatars, sharing a story or fighting a common enemy. If we look at it this way, we might not miss the times when sat on the floor all together.

Read more diary posts from Paula Henriquez