I’m a last

minute Christmas shopper – I admit it freely. I like to soak up the energy of

all those people running around scrambling for gifts. But it does have its


For my

10-year old niece this year, I decided to get her

href=”http://www.microsoft.com/games/zootycoon/zoo2/”>Zoo Tycoon 2 for the

PC. She is starting to get interested in her uncle’s favorite hobby, so I

thought I’d encourage it. Besides, she really enjoyed Zoo Tycoon 1 and she is

really good at managing the various aspects of a zoo in the game – managing a

multitude of events and interrelated transactions is a skill that will be very

important as she grows up no matter what she chooses as a profession. Read


Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter

for further explanation of that idea.

Anyway, in

the excitement I purchased the expansion pack not the original box. I didn’t

realize this until Christmas Eve when it was too late to do anything about it.

Being clever, I thought I’d download it from

href=”http://www.direct2drive.com/”>Direct2Drive on Christmas morning.

Buying it that way meant that my niece’s fun would only be delayed a few

minutes. Wrong!


doesn’t license its software online yet. I contemplated downloading an illegal

copy in protest, but thought better of it. The next day I went and purchased

the original and installed it for her. Of course, that wasn’t the end of it.

Zoo Tycoon

2 is 3D and requires a 3D graphics card, which my brother’s 2-year old Sony VAIO

did not have. I know because when I advised him what to buy back then, after he

assured me several times that no games would ever be played on this new PC, I

said he could save some money with integrated graphics. Luckily, the daze of

last minute Christmas shopping had worn off and I came prepared with an old

GeForce 3 video card I had in my stash of spare parts.

Once I got

the card installed and then the games, everything was fine and my niece was

happy. And once again I was a hero.

The moral

of the story – shop earlier, pay attention to what you are buying, and never

“save” money with integrated video. And never believe it when someone

says no games will be played on their PCs – that’s a delusion.