It’s my fault. It is entirely my fault. I know this deep down inside yet I can’t bring myself to overcome it. I created the problem. My girls won’t play softball, baseball, soccer, ringette or hockey no matter how hard I try. I would gladly coach. Instead, I sit through dance classes and gymnastics. Don’t get me wrong, watching them learn and grow at those is still rewarding but I sit, watch and I can’t participate. I figured maybe at least I might be able to get them to play games with me. I brought the DS’s, 360’s, Wii, and PS3’s into the house and made each available to them. I hoped that we could enjoy one of my favorite pastimes together. That is, until they did.
Playing most video games with my girls requires a level of patience no man can possess. They don’t play games the same way I do and they don’t play games the same way the other one does either. It isn’t the game that we play as I can get over a bad game if I am having a good time...I am just not having a good time.
Looty Loot Loot!
In many games that I allow them to play and play with them (think Mario, the Lego series of games, Skylanders, Disney universe, etc) I like to bash and collect the loot. I like to find the secrets that I can without it becoming too much of a chore for them. I like unlocking other characters or upgrading the ones I have. Collecting and upgrading is mainly the point of these types of games. Loot is required to upgrade, upgrade is required to advance and not die a humiliating death or at least have enough lives to survive. For some reason this concept is completely lost on them.
I call my oldest daughter “The Runner”. Her main goal is to get to the end of the mission as fast as she can. That is all she cares about. No matter how many times both Mrs. Soup and I explain that you need to explore to find coins or Mickey ears or Lego studs to unlock more of the game it doesn’t register. When we play co-op we keep having to tell her to stop running ahead as more often than not we get stuck, eaten, beatup, exploded, in a bubble, cursed, shot, etc. “Stop!, Stop moving! STOP!...just STOP!” and then I / we die. “sigh...”
In many cases she is then left to fend for herself in the game at which point she either dies or hands me the controller to get her through. Meanwhile I sit and listen to her grumble and complain that its getting hard or that she doesn’t want to play anymore. “This is so much fun!” I think to myself in a very sarcastic fashion. Worse yet is when she does this and offs her younger sister. “Great! Tears and yelling...I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids...”
The S... Disturber
Speaking of the younger one, she is a bundle of joy and happiness. She loves making others happy and I enjoy her spirit immensely. In the game world though, she has the makings of becoming a world class griefer. When the older one is running ahead the younger one is shooting, clubbing, batarang-ing, spell-ing everything and everyone except what she is supposed to.
Spell blast pushed me off the edge? That was her. “Sorry Daddy..heehee”
Being shot at when no baddies are around? That was her. “I’m sooooorry dad...hahaha”
Getting smacked by someone from your own team? That was her. “heh, heh, heh”
Someone destroyed your house/crafting table/ furnace/minecart etc...that was her too.
God forbid you go AFK for a minute. That is a golden opportunity for her to do whatever her evil little heart desires and my character is more often than not the target. I put up with it for a while. I asked her to stop, told her that it wasn’t nice to ruin other peoples games/experiences. “okay daddy. Can you get me a drink please?” I agree, I leave, I come back, I’m dead...she’s killing herself laughing...I walk away.
Even through all of this I will play games with the kids. Some are better than others. Mario Kart is one where it is mostly civil save for a turtle or two being thrown at each other. The Hasbro Family Game Night series actually works quite well even though it too has it’s moments (I’m looking at you Jenga and Sorry). Board games like Bingo, Monopoly and Pictureka work fairly well also.
Anything but that!
I play those games with them when they ask and I will even pick up the controller for some of the others but there are two games that I will not and CAN NOT play: Minecraft and Little Big Planet. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand why both games are popular. Each game lets you build your own world and level and they love that. They spend hours customizing their sack person in the most ridiculous fashions they can. They have spent days upon days digging out caves and caverns trying to find gold and redstone and whatever else is down in the middle of Minecraft earth. I don’t play like that. There is no “point”. I like direction, a purpose, a reason for doing what I am doing. I know there is a level and a purpose in LBP but they don’t play that way. They found a skateboard level where they hang on, ride down and fling off. They will repeat that level for hours.
As for Minecraft. You mine...you craft...you sleep...you mine...you craft...you sleep. When it was first available for the 360 they saw the little ad scroll by and asked what it was. Next thing I know I was downloading the demo. Two months later I shelled out the coin for it as they were tired of always starting from scratch. In the beginning I had to teach them how to mine...craft...sleep until they were capable on their own. At that point I was out and let them be.
The issue that really gets under my skin the most about all of this is a feeling that I’ve lost my “fun”. I hear screams of laughter, terror and discovery as they build things because they can, not because they need to. They ride that skateboard watching their sack persons stretch and tumble and fling and never get bored. They find a pig to ride that farts toxic gas that kills baddies.
Maybe one day I’ll come to appreciate that type of play and live in their world for a while. Maybe, but for now I’ve got some looting to do in Borderlands.
About the Author
Tim “ChunkySoup” Dorscher started his gaming career with a bit of luck. His Tiny-Mite hockey team had a “pay what you pull” draw that netted his parents $300. The next morning, his parents foolishly let the family put their wish lists in a hat and drew a name. That fateful day started it all as not only was his name picked, he came home with an Atari 2600 with Combat and Dodge’em. Many consoles and PC upgrades later, he still likes blowing stuff up and refuses to use his brakes. He loves playing games on his own or with his two kids, fetch with his dogs and sitting on the couch for a little co-op gaming with Mrs.Soup.