A Video Game Lesson
[Today’s Tale is in the printed Seminole Chronicle but not in their online version. Here it is!]
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved video games. When I was a kid, I played them every chance I could. I started with Pong, then Space Invaders, Defender, Donkey Kong, and all the rest. That kid in the pizza parlor standing on the cardboard box so he could reach the controls to play Galaga? Yeah, that was me.
About ten years ago, however, I had to call it quits. My wake up call came, quite literally, from my alarm clock. You know you have a problem when your evening computer game is interrupted by your alarm clock the next morning.
Despite leaving the hobby behind, I always knew, deep down in my heart of hearts, that I could still play. It was a fundamental part of my being, a well-understood part of who I am. So when we picked up the Nintendo Wii for the kids a few weeks ago, I understood that I was going to have to take it easy on them. It’s one thing to beat up on your peers, but another to crush your 6 year old son.
The Wii has a controller unlike any I’ve ever seen before. You literally wave it around to play the game. The system senses the controller’s movements and translates them into the game. When you’re bowling, for example, you pretend that you’re holding a ball and make the movement you would make if you were actually bowling.
My six year old couldn’t wait to play. Once I had it set up, I gave him the controller and showed him how to work it.
“Uh-huh, okay, okay,” he said, waving me away.“Let’s play, Daddy! Let’s play!”
“But I haven’t shown you how to -”
“Let’s just play, Daddy! Let’s play!”
“Okay,” I said. Like all parents, I’m always ready to take advantage of an opportunity to teach. In this case, I thought, I could both teach the big guy the importance of listening, and unleash some of my crazy video game skills.
“Here we go,” I said. I held the controller, swung my arm back, and flung it forward. The video bowling ball rocketed down the lane, curved to the left, and knocked over a single pin.
My son laughed. “Good one, Daddy! You got one!”
Hmph. I adjusted a bit and rolled again, knocking over three more pins.
“Your turn,” I said.
He jumped in front of the TV and started hopping frenetically. He threw his arms around in big circles and leaped from side to side.
“Wait,” I called. “Don’t forget that you have to –” Too late. The video game ball rolled sedately down the lane and knocked the pins over, all of the pins. The on-screen audience cheered, and the announcer announced the strike.
The little guy threw his hands up in victory. “Hooray! Your turn, Daddy!”
“Huh? What?” It took me a moment to recover. My world, after all, had just tilted.
I don’t need to recount the rest of the game. He crushed me. Then he crushed me again, and again. As we turned it off, I recognized another teaching opportunity.
“I’m going to beat you next time,” I said. “I’m going to practice, and get better, and I’m going to win next time.”
“We’ll see about that,” he said, smiling. “We’ll see about that.”
The next day, after I had spent a great deal of time practicing, he beat me again, but not quite as badly. “Hey, you got better, Daddy! You did!”
I tried to smile. “I’m gonna keep practicing. I’m gonna get you. Just you wait!”
He laughed. “We’ll see about that, Daddy.We’ll see about that.”
Unfortunately, I think we will.