Dad Frank is a console game fiend. One day he realized that his daughters had not fallen far from his tree. Here’s what happened.
It warms my heart to see them get excited to turn on the Wii U and start playing “Skylanders” or “Mario Kart 8”. I know this is not hardcore gaming, but they are still little. They should not be getting into “Assassin’s Creed” or “Call of Duty”. To them, this is just as exciting. Their tiny hands grip the controller with the same strength as mine does when I used to play “Madden”. Their faces mug all the pain of not reaching an objective in the game as mine did when I used to play “Final Fantasy Tactics”. They have tasted the thrill of collecting coins and defeating mutated mushrooms and they are hungry for more. One problem, they know far more about gaming than I do now.
There was a time when I was somewhat of a console gaming fiend. I started later than most, but caught up quickly. This was mostly due to my job writing for a gaming website. I had access to or owned all the “classic” systems. I even had a Japanese Dreamcast before they came out in the States. Sigh, those were the days. The most recent consoles owned before the Wii U came into our home were an ancient Game Boy Color and a PlayStation 2. I knew how to operate those systems because they were easy. Put a cartridge in, play. Put a disc in, play. That was it. Not anymore.
When my oldest daughter asked me to play “Disney’s Infinity” with her, I was more than happy to do so. I could not wait to take control of Thor and destroy things with Mjolnir. Turns out I could wait. I had to wait a long time, actually. I had to wait for the system to update all of its out-of –the- box software. I had to wait for the game to update the software that did not come on the disc. Okay, I can handle that since it is not something I will have to do every time I play. Updates are done, time to play. Kind of…
My daughter placed her Elsa character on the game pad and then put Thor beside it. Our characters sprung to life and we began to run around what is called the Toy Box. As if she were born to a race of beings that could interface with any control pad, my daughter started making Elsa do her bidding. Grappling hook, check. Jump around, check. Shoot icy blasts, check. Do you want to build a castle? (I know some of you expected me to say snowman, wrong character.) She did it with no problem. She was creating a world before my eyes and I was so happy watching her go to work. My happiness soon faded when I tried to recreate what she was doing.
I saw Thor on the television screen. I knew he was there waiting for me to do something. I could make him stumble around. I could even run in circles. That was it. What the hell? This controller cannot be working properly. I began pushing random buttons to see what they did. That did not help. Thor looked as if he was convulsing in a meadow, not wielding his hammer against his foes. Anger…rising…was I going to have to *gulp* ask one of my daughters how to play???
About a week went by and I started learning how to control the various characters. Thor was no longer relegated to being a village idiot and could now fly around and fry his enemies with a bolt of lightning. I had learned the basics and could now hold my own…or so I thought. My family came up for a birthday party and my daughters wanted to show their cousin their games. I had a chance to play and eagerly grabbed the controller to show everyone what was up. Within five minutes I found myself calling for my older daughter for help. I could not navigate a menu. How do I get off of this screen? Why is Thor carrying a wand? My ears were turning red, palms sweating, gaming credibility…waning. I knew that I had lost all of my gaming cred when my mother started laughing at me. “Boy, it sure is funny to see you need help with this game, Frankie!” That sentence sent me into a spiral of shame. The once proud gaming veteran needed the help of an eight year-old girl.
While the moment was humbling, it also made me smile. It was one of those odd family moments where a torch is passed. No, it was not me handing over the keys to the family business. I was not giving her the deed to the family farm. I was not handing over my cape and cowl for her to protect Gotham. It was a simple acknowledgement that my little girls were now gamers and that opens up a whole new world for us to share.
Header Photo; Flickr/Stormline