I am so bad at video games. Truly. So. Bad. I’m so bad at video games that the average person would have to really work at it to suck as much as I do. I’m so bad at video games that my son asks me to play Mario Brothers with him when he needs a laugh. It’s a standing joke in our family.
Last night I was listening to him talk about all the things he was doing in his Minecraft world; all the nuances of survival and making his gear. I was laughing because it was so involved, but also because I’ve learned enough Minecraft vocabulary to ask intelligent-sounding questions.
“I should set you up in your own Minecraft world, Mom. Then you can build whatever you want,” he said.
I laughed some more.
“What??!” he asked.
“Thanks, but no thanks,” I answered. “Playing video games isn’t my thing.” It’s like folding laundry- I don’t hate it, but I wouldn’t choose it. it’s more like something annoying that takes up time.
“As a matter of fact,” I said, “I can think of 20 things right off the top of my head that I’d rather do than play video games…”
Of course he made me name them.
- Read a book
- Learn a tap combination
- Make homemade cards
- Draw something
- Bake something
- Write a letter (“When’s the last time you did that?” he asked sarcastically. “Last month, wise guy, to your grandparents.” I answered.)
- Organize a desk drawer
- Do yoga/meditate
- Take a walk in the woods
- Go shopping (“You like to shop??” he asked. “Whose kid are you?” I asked back. “Of course I like to shop. Not grocery shop!” Oldest Daughter fires out in the background, “She comes home with a new bag every week!”)
- Drink a latte (“That’s it?? Just sit and drink coffee?!” he can’t believe it. “Yes. Absolutely,” I replied.)
- Take a random drive
- Take my camera out and go on a photo shoot
- Go to a bookstore
- Learn a new craft
- Cook dinner
I was cooking dinner as I rattled off my list and every now and then I’d have to pause to concentrate on not burning myself.
He took my pauses for a failure to name my full twenty things for my list. Meaning that it justified his fulfilling love of video games and negated my premise that there were many other worthwhile things to do.
“HA!” he proclaimed.
“HA! Back at you!” I yelled over the smoking stove as I completed my list. “I named 20 things!”
“Ok, now you have to come up with 20 MORE things,” he challenged me.
“Why?” I wasn’t taking the bait. They always bait me.
“Because you kept pausing… you took too long…”
We sat down to dinner. I’d made my point.
There are a select few video games I’ll play with my kids, a few I do enjoy (dare I even admit this?) But they’re Wii games- bowling (which I’m actually good at), archery, duel (which I suck at, but it’s hilarious). The Wii games are more active participation than just passive- button-pressing. Passive-button pressing is like watching paint dry for me.
The kids have roped us (the parents, that is) into playing the latest passive-button pressing video game: “Among Us,” a game app on your phone that has you join a game with family, friends, or random strangers. Each person is a different colored avatar space guy on a ship and one of you is secretly labeled the “imposter” who has to kill as many guys as he can without being discovered and voted off the ship. If you’re voted off, you’re seen flying out into the great space void. If the imposter can kill everyone but two people, he wins. If the “crewmates” can each complete all of the tasks on the ship in various rooms, they win. Or if they guess who the imposter is and vote him out before he kills them…
There are several problems I encounter when I play this game. I have extremely poor remote control, so my avatar mostly runs in circles bumping into walls. I have poor spatial awareness and can’t picture the map of the ship versus where I am in space (literally and figuratively). Even when I click on the map, I have trouble, because you can’t really see the game properly- the map is an overlay and obscures your view of the game. And because I have poor remote control and poor spatial awareness, I rarely complete the ship’s tasks. Which I didn’t know actually mattered until recently. Or maybe I just lack the motivation.
I thought if I could just run around and not get killed, it would be ok. I was participating, right?
“Mom!” Oldest Daughter shouted. “You have to do your tasks! That’s how you beat the Imposter!”
“Sorry,” I muttered. They found me out.
Remember that game “Manhunt” when you were a kid? I was always that kid that stayed hidden and quiet and made it to the end of the game because I didn’t take any risks and wasn’t the aggressor.
It’s about survival. Kind of like parenting teens. Right? Except for the staying hidden and quiet part. Even though sometimes you wish you could.