Happy Father’s Day, blogosphere!
It’s my first Father’s Day as a father to a human creature. And since Milo’s only 9 months old, I haven’t had much luck getting him to play games with me. Occasionally I’ll give him a PS3 controller with a dead battery to play with, but he mostly just chews on it.
I’m looking forward to the day when we can obliterate digital enemies together, leaving naught but kinship and bloodstains in our path. It will be great! It will be another generation of nerds, bound by a need for simulated destruction. Oh, and also genetics.
It’s a legacy, really. Some of my earliest memories are of visits to the arcade with my Dad. We would share a handful of tokens and partake in such gems as Smash TV and Galaga. But Smash TV was our favorite. The original twin-stick co-op shooter.
It was an age when men did not change diapers, and our visits to the arcade bonded us. It was our time together, and even though we spent it more or less wordlessly, it didn’t matter. We were partners. We had each other’s back and if I died needlessly, he was always there with another quarter. It was good, clean, bloody, violent fun!
In the end, it was arcades that died needlessly. And all the quarters in the world can’t respawn them. I mean, there are still a few. But not how it used to be. (Orange Julius has changed too, but that’s for a different blog.) I’m sure many readers of this post can remember the joy and endless possibility of the video arcade. The smell of nerds and pocket change. The grizzled arcade manager with his greasy apron who would only retrieve your lost quarters if he felt like it. All that stuff.
So yeah. That’s over. Arcades made way for home systems that offered quality gaming experiences without having to leave the house.
And then my Dad got a computer. With some crazy thing called Windows 95. Somehow, he avoided the debilitating Doom and Quake addictions that I still suffer with, but once I showed him Half Life, it was game over. He was hooked.
And as my Dad approaches retirement, he still enjoys a quality FPS. He actually managed to get my Mom into Left 4 Dead and I see them on Steam playing rather often. I joined in once, but my own play schedule usually doesn’t allow for it. When Fallout 4 came out, he conveniently scheduled a doctor appointment that would necessitate calling in to work. Good thinkin’, Dad!
So on Father’s Day, I’m reflecting on what got me into this gaming garbage to begin with. What is it that drives me to keep playing?
The satisfaction of gaming goes back to simpler times when men were men, women could shop, and their husbands, sons and brothers could be sufficiently distracted at the mall.
It’s hard for my wife to understand, I think. She tolerates it, especially now that I call this “work.” But for me, gaming isn’t about rescuing princesses or defeating cyborgs or even saving the stupid-ass Earth. It’s about remembering the feeling of camaraderie and togetherness. It’s about moving forward through adversity, simulated or otherwise. Gaming’s about appreciating the wonder of created worlds together, whether as a community, a family, or just two dudes with a roll of quarters.
So here’s to all the Dads out there, gamer of otherwise. And here’s to all the sons and daughters that managed to remember and make that phone call. Whatever our zombies may be, we all frag better, together.
Happy Father’s Day.