There are a lot of parents that just don’t understand gamers. They think that video games rot your brain and say stupid things like, “why don’t you go outside and play like other kids?” This, of course, sounds idiotic when they also say things like, “If everyone was jumping off a bridge would you do it too?”
As my generation of gamers come into adulthood and start families and raise children of our own, what will we teach the younger generation about gaming? Will we be willing participants and stay up to date on the games that are popular to them? Or will we become so entrenched with other aspects of life that gaming sort of drifts away? Maybe it’ll be something more along the lines of the damn arthritis in my hands can’t let me use a controller properly. Will some of us be like our parents that thought all the violence in the world is caused by violent video games? Or will we be like our parents that spent the time to play the games we liked with us?
The answer is easy for me. I have a three-year-old son and I’m already playing games like Cars 2 and Toy Story 3 with him. But this is thanks to me having a dad that encouraged my love of videogames, even though they came after his youth. I can remember him getting me my first NES, Genesis, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, and Xbox. It went beyond him merely buying these objects for me and my brother. It was the time he spent playing the games with me that had a positive factor on my gaming lifestyle.
Two of my most fond memories come from Madden 64 for the Nintendo 64 and Halo for the Xbox. I am a huge fan of sports games. Madden, NCAA Football, MLB: The Show, WWF Wrestlemania — I’ve played ’em all. My dad likes football. He tries to keep himself knowledgeable — even though he’s definitely more of a baseball guy. So when I would be sitting there tossing touchdowns from John Elway to Ed McCaffrey on Madden 64, he would ask if I wanted to play. He wasn’t the best at the game; he wouldn’t put up 30+ points on me. But he’d score a touchdown here and there. The thing is, when playing with him, it wasn’t about the score. He made the game so much more fun just by picking up another controller. Yeah, he’d do better at a more simple game like NFL Blitz, but at least he made the effort.
A lot of parents would just sit their kid down in front of a console and TV and let it act as a babysitter. My dad knew that video games were my hobby, and he wanted to be part of it.
My other example was Halo. When it came to playing shooters with a controller, my dad was not in his element; he’s definitely more at home with a keyboard and mouse. But sure enough, when my brother and a friend of mine fired up Halo and needed one more player, he was there. He’d hop on and try to snipe. Sure he screen-watched; sure he didn’t have the response time that we had; but when he made that headshot from across the map, his response was joyous. I almost had more fun seeing and hearing his reactions than I had with the actual game. And when he got his hands on the rocket launcher in Chiron TL 34, that’s when the real fun began.
It was never about finishing first or having the best score. It was about him spending time with his kids, doing the things they love. It was about a parent that wasn’t brought up with videogames making the effort to like the things we liked. Now he is an amazing sniper when he plays Call of Duty on the PC. He loves strategy games like Total War and Sim City. And he is getting into Facebook games because of the social side of them and the ease of use.
So the type of parent that I’m going to be to my son, I can attribute to my dad. I love videogames because he let me love them. He nurtured my love for them. I can look back at these memories and just smile, knowing that other like myself had a dad that would take the time to play a game he knew he was going to get slaughtered at. Just don’t let them ever get their hands on Oddjob in Goldeneye 64.