Saturday, June 03, 2006

From Failing Hands....

Literature and history are chock-a-block with father-son conflict stories. You know, the dramatic coming-of-age scenario where the son becomes a Man in his father's eyes; but only after some requisite conflict. At least, I'm pretty sure those stories out out there.

I seem to be playing a part in one such saga. My son, all of 10 years old, is decisively kicking my ass in what was once my sole household domain - video games. It started innocently with the now-ancient Nintendo deck. I showed him the ways of Mario 1, 2, and 3 with a patient paternalism, secure in the knowledge that he had only taken a baby step into a larger world.

From the old Nintendo we graduated, together, to a used Nintendo 64. Still, I was there to break the trail and show him the way. Then he discovered Zelda, and I lost him without realizing that cold truth. Where I was always looking for the next frenetic side-scroller, Ben was patiently exploring treasures and learning the magical songs of Link's ocarina.

From there, it was Gamecube and more Zelda, a dash of Starfox, a cup of Animal Crossing, some Spiderman, and more. Sure, once in a while he'd ask me to help him out of a jamb to finish some level. But I was being left behind, and I knew it. I was a spectator. In desperation I brought Sonic Head2Head into our world thinking it would take us back to the way it used to be - playing side by side with Dad always edging out a win or graciously faking a loss. And it was that way, at first. Soon, even the speed-demon action games were out of my league, however. He was just that good.

In my quiet desperation, I ushered him into a world I knew I could still rule - PC games. With twitchy fingers and a dispassionate eye, I revelled in my mastery of Jedi Knight 2, Pod Racers, Rogue Squadron, and many more; always with Ben by my side and, once more, as my pupil. Inevitably, even these games bowed before his younger reflexes and his determination to master their missions. And when he grew fatigued with space travel, I would find him inventing theme parks and riding the rides he imagined.

Ben soon graduated to a used PS One by way of his sister's short-lived fascination with Dance, Dance Revolution. But that was simply a gaming footnote beside his real prize - his beloved Playstation 2. From there, he entered a class of player that far eclipsed his father. Harry Potter, Kingdom Hearts 2; it didn't matter. He finished them all and never needed me for anything other than an occasional "check out this Boss, Dad!".

So this is the end of our drama, for now. Ben becomes the Master to his own video game Padawan. Sure, I have yet to relinquish my crown to him in some small corners of our gaming kingdom. Call of Duty 2, Medal of Honour, and Fear are still mine for the glory. But I know it's just a matter of time before he's old enough for these kinds of games and I'll be brushed aside again.

In the meantime, I'm content in knowing that we still share the same interests, even if we sometimes exist on different levels. Sure, he can fly an X-Wing through narrow canyons and summon whirlwinds by blowing a few notes into a strange flute, but (as I remind him) I get to stay up late and eat junk food all night long if I so choose. So there.

Addendum: Apropos of nothing in particular, except that someone asked me for this, here's the result of a (very) little Star Wars video project we did last Summer.

3 comments:

Kid Dork said...

I feel your pain, Crazylegs. My seventeen year old niece regularly kicks me to the curb when we play Soul Calibur, while my other niece sounds like your son--she blows through games at lightspeed. (She's so dedicated that when she spilled water on her DS, she went out immediately to buy another, even when we pointed out the DS Lite would be out next week.)

Yes, my nieces have rich parents.

Mario rules. As for Zelda, my wife takes me to school on that game.

Crazylegs said...

"Hi, my name is Crazylegs and I'm regularly 0wn3d by children when I play Super Smash Brothers".

Wonder if the Al-Anon people have, like, a kit for starting self-help groups.

Mario does rule - even with 8-bit graphics.

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