Written by Ryan Johnson (RyanDJ) Monday, 23 January 2012 06:00
Ryan continues his education, both for him and his children, through the medium of video games. Click in to follow along!
GoozerNation has really grown since I wrote one of these articles, so I'm going to take the time to explain. I'm a gamer. Why else would I be here writing? A newer addition to my life, however, is the role of father. A big lesson I have learned in life is that you go with what you know, so quite a few lessons have been gamer related. I deal with everything from a gamer's perspective: I train my body through Fit to Game, I make friends through social gaming, I have deeply rooted memories involving video games, and I also parent through gaming. This is Episode 7 in my ongoing series. You can find a page linking back to my others here. I'd like to say that regardless of hits, these articles are my absolute favorite articles I have ever written. So go back, enjoy the ride up to here, and then read on!
My son and I have our birthdays in February, so January is regularly a dry month for us to get new shiny things. After all, we are coming down from the "you just got things for Christmas" and heading in to "you are too close to your birthday." Through my whole life, though, I've noticed I pay a lot of attention to shiny things during that month. I'm not a greedy person, but it's like when you're kinda thirsty, and someone has a glass of water but you aren't allowed to have it. It hightens your radar to the situation.
Regardless, I am remembering what I got my son for Christmas: Kirby's Return to Dreamland. If you haven't already read the reviews for it, let me just say that it is a great little game. If you are/were a fan of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, you owe it to yourself to play this game. It returns the series to its roots, and while it is by and large easier than the original games, at least you can die, unlike Epic Yarn. I am also thinking about what I'd like to get him for his birthday: the Kinectimals add-on for bears. I kinda smiled to myself when I realized I wanted to get (and my son would enjoy) DLC for his birthday. Maybe I should use my own suggestions in presenting it. Sure, he's eyed many other things in the stores, but I kinda find it cool that I now have a little one I can share my gaming geekdom with.
I do have to say, I see the difference in our play styles, though. While Kirby is fun, I probably wouldn't be running out to buy it Day One if I was still a bachelor. I play plenty of "cute" games, did so before I was married too, but my gamer life has trended toward much more immersive experiences lately. Also, I love my Kinect, but the Pokemonish collection stylings, hand holding through level progression, and lack of "things to do" kind of mar my excitement at Kinectimals. Yet, through his interests, I have found whole new worlds of fun, and even returned to ones I loved before. How great was it back in the day to just start a game, know what to do, and go, without all this excess fluff and exposition? Makes me feel like I'm more watching a movie in some of my favorite games, and not actually "playing." Isn't that what we're supposed to be doing? I remember that every time my son flops to the ground to help the kitty "play dead" on Kinectimals.
I rub off on him as well. He and I play Lego Batman, but he's been watching when he catches me fitting in a game of Arkham City. I let him poke around a bit, but then the thugs start cursing, and I end up answering lots of questions, so I tend to avoid that. My wife got hooked on L.A. Noire (read THAT interesting story here), and he was interested in driving the cars around. Luckily, we A) found a safe save spot nowhere near bloody corpses and B) found out we can turn off voices. He has his own save file, and can spend an hour looking for gas stations to drive his cars into. As he matures, I cannot WAIT to show him some of the classics, and look forward to the next generation of technology.
While we play Kirby, there is one more relation: the Player 1 situation. In both Mario Wii and Kirby, Player 1 was in charge of the map screen, dictating which level we played next. I had to always be Mario, because playing with my son in control was a lesson in tedium. He would play the same level over and over five times in a row, run circles on the map while we waited, or go to the movie theater castle and play videos. The only way we ever truly beat the game was with me in the driver's seat. In Kirby, though, I see him actually following the progression of the game. He finishes level 2, and looks for level 3. He notices the amount of gears that we picked up, and is ready to go back and try to find the missing ones. Another biggie: in Kirby, if Player 1 dies, we are booted out of the level. If that was Mario, we would have never gotten anywhere. My son is in charge in Kirby, and we are supporting him, rather than trying to fend off enemies and pray he survives. He also does pretty good playing solo. He is developing a gamer independence and confidence in his own abilities.
But what is my point here? I'm feeling a release...a letting go. There will be plenty of articles still in this series. My almost six year old will be gaming quite a while; I can see it as a genuine enjoyment and not just a "what Dad's doing" thing. Also, my eight month old has been glancing back and forth between Daddy and the screen at times...he's starting to get it, and he grabs at the controllers. I do feel, though, as if we are developing a true camaraderie in our hobby now, and he is evolving into his own type of gamer. Got a bit of his Mom in there, too, as he plugs away at Angry Birds and does better than his Dad. But as he evolves into his own little boy....one day little man....I'm going to have a lot of these moments. These smiley, teary eyed, proud moments. And there will be plenty more important than the video game one, but darnit, this is the first I am recognizing. This hobby is becoming one of his own. I can't wait to see what else he is into as he grows.