Most games today have about as much in common with their 20 year old ancestors as Bill Gates does with Steve Jobs. I’ve had an on again – off again relationship with games since the 80’s and still remember the enchantment of stealing away to my uncle’s TV room (maybe it was a living room, but all I cared about was the TV) and turning on the wood grain 2600 to play Indiana Jones ignoring that I had no idea in hell what to do. Now my progeny arrived kicking and screaming and I’m left wondering not if he’ll like games but how will his influences affect him?
I got my NES for Christmas around two years after picking up the one button joystick of the Atari; of course it came with the ever famous Mario/Duck Hunt pack in. Soon I was sitting slack jawed on the floor trying to make my parents watch me play Blaster Master until I got stuck and get anyone that would to play Duck Hunt. Most of my friends however were a different story. All but one of them, I would eventually come to learn, didn’t really care about playing games or Nintendos. The two kids I really grew close to couldn’t be more different than one another. With Chris, I played more games than I could have wished. It started off with just midnight Mech Warrior marathons when we were younger eventually evolving into all night Dungeons and Dragons spectaculars. We couldn’t be closer and did everything together. Gregg on the other hand is the buddy I got into trouble with and had the time of my life away from the TV. It turned out I would eventually get him to play a shit ton of Mario Kart. Somehow it seemed everything I did, I did with him too.
Those guys shaped my life. If it wasn’t for Chris I wouldn’t really care about games. Meanwhile, Gregg gave me my sense of humor and rebellious streak. Now I’m left thinking about my little boy wondering what might influence him. Of course, games will always be here but does that elevate them to something remarkable or just label them mundane? I understand that he and I will get enjoyment from many of the same things as that’s the bond of parenthood, but don’t his friends have just as much influence on him?
Now that he has traversed through his fussy stage (for the most part) I find myself hoping that in a lot of ways he will be like me. Fortunately, I’ve come to realize that I’m actually more excited about how he won’t be like me so I can watch him become an entirely different person than myself. I want him to introduce me to new experiences that I would scoff at otherwise. I’ve never been a person to shy away from something new.
This is where his friends come in and how important they are to me as a father. I want him to gravitate towards kids that will influence him in positive ways no matter what they are. If he turns out to have friends that show no interest in video games, so be it. I’ve discovered that all I’m concerned about is him having positive experiences. I’m not so naïve to think that he won't have friends that suck, everyone does, but I have a fatherly worry that will never go away. I’ve resigned myself to the feeling that I will always harbor the need to press X for Jason. I couldn't be happier.