Published on April 5th, 2016 | by Scot Mackay0
Two Red Shoes
Nothing feels more like home for a gamer than the feel of slipping into that well-worn groove on the couch, slipping on your headphones, picking up your controller and losing yourself in the vast universe of amazing worlds that dazzle the eyes, ensnare the sense and sometimes leaves you in a state of wonderment of what you have just experienced.
You could be trekking your way across the dusty, barren surface of the moon and discovering a long lost ancient civilisation in one moment and saving the love of your life from the armies of the undead in the next.
These experiences can be done alone where you can truly invest your time, effort and more importantly, your imagination into your chosen digital escape. I have found myself recently losing myself in the grimy atmosphere of the Sevastopol Station in Alien: Isolation. The solitary feeling, I gain from cutting out all external influence and distraction adds to the experience and gives the game an additional dimension that is unique to me and to me alone.
You can share your moments with someone else or in many cases, a group of other people. Titles such as Star Wars: Battlefront, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare or even a simple game of Uno becomes a social activity in which you can connect with millions of potential acquaintances, chums and quite possibly long term future friends. This gives multiplayer games the ability to shift and change with every match played. No longer are opponents governed by an intelligence that has a programmed series of instructions for each situation but are now living, breathing, adapting beings that can outmanoeuvre, outplay and generally outthink you.
I have enjoyed each way of playing immensely and with no shortage of options, I am always guaranteed to find something I enjoy to play but recently I discovered that something was missing. Something so fundamental that I didn’t realise that it was missing until I found it.
It was a connection to the next generation or more importantly, a connection to my next generation.
Gaming in my home has always been something that I have been involved in. Some may say that I have an issue and how sad it is that I don’t seem involved in much else but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I spend a lot of time between work and family with the late nights giving me the time to indulge my one and only hobby which even with the multiplayer option can still be a personally lonely affair.
When everyone is nicely tucked up in bed, Dad gets his “Game Time”, and no that is not a euphemism. Something had to change.
Today that change came when whilst my kids ate lunch, I decided to have a quick pop on and have a sneaky shot at whatever game I could find. Within seconds of the screen lighting up, my long suffering partner was asking for a go and my kids were hassling me for a shot. All of a sudden, it became a personal yet sociable moment that made gaming a little more acceptable in my home. I looked on as my daughter wrestled with the controls with a big grin across her face. My partner watched with a little half smile knowing that, our little girl had picked up on something that she had no real interest in before. She saw that our little girl might have just inherited a little bit of her father’s habit and this was the origin of daddies ‘player 2’.
The game we all got caught up by was the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
A very simple set of controls that took my 4yr old 30secs to get to grips with and one of the brightest colour pallets of its day, Sonic instantly captured my heart as a 7yr old child and here it was doing exactly the same thing 25yrs later. I saw the same look on my little girls face as she battled to save the fluffy animals from the robotic entanglement Dr Robotnik (Dr Eggman) had cast upon them as I had all those years before.
In a day and age where Science Fiction is slowly becoming Science Fact, it amazed me that something so simplistic had managed to instantly capture my family’s attention but sometimes it’s the understanding of why someone becomes a gamer? It’s that moment you recapture every time you play a game. That first time you played with your big brother or sister, that moment you finally understood how to save Princess Peach in Mario or even the time you stepped up your abilities and pulled off your first Mortal Kombat fatality.
As you may have realised by what you have read, I don’t consider myself a casual gamer. A time constrained gamer, certainly but not a casual one. Now, I am not saying that I want the little people in my life to be stuck in front of an Xbox or Playstation every day or that I will be sitting them through videogame etiquette and online social safety but I do want them to understand that there is a benefit to why daddy does what he does and that they can be a part of that too.
Today was a proud moment for myself and my partner. We watched as our little girl tackled changing landscapes, puzzles and cartoonish villains with focus, determination and enjoyment whilst her little brother cheered on and no doubt will soon want to copy his big sisters example by taking up a controller of his own. Gaming has always been a huge thing for me personally and knowing that I can let the people closest to me (who don’t always understand my ways) in to my little world gives me warm fuzzy feelings.
No doubt there will come a time when the next generation will challenge me for my gaming crown but until then, I plan on enjoying seeing if my kids will take to gaming more or if they will find their own interests as young’uns do. Who knows, maybe one day we will become more than a family…maybe one day we can become a Clan.