Monday, November 2, 2009

One Family Is Enough For Me

When Zoe gets home from school today, we'll probably have our usual 5-minute conversation. She'll inform me that she didn't get in trouble, but that Joe did. Then she'll tell me what she wants for lunch, which animals she thinks would be best at hopscotch (obviously a kangaroo), and finally she'll ask if it's still considered a school day, because if it's not, she gets to play her DS.

Yes, our family enjoys video and computer games. In more specific terms, four members of my family enjoy a wide range of games, and I enjoy one. Doug and the boys aren't overly picky about what they play, as long as the game doesn't suck, isn't glitchy, and preferably involves intellect, weapons and destroying zombies. I think we have owned every console ever made at some point in our lives, with the exception of the Sega Dreamcast. Did anyone buy this console?

I'm fairly sure that Charlie's main motivation to learn his shapes as a pre-schooler was so that he could operate a PlayStation controller with more efficiency. This kid started playing Halo about the same time he learned how to tie his shoes, and he can learn the controls to any game on any console in record speed. He also loves computer games, and occasionally likes playing "The Sims."

When "The Sims" first came out, I hovered by Doug and helped him build his house. It was actually kind of entertaining; picking out furniture and fixtures with fake money and being able to put walls exactly where you wanted them. There wasn't any frustration over being forced to decorate around ill-placed heat ducts or cursing at an idiot's floor plan. I even enjoyed selecting clothes for the fictional family. He eventually moved this well-dressed family into the house that we built, and that's when I lost interest.

At one point, I actually attempted to play the game independently, thinking that if I had total control over everything I might actually like it. I built a gorgeous home, added the basic furnishings, made sure there was a TV, and created a small family of my own. Suddenly, there were people telling me that they were hungry, they had to go to the bathroom, they were tired, they didn't want to go to school, they were bored, they wanted a friend over, they needed a ride to the movies, and so on. I felt anger and frustration building inside my brain and sweat forming on my palms, and that's when I realized...I was spending my free time doing exactly the same shit that I do all day. It was like someone tricked me into raising another family, except that these kids mumbled even more than my own and they couldn't afford a dishwasher because the dad always overslept for his job at the pet shop.

Sure, funny things have been known to happen in this artificial world. One of Doug's more clueless characters tried to cook soup and ended up burning the house down. Charlie built a house consisting of one room that contained a bed, a toilet, and a stove but made sure to put in a massive swimming pool and a juke box. He also created a family of 7 babies and one dad, and the dad would just sit at the computer playing a snowboarding game while the babies crawled around him, pooping in their diapers. I notice, though, that Doug doesn't create a character that is a small-business owner, and Charlie isn't exactly waking up the kids so that they get to school on time. The most realistic thing I've seen is the fact that no one likes to take out the garbage.

While the boys wait anxiously for the release of "Left4Dead 2," Zoe continues her Mario obsession, and Charlie considers putting the trailer for "Borderlands" on DVR, I'll just keep playing my plastic guitar and be able to kick all of their asses at Guitar Hero. Believe it or not, I still haven't beat that damn devil on expert, but at least he doesn't tell me when he has to pee.

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