Ryan Thomason

Geek Dad Report: Putting my controller into temporary retirement

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I used to be a hardcore gamer once, during college, working nearly full time, living in a house where I was the ‘Manager’ and didn’t have to pay rent. Merely instead, I was collecting it from my roommates and making sure everything still looked nice inside and out.  It was a time when after my cousin and best friend who tripled as my roommate spotted a $800 surround sound system online, I didn’t hesitate to pull out my wallet and type in the debit card number on the spot. Then I paid for the special shipping so we could attempt to blow girls clothes off with a blast of music from next day air for a impromptu party to celebrate the purchase.

We played nearly everything that came out and was of interest, from NCAA Football to Halo, to party/group games like Fusion Frenzy (best when drunk and having a party) to Command and Conquer and even EverQuest though we ended up drifting from MMOG to MMOG on the PC.  My interest slowed when I met the woman who became my wife, she bought me an Xbox one year, and games that I wanted on various platforms when present serving holidays or birthday came around.  She didn’t mind much when I would spend a few hours blasting away at aliens or strategizing my Civilizations victory over lesser beings.

Then, after my son was born, it was a couple of months later when I realized that I haven’t even thought about picking up a controller or clicking frantically on the computer mouse in some sort of non-existent game world.  It was like this part of me was so forgotten about, it decided that it would wait for me in an unmarked grave and hope for my eventual return.  That’s right, the gamer inside of me is merely a zombie, waiting to shamble of out nowhere to feast on my tender brains and bring me back into the fold.  I’ve been doing better lately though.  I got a DSlite last Christmas, my first handheld since having a Gameboy as a kid and I scored some gift cards so that I could buy whatever games I wanted.  The catch was that the DS was also a dual present for my wife, so we had to get something that would appeal to her also. It was a score when it turned out that Professor Layton and the Curious Village was pretty kick ass for both of us.  I then played it safe and bought an Animal Crossing game, hoping that my charitable investment would net me a new gamer wife, that still hasn’t come to fruitation.

Though, I didn’t research like I used to, or even look up what was coming out soon, so I could have held onto my money and bought the next best thing. I had forgotten how to be a gamer.

Slowly, I sat one day in front of the Google search bar and spent a couple of minutes trying to remember some of the obsure gaming review websites that I used to frequent. Before you jump on me, I didn’t have the bookmarks anymore because we had a new computer, that was a stupid purchase on my part to begin with in hindsight, though that is a whole story in itself.  After I skimmed through some of the bigger gaming websites I knew by memory, my ‘Indy’ reviewers so to speak gone in my laps of memory.  I found myself lost.  Some games that I remembered being talked in development phases about were already in their second or third rendition, there were blockbuster games that I knew nothing about but everyone was gushing over like I used to.  After looking at the System Requirements for the newer games that interested me, I realized that I had picked completely wrong on what I thought would be a decent PC that would be able to play new games on at least medium settings for a couple of years after purchase.  My whole Video Card and Ram numbers were way off from what was acceptable for PC gaming. I’d lost my edge.

At my friends house, taking some time off from fatherly duties I plopped down on the couch with his friends, donned a headset and proceeded to start talking smack while playing Halo 3.  My first game online with them was some horrendous score of 4 kills and 24 deaths.  I was more useful as bait to draw out the enemies so my comrades could kill them than as a tactical man on the front line leading the team to victory.  The first harrowing defeat only compounded as I barely ended up scratching up even kill to death ratios at the end of session before taking piss breaks. I could only find more comfort in the pile of beer bottles next to my armrest.  I swore over and over that I used to be good, feared even, but I only saw smirks and shaking heads.  I could hear the “Will never happen to me” monologs going through their heads; they were too kind to not speak it openly.

At home the next day, as I rolled some matchbox cars around, making ‘vroom, vroom’ noises and my son was telling me that the cars stay on the race track and don’t drive away, I forgot about gaming once again.  For now, this is my gaming, playing cars, building blocks, making stuffed animals talk in high pitched voices, this is more enjoyable for the term.

Why did I call it the term?  Because someday, I know that my kids will be old enough to want a new PS15 or Xbox 1080, whatever the systems will be called.  It’ll be a purchase I won’t have to think much about making.  I’ll get games when my kids gets games, and being older and smarter, not to mention control over bedtime so Dad can put in some extra credit to get better.

I’ll make sure to show them how it’s done as I win King of the Hill every time through my proven sniper rifle.  Overrun their defenses and turrets with a blitzkrieg of tanks and plenty of aerial support unleashing a torrent of well placed bombs. Their Madden defenses will be shredded as I run slant patterns with my wide receivers for short gains, pound a couple of 45 Blasts up the middle for 5 or 6 yards with a stud running back and then bomb a 40 yard hit and run pass on them for a touchdown.  Oh, I won’t be merciful on them. You can’t do that, any gamer knows that when you start letting someone win so that they feel better, they start to figure you out.

When I get back into gaming, Zombiefied gamer and all, I plan on staying on top for a long time, at least, in my household.

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