A Not-So-Brief Vignette Spanning my Childhood
In regards to video games and my dad.
I may or may not have cried while writing this. Which is to say I totally did, wow what a wimp.
When I was around ten-twelve or so, give or take, I had this weird issue with video games: I got really emotionally attached to characters, to the point that sometimes I wouldn’t want to play the games themselves for fear of in-game deaths. Or, at least, that’s what I think my mindset was at the time - I still get really attached to characters (I mean, look at my Tumblr, come on), but now it’s more of a companionship than anything else, I guess, the difference between being overpowered by fear and facing it.
So, as I was still dipping my feet in to the Nintendo titles of the time (the SNES and soon after the N64, mostly Mario games, and eventually Pokemon on this old Magenta Game Boy Color, followed by that special Pikachu one which I kept for years even after the system was basically obsolete), my dad had a Playstation, and then a PS2. He really liked sports games.
But I would get games for it as gifts for Christmas and such, as well: Rayman 2, Spyro the Dragon, Pac-Man World and Pac-Man World 2. But I could only play them for a bit at a time (and back then I couldn’t really explain why), and when I did play I wasn’t particularly good. So my dad would swallow his adult pride and sit down with me, playing the games while I watched.
I don’t remember which game we started with (probably Fur Fighters, which in retrospect was totally not for my age group and I have no idea who bought it and why), but we started printing off entire text strategy guides from GameFaqs, back when it was this new amazing thing and I wasn’t on the internet a gazillion hours a day like I am now. (I actually spent most of my hours drawing and imagining and stuff like that for a pretty long time, if you can imagine that.) I wouldhelp my dad as he played, and I would even read entirely through the many, many faqs we eventually had when we weren’t playing at all, soaking in hours and hours worth of game strategy to the point that even now, some of those pages are ingrained in my mind. I felt as if I had played those games myself, as if I had experienced every second perfectly clearly.
We eventually starting buying physical faqs, but for the longest time, Dad still played. And even when I played games on my own, Mostly on the Gamecube (the SNES and N64 had long since been sold to make way for the next-gen console, much to my modern chagrin), I still watched Dad play the games he enjoyed - hours and hours of Gallop Racer’s many incarnations, of Madden games and Baseball games and even a Spiderman game. (And this god-awful modern Frogger game thing. Glitchy as hell.)
And even when Dad got sick, and he could hardly stay awake through the whole day, when the fancy struck him I would sit beside him on the couch and watch him play some video game, sometimes only for ten minutes before he decided he just couldn’t anymore. I helped him import the newest Gallop Racer game for the PS3 from Japan only to see him play it once and hear that he only played it twice.
But what I mean to say is that I was thinking about it maybe a month ago, and maybe this is why I enjoy Let’s Plays so much? I can watch one and feel like I’ve played the game, like I’ve completely connected with the characters and experienced every moment of gameplay, every twist and turn and triumph and defeat. I can watch LP after LP, for hours and hours. I’ll have them on while working on homework and projects, or even just lounging around. There’s almost always some video game in the background of my life’s soundtrack, either on a computer screen being played by somebody else or just in the back of my head. And it certainly helps that it saves me some money, too.