If the repeated complaints of my boys were to be believed — that they were the only kids in the world who didn’t own a game system — then it would be reasonable to assume that I was the only dad in the world who didn’t. Well, no more. With my excuses waning and their piggy banks bursting, we agreed to let them joyfully buy their way into the majority. With this ‘box of Xs’ commandeering so much of our only television’s on hours, I knew it would only be a matter of time before my woefully inept gaming skills were exposed.
I dodged the bullet for a week before my oldest son managed to coax me into playing with him. Ever the sports competitor he eagerly popped in Madden ’12 and quickly handed me a game controller. This clearly wasn’t the simple joystick I grew up with. My sweaty hands nervously held the wireless package of buttons, triggers and controls. Overwhelmed and intimidated, I sluggishly meandered through the set-up menus with my son’s help and before long the game was underway. I felt like a passenger plucked from coach, in the cockpit of a 747 barreling down the runway, getting last minute instructions from the pilot on how to fly.
‘Dad, remember to hit this button to go back, and this one to pick which play you want. All those numbers and letters on the screen are the buttons you should press to make the play.’
‘Oh’ was thankfully all I managed to verbalize. After three consecutive delays of game, I began to lose it. Clearly frustrated, I reiterated over and over how I didn’t know what I was doing. How the controller was too complex. He simply repeated the advice he gave me earlier but added, “and do it fast before the play clock runs out.”
I probably wouldn’t have made it through an entire game had it not been for his encouragement (and pointers). In fact, I was starting to feel pretty good about my progress and after four quarters we were tied at 6-6. With ten seconds left in the game, his QB threw an unbelievable hail mary pass to his wide open receiver who quickly sprinted his way towards the end zone with my defense nowhere in sight. Then the strangest thing happened. Right before my eyes, his receiver stopped short at the one yard line, backed up three steps and jumped out of bounds. After I called shenanigans on his ‘mercy move’ he quickly put me out of my misery in OT.
I don’t mind admitting that my 12-year-old son ‘powned’ his old man in football. I’m okay with it. I’m proud of the fact that he had the patience to teach someone as clueless as me on how to play his games. I figure with a couple weeks off for Christmas break I should get better with that controller.