(reprinted from the Metro Spirit 02-16-16)
On numerous occasions I’ve shared with you my personal struggles with Minecraft. While at first Minecraft appears to be innocuous, this simplistic entrée into virtual reality guides the obsessive compulsive to their demise. The clean geometrical concepts urge the builder to push just a little further, until all that rises above the ground is transformed into the complete and adorned. And just when you are ready to walk away satisfied that the job is finished, that’s when you hear it – a call that originates from land of blocks and penetrates your soul,
“You must dig more.”
So to borrow a phrase, I’ve found that the only way to win is not to play.
For the last half of 2015, I shunned our family Xbox. I reallocated my “build” time to my daughters, and we’ve engaged in numerous activities. On one occasion, we enjoyed 4+ hours of Disney Channel reruns. Another time, we attempted to do homework. (Unfortunately, I think 6th grade common core math is meant for someone that is smarter than a rocket scientist.) Add in some trips to get frozen yogurt and a trip or two to the mall, and I think that we really started to bond.
And then it all started falling apart.
By now I’m sure that every faithful Augusta Tek reader has seen The Force Awakens at least four or five times, so you already understand the personal transformation enabled by the continuation of the Star Wars saga. Needless to say, I experienced the awakening, and I’m so pleased that my daughters felt it as well. Over the holidays, we supplemented our experience with numerous Star Wars artifacts. Picture books, clothing, replica lightsabers – all designed to heighten our awareness of a galaxy far, far away. However, one item above all allowed us to immerse ourselves into the Star Wars universe like none other, a first-person shooter video game called Star Wars Battlefront.
Now, for many of you that don’t read this column regularly, I suspect that you might be wondering, “Girls and first-person shooting games?” Regular readers probably realize the fallacy of this line of thought, but let me go ahead and share my experience. Whoever postulated that girls don’t like first-person shooters never meet a Southern Millennial. I can assure you that my daughters have no problem picking up a blaster of any caliber and dispatching Stormtroopers to the digital beyond. In addition, all of their friends and their friends’ sisters are very comfortable wielding an E-11, T-21B or whatever. I don’t know if it’s geographical or generational, but I sure feel sorry for the boy who mistakenly calls one of these young ladies “Honey.”
Our initial experience with Battlefront was very similar to my prior experience with online FPS’s – spawn, run to battle, die, repeat. Our average lifespan was closely approximated by the amount of time it takes to read this sentence. Over time, we somewhat improved. As we achieved levels, better weapons became available, helping immensely. And every once in a while, we got on a streak, terminating two or three gamers in a row. Inevitably, this streak would suddenly end with rapid fire originating out of nowhere and our health dropping to zero in a matter of milliseconds. Before we can even react, we’re dead, and all we can do is watch D3AxEaTr666 stand over our lifeless avatar, laughing maniacally.
You know, I try to keep an even head about these things, but dang it; sometimes it’s just hard not to take it personally. Couple this with the fact that I can’t seem to rise out of the bottom third of the battle scores, I find myself questioning my self worth. Granted, I’m probably triple D3AxEaTr666’s age, but I really can’t be that bad, can I? Obviously, this level of performance is not acceptable, so I reenter the game determined to demonstrate my true skills during the Battle of Jakku.
And then I heard her. My wife had snuck downstairs.
“Greg, really? It’s 3:00am. Are we doing this again?”
And so now, I’m also banned from Battlefront. Thankfully, my daughters continue to play my avatar, adding to its experience and unlocking valuable weaponry. They’ve become pretty good shooting from the hip. One day, I will return to the battlefield. And no doubt when I return, I will continue to feel the pulse of rapid fire ending my avatar. But as long as I have my daughters nearby to avenge me, I’m sure that all will turn out just fine.