My children are obsessed with video games and I’m fine with that. Studies have shown young people who play at least two hours of violent video games per day are 48.7 percent less likely to become serial killers when they reach adulthood.
I made that up, but it helps me get through the day.
I spent a lot of time and money playing video games when I was their age. Just enough money my parents thought I was feeding all of it into upright arcade machines, which was fine. They didn’t know I had enough left over to buy Playboy magazines.
What did this get me apart from a lot of Playboy magazines?
Nothing, really. Blowing up enemy spaceships didn’t put me in the pilot’s seat on an intergalactic fighter craft as I’d always hoped it would, and rescuing people didn’t get me a date with the princess, even though I saved her from that giant fire-breathing turtle enough times to at least merit a slow dance at prom.
Playing them did give me respect for people with real hand-eye coordination (don’t watch me do anything more complicated than putting on my glasses, ever) and it provided me with a wealth of pop culture knowledge that comes in handy on trivia night.
It’s also helped me appreciate my children, who view video games as less of a fun after-school-ignoring-homework-I-didn’t-know-it-was-my-turn-to-do-dishes activity and more like a social gathering of people they’ll never meet.
To the Boy, video games are part of his identity. Playing them isn’t just fun, it’s practicing for his dream to become a video game designer. I wanted to be a professional beer taster when I grew up, but that’s a different story.
To the Girl, video games are spectator sports. She doesn’t play them often, but she watches YouTube programs of people who do. I don’t understand why watching other people play something they could do themselves is fun, but I also don’t understand why it’s wrong to wear black and brown together even though every pair of brown shoes I’ve ever owned had black soles.
To try and make sense of how video games fit into my life now (not my life in 1984. I never questioned why a giant gorilla would want to throw flaming wooden barrels at an Italian plumber. I just assumed that was what gorillas did), I’ve distilled all my video game knowledge into the Jason Offutt Play-At-Home Life Experience.
• Wake up too early from a toddler bouncing on your stomach – 20 points.
• Cook breakfast – 10 points.
• Listen to the older children complain about unloading the dishwasher – 5 points.
• Mow the lawn – 20 points.
• Get distracted by internet clickbait while looking for something you thought was important when you started but can no longer remember what that was – minus 10 points.
• Cuss at other drivers – minus 5 points.
• Think you’re late for work before realizing you’re on vacation – 10 points.
• Stay up late playing Dungeons and Dragons – 20 points.
• Go to bed thinking tomorrow will be different – 10 points.
You win the game when you retire to Belize. You lose when you do whatever I’ve been doing. Sometimes I wish I’d saved all those magazines.
– Jason’s newest novel, “Bad Day for the Apocalypse,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.