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“I’m only hunting it if your mom comes with us.”
That’s what was said by one of my kid’s friends when they were playing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate one day last year. My two and the friend were linked up with their 3DS and going along fine until one of them suggested going after a higher level monster they needed parts from.
Now for those of you who haven’t played MH at all, it’s like going out and hunting a deer, except that it’s digital, the monsters are wild game that are crazy fantastical (water dragon, anyone? No? How about a giant sponge lizard?) and you have outrageously creative armor and weapons that you upgrade by hunting the monsters in the game. I’ll add for those who don’t know me, the game includes no guns and no killing people. Those things matter to me when it comes to the games I let the kids play. You also have to gather items like herbs from the various locations you hunt in in order to make things like potions to heal yourself when hunting the monsters.
My kids are, of course, still learning how to plan for a party. MH requires each individual to take care of themselves while contributing to the group. One of my kids enjoys being a tank, but he still runs from the monsters or won’t engage them for fear of getting hurt. Possibly it is because he has not upgraded his armor enough to be able to handle damage, or it could be perhaps that he has not remembered to gather enough ingredients to make enough mega potions to restore his health or armorskin to buff his defense. The other one prefers to be support and wants to use all the crazy unique weapons like the hunting horns. He has become reliable for paintballing the monsters so they show up on our map, but has not gotten a hang of how all the crazy unique stuff truly benefits the party and how to tweak what he uses for different monsters. The friend who was over that day has a megaton of bravado which is great for encouraging my two to take chances and try harder things, but he can get out of his league quickly and drag them along for the fail.
All of those things are totally normal and fine because they all are learning and they all try really hard. They want to form a team; they want to pool their efforts to take down the monsters. But, and I admit to feeling smug about this, they realize that the addition of yours truely means that most likely we will succeed. And not only because of the additional person in the party. I’ve been in parties for a long time. In many different games. I can play support really well or can lead if need be. I know what I need to bring to a group to help it succeed. And in this case the group needed: mom.
Who’s going to remind everyone to bring 10 mega potions as well as 10 potions and 10 honey to combine for a further 10 mega potions? Who’s going to make sure everyone has their buffs from might pills and armorskin and from eating? Who’s going to take lifepowder and dust of life to use when someone else’s life readings start to tank? Who’s going to look it up to find out that water weapons are best for the monster we are about to face, or that we need hot drinks to stay warm? Who will make sure that she is wearing armor that tells her where the monster is in case we forget to paintball it, or armor that negates poison or burning so we have someone who can tank (note I hate to tank)? Mom is, that’s who! Now let’s go break that monster’s fangs off!
One of the boys picked up a Legend Of Zelda manga (for the uninitiated that would be a Japanese graphic novel) at his school’s book fair a couple of weeks back. He liked it so much I ended up buying him another one for his birthday and as I was at our local bookstore perusing the stacks, I realized that I haven’t shared with you the books based on games that you can get for your kids to read. Many of them are in graphic novel form, but you can also find informational books and straight up novels. When in a bookstore, check the manga/graphic novel section for Legend of Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, Yo-kai Watch and more. The children’s book area will most likely have both Pokemon graphic novels/mangas well as handbooks that list all the Pokemon and their abilities. I have also seen the children’s section carrying Sonic the Hedgehog and Skylanders books. It’s a little bit harder to find video game books online unless you know the exact game title you’re looking for and then you can find a whole bunch. To get you started, I’m going to put a few Amazon links below (including some more mature titles). It’s always worth checking to see if your kids favorite character or game has any graphic novels to read.
There are, of course, many books out there about drawing characters, or the history of a certain game and/or developer, or how to create games. If your kid displays an interest in those area, by all means get them books! The whole industry of video games needs new people who have the talent and drive to code and draw and write plots.
The one thing I will never recommend buying is a Guide. Unless you or your kid absolutely has to have every piece of artwork or item put out by a game, they are just not worth the money. It’s better to work through a puzzle than spoil it (for smug points), but if you get stuck, the internet is vast and wide. Even RPGs with their “sometimes one choice deprives you of a special item forever” logic can be managed through careful internet searches. I regularly use charts that show how to craft a certain item and where materials can be located. Don’t spend the money on books for those things. Better to use the internet which can update lists anytime.
Here’s those links!
I have to say I wish I had thought of this a long time ago, but now I regularly haul out the paper cutter and make bookmarks out of any boxes our gaming accessories come with.
I just had the privilege witnessing a gentleman turn in and trade up his Xbox with the (minimal) help of his adult grandson. He knew exactly what he wanted and picked out a few new sports based games to replace his older versions. Truly, there is no age limit on enjoying video games. They are, as I have said before, digital board games, digital pen and paper games, digital sports games, and so much more. It just allows us to play those games in a different form. Watching the two of them today, I was reminded of the time in Gatchaman Crowds when the computer system gives people the opportunity to help others through games that create characters that are able to interact with the real world. There had been a disaster and regular individuals were invited to login to the game system and play games where they were challenged to do things to help such as move debris and provide food and water. A granddaughter and grandmother pair logged in to play together to make rice balls for those displaced by the disaster. It was a race against other players to see who could make the most. That had a blast gaming together. In my head, I imagine the pair I saw today having the same kind of fun playing together, except with golf and football…and a crazy awesome old dude yelling at the players on his screen.
So this here is a thing. And for once I am pretty excited about a movie based on a video game. To make it even better, my friend asked if our families can go together. I’m unbelievably pleased to be going to a movie about a video game that I loved playing, with my boys who loved playing the same game, with a woman who also loved playing said game, and her family that includes two girls and a boy who all loved playing the game. I feel unbelievably privileged to know several women gamers personally, who have raised children, both girls and boys, who game. Here’s to the women gamers (and their partners) who are raising our next generation of gamers: boys who will be used to girls gaming and girls who will be tech savy. May we all get to have the fun of hearing them mimic Clank’s giggle.
Three days ago, the husband downloaded Panda Pop. Now for background, this is more my kind of app. I play collection apps (like Dragonvale), time management/strategy apps (think New Yankee in King Arthur’s Court), tower defense apps (Kingdom Rush), point and click adventure (Tiny Thief anyone?), puzzle apps (The Room Series) and spatial games (Montezuma) to sort of give you a starting point. The Husman on the other end plays mostly number or word puzzlers such as 3s or Alphabear. I put Panda Pop in the spatial variety, and let’s just say spatial things are a bit challenge for the husband. I usually find myself rearranging the grocery cart after he puts things in it, and hopefully he finds it funny that I tease him about it. So you would think I would have been the one to download Panda Pop.
Now we have four people in the family, and three phones. The littlest doesn’t get his for a few more years. So of course, being mom, I give him my phone to play on. The Dragonvale game on my phone is officially his. He is also rather obsessed with Pandas. We’ve travelled to two different Zoos so far just to visit the Pandas. I knew that if I downloaded a panda game that would be the end of my phone. And then the husband goes and downloads it on his phone. And starts playing it. Oh hell, no. That’s my kind of game. Ima show him up. So I downloaded it. And went past him the first night. Then he comes home the next day, two days ago, and he’s gone further than I had that day. The eldest gets wind if the competition and he downloads the game.
The clock is ticking…someone is going to blow our cover…the littlest’s ears perk up. “Panda? You have a game with a panda?” He comes over to watch. I beat a level and he laughs at the panda babies tugging on the kidnapping baboon’s ears.
“Why is he kidnapping them?”
“I don’t know, sweetie. I have no idea what the backstory is.” I play another level and loose. The pandas all cry. My little one whimpers along with them.
“I want to play a level.” I hand my phone over. I now have no chance of redeeming my crown as the spatial champion of the house. Sigh.
On the bright side, yesterday at bedtime the husband was playing the game while little guy sat watching.
“The pandas hate you.” My eyebrows raised up.
“They’re grateful you’re saving them, but they hate you.” I’m puzzled but giggling. He continues griefing his dad for a bit, showering him with panda hate.
“Perhaps if someone asked me nicely, I would let them play the game.”
“Is that what he’s doing? Trying to get you to let him play by telling you the pandas hate you?”
There was a lot of laughter after that.
In possession of my new Zelda game. I pop it in and it asks me for my chatacter’s name. Default is Link. Accept. Horse’s name. Default is Epona. Accept. Pause for a minute to consider what kind of dumbass would put different names in so that the game would continually have NPCs calling them something other than Link/Epona. Sure you could have a short giggle from seeing Link be called “Princess Fairy Monkey Butt,” but it would get old quickly. You don’t do that! You call him Link!! Why do they even give us that option?!?
Something very odd has occurred. Last night as we were putting the kids to bed, I heard the husband tell the youngest, “We have to plan something for Friday because mom will have the TV.” I actually walked into the room and asked him what in the world he meant. My confusion was absolute. He replied, more our child than me, “Mommy’s game comes out that day, doesn’t it.” I was floored. I mean it. I mean, yes, the new version of Legend of Zelda: Twighlight Princess is released this Friday (technically at midnight, but I have kids and won’t be going to pick up the game just so I can play all night and be in no state to get the kids to school Friday morning,) but to have the TV set aside for me to play a game when the kids are home stunned me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally taking him up in the offer. Even if I have played the game before, I will still want to play the HD version all day when I first get my mitts on it. It looks gorgeous in screen shots, and I even have confirmation from someone who got an early copy that it is gorgeous in gameplay. Twilight Princess is arguably the best Zelda game, and indeed likely my favorite. And it’s always bothered me that I had to play a flipped version of the game. For those who don’t know, something funky happened when they ported the game from the GameCube to the Wii and they ended up having to flip the game just to get it to work. I’ve never played the game as it was originally intended. The art and puzzles were all reversed. The WiiU version is the right way around (again confirmed by person with early copy.) And it going to be fun and frustrating and clever and all the wonderful things a legend of Zelda game is.
But to have the TV set aside for me, for mom, well you know the saying about a mom being the person who after finding out that there’s three slices of pie for her four person family promptly declares that she never liked pie anyways? Yeah, it’s pretty much how this goes. I’m hard pressed to think of a time when I didn’t readily give up the TV or the gaming systems when the kids asked to play. And I’m not some kind of martyr, it’s just what we moms do. I’m perfectly content watching my kids play. The one they ask for help with video games 99.9% of the time is me. Gaming is interactive for us. Sometimes the kids ask me to hop in the game and join them. Sometimes they find something odd or funny to do and have to show me. I enjoy them being silly and clever with the games. I don’t feel deprived if I’m not the one with a controller. So while I knew that the game I preordered for myself comes out on Friday, I really hadn’t made any plans to do more than play the game while they were at school and watch them play it over the weekend if they so chose. And listen, even with the no lapping rule in play, they have never gotten close to passing me in a Zelda game. Mom still rules as the gamer when it come to that. I wasn’t worried about the game being spoiled if I didn’t play again until Monday.
And there it is: I wasn’t thinking I would get to play the game to my heart’s content until those words were spoken last night. Now I’m more than a little giddy. So yes, sweetheart, I’m taking you up on those words. You go and feed the kids and mook about with them and, as you said, you have Netflix on your tablet. Make sure the eldest, who is too clever for his own good and can’t help opening up his mouth and telling you how to solve a puzzle, but gets lost in dungeons, is kept busy. And make sure the youngest, who knows how to wield every sword and weapon with precision, but would rather play on my account because I will have done the work required to unlock weapons and extra sword moves, knows he will get to play on his own account later. I will have the TV.