“It’s dangerous to go alone, take this!” ~ The Old Man (Legend of Zelda)

So, I need to take back something I told my sonshine a long while back because I have now done what I swore I never would. This is a biggie peeps, and I hope that by making this a public confession, I’ll save others from the same fate: I’m now playing an online game where I am spending REAL money to get CARTOON coins to try to move up yet ANOTHER level that consists of me knocking down obstacles to please a ANIMATED king who gives me a thumbs up all while participating in SKY RACES with people I’ve never seen and are probably 8 year olds playing while they’re pooping on the toilet and hiding from their parents while I frantically crush rocks/pots/dishes/tubes, etc. so I can beat these little beasts who want to deprive me of a TREASURE CHEST that has at least 2 TNT bombs in it. Whew. That felt good. 🤨

My son loves gaming and I’m the one that started him on this journey. When I was teaching adjunct and O was a little guy, I worked part-time for a company called “Computer Tots” (which is still going strong today) in which trained teachers took computers to daycare centers, etc. and worked with kids on basic skills. At the time, this was a HUGE deal since we weren’t even using e-mail in our world and Windows was still only something ma had hanging in every room of her house 🙄. Anyhoot, we supplied the computers since most places didn’t have them (does anyone hear the sound of dinosaurs right now?) so I’d lug it back and forth from classes to home. Computers in 1996 were quite cumbersome and the hook-up was a freaking nightmare. But the bonus was that O could use it at home anytime so I’d hook it up and let him at it. One of the games I had was ‘Darby the Dragon’ in which little tykes had to solve puzzle and put together clues to help Darby get his sister Sparkle a ‘magic potion’ to help her grow (I think that’s called ‘vitamins’ now 😳 ). The music was annoying as hell and the song will still resonate through my nightmares at times. Did O ever ‘win’ this and get the potion? Yes. Did it set him on a lifelong course of gaming? Yes.

Very complicated!

My journey of video games started in the 80’s. Who can forget Pong? The first game sissy and I ever had where you ‘competed’ against someone to bat a square ball around your TV screen with a rectangle you could only move up and down. Every hit of the ball against any part of the screen resulted in a digital ‘plunk’ sound that could put you in a hypnotic trance in a matter of minutes. Besides this exhilarating competition, the best part was to watch ma or dad hook the damn thing up…almost as fun at witnessing them hanging wallpaper together 😐. Anyhoot, T and I couldn’t believe that you could actually HIT A BALL on a SCREEN! Wow! That’s technology, folks.

Later we got an Atari for Christmas and now had more games to play. Space Invaders was very sophisticated…alien ships were shooting at you and you had to fire back and hide at the same time. In this game, your ship could be destroyed so the pressure was really on. Asteroids was nail biting excitement too: we had to save the world by destroying these monochrome nuggets before they hit you and then catapulted to earth destroying all of mankind. Let’s just suffice it to say that there’s a reason I don’t work for NASA…outside of the fact that majoring in astrophysics would have been about a million levels above what my brain is capable of processing.

More and more games began coming out and spending the afternoon at the video arcade at the mall…with your pockets full of quarters with an extra $5 to buy a slice of Garcia’s Gut-Buster pizza…was the ultimate. Frogger, Centipede, Donkey Kong, Dig-Dug, and Duck Hunt were personal favorites and at one time I worried I might be a bit of a psychopath (shutty 😬) since watching my frog getting run over by a bus didn’t affect me much. {Note to M: I’m so sorry I was Ms. Pac-Man champ at summer music camp in 1984 and that I flaunted it every chance I got. Yes, you were first chair flute out of hundreds of campers and performed solos flawlessly, but I moved that yellow circle around a maze and gobbled up monsters like nobody’s business. Just saying.}.

Mario Brothers changed everything. Not only was this a VERY sophisticated game in terms of graphics and play, but Nintendo consoles were available for purchase and you could start playing these arcade games in your own living room. Wow! Grampa and Gramma spoiled sissy, cousin and I and bought us one for their house. Little did they know we’d be there all of the time while interferring with gramma’s soap operas. She was a champ though and would call her friend Norma for updates.

While we were playing one day, my sister whacked bricks with Mario’s head enough times so that she popped through the ceiling and he was now above the ground! We were all shouting because we thought she had broken the game but as she started running through this new level, we were cheering her on as if she were dismantling a bomb…it was a thrill. And yes, it was one of the most proud moments I’ve ever had with T…despite her being a great mom, grammy, and LPN.

As my boy started playing his own games, I was so impressed. By the age of 4 he could pretty much do all I could (and honestly more…) on a computer and would win 95% of the games we played together. This just goes to show that a Master’s degree isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When I bought him Zelda, his life changed. It was a story you played out with decisions affecting your progress. It was action/adventure game and O worked so hard to defeat the evil king Ganon…when he did it the first time, he swelled with pride. Zelda is still going strong today and O still plays all new incarnations of it.

And like a good ma, I still give him the newest gaming gadgets every chance I get. Last Christmas, it was VR goggles and we spent the afternoon watching each other put the goggles on and then try to get into VR rooms…juggle clubs…piece together things and if you didn’t know what you were seeing, you’d think we’d all gone mad as we watched each other grapple around the air while turning green from the motion sickness. Nothing says Christmas fun like throwing up after your turn. 😏

But I bitch about these. My mantra from the very beginning was this: “O, you only play AFTER you’ve done your homework or chores!” And now: “O, get off that freaking screen and talk to your mother.” Neither has worked well and I used to get a bit pissy about it…I know, that’s hard to believe.

Much to my chagrin though, the tables have turned. The first time I bought coins to further my ‘lives’, I told O it was only for that particular level (#22) and the $9.99 would be all I’d ever invest. I’m 55…a professor…somewhat frugal…and I know my limits. I have control.

No…I have found out that I really don’t. I’m on level #881 right now and yes, you can pause and work through your enviousness of this accomplishment. I’ll wait.

I never thought I’d be so ‘into’ (young adult vernacular) a game that I’d spend money to make sure I progressed. I also never thought I’d play it while on the toilet (like the little guys I am probably competing against 😳), at the dinner table while Edward waits for his plate to lick, during a zoom meeting (just once…I swear…cough cough) and while telling ma I can’t talk right then because I’m vacuuming. Am I proud of this? No. Will I continue to do this? Most likely.

See, it’s like I have too. Every 50 levels you get to play for coins and use your TNT and disco balls to earn more and more. You can earn cannons and arrows with every few games won and winning a Sky Race where you beat 15 levels before anyone else is exhilarating.

So, I finally get it. I get the excitement and time and energy spent on playing a game. A game. Because that’s all it is, right? But actually, I’m starting to feel differently about it. Living by myself can get downright lonely at times and King’s Cup is a great distraction. Having to figure out moves and puzzles and think ahead a few steps can fire up these old neurons. And building up the King’s rooms in his castle has given me some incredible decorating ideas…such as having a spa in the middle of my living room or building a fountain with dogs spitting out streams of water in my backyard.

And it’s also this: a way to escape from the world of pandemics, threats of war, poverty, violence, and the list goes on. So maybe I was wrong about gaming and it’s ‘uselessness’. It’s actually a way to disconnect from reality for a bit…something we probably all feel like doing from time to time. And of course I know how to play in moderation. I’m a mature, educated, experienced adult who….

WAIT! I have to cut this short…there’s a sale on coins and I can buy some extra sledgehammers! You just never know when they’ll come in handy.

Kristi xoxo

Author: Kristi

Just a bipolar Professor working to end the stigma of mental illness.

5 thoughts on ““It’s dangerous to go alone, take this!” ~ The Old Man (Legend of Zelda)”

  1. OMG, I swear to the Goddess you are the child I gave up for adoption! I started playing games with Pong, and then we got an Intellivision – my sister got one for her kids, I had one at my house and we traded games. Burger King, the first time my nephew beat one of the higher levels, we had a freaking party. I still play games – Big Fish is my addiction – for a long time I played Sims till they made it so you have to practically have a super computer dedicated to gaming to play. THAT was fun, my great niece and I cooked up clever ways to kill Sims and shared them (don’t judge, my sisters were being horrible and putting Janet in the pool and then selling the ladder so she couldn’t get out was a lot better than beating her over the head with a real ladder.) (And I thought about doing that more than once.) So now I need to find King’s Cup and check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I STILL have the Intellivision and some of the games. What was the one where the guy was in the jungle and had to run and jump over stuff? We loved that one. And it was Burger Time, not King. My grandkids play Sims now, I’m so tempted to get the latest incarnation

        Liked by 1 person

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