Being a dad is awesome. Being a dad to a child who hasn’t developed enough sentience to realise I’m not actually the greatest human on earth, is even better. By my reckoning, I have approximately 18 months left before I am relegated to a dispenser of disappointment and bad jokes. Therefore, I thought I would reflect on my experience before I am forced to retreat to the west, never to return…like a chonky elf who ate one too many pies.
Everyone knows that tired old saying: “Back in my day, we insert old man words”. As a child, I was assaulted with constant references to the “before times”, that mythical time before I graced the earth. I swore that I would never subject my own offspring to such blatant abuse. Call child services, for I am a liar and a crook. At least four times a day I will reminisce about a game I played when I too, was a snot-nosed little ragamuffin. “Back in my day, we didn’t have Fortnite, we played DOOM over Lan!” or, “Back in my day, we didn’t even know there was a third dimension!” If only I was joking. I have become my old man, and my son will inevitably become me. There is a vicious cycle at work, one that can never be broken.
The most common “my day” verbal splurt tends to reference difficulty in games. I grew in a time when games were crap, and they would rub dirt in your eyes and kick you square in the nads. Games nowadays are too easy. Ok, that’s not true. What I mean is, my child is a wimp and won’t play Mega Man 11 on Normal. Don’t get me wrong, I am always proud of my son – well, maybe not always – but when he proudly struts up to me and loudly proclaims Dr Wily is dead, only to discover moments later this was achieved on ‘Newcomer’ for the 13th time, well I can only laugh, cry and feel the pangs of shame. To this day, he brags about his mad skills when it comes to playing Mega Man. This is a silent burden that all fathers must endure. We never reveal the disappointment we feel. Ever. Son, if you’re reading this – this is totally not about you, it’s about your brother…probably.
It’s not all Aeris fapping and child shaming of course – there is the perpetual God complex too. I write about games for a job, therefore, I play a lot of games. Thankfully a lot of these games can be considered good. I am informed daily that, “I play the best games!” I can’t deny that my taste in games is exquisite, and him recognising that gives me hope. Heck, he even asks to look at my library so he can peruse my games, knowing they’ll be the greatest things ever. That lad loves everything I love, and it made me realise that I have created a carbon copy of myself. I mean, he likes Fornite more than food, but we can chalk that up to his mother being a bit weird.
That God complex really comes into play when we start playing games together. I boot up Smash and within seconds I have sent his whiny ass to the shadow realm. I possess the ‘Knowledge of the Ancients’ – a gift all gamers of my generation can harness. My son may have youth on his side, but I am far from decrepit, and his cat-like reflexes cannot match my technical prowess and experience. This one time, he dared to challenge me to a game of Mario Kart. Little did he know, I played Double Dash like 20 years before he was born. He now knows his place. He has no power over that domain. That being said, things get dicey when we play Minecraft. That game is ingrained into his very soul. It worries me, as it may be a portent of what is to come.
You see, I have two sons. The second is much, much younger, but I sense my influence over him has been compromised. Whereas I am the king of the castle, my eldest is clearly a scheming Baron lording over his own lands. My youngest, unfortunately, resides within that barony. When my end comes, it will not be a fair fight. It will be a tag-team duo who will inevitably shank me in my sleep, leaving me for dead. Metaphorically. Hopefully. Like a rowdy American, my youngest can barely comprehend the English language. He can, however, trounce the AI on Mario Kart, backhand a number of bosses in Mega Man and has managed to accrue a staggering amount of debt in Animal Crossing. He is a walking, almost talking, prodigy. He is also being corrupted by my eldest.
Despite the existential crisis I am facing, being a gamer dad is freaking awesome. You always have somebody to play with, you are always the coolest person in the room and your kid thinks you are the greatest gamer of all time. It’s a wonderful, yet temporary, feeling that I wouldn’t change for the world. 10/10, would probably breed again.
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