Susan played Call of Duty: Black Ops for the first time with her boys. She will say I am a bad dog for sharing this private matter as she feels ashamed she lets her gentle-souled boys play such video games. She also knows that many mothers without modern day boys may judge her - she has seen the looks the neighbors throw over the fence watching them play with their big-ass nerf guns. She has thrown plenty of her own glares and tart words at her heavily-armed spawn as they combat crawl through her gardens.
I say a little dog park wrestling, chasing and gnawing is what keeps the pack civil.
Susan would rather they joined her playing Viva Pinata or Carcasonne. Although there is also a terrrible darkness to the totalitarian gardens of Viva Pinata and the conquering strategy of the abstract lands of Carcasonne. Heck, chess is nothing more than domination wrapped in cordiality.
Susan agreed to participate in Black Ops for a little family togetherness. It was that or go hide in her room for the rest of their tweenage/teenage years.
Honestly, I know Susan wanted to see what all the fuss is about. Was the game-play of a top-rated, first-person shooter really that much more compelling than other games, as her boys kept telling her? Would she be able to shoot people - rather than repel aliens, blow up jewels or feed pinata folk to other pinatas? Or worse, would she love it and have to eat crow?
It was a rough start. OMG, she was like a baby squirrel that fell out of its nest into a crocodile pond. And this was a friendly local multi-player foray- not a dog-eat-dog online forum. She made a pretty lame soldier -- even for a Christmas newb (online label for folks who play for the first time after present-opening).
It doesn't help that Susan is very susceptible to motion sickness. She also has no sense of virtual direction and can't aim worth beans-- although must be said she was pretty heavily doped up on cold medication. She spent most of the time trapped in corners staring up-close at the textures of walls as she tried to navigate and find her family -- only to be constantly killed and sent away to re-spawn and start over. At least someone appreciates all the work that went into those textures.
In the end, she discovered she could hurl grenades (right bumper) and spray bullets (right trigger) to get some points -- OK, some "kills"-- and her boys were very proud of her. Things improved when someone showed her how to aim (left trigger). The family said it was great fun having Mom on the squad. And really, there is no higher compliment from tween and teen boys.
At dinner that first night, Susan admitted she now understood why they said it was a great game insofar as it was exciting and fun to play in a pack. And they grudgingly admitted that the realism of many of the locations/characters sometimes made them uncomfortable too. (The morality of video game subject matter is for another post.) But as I lay there watching for supper crumb showers to fall, I can say that for the first time, the family discussed Call of Duty intelligently and peacefully. It was a nice moment of family togetherness.
It made me want to have thumbs so I could join the squad too.