Video Games as a Bonding Experience

Posted: July 23, 2014 in Current Gaming, Retro Gaming
Tags: , , , ,

Father & Son - Video Games

Let’s face it. There is still a large group of people, possibly even the majority of people, that, when hearing that we as adults still play and enjoy video games, dismiss us as if we are being infantile or childish in our interests. Despite the vast adult audience that exists now, many having grown up alongside gaming as a medium, it’s an activity that is dismissed as shallow. An activity that is the lowest form of entertainment. A pastime that lacks any meaning or any redeeming quality. It’s easy to let that prevailing thought get to you, but then you find something like this, left innocently enough in the comments section of a YouTube Video:

Well, when i was 4, my dad bought a trusty XBox. you know, the first, ruggedy, blocky one from 2001. we had tons and tons and tons of fun playing all kinds of games together – until he died, when i was just 6.

i couldnt touch that console for 10 years.

but once i did, i noticed something.

we used to play a racing game, Rally Sports Challenge. actually pretty awesome for the time it came.

and once i started meddling around… i found a GHOST.

literaly.

you know, when a time race happens, that the fastest lap so far gets recorded as a ghost driver? yep, you guessed it – his ghost still rolls around the track today.

and so i played and played, and played, untill i was almost able to beat the ghost. until one day i got ahead of it, i surpassed it, and…

i stopped right in front of the finish line, just to ensure i wouldnt delete it.

Bliss.

You know what, I’ll admit to being a softy, especially when it comes to fathers and sons. This story hit me hard. I don’t know how true it is. I can’t imagine someone making it up. I see no motivation in doing so. Even if it’s not true, it still hits me hard, because it taps into another side of playing video games. It’s not childish. It’s not infantile. It’s not a pastime to be dismissed. It’s another way of making memories. Of times you’ll look back on and smile some day.

Video games were not my dad’s bag, by any stretch of the imagination. I remember the one time he actually played one though. It was the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game on the NES. He played for about 10 minutes. To the best of my knowledge, he’s never touched a controller again. Still, I remember that one time he tried it. I also remember my mom playing Super Mario Brothers 3 with my brother and I. Beating Bowser only to play through again with an inventory full of P-wings. I can still recall our competitions in Kirby’s Avalanche, including one particular versus match that went on for nearly a half an hour (most matches only lasted about 5 minutes).

And we played through ever world. We were old school.

And we played through every world. We were old school.

There’s also the times with my brother. We’d take turns holding down the Right Arrow on controller 2 in Mega Man 3 to get the super jump and, eventually, invincibility. There were the sessions spent playing Separation Anxiety, racing against each other in Mario Kart 64 or Battle Cars. And no mention of this would be complete without throwing out our playthrough of Secret of Mana. If I remember correctly, he would always play as the Sprite Child. Of course, there’s also the time that I put him, my younger brother, who had at least a 6 inch and few pounds advantage on me, on the floor for turning off my Link to the Past game before I could save, because he was mad at me. You don’t screw with my game. Sh!t gets real when that happens.  😉

Games Memories

I hate this picture. Like it or not, memories actually can be made playing video games. It happens every day, and just because some people think it’s a waste of time, doesn’t mean that it is. Anything can be used to create memories between people. How many of us recall playing with friends through a Mario Party game, or Mortal Kombat, or Goldeneye (oh yeah…)? Just because those memories were made playing video games makes them no more or less valid than a good time had playing Monopoly, or maybe playing a family softball game. Time spent with those close to you cannot be dismissed simply because it was spent playing video games. That’s an extremely shallow and narrow minded view of people and how they choose to spend their time with friends and family.

I have a seven year old son, and there is no doubt in my mind that he’ll remember us playing frisbee or jumping on the trampoline when he’s older. But I firmly believe that he’ll also remember racing against me in Mario Kart Wii. He’ll remember the day he finally beat me, and it’ll mean something to him because he knows that I don’t just let him win. He’ll remember the time spent in Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, and all the times he had to come to me for advice while playing Ocarina of Time 3D. He’ll recall the wireless Pokemon battles, as well as the ones in Pokemon Stadium, the way he could usually best me in Super Smash Brothers Brawl and the time working together to finish the Subspace Emissary. Maybe he’ll even remember the times that, despite my hate of the game, I sat down and played coop Minecraft with him. Those thoughts will not be of how those were simply meaningless hours. They will be treasured memories of time spent with his dad, because in spite of what many people want to think, video games are so much more than just wasted time.

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Comments
  1. I love this post – I had parents who also have it a go. We ended up competing for screen time once Tetris came out on the NES!

    I think we will continue to see the change in the public opinion and understanding of gaming, now that a generation is being raised in a household were gaming is a family activity.

    • JAVGB says:

      Tetris was a big one for us as well, along with Dr. Mario and Tetris 2. My mom loved puzzle and game show themed games. For some reason, Classic Concentration was very popular at my house.

      I agree with you on evolving public opinion. It’s definitely swinging in that direction, helped along by the fact that the first generation of “gamers” are now hitting their late 20’s/early 30’s.

  2. cary says:

    A fantastic article! Some of the best family moments I can remember, particularly those involving me, my brother, and Street Fighter, revolved around video games.

    I’m with you on that inherently mean meme image. People can sit around for hours doing “activities” that involve minimal interaction, but gaming requires communication and action. There’s no better way to make memories stick than to create those that involve others meaningfully. For some people, they can do that through fishing and such, and that’s fine. But that’s no reason to denigrate an entire population just because they choose to do otherwise.

    • JAVGB says:

      Thanks!

      The difference in people like us is that we see other activities and think, “Not my cup of tea, but cool, whatever works.” For some reason the flip side of that is all too often untrue. I think it’s just case of not understanding something or how it can be appealing. Maybe similar to the views on rock music back in the 50’s.

  3. Sarca says:

    “Memories aren’t made playing video games…” Oh, go fly a kite then. Let me reminisce about those times growing up and playing Nintendo with my best friend. Those are memories I cherish. Narrow-minded is right!
    Great post!

    • JAVGB says:

      Exactly. Why can you only have cherished memories of one aspect of your childhood? That’s an absurd mind set.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. Well said and I couldn’t agree more. I have bonded with more family members over gaming than any other one activity we’ve ever done.

    • JAVGB says:

      Like I wrote above, I’m exactly the same way. When I was a kid, I had a ton of bonding moments playing games. As an adult, I can even point to frenzied matches of Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Rock Band as great times I’ll always remember. I mean, none of my friends have lived until they’ve heard me belt out I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight.

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