7. Katamari Lunacy.
Ahhh, spring is finally here, after the longest winter I can remember. I’m sitting here in the morning, with my cup of coffee and a Toaster Scramble, contemplating what to do on this lovely, sunny day. Mmmm, tasty Toaster Scrambles. ‘Cheese, Egg & Bacon’ it says on the box. I don’t believe a word of it.
The kid’s at pre-school. He was upset this morning because he wanted to take his GBA SP and we wouldn’t let him. That’s the sign of a successful Christmas present right there. Of course, you can’t let your kid take such a piece of equipment to a place that’s filled with other little kids, especially the rambunctious bastards that you tend to find at pre-school. Besides, Keegan (How? Did the curly-haired hero of the Scousers do a Brut advert over here or something?) takes his and Aidan always manages to blag a shot on that. And the school’s got computers and a SNES, so there’s really no need to risk losing an SP.
King Kev. Did the curly-topped luvvin’-it lad’s
charms know no bounds?
I’m happy to report that my kid’s pretty much a fully-fledged gamer. He’s always shown an interest, but now he’s much more involved. We get reports from the pre-school that tell us how he helps the other kids on the PC games, and he’s often telling us about how he helped whatshisname get past a level on Donkey Kong Country. Good lad.
Not that he spends all his time there playing games of course. That wouldn’t be healthy. But I’m more than happy for him to get an early familiarity with games both old and new. For instance, he really likes Katamari Damacy, which is something I actively encourage. But we also play it in the garden. Here’s how…
It’s a scene played out across gardens all across America. Well, mine anyway.
But I wear better shorts.
He’s got this huge inflatable football thing that he rolls around the garden. He sings the Katamari theme music as he does it. And my part is to be one of the stricken humans that he bounces around with the katamari. And then he rolls over me, laughing as he goes. It’s fun, you should try it.
But he also loves Dig Dug. I love that he’s into games that I’ve been into since I was a little kid. Too many people these days dismiss the old games. How could something that looks so primitive be any good? But surely the mark of a good game is whether it’s fun or not, and believe me, a four-year-old wouldn’t play a game that they didn’t consider to be fun.
It’s Courage The Cowardly Dog. Fun and entertaining for kids.
Adults, bring a book or something.
It sounds like I’m overdosing my kid on games, but they aren’t baby-sitting tools, they’re actually very useful. They’re helping his reading, for a start. He’s picked up a lot of words just from the repetition of seeing them in games, and asking me what they mean. I can’t see how this can be anything but a good thing. Yeah, we read books too, but he’s just enjoying doing something that his dad does, and getting a lot out of it himself. I don’t have any problems with that.
And it’s often the case that dad’s help is needed with a tricky part, thus enforcing that all-important father-son bond. Trust me, if you can help him reach previously unexplored game terrain, you’re a hero. Although if I never see that frigging Fairly Oddparents game again, I’ll be a happy man.
Fairly Oddparents – Enter the Cleft. Timmy vs The Bronze Kneecap.
Me vs. my sanity.
One of the great things about kids is that you think you know them, but then, from nowhere, they really surprise you – or you just find them doing something that touches you. Most special are the times when you realise they just want to be like you…
One of the forums I frequent has a weekly games competition. It’s just for fun, a bunch of gamers having a friendly blast on some of the classics (or occasionally something a bit more obscure). Recently we played Galaxian, a particular favourite of mine. I was sitting playing it, and Aidan came and, without a word, he sat next to me with his SP, plugged in his copy of Namco Museum and started playing Galaxian too. As the spacey sounds blared around the room in stereo, I felt happier playing a game than I ever had before.
Mmm, sweet cherries. But who knew that they lay on the path to gaming goodness?
He’s funny. His interest in games, any games, always makes me smile. Every Sunday he’ll ask me, “Dad, what’s your new competition game?” So I’ll tell him, and he’ll watch me play it for a while, and say, “I like that game”. Then, later on in the evening I’ll be sitting watching the news or something, and he’ll be playing something on the Cartoon Network website. Suddenly, he’ll shout out, “Daddy, this is my competition game!” Bless him.
But the latest and truest sign that he’s got a pure gaming soul came just this weekend. Lorraine, my wife, was going through the supermarket ‘paper, looking for any good deals. She just happened to mention that cherries would be on sale this week. Well, that piqued my kid’s interest. “Cherries? I want cherries!” I was curious as he’d never liked them before, because of the stones. So I asked him if he was sure he wanted cherries. “Yes, because then I’ll be like Mr. Do!”
Well, I was floored. I bet if I cut him he’d bleed pixels. He really is his Daddy’s boy, and I couldn’t be happier about it.