I had grown tired of being the only one in house who played video games. I was sad at the layer of dust that was collecting on the second Wii remote. So I made a decision that it was time to broaden my son’s horizons and introduce him to the video game.
The Bean’s prior game experience has been limited mainly to driving simulators at Chuck E. Cheese’s. He didn’t really “play” those games as much as sat there turning the steering wheel. It didn’t seem to matter to him if I’d even put a token in the machine or not. Complicating maters is that as a rule, the Bean isn’t much for instruction. Try to tell the kid how to do something, even if it’s something he’s struggling with, and he’ll howl “noooo!” and quit. I knew that I would have to tread lightly if this plan was going to work.
I lured him in with the so-classic-it’s-almost-a-cliché, “Wanna see something cool?” The Bean watched intently as I set up the game. Until now, he had only known the TV as something that played a movie or a TV show and the idea that it had another function intrigued him.
We started with bowling—an easy game with a very high action to reward ratio. He liked it well enough and although there were a few close calls when he either came close to crashing into the TV or throwing the controller through the window behind him, he got fairly decent at it.
Next, I took it up a notch and brought out the balance board to get him skiing. The game, We Ski is a skiing simulator that gives the player free range of a replica of a 9 run mountain, complete with chairlifts, annoying music and announcements from the loudspeaker and other skiers who sometimes get in your way. I had nearly returned the game after growing bored with it the first night, but because of it’s ease I decided to keep it for exactly this occasion.
I set the kid up on the board, placed the controllers in his hand and ran him through the controls. I was amazed that he was listening intently to the instructions, but I figured that his appetite was whet from bowling and he was now properly motivated. In a matter of minutes, he was “skiing.”
It didn’t surprise me that he loved it, but it did surprise me how quickly it all clicked for him. He was pressing buttons and navigating menus. Catching air on jumps and slaloming through moguls. I sat on the couch behind him with a goofy grin, watching the surreal image of an avatar of my son being controlled by my son. It was like when you aim a video camera which is plugged into a TV at the screen.
It took less than a half-hour for him to be completely hooked, making the experiment a rousing success. Though we’re a long way away from playing Rock Band together, or even any of the Lego games, all journeys begin with a single step. And as a bonus, the Bean now talks about wanting to go skiing—for real. My evil plot to get him to love all of the things that I love to do, but WonderWife™ does not, is coming into fruition!