Wednesday, June 14, 2006

No Gamer I

I print this for the amusement of all of you young enough to have grown up playing computer RPGs. I am not so young, but for the sake of bonding and conversational topics with my teen-age son I've had to venture into it. I made it all the way through one of the Final Fantasies with his help, but I confess I still don't grasp the weltanschauung of the little world inside the box.

My wife is even less interested in it, and she finds our father-son conversations laughable.

SON: "You walked all the way from the priory to the city? Wow."

ME: "Yeah, it didn't take that long. And my endurance stats went up a level."

WIFE: (rolling eyes) "You sat in a chair for an hour and you mean to tell me you got stronger?"

So son got himself a new game, one of the most elaborate things I've ever seen. He urged me to create a character and play a little, and finally I consented. When he was gone to his mom's, I started playing.

These things always seem to start the same. Some calamity happens, and your character is dispatched on a quest. In this case some emperor who looks like Ed McMahon but talks like Captain Picard give you a precious gem and urges you to take it to his long-lost son, who has grown up in ignorance of his true identity! The fate of the world depends on it! But you must act quickly!

So dutifully I charge off to the place he tells me to start looking, then get on my horse (literally) and head for the next destination, after receiving more breathless pleading to make haste, make haste, the enemy is at the gates, it may already be too late.

And I do that, and within three stops I'm at the actual gates of hell, trying to help some forlorn captain of our guards charge into the dark tower and rescue someone and close some portal that is sending evil demons into our land, etc., etc. And I'm thinking, "Isn't this a little deep for my level 1 character?"

So I ask son about it and he laughs. Apparently I'm a nitwit for actually doing what I'm told. He says you can just ignore Emperor McMahon and go off and pick flowers for two years and then get back to the quest for the emperor's son and it will be right there where it was when you loaded up the game. And all the better if you spend a lot of time doing little things like fighting wolves and stealing gold and building up your strengths and skills before you confront hell.

What the hell. Here I was being all responsible and dutiful and listening to these fictional characters who seemed so earnest about needing my help.

The cool thing is, in this game you really can pick flowers for two years.