If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I did something yesterday I haven’t done in almost a year. I disconnected myself from the Internet, aside from acknowledging a couple of private messages, just because I wanted to. I’ve been off a day or two here and there for things like work, family, and sickness this year. But I haven’t done it just to do other fun things since my vacation last October. It felt good.
I spent the whole day with the grandson. We were to go to a dove hunt yesterday with my brother. It’s an annual thing I’ve been doing with my Dad since the 90’s. Dad didn’t make it this year because he was in Florida. The three of us who were to go got our wires crossed and didn’t make it to the hunt, so we did some target shooting and had lunch, then the grandson and I came home.
On the drive back, we listened to the first quarter of a college football game on the radio. We were so into it by the time we got home, we ended up listening to the second quarter together in the boy’s room. I’m not that into football, but it’s a fun experience when you have a seven-year old who’s into the game to high-fives you when your team scores. By halftime our team was so far ahead we knew the rest would be boring — football on the radio is only exciting when the game is close — so we decided we needed to do something else.
As we were talking about what to do next, the boy said, “So when are we going to get on some ‘H-A-L-O’ together like you promised?” He’s taken to randomly spelling things out for some reason. I said, “How about ‘n-o-w?'” So we played, with a short break for dinner, until it was time for him to start winding down for bed.
Then I jumped into my own personal profile, which has significantly higher difficulty settings, and played until my own bedtime. And I have to say, it did me good to zone out on a single-player video game for several hours. My head feels better today than it has in weeks. There’s a bit of a backstory about the boy and the playing of the HALO.
He’s been wanting a shooter for the X-Box for as long as he’s known what shooters are. I’ve been against it — all us grownups have. What he really wants is to pay the super-adult games he sees advertised and hears (only slightly) older kids talking about. Things like Assassin’s Creed and Black Ops. Um . . . NO!
HALO is a sort of compromise after a year and a half of saying no. At least in that one, the opponents are aliens, the splatter quotient is low, and the whole thing tends to the cartoonish.
There was a meltdown at one point because he wasn’t allowed to check it out from the library. Not the sort of meltdown that demands discipline for inappropriate willfulness. More the sort that requires hugs and a careful conversation. He was sad because he didn’t understand why we weren’t allowing him to do something that he’d be allowed to do if he were spending the night with a friend who had the game. Yes, he’s willful. He’s also observant, and a wee bit assertive.
So the grownups relented, and I’ve been playing the game with him. I have to say, if the first three missions are any indication, the HALO game we’re playing is no worse than half the stuff he could get at on the tv. As long as he’s supervised with it and his gaming time is limited, I don’t see a problem. It’s a good incentive to get homework done, and it gives us something to interact with in a collaborative way. We’ll probably end up buying it.
We’ve not worked ourselves up to cooperative two-player action yet, because we just play the game differently. He doesn’t understand why I do things like take a sniper rifle and follow several meters behind the rest of the squad whenever possible, for example. And I don’t understand why he does things like shoot barrels for no reason in a game in which ammo is a scarce and precious resource. Or why he likes to charge into a room full of aliens, hold the trigger down, and spin around in circles until he’s either out of ammo or he gets them all. So we’ve developed a way taking turns.
He has a campaign set up on the Easy difficulty level. When he’s playing I mostly watch, but now and then he’ll let me clear a particularly difficult room or show him how to beat a boss when he’s having trouble. That way I learn the maps. He teaches me how to do things I’m not naturally good at. I am terrible at driving the vehicles with the two controller sticks, for example, and he’s way better at throwing grenades accurately than I am.
When he’s not on the machine and no one’s watching tv, I play my own missions on normal difficulty and figure out how to do things he needs to know, but would have a hard time figuring out on his own. Like how to zoom a sniper scope effectively and how to turn on night vision. So we’re both better at this game after a week or so of playing than either of us would be if we played on our own, given how little time we actually spend on it.
The boy’s gotten me back into gaming after years of being out. Because somebody with gaming experience has got to supervise and make sure things don’t get too outrageous, right? 😉 It’s the responsible thing to do, lol.
Speaking of which, he’s out doing his regular Sunday thing with some of his other grandparents. Since no one’s using the tv right now, I’m going to squeeze in a mission or two while I can. Check you later this afternoon.
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