Monday, January 12, 2009

Games for Mom

You wish your mom was that badass. I sure do. Maybe then she'd play Animal Crossing or date Shane Bettenhausen.

Like so many other "casuals" out there, Mom recently bought herself a Nintendo DS. I, of course, being a gamer, took it upon myself to try to educate her. I brought over a boatload of DS games, everything from Professor Layton to Animal Crossing to New Super Mario Bros. But, "I don't like to read manuals," she said. Understandable. You can put the hen in a new coop, but you can't change the hen. She wants simple, I'll give her simple.

Clubhouse Games is so delightfully simple, I really have nothing snarky to say about it.

Therefore my coup, or so I thought, was Clubhouse Games. After watching her while away the hours playing Hearts on a relic of an iBook, I thought I had a surefire hit on my hands, but, alas, "It goes too fast," she said, and went back to the laptop. (Too fast? It's a card game, not Contra.)

She began regretting her purchase of a DS, like so many "casuals" seem to do (her friend bought a Wii for bowling but returned it in disappointment). I was ready to give up, but Liv Tyler gave me new hope.

She's not in her underwear or in Elvendar, just chatting inanely.

Thus, I took one last risk and purchased Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir (and a copy of TouchMaster because I thought it was porn). I felt a little goofy ("People won't think I'm buying this for myself, will they?? Here, you buy it!"), but at the smart pricepoint of $19.99 (way to go, Big N), it was worth a chance. I wrapped it up for Christmas, stepped off, and let it do its magic.

"It's basically just 'Where's Waldo', Mom." "Don't say that! It takes the fun out of it!"

A few days later, I had a mother who spent most of her time on the couch, glued into a DS until the battery ran out of juice. I have to say, it was still a bit of a thrill to see my 58 year-old ma enjoying a video game. And without my help! The only other times I'd seen her game were when she was playing Super Mario Bros. with me when I was 6 (lifting that controller up in the air every time she jumped like she was churning butter) or driving backwards on a Super Mario Kart course in 1992 ("Why is the turtle in the cloud waving at me?" she'd say, cranking the controller to the left or right whenever she'd turn).

While other moms are having virtual sex in Second Life, my mom is having virtual scavenger hunts and has no life.

But I worried it wouldn't last. Even though her favorite thing about the game was "all the cute cats that are sitting around all over!", I've played enough adventure games in my day to know that when it's over, it's over. I began looking for step 2, which I thought was probably going to be something by the highly successful publisher of Peggle, PopCap Games. Amazing Adventures: The Forgotten Ruins is just a rip-off of the Mystery Case Files stuff, so it can't fail, right?

Amazing Adventures--it's no Professor Layton, and according to Mom, could use cats.

I'm afraid it still sits, though, mostly unplayed. "Nothing is as good as that first one, that MillionHeir! 'Heir' with an 'H,' you know." Oh, I knew. That's when I realized Mom had discovered her very own Final Fantasy VII, a game that, no matter how much critical disdain it would pick up over the years (right, because people will still be talking about Mystery Case Files in 10 years), would forever be her holy grail.

Luckily, she's finally gotten into Touchmaster (heh) a little bit, or at least the solitaire portion.

I thought it was a game about groping women on crowded Japanese subways.

"I never have time for any of the other things I plan to do because I keep wasting time playing video games," she confided in me. My reply, "Well, I never have time for any of the video games I plan to play because I keep wasting time on other things."

Seems fair enough, really. Mom, maybe you need to learn better time management skills, like many of us gamers end up doing. Or, maybe it's just solitaire addiction.

Peggle will be destroying lives and marriages anew this March, including within my own family. Or so I hope.

Jesse Dylan Watson wants Google to kindly stop turning "moderate safesearch" on. If one searches for TouchMaster with it off, one deserves what one gets.

1 comment:

  1. ("Why is the turtle in the cloud waving at me?" she'd say, cranking the controller to the left or right whenever she'd turn)... I loled (probably too much).

    Pro entry :) now I know what DS game to try out on my own mother. Thxu!