posted by Joe Anaya on May 7th, 2012

Video games are the new baseball. Kids bond with each other by wiggling their thumbs and manipulating the digital 0s and 1s to make their electronic counterpart find gold, blow up rebel bases and avoid flying turtle shells. When my son was around 7 years-old, he was at a friends house and they were going to play video games. With plenty of support from a gaggle of moms and mom journalists who don’t like to play video games, my wife insisted that, “There be no video games for our son.” As much as my wife tried, I refused to be banned from MY game system. Although, I did agree to only play my games when he wasn’t around. (After all, whatever damage video games do, had already taken their toll on my psyche. So, what was the point of me quitting?) Anyway, up to that fateful day, my son had never really played any video games.

So, the boys were in the other room firing up the Wii with something like Lego Star Wars and the parents were in the kitchen chatting. From the TV room I heard, “No, don’t go over there.” “Just jump across.” I also heard my son, “I don’t know how.” The playtime continued, “Stop going over the cliff.” “I’m not trying to.” My wife and the other parents were engrossed in some conversation about the color of their recently remodeled counter top, but I am especially sensitive to the sounds of kids getting frustrated because one of them doesn’t know how to play the game everyone else wants to play.

I have vivid memories of when I was little and trying to play baseball with my older cousins. After fighting for my turn at bat, and taking a few ugly swings, they were yelling, “Choke up on the bat.” And I responded, “What does that mean?” But they just kept yelling from the field, “Choke up.” “I don’t understand.” Fed up with hearing his kids yell at me and me yelling back, my uncle came over and showed me how to “choke up” but that wasn’t the last time other kids were irritated with me for not knowing the rules of the game. So as my son was growing, I tried to expose him to various sports so he would never be called out for not knowing how to “choke up” or what double-dribble was or pass-interference. I hadn’t realized yet that video games were the new baseball.

After a nice evening, we went home and put our son to bed. My wife looks at me with an earnest and yet defeated look and admits, “I think we need to get a Wii.” She had heard the boys complaining about our son not knowing how to work the controls or even understanding the basic premise of the games. “It’s not fair for him to be the only one who doesn’t know how to play.” I whole-heartedly agree. Then she adds, “Of course we’ll have to put limits on how much he can play.” Of course we will, and the next day I pick up a Wii and a couple of non-violent games for our future gamer. And on the way out, I grab that Ultimate Alliance game I’ve been eyeing.

File Under Mr. Cool, Weekend Warrior