Family and video games


#1

I’ve looked around the forum and haven’t seen a topic about this so I’ve decided to make my own.

I want to talk about video games and family interactions. Have video games been a major component of your relationship to another family member? If yes then how? In what way, discussing games you liked or playing together? Or did you had to explain gaming to another family member (most likely parent or grandparent)? Has that caused any funny or interesting conversations to pop up? Or were they just stressful?

I am gonna start with myself, listing each family member in order by how much they play games, starting from bottom and working way up top.

Mom: mom only played games like Tetris or Lemmings though I have never seen her play any video game, as far as I can tell.

She occasionally gets interested in games with more ‘artistic’ style, but even that is rare. Overall she isn’t interested in video games at all but generally she respects my hobby.

One of funnier game and mom related conversations was the one I and my dad had to convince her that Mario (of Super Mario fame) wasn’t polish. She was very insistent he had to be because of ‘polish plumber’ stereotype. She wasn’t convinced by us. I admire having this much dedication to your fanon.

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Dad: now dad is very much a Gamer. One of my oldest memories involves playing a kid’s point and click adventure on his lap. Both me and my brother would often watch him play video games that we were too young for or had troubles with.

I remember watching him play Morrowind, not yet knowing sometime later I would play that game and how much it would influence my life. Some of games I real like I have never played personally (or very little)- I just watched my dad play them. I remember waiting for him to come back from work so we could continue playing Gothic (speaking of- does anyone remember this serie? It’s been years since I’ve had any contact with any of the games from the serie but they definitely seemed unique at that time).

Or asking him to help me beat a section in game that seemed impossible to 12 years old. We actually share steam account even! Wish he would stop buying games just because it’s on sale though (he gets like that with anything that’s on sale)…

Cw: discussion of child’s death and car accident.

Brother: one of my most precious memories of my brother involve video games. Rayman 2 & 3 were probably our favourite games, or at least there were mine (I can’t ask my brother if he agrees). Watching my brother beat Rayman 2 was utterly magical experience- I remember how scary we thought some levels were or how we got stuck at one point and my brother had to ask the kid we borrowed the game from what we were supposed to do (it was the introduction to rockets with legs). The Rayman world just seemed so alien and vibrant to us, and it felt so special to discover this bizarre world.

Rayman 3 was a bit different cause it is a lot more humorous than 2 is but it still had this magical alien atmosphere (especially at some parts-the area where you get your hands back (long story) is one of my favourites) with a humor that was a hit with two pre-teens.

Another category of games we enjoyed together were video games I have no interest on my own and never had- shooters and racing games. What’s the appeal of watching someone play genre you have no interest in? Well, I have no idea! I think the only person I liked watching play those games were my brother so I think that was the appeal for me. While shooters were nothing to write home about (for me) racing games were a different story. Since they often lack story or it’s very minimal we made up our own stories- why we raced, who we were etc.- which made those games so entertaining for us. After all you get so much more invested in something after you build a whole emotional arc for it!

Fun enough even if my brother probably played a lot more games than I did he never got into Morrowind, so it was a rare game I was better at. Which was a big deal for a young competitive me. Speaking of competition…

Multi-player. I remember mine and my brother’s introduction to a proper multi player (not the ‘okay I hold the arrow buttons while you shoot’ kind) very clearly- it was mind blowing at the time. While we had internet it was only real available to us under parents supervision so we had very little experience with it and what it could do. Now imagine having your dad come back to work and saying you two could play on two separate computers against each other!!! I remember our astonishment at seeing the same scene from two different laptops from two perspectives- two jedi facing against another controlled by two players. It’s a funny thing to look back to since it shows how much technology has progressed- no kid today would be astonished by this concept.

But getting back to the main topic- now armed with this new knowledge we could pursue new highs of gaming- to go even further than we ever went before…! Which meant playing Lego Star Wars (based on original trilogy) on the same computer with a way too small keyboard.

While it wasn’t a very comfortable experience it was definitely one of my most cherished ones- Star Wars meant so, so much to my brother and even though I didn’t care that much on my own I cared a lot when I was with him. First of- legitimately a very good game, that I wish I could get back to. Second of- the humor. I can’t tell if it holds up but at the time it was so formative to me. I know we mimicked cutscenes we found especially funny or made goofy noises at each other based on one character makes.

I have mentioned it in another topic but before the last mission in Episode IV (since you don’t have to play them in order we have already finished Episode VI) my brother got hit by a car and died three days later.

I remember some time after I was told siting down by our computer- located in his room- and clicking on Lego Star Wars icon. I’ve asked my dad if he would play with me and he off course agreed. You aren’t gonna deny something as trivial as this to your last remaining child that bursted into tears every five minutes and couldn’t sleep alone. I remember my mom walking in and saying it’s good I am playing something I and my brother had played together. That it’s a way of remembering him. Honouring him.

But I didn’t want to remember him, I’ve wanted to play a video game with my stupid brother, to get into arguments over our play styles, to sabotage each other’s plans, to finish a level after minutes of frustration. And I didn’t give a shit about honouring anything at that point in time. Looking back, my inner thoughts were too harsh but I can’t real blame myself or my parents. None of us knew what to do or say. There was no way out of this situation that wouldn’t involve emotional scars.

To close off the Lego Star Wars part… I don’t know how long after his death this was- I assume it was after Christmas (he died week before.yeah.) but I am not sure- but I was looking through stuff on computer when I’ve found a document titled ‘presents’. It was a cryptic title so I’ve clicked on it. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had not seen my brother’s-my freshly dead brother- Christmas wish list. It was a small thing but one that made me realise that my brother had no plans to die- why would he?! He was 12 years old boy. He was looked forward to Christmas he wouldn’t live to see. And to playing another Lego Star Wars game on that day.

After beating Lego Star Wars with my dad I never touched another Lego game since. I can’t.

Sorry for such a gloomy first post in topic and probably weird grammar.


#2

Thanks for sharing your story.

My mom’s not much for games, but she loved Tetris Attack. None of the subsequent entries in the Puzzle League series appealed to her the way the cute Yoshi and friends stuff did. I fondly remember playing together, dropping too many garbage blocks, and her taking her hand off the controller to smack me on the head repeatedly, asking “how do you like it, huh?”

My dad is a big nerd, so while he’s not super into games as a whole, he did introduce me to the world of Star Wars games. He gave me a burnt CD with a pirated copy of Jedi Academy that I played through over and over, even dipping into the multiplayer, mods, and roleplaying servers (oof). It’s also what made me look for other Star Wars games, so I guess I have my dad to thank for me playing KotOR II.

My three little siblings wouldn’t play anything that wasn’t Mario, Crash, or Spyro for a long time, much to my younger self’s dismay. They also weren’t big on competitive multiplayer even within those games, which makes sense, because I didn’t have any friends to play with and had little sense of how to hold back. But they’ve evolved over the years, and will now play Nintendo titles that are less cute/more complicated. My little brother is probably the one with the broadest tastes, since he grew up on Minecraft and Youtube; I get excited whenever I see that he’s into something like Mother, Undertale, or Dangan Ronpa. We’re both pretty quiet people, so it’s good to have connections over shared experiences to draw on.


#3

I have a lot of memories of watching my dad play Starcraft as a kid and understanding very little of what was actually going on until I was older. That was the only game I’ve ever seen him spend any amount of time on, let alone spend the majority of his free time playing.

My relationship with my brother was largely formed through playing video games. If there was a new pokemon game, I’d get one version and he’d get the other. If we could play a game together we would, and if we couldn’t, we would either take turns playing or just sit and watch. I remember watching him play Final Fantasy VII more than any other game for some reason. I think his interest in other things began to overshadow video games once he started college so it’s not something we really talk about anymore. I’m the only person in my immediate family that still plays games as a hobby. I have a cousin who loves video games but he’s 15 and lives a state away so we don’t really talk except for holidays.


#4

My mom’s gaming days ended in the Centipede era, but I remember she was very good. We had a floppy disk version of the game back in the early 2000s and we would try to beat each other’s high scores. I’m happy to say I (barely) nudged into the top spot before she admitted defeat. Plus, she was always very supportive during my “I’m going to quit my job and make games for a while” phase.

My dad is a complete Luddite - he doesn’t do anything on the computer besides e-mail. But I still managed to bond with him over a different type of game, pinball. He just turned 60, but still goes to the arcade near their house every week to keep his skills sharp. He taught me some tricks but he remains the pinball wizard of the family. It makes me really happy that our interests can still intersect, albeit obliquely.

My sister and I are essentially polar opposites in terms of personality, lifestyles, interests, you name it, but as we’ve become adults our relationship has been much better. She asked me about Fortnite a few weeks ago and I was so surprised - for a game to even register on her radar is a major event. We chatted about it for a while and though I don’t think she’s interested in playing, I like that we can find common ground around the cultural impact of games like that and build on our capacity for discussion.

Long story short, I guess my relationships with my family are only tangentially built on games, but even though we never played together, our conversations and cultural awareness is shaped by their presence. It’s nice!


#5

Never really got to connect with my parents through video games but I will add this: my dad liked to make fun of me by making the “HA! HA!” noises that action JRPG characters often make while attacking.


#6

Thanks for sharing that story, @czerwonyrower, it was powerful and moving.

My first memory of playing games with my dad involves the 2-player versus mode included in Super Mario All-Stars on the SNES, which we played sitting cross-legged on the carpet about two feet away from the living room TV. I had twitchy kid reflexes, so I was significantly better than him, but I could tell that the more rounds I won the more he’d started getting frustrated and disinterested. And I didn’t want him to stop playing with me, so I’d intentionally let him win every couple of rounds to keep him engaged, until eventually I got the timing wrong and he made an excuse to go do something else and we never played that game again. And now, having written it down, that’s not a very happy memory? But I guess the bit I remember most is how much I enjoyed that session while it lasted.

When I was older we team-tagged a bunch of the old Lucasarts games - Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Full Throttle, The Dig - which mostly amounted to me calling him in to solve all the puzzles that stumped me, and him advising me to rub everything in my inventory on everything in the environment until something worked. We played the Wing Commander franchise and Command & Conquer in parallel, sharing war stories and tactics. As I moved on to RPGs and turned-based strategy games, his interest in games waned, and by the time I left for college he’d decided games were a waste of time and stopped playing them entirely. It makes me a little sad - and I keep telling him about new games I think he’d love to no avail - but I suppose people and their tastes change.

My mother and wife are generally uninterested in video games, though my wife plays Two Dots on her phone. The closest my wife and I have come to gaming together is when we played a session of The Quiet Year one evening, which was adorable because she studiously avoided or thwarted every opportunity to introduce danger or conflict into the game, turning the narrative into a sort of Ghibliesque postapocalyptic Stardew Valley.

My daughter is barely a month old, but I’ve already had a few thoughts about the games I want to share with her some day. Ideally we’ll start with games that allow you to interact with the world in ways other than just murder (and that maybe aren’t horrible towards women?). In the meantime, our “gaming together” has consisted of me naming a Reaper after her in XCOM 2 (who went on to become dope as hell!) and learning how to balance her in my lap and bottlefeed one-handed while blowing up fascists in Battletech.


#7

I’m pretty much the only person who plays games in my entire family. I have a cousin that used to game a bit but has pretty much fallen out of it as he became a father, which is very fair.

Most of my close family thought I was wasting my time. Which, fair enough, I kind of was. Though I eventually found level design software for games like Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and Quake, and I got really into that for a while.

Years later I now have a 10-year career in the game industry, so my family has sort of begrudgingly accepted that it wasn’t a total waste of time and effort.

My nephew, who is 8 now, is starting to get into games. My sister says she’d like it if we could play a game together, but there is a 10 hour time difference so that makes things a bit difficult. Plus, he’s 8, so I’m not sure what we’d play.

I’ve tried getting the rest of my immediate family to try games. My mother can’t seem to understand simple electronics, so it’s kind of hopeless with her, and my dad has put in some effort, but I feel it’s mostly to humor me instead of something he actually wants to do.


#8

Like some other folks here I connected with my older brother by playing video games. We’d sit down for something like Final Fantasy VII and he’d put me in charge of reading the strategy guide so I’d feel included. As adults, we grew to have incredibly opposing political beliefs and video games are one of the handful of topics we can discuss in-depth without getting into a disagreement.

When I was little I’d try to get my mom and dad to play games with me but they could never pick it up and weren’t particularly interested.

However, I grew up in a strict Catholic household and I remember my mother being hyper concerned and convinced that I was playing as a demon in Final Fantasy XI: Online (it was…a cat person). Funny now, wasn’t funny at the time lol.


#9

my parents figured out the eight different layouts in the matching pairs game in super mario bros 3 and laminated the sheet of card they drew them out on


#10

My parents often seemed interested in games when I was a teenager and started to become interested, and my mom especially sort of tried to get into them (probably less out of a genuine interest a desire for something to share with me). Anyway, I tried to show my mom Portal and have her play it, thinking that was a good choice since it wasn’t violent and you can play it at whatever pace you want. Maybe it wasn’t a good choice, because she struggled with first-person movement (as anyone would who doesn’t have experience) and because she wasn’t entirely comfortable with navigating 3D space, she couldn’t quite grasp how to use portals.

It made me realize how inaccessible most games are to people who haven’t played them before. I feel a barrier to entry in many genres myself, like strategy games; I feel like I’m not smart/strategic enough to play Crusader Kings, mostly because I don’t have any experience with the genre. Complex 3D navigation is a prerequisite for most action games/shooters, and it’s really hard to develop those skills without a lot of experience. My girlfriend struggles with this when she plays games occasionally, and it makes me wish there were easier ways to get started. I think a lot of parents and family members probably experience this; wanting to get into games because of their child/spouse/sibling/whatever, but not knowing how to get past the initial difficulty.


#11

I game with my cousins constantly. We mostly play Overwatch online, but we’ll still break out the N64 or Dreamcast when we’re together. It’s pretty fun!


#12

My family has a mixed relationship with games.

My dad was always mildly interested in games. He would play with us from time to time and he just found them neat and interesting which is probably why we had them in our house to begin with. He was more into very specific niche PC games like F14 Tomcat, Seawolf, and Flight Simulator. He was never massively interested in games, and as games got more complex he kind of left them behind in his 30’s and 40’s. I remember where he more or less dropped them entirely, which was when we got the N64 and Shadows of the Empire. From that point on, all 3D games made him feel motion sick and he just couldn’t enjoy them anymore. Occasionally he’ll get involved with basic multiplayer games like Videoball but that’s about it.

My mom almost never played any video games, but she really enjoyed social games with friends and crossword puzzles. She used to be involved in a bunco group that would meat once a month, and she always liked to play card games like Skip-Bo or Uno whenever we broke them out. Now that I’m older and I’ve gotten some experience with them, I really enjoy working on crossword puzzles together with my mom. I feel like me strike a good balance of her knowing the pop culture trivia of her time and the more ingrained crossword puzzle ephemera that gets re-used and I’m good with modern slang and such.

My brother on the other hand is a lifelong gamer like me, although he’s expanded a lot into tabletop gaming whereas I stick purely to the pixels. Partly that’s because he married into a family that’s also big into the scene and has a constant source of people to play with and I don’t, but he’s also much more willing to make those sorts of inroads through gaming shops and conventions where I kind of loathe the idea of working my way into a new social group. I went to PAX Unplugged with all of them, and I just can’t force myself to mosey up to a table full of people I don’t know and start playing with them. I play games online with him all the time, typically once a week but often more.