Follow by Email

Inspirational Reads

Like Frankenstein's Gamer

April 13, 2010

As my children have gotten older, they've become increasingly more computer game savvy. My daughter, like me, enjoys sitting and playing Civilization III for hours on end. Both my kids fight over the use of the Gameboy, and they even act civilized toward one another long enough to make it through missions of Lego Star Wars together. It's truly a feat to behold when they actually work together to achieve a common goal.

If only something like that would happen to the living room floor.

I digress, however! My daughter--my eight-year-old daughter--knows just enough about Civ III to be dangerous. She knows the mechanics, but the finer aspects of the strategy are still eluding her. For instance, she'll start a war with a neighboring civilization, but not have enough soldiers to complete the overall invasion and conquest of said civilization. It's something that, I assume, she will develop and learn to appreciate over time.

As much as she enjoys playing the game, she also enjoys watching it. This entails her standing at my right shoulder, staring at the screen.

Since I'm still in an emotional trough--though it's big enough now to be a cellar, I assume--I've been cranking through some Civ III for a the better part of a week and a half now. For some reason, it's a little bit cathartic to sit and play and watch the pixels take out my frustrations on my neighbors. France, I have my eyes upon you...

Sunday night, after an afternoon spate of cleaning and organization that left our house slightly less chaotic but much better smelling, while I dinner was cooking and while my wife and I both were winding down from the day, I popped in the Civ III disk and started playing.

My daughter came in and took up her usual place at my right elbow, watching. Except, the problem is, she's an eight-year-old girl, and so her mouth never. stops. making noise.

(Before anyone gets bent out of shape, the five-year-old boy only falls silent long enough to swallow his food and to sleep.)

And so here she is, going to town, telling me what I should be doing in the game. "Oh, you should irrigate there!" "Are you going to fight them?" "You should research gunpowder, it gives you musketmen." "Oh, oh, you definitely need to research and build Sun Tzu's Art of War!"

And on. And on. And on.

Being that I've been married for ten years, I'm fairly good at tuning out female voices. However, when it's one long string of syllables mashed together at such a rate and quantity that it's impossible to decipher where one word or thought ends and the other begins, the task of tuning someone out becomes a lot less easy. My last nerve was being poked and prodded and trod upon verbally to the point where I thought I was going to snap.

However, as much as I wanted to turn and scream "SHUT THE FUCK UP!", some part of my subconscious said, "Hey, Father of the Year, maybe take a moment and tell her why you're doing what you're doing, so that she can learn. Also, it's not cool to scream 'Shut the fuck up' in an eight-year-old's face."

Sage advice, that.

And so, what began as an exercise in frustration and annoyance turned into a lesson in how to play Civ III for her, and a lesson in patience and tolerance for me.

I'll take my award now.


adrienzgirl said...

I am quite certain that you have installed cameras in my home and just recounted something you witnessed here.

My kids love to watch BDC play too, and then the onslaught of questioning begins and I see his stress relief quickly leave and he is just as agitated as before he started killing others.

Bev said...

I can relate to so much of this post. My 7 y.o. son never STFU either, and my last nerve packed up and jumped ship at least a year ago.

Good job being patient! At times like that I admit to sometimes fleeing the scene and locking myself in the bathroom for a few minutes. Oh, and I also drink. ;)

mo.stoneskin said...

10 years is nothing. I can learn to tune out a female voice in 5 seconds...

(other female readers, I'm kidding)

Dude you keep mentioning Civ III. Truth is, I haven't played Civ since II came out. I played that non-stop for two years. Can a Civ II man make a comeback and play Civ III? I'm nervous.

Eric said...

Is Civ III similar to Sim City?

Will Shannon said...

Well, my father had absolutely no compunction whatsoever telling us to shut the fuck up at ages I am sure were younger than eight.

We turned out fine, right?


Scope said...


I sense the Dr. Evil "Shhh" bit in your future.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

What? The king of the cumshot is a patient and loving dad?!

words...words...words... said...

I can't imagine anyone has ever been called a hero for not swearing at a little girl. But you, my friend, are a hero.

Also, something has been bugging me lately. Why do they make Lego versions of video games? What is the thinking there? It's not like you actually put anything together. Why wouldn't the same game be fine without making it Lego people? This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night.

MJenks said...

@ AdrienzGirl: The questions don't bother me too much. They don't ask too many questions, although the boy likes to ask when I'll be building railroads in the game. Silly one track mind kid.

@ Bev: Oh, I retreat to the bathroom, as well. That's kind of a last resort, mostly because I also fire off that other defensive mechanism, which is to say that I fill the void with stink to keep them at bay. Which means that I have to sit in there with it. So, yes, I have peace of mind for a moment, but it also smells of ass.

@ Mo: One of my friends from college was a devoted Civ II addict, and he transitioned over to III with no problems. I think he might have even moved on to IV; I'm not sure. But then, he's a Civilization junky. That, and the Romanovs, are his two great addictions.

@ Eric: Yeah, it's kind of like a Sim History. The way I play it, though, it's more like Risk with different units. I consider it a failure if I make it 2050 and I haven't taken over the world yet.

@ Will: True, but then you and Pat aren't girls. So...

I will, however, totally buy my kids gallon jugs of Jim Beam for when they go off to college.

@ Scope: You're assuming I haven't done that already? I've been married for ten years, dude!

Well, almost ten years...

@ Amber: I dunno...I've never heard about Peter North's parenting skills.

Ha! Porn joke!

I try my best. I make no guarantees, though, when teen age hits them both.

@ words^3: You know...I wondered that, too, about the Lego games. So, I bought the original Lego Star Wars when it was cheap, popped it in to see what was up, and was delighted to see that it was awesome. I think the thing about it is that the games don't take themselves too seriously, plus there's the ability to smash things, Lego-style. Plus, for the kids, it's pretty easily mastered, and it shuts them the hell up for an hour or so.

Jill VT said...

Good for you, Dad. There's a lesson here for me.

Wynn said...

I'm sure she'll looove this when she finds and reads your entire blog. Including the intricate erotica.

Frank said...

And this is why I can never be a least a good one.

Joshua said...

Oh? I think I'm in trouble. I'm not supposed to say things like that to my kids? Oops. I guess they shouldn't watch "Predator" with me like I did with my dad when I was younger, huh?

snowelf said...

ooooh...I feel your pain.

My five year old NEVER stops talking, Never.