I enjoyed wasting numerous hours of my youth in front of a monitor. The Atari, the Commodore, my brother's Nintendo and then his Sega, and especially my/our PC for my latest Sid Meier obsession. I remember the happy Christmas nights driving home from our aunt's house playing the little one-game handhelds before Gameboy came out. I read a book at BYU that I think was called Joystick Nation about the history of video gaming, and about the only thing in the book I had missed was Pong and the precursor to Asteroids.
I knew and I know it was a waste of time. It still is. I enjoy it, and that is/was reason enough. I had no idea anything good would ever come of it. This month I have been learning that what I was really doing was preparing to be a good father to my son.
The son of a gamer becomes a gamer. At almost 5 years of age he has learned to handle many of the challenges of the Mario system, but there is much he cannot do. His admiration and pride are reserved for those people who can win Mario. He told us at dinner he wants to see his grandmother in the summer because she won a Mario challenge once during our last break. He wants to see Uncle Steve because he is a Mario Master.
His daddy is the Great Dad in the Whole Wide World. My Valentine from him - taped up in my office - declares his love for me because I helped Buzz Lightyear defeat Zurg. Every night he prays I will get to or beat the next Mario boss - prayers that are being regularly answered by a boyman who unknowingly spent his whole life training for this part of fatherhood. Last night for family fun, I finally beat the Toy Story III level we had been working on as a family for over a week and then I beat Kamek in MarioParty DS at bedtime. He can't stop hugging me, telling me how much he loves and admires me, and how thankful he is for my video game prowess.
I have never been more thankful for that playtime nor enjoyed it so much. Sometimes it's good to be the dad. And I continue to be thankful for odd answers to prayer.