Special Report by Agent Parker
A funny thing happened the other evening. With our tax return in hand, I promised the kids one purchase each to celebrate Uncle Sam’s annual kickback.
Not surprisingly but certainly with some geek pride swelling in my heart, both chose video games.
My daughter, age 10, dug through a rack of Wii games (thank goodness for our backwards-compatible-to-one-generation Wii U) and stumbled across a copy of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” game that follows the style of the current Nickelodeon series we all enjoy. After a brief debate between that and “Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW!,” she found it was easier being green.
My son, who is 4, quickly decided upon “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze” after having fallen in love with the demo version at various GameStop, Walmart, and Target locations in our area. The “Turtles” title is a straight-through, smash-’em-up side scroller, so it’s been easy for the two of them to grasp how to trounce Foot Soldiers and Krang robots with ease.
Things got interesting when they first booted up the new “DKC” title – and even more interesting when I started my own file after they went to bed that night. While the kids were playing, they’d tumble almost repeatedly into some of the trickier pits of death scattered across DK Island. Finally, they’d break down and ask dear old Dad for help.
Boss battles presented nearly insurmountable challenges for my little gamers, and once again, it was Dad to the rescue.
When they went to bed that night, I began my own file and unlocked two secret levels before reaching the initial boss battle. Truth be told, they weren’t hard to discover, but I wasn’t bickering with a younger brother or older sister and attempting to plow through levels as quickly as possible. I’m not telling them about the secrets just yet, but the time will come when they see the completion rate on the game and discover mine is higher with less levels finished and wonder how Dad can again save the day.
This experience isn’t new in our house, and it’s likely repeated in homes filled with all sorts of geekiness across the globe. It’s one I’ve come to cherish.
I will never be able to dunk a basketball, but if I shake the rust off, I could probably still kick your ass with Bill Clinton in “NBA Jam.”
Growing up a geek, there was no heroism in completing a Mega Man title before it had to be returned to Blockbuster or rescuing Princess Toadstool without utilizing either a warp zone or the well-known but still-difficult-to-master extra life trick in level 3-1 of the original “Super Mario Bros.”
Now, there are entire championships dedicated to speed runs and other masterful feats of digital dominance.
I earn my own achievement trophies when I blow my kids’ minds by defeating a particularly difficult level (for them) or unlocking something they had no idea existed. It’s not often that I get to be the hero, so I’ll take my tech trophies when I can get them.
Agent Parker is a Northeastern Pennsylvania-based artist, writer, father and geek. Follow his nonsense on twitter @PeterParker_Pa and see his pop culture goodies at PeterParkerPA.com.