It was another one of those dreaded moments as a single mother where you ask God to save you and drop you somewhere else–anywhere else. The dread faced before me wasn’t as simple as the wrong diaper in hand in the center of the most crowded mall on a Saturday. Or looking under the stroller to find that your youngest had done his own shopping five stores back. It was a video game store. A small one at that, on the main shopping street some blocks from my home.
My 8 year-old son had effectively dragged my tired, hungry self into the hot, stuffy store that afternoon and my empty stomach crushed in on itself as the heat made my head spin. Eating and running errands never worked for me and came with consequences both ways. Shortly after entry it only became worse as I was bombarded by stares from teenagers wondering just what the hell I was doing in their territory with my beautiful, priceless, now-hopelessly-hyper two boys as they left me in my suffering and ran off to seemingly every part of the place at once.
Now I love video games–in fact–I still consider myself amongst the many I have yet to find who survived my teenager years along with me where the Super Nintendo and Sega reigned supreme. Where Friday nights of partying and getting into trouble were traded in by my hermit-like self to stay home and play Final Fantasy II as it was before they ruined it. It is to my everlasting sadness that this amazing game was ruined when they brought it to the PS1. I’ll never forget the tears I nearly cried that night so many years ago when I returned to the castle of Baron around 4am, only to have all my beloved Cecil’s script type out before my eyes as something else. Something fake. My beautiful Dark Knight was gone… It was enough to make me go to the box and instruction manual–that was like reading a recipe to boiling an egg for a geek–and see if they had made it possible to change paths of your toons; like an alternate ending found in many games today. But as I flipped through the pages the sad truth overtook me as the very words that once crossed the boundary of my heart from flat to inspiring when I first got my SNES, now sounded like a badly-adapted North American Sailor Moon episode. They had killed my Cecil long before I could reach the end of the game and I was only at the sea monster. Was this the possible gaming future for my two-year old son at the time? I did not understand till then just how badly they were destroying the classics on my side of the planet with censorship.
One day my people, we shall be free again.
I envy my youngsters who can watch anime without having to specially order it from Japan as I once did. Even if they are still using lightsabers, laser guns and the most retarded words imaginable to replace what just had to be a swear word once from the main character getting thwacked upside the head in a manner that makes my head spin. It’s only a matter of time before the real swords and guns return and break free of societies pointless erasing of violence on the screen. When I wrote and illustrated my first short stories in grade three and four, shows like He-Man and G.I. Joe were all over the TV. If you ask me there wasn’t enough as I’m far from the hero-type and still a coward. The mere mentioning of the word ‘writer’ or ‘fantasy’ to my mother would get me that petrifying look of hers regardless of how many unicorns I pasted on my walls in protest. My grade four teacher may have thought my fantasy story worthy of raving on endlessly about like I was the next Tolkien, but my mother remained the same. A wall of ice.
Now I’m nearing my thirties but I failed in growth somewhere despite being 5’6”, as I still get bothered at the cash register in the LCBO for my I.D–despite wearing my black T-shirt that says ‘I can handle any crisis, I have children.’ Yet everyone in the store but the employee was taking notice that my oldest was now carrying over a glass bottle that looked like red soda. A very large bottle at that labeled ‘Vodka’. Hands full of bags, munchies, a dangeorously-about-to-overflow grape juice box, I suck the humiliation in and dig through my wallet for the Health Card that has me pictured as a walking undead. The painful part of it all is I don’t drink, but it’s a custom of mine to bring a peace offering along before heading over to grandma’s. Anything less wouldn’t get us in and I’ve long given up fighting the old woman with my beliefs that getting drunk is wrong this and wrong that. Then there was the practicality of it all as she was on the other side of the bloody city and it would only be a matter of time before one of my kids would need full-access to a fridge and washroom. Now as my oldest reaches me, I’m left with the on-the-spot choice of losing the juicebox or dealing with a lot of angry and very badly stained people. Should I survive and slay the cave of the liquor store, I would then make the rest of the journey to grannies where I would have to on-site sensor my kids from her favorite shows the rest of the day. On the Showcase channel.
Sure my hobby has always been reading and writing fantasy stories and poems, but my main passion lies way back when D&D was still popular, as a gamer. Or what my generation can call gaming in the 90’s without being looked at with blank faces of sheer stupefied fear when one near their 30’s gently pats the display window with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in it inside a game store. If I were 15 years younger such looks from teenagers who look little different now then when I grew up would have sent me running from the store in a state of shock from embarrassment of having missed the latest trend by such a mile. On reaching home I would have later locked myself in my small bedroom and gone for a nap on the prayer I would wake up and it was all a nightmare. But now I am older, empowered, redeemed. And I diapered two boys so these teenager’s boxers hanging out of their pants could not scare me. I looked fearlessly back at them and thought, You have no idea of the true heart of power where all your PSP quick-fixes come from and never will! Weaklings! Fear the knowledge within me! Mwhahahaha! Then I would unleash my 8 and 5 year old warrior and mage on them to blind them from the new arrivals of games where my youngest would bravely defend his mother with his superior intellect right off the bat. Within moments a devastating chant on how the ‘big boy’s’ pants were ‘falling down’ caught the ears of the entire store in a Time Stop. The attack was nothing short of a Bankai when combined with his older brother’s hyper-excitement at finding the newest Kingdom Hearts to where he now wielded it as if it were a Keyblade itself. It dispatched the High School kids from the store faster then if I had picked them up and thrown them out myself. Now as the owner looked about the back of the counter for a legal bat to beat down my army down with, I go back to silently saying my respects to the ancient power of SNES that once captivated my heart. It would be replaced by Playstation and Playstation 2, MMORPG’s on my Mac and I’m still looking at the tag on the PS3–but its heart and my Dark Knight will never be forgotten.
For now I must return home with the Kingdom Hearts and the latest Spyro the Dragon where shortly after finishing the dishes I will turn on World of Warcraft and hunt down my first victim in the battlegrounds where I will unleash a Death Coil on them before critting them in the back with a 5k Shadowbolt before they can snap out of the dizzyness of it. The satisfaction that comes with sending someone to the graveyard in 2 shots is soooo underrated. I’m not a violent person. I just like seeing that same Horde mage come back 2 minutes later and hunt me down for the next 15. You can always tell the person on the other side of the screen has been having a bad day when they do that. So I spare his heal-botting priest and die with honor knowing that on the other side of the planet it might have cheered that person up. Okay I’m not that crazy…I just haven’t gotten all my warlock’s gear from the arenas yet… /sigh. Instead I do what is easiest for a female player to do in such a game as the rules for sharing the Spyro game aren’t being followed very well in my living room. I call my best friends who have warriors of unstoppable doom on their accounts and let them deal with the annoying undead mage online, while I figure out what made my 8 year-old warrior unleash an Intimidating Shout on his younger brother. When all games are over roughly two hours later, I will get up and put my kids to bed knowing that the things they see on TV and in their games will not make them into future terrorists or serial killers anymore than it has me. Maybe it’s because of the Wall of Ice that my mother looked down at me with all those years. Maybe it’s just the simple fact she watched a bunch of it all with me. Now the only question that remains is how to get the music cassette out of the damn VCR…
It’s so hard to teach kids the old ways these days, I swear…even the mages.