Thank-fullness (burp) & Violent Fun

It’s the day after Thanksgiving & I still feel full. No control. I actually had 2 Thanksgivings this year, less than a week apart. One here at home with my parents last Saturday & another with my husband’s family yesterday. Anyone out there wanna wipe out the last of the pecan pie? Please. I’m about done with desserts & will be running on the treadmill in about an hour to start my recovery plan.

I try to be regularly thankful for all the good things in my life. Thanksgiving seems like a good time to review, so I list them in my head. I remind myself of my overall good health. I remember special people in my life who come & go but have had huge, positive impact on my personal development… and those who come & stay, thru the good, the bad & the ugly (my spouse, my favorite family members, my closest friends). I remember how lucky I am to have a good job & be financially stable, to have my own home, to have creative talent, the desire & ability to learn, how lucky I am that laughter comes easily to me. So basically, Thanksgiving is just more of the same. The same good stuff, but with too much food. Did I mention I get plenty of food?

My belly hurts, but not from overeating. It hurts from laughing so hard with my niece. She was teaching me how to play an Xbox game, “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” It’s a shoot ’em up military thing. Totally not my style as a rule, but hey, what the heck, I hardly ever see her & it’s what she does, so OK, sure… show me. I’d never played Xbox before, barely knew what it was. She programmed my player for me, picked my weapons, explained the basics of the handheld controller. Then she set up a split-screen on the TV, so we could each see our respective players. She against me, for training purposes. Other players would be too fast paced & I’d get killed too easily, like a duck in a shooting gallery. What?

She shows me how to look around, how to walk, run, aim, shoot. I see a parked Jeep next to me. Can I shoot the tire? I shoot it. It shows a hole. I shoot it again. It catches on fire. “Wow, these special effects are pretty amaz” — BOOM! the Jeep explodes & kills me. My niece laughs. She forgot to tell me that if obstacles catch on fire, stand clear, cuz they can blow up & kill you. Makes perfect sense, of course.

More learning…
My niece: “Auntie, I’m right behind you. Turn around.”
Me: “I can’t, I’m dead.”
Niece: “You get another man, look.”
Me: “Where? (my eyes/gun were pointing at the ground) Oh, there… (my new guy is looking around)”
Niece: “Now shoot me.”
Me: “What?” (my character is face-to-face with hers)
Niece: “Shoot me, knife me, DO something to see how it works!”
I push the wrong button & lob a grenade over her shoulder. Oops. I find my trigger & shoot her. Point blank range. Ew, that was rude.

And weird. The handset vibrated, like… a machine gun? Cartoon blood sprayed from her guy’s head as he dropped like a stone. Wow. Um, no wonder parents are upset by this shit. It’s surprisingly graphic. Not good for little kids, not good at all… but my niece is 20, so I’m not worried… right?

She shows me strategy. Beginners tend to walk & shoot at shoulder level, swinging their guns evenly side to side. She dives her man low when she sees an opponent, then shoots up under him. She says “get behind me, so you can watch” & I’ll be darned, I can walk my guy behind hers & sure enough, see her in front of me, running, diving into a slide, gun pointing slightly upward. Holy crap, how do they configure animation this controlled yet so fluidly executed? Blows… me… away.

OK, I’m sorry, but in the context of a game played by adults, this is fun. The visuals show us on a compound in winter, so there’s snow. I’m running & belly-sliding in snow with a submachine gun. I mean, c’mon, it’s not my usual Saturday night! I start getting better at it. I shoot my niece spontaneously, while she’s innocently demonstrating another tactical move. We both laugh. Another interesting feature is the automatic instant-replay of each kill. If someone kills you by surprise from behind, you can watch the replay to see exactly how you were killed. Tell me that’s not sick, funny & helpful in preventing future deaths?

“Is there a ‘talk-smack’ button? What about a ‘kick’ button?” I ask. “After I shoot you, I wanna kick & tongue-lash you. Do they accommodate for poor sportsmanship?” Her boyfriend laughs. “No. A kick-feature would be pretty funny. But you’d probably get shot while kicking dead opponents.”

True enough. When we started playing with online opponents in a group, standing around gets you picked off in short order. So does reloading your weapon. Or trying to help a downed teammate with your med-kit. Some players will “bait” opponents by staking out an injured guy & popping good Samaritans that stop to help him. Talk about lousy ethics! I later read more about MMOGs & their regulations being based on a mix of cyber-psychology issues. Jump back, Jack… another world I know nothing about!

What’s not funny: real young men with real machine guns trained to really kill people, while defending citizen rights to religious freedom, diverse ethnicity, land ownership, self-governance & what-have-you… as the rest of us take it all in stride, with the help of this nonchalant video game. If I was an active-duty military serviceman, would I be amused by these combat-scenario games which give players unlimited lives within game-time duration, I wonder? Also interesting: shoot ’em up play isn’t new. Decades before video games were invented, endless generations of little kids were “having fun” playing Cops & Robbers or Cowboys & Indians, simply shooting each other w/broomsticks, toy guns or their own pointy fingers. Is this really all that different?

I’d like to say I had an epiphany about violent play in our society, but I didn’t. Fumbling with my controller, I just had a ball laughing, as my niece tried to protect me from getting slaughtered by other players, to no avail. And when she wasn’t doing that, she had the back of my head locked in her own crosshairs as she easily dodged my slow aim. Geez, show some respect, girl! No pie for you.


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10 Responses to “Thank-fullness (burp) & Violent Fun”

  1. Mary Stebbins Taitt Says:

    This is what Graham does all day and is doing right now. I’ll come back later to comment on the rest.

    I’m stuffed too. Bleah. :-(

  2. meghan Ling Says:

    Gosh, I don’t know. Cops and Robbers and Cowboys and Indians around our house, didn’t involve machine guns, blood or talking smack! We just ran around in the dirt with sticks while our big brothers chased us and locked us in the garage. Truly, these games freak me out but hey, I do love playing Lazar Tag in the dark. Talk about belly laughing…nothing better than a bunch of adults in glow in the dark vests, shooting each other and jumping out from behind low walls. Now that’s fun!
    I’m glad you had fun. It seems like the most important thing was that you and your niece had some FUN and that’s what the holidays are all about!!

    • henniemavis Says:

      “Lazar Tag?” I’ve never played that either, but it does sound like fun :-) Good way to work off too much dessert, unlike my sitting in front of the tube getting only a thumb-workout using video games!

  3. Julie Says:

    Oh boy, I suck at video games….for real! I have never been good at those games. I did okay at Pacman, if that counts:)

    It looks like you had a nice Thanksgiving! My grandma made the best Peacan pie…good stuff!

    Take care!

    • henniemavis Says:

      Oh good, then I feel better than I’m a lousy shot with a submachine gun :-)

      Mentioning PacMan is funny. Remember when Pong & Aliens were the latest video games? How we all rushed home after school to play on Atari with those “joysticks?” HA!

  4. meghan Ling Says:

    Hennie Girl, you KNOW me too well. I spit out my coffee after reading the comment about my dad. Not out of anger, I literally laughed with coffee streaming out my nose. Nice.
    Anyway, I actually questioned using that picture at all since my dad did look like the character you mentioned BUT, hey, my dad WAS a wise man so I went with it. I guess that makes me the daughter of Yoda. Guess what? He was my step dad so I don’t think I can actually look like him. Darn.
    You really stepped out on a limb with that one. That’s why I love you!

    • henniemavis Says:

      Yoda as one’s Dad, I mean, what could be better than that? Best Dad ever! Glad you didn’t take me the wrong way. I truly did have a wonderful, sincere feeling when I had that spontaneous thought.

      I’ve never been good at holding back, btw. It comes off as weird, but I mean well 99% of the time, so whatever :-) I’m really glad you’re able to appreciate that!

  5. mike Says:

    Um, I hope you’ve been hitting that treadmill. I can only imagine it’s been chilly up your way, so it has to be calling your name. I really hope!
    Hennie, I would love to share your blog post with my younger brothers.
    Can you make it scroll by within their Black Ops console?
    Particularly my just-a-little-bit-younger brother.
    He and I grew up in the same house, spent hours, days, probably cumulative months playing video games.
    And I don’t play them at all anymore, and he’s been putting in 6+ hours per day for a decade. All of this Call of Duty stuff, too. But ya know what? He’s a different person in real life versus video game land. I see, remarkably, no negative influence.
    Now, elementary school kids? Oh, it would screw them up something awful. I’m about to start dealing with it since my “loving” father-in-law gave us a Wii for Christmas. I really don’t want the kids spending ANY more time in front of the TV, and there it is: Instant Invitation to the TV.
    That’s my bigger concern, violent or not.
    Get outside, enjoy this beautiful world. I’ve said enough.

    You and I use the same term, “lucky” when counting our blessings.
    Let’s hope our lucky continues!

    • henniemavis Says:

      You’re preaching to the choir, Reverend :-) I embody “get outside, enjoy this beautiful world” as much as I can. Ever read Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children for Nature-Deficit Disorder?” In my humble opinion, you’re wise to put limits on a child’s electronic-entertainment & learning stimulus, while making sure they eat plenty of dirt, climb trees, swim in ponds & touch caterpillars. Good job, Dad :-)

      (So… do you forgive me for avoiding treadmills, now?)

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