Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Grandparents Got Game!

*When I started this article. I had the idea that I was going to make it about skills, levels and PVP ranks. Yes, some of the grandparents I talked to are PVP-ranked. But as I talked with them, I found a bigger story - a story about family bonding. I decided to share that instead. After all, toons can be re-rolled, but you can't re-roll a family member. (Unless you're playing the Sims. -Ed)

I play MMO's with my grandson, who's going to be 5 years old soon. He loves running around trashing mobs and collecting loot. He doesn't quite have the patience yet to finish a quest, but we're working on that. His parents let him play The Last of Us, (WHAT?! -Ed) and he does pretty well - except when he hits a point that he has to actually complete a task or quest in order to progress. Whenever he comes over to my house, the first thing he says to me is "Hi Grandma! I missed you! Can we play teams now?? PLEASE???" So we play some XBox games - Marvel vs. Capcom 3 usually to start, and we then eventually end up going to the computer room and playing Guild Wars 2 or Neverwinter. He wants to play Diablo 3 with me but I don't have it. Then he tries to be helpful.  "Aww. Let's go get it! I know where it lives - it stays at the store!"

Some of my favorite gamers I know are grandparents. They have been gaming since Bally pinball machines, Atari Pong arcade machines, ColecoVision consoles and the D&D white box. Some of them have been gaming since they were in high school, and a few of them have started gaming as a way of doing things with their grandkids. I work with some of them, and I game with some of them. I know some of them from way back, and a few I've met just since moving from Colorado to Texas.

Debbie started playing Neverwinter with her teen-aged grandson recently. She's up to level 24 with her Human Guardian Fighter. She's never played anything like this before, and is having a lot of fun with it. "I can see why people get addicted to this and just want to spend so much time - the worlds are beautiful, and it's a lot of fun to run around looking for loot and raiding!" Her grandson had been asking her to join him online. They hardly see each other anymore because he had to move away with his parents. She finally gave in. "I don't know what took me so long!" Now she enjoys it, and she says her grandson gets fussy when he finds out that she was playing without him.

"See, Grandma, when you play without me, this happens."
Mary plays console games with her grandkids who are 6 and 10 years old. She says they like the Nintendo games - Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros. and the Mario Party games. But when they go to bed, she plays The Last of Us, Dead Island, and the Silent Hill games. She says she's owned everything from the Atari 2600 to the XBox One that she just got earlier this year. She also has every PlayStation console except the 4 (that's next on her list), and her husband Eric still has his Magnavox Odyssey, and his first edition white box D&D game. He still runs first edition D&D with it for some of his old high school buddies. They are collectors, as well as gamers - and they have an extensive collection. Eric has an old PacMan table and a Space Invaders arcade game in his basement. Both the machines work, and they accept quarters - not tokens. The grandkids get an allowance, and if they want to play the old school games, they gotta pay. Eric's friends drop quarters in them all the time. The money goes into college funds for his grandkids.

Get off my lawn, indeed. Gamer grandparents are awesome, and they are everywhere. They may not be as noisy on teamspeak or as talkie in the text chats. If they are in your party, you may even have to herd them back to the group, as some of them tend to wander during quests, looking at the scenery or looking for - ooh! Shiny! Or, as with the case of Stephanie - she has a habit of tanking hard and pulling all kinds of aggro that you may not be set up to take yet, so have a healer handy!

Stephanie and Mike have been playing World of Warcraft since the Burning Crusade expansion. They started playing because Stephanie was impressed by the art on the box. So they bought it, and have been playing ever since. Steph has played just about every race and class, but she loves anything that tanks. She likes to say that she's a proud graduate from the "Leeroy Jenkins Melee Academy." Mike prefers to take on CC or Healer roles. I tried raiding with them once... yeah. DPS, not so much. I caused so many team wipes, I finally excused myself from the party. By the time Wrath of the Lich King came out, their grand-daughter Michelle had moved in with them, due to some tragic  circumstances. Mike started playing with her as a way to help her through the pain of losing her parents in a car wreck, and it blossomed into a family guild, with her uncles, aunts, and cousins getting involved. Instead of gathering around the family dinner table, their extended family gathers around The Siege of Orgrimmar.

"I sure hope they're not Alliance", the Editor said as he picked out this picture.
Desiree has four grandkids -three teenagers, and one 6-year-old. She started playing Starcraft with them as a way to get them to help their mom with chores at home. "No chores, no gaming with grandma!" She says that has motivated them really well - although, it seems like there's an even bigger scramble on Thursdays and Fridays to get their chores done so they can go sleep over at grandma's and game with her. Right now they are playing the Wings of Liberty expansion for Starcraft, and she is working her way through Lego Batman with the youngest. They call her "Granny Down wi'Dat." They also have tabletop game night at grandma's house every week, playing various games like Monopoly, Life, Tsuro, and Magic: The Gathering. Oh - and Pokemon. Can't forget that one. The 6-year-old is trying to beat grandma. She hasn't succeeded yet.

Andre has been playing the Diablo games since the first one came out. Before that, he was a big Gauntlet player. He was also a big fan of Dragon's Lair - he wrote a fan fiction story about Dirk for his English class final essay in high school. Although his personal preferences are dungeon crawlers, he plays a lot of Wii U with his granddaughter, She is 9 years old, and likes the Kinect sports games - especially the bowling and soccer. But her favorite games are the Dance Party and Dance Central games, and the Just Dance games. Andre said that at first, he had a hard time keeping up with her, but now he's right there with her. And he's actually broadened his music tastes. He used to listen to jazz. Just jazz, nothing else. Now he says he listens to a lot of mainstream pop and rock too.

These grandparents have lots more amazing stories to share... about gaming ("let me tell you about the time I took out 15 mobs and finished the raid by myself with my weenie little DPS archer cuz my whole party died..."), about life ("we had to walk 6 miles to school in the snow and heat - on the same day, now - uphill BOTH ways"... ), about everything. Next time you're about to dismiss that old lady at Gamestop, instead, pull up a rock to the campfire, sit, and just listen. Because grandparents got all kinds of game.

Raven Knighte is addicted to cheese and popsicles, and is being slowly indoctrinated to cosplaying and learning the art of staying in character. Her favorite pastime is proving that it actually can't rain all the time, by refusing to believe that rain exists.

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