It wasn’t an amnesia-inducing camel accident, but something altogether more insidious: an iPhone game. Since yesterday morning, I have played Ticket to Ride over forty times. Y’all, it seemed harmless enough! It’s a simple concept: players build train lines across the US, connecting routes they’ve randomly drawn, before everyone else finishes. The game caters to people who’ve clamored for a Thomas the Tank Engine edition of Risk. Strategy is more quaint with trains!
Turns out, I’m fucking awesome at it. Want to get from Vancouver to Miami? Done. That dreaded route from Calgary to New York? On it. Being born in the 1980s really screwed me over, because my true calling is railroad barony. Or, perhaps, I am just too easily enthralled by things. That is a distinct possibility. Last year, I spent all summer chucking enraged birds at porcine criminals. Right now, I’m engaged in eight games of Words with My Mother.
All of this has clarified one thing: my parents were really, really smart to outlaw video games in our house. Sure, they claimed we couldn’t have a Nintendo, because of my sister’s epilepsy, but my siblings and I knew the truth. They were totally lame. Along with processed foods and backward baseball hats, video games seemed another arbitrary enemy our parents waged war against.
“Play outside,” they insisted. “Read a book!” Nary a Wii nor a PlayStation would enter their house. My brother snuck systems in from his friends’ houses, but they were too soon ferreted out. As such, my practical video game skills are sadly lacking. I’m the one who spends all of Halo running into walls, until I’m shot in the head by my exasperated compatriots. My Mario-kart always comes in last. A blind-folded lemur would be better at FIFA than I am. Though, to be fair, the lemur would also probably know more about soccer…
As a kid, though? I would have played those games, until I reigned supreme…or died from dehydration. I am unable to start something, without wanting to conquer it. Only, since my parents banned ALL THE FUN from our house, wee Grace instead conquered things like reading all the Amelia Peabody mysteries and sewing. I can cook a mean pot roast, change my own headlights, and paint impressionist blobs that vaguely resemble people. Had we been allowed to play video games, I’m pretty sure I would not do any of these things nearly so well. Graduating high school may also have been questionable.
It’s not that I think video games are bad. To be honest, I think they’re a really interesting and vital part of modern culture. Plenty of people I know play them well and often, without going down the rabbit hole. Moderation, however, has never been my strong suit. It’s probably best that my teenage obsessions were books and dresses – things with an end in sight – rather than World of Warcraft.
While I still think a girl should be able to eat Oreos without worrying about hydrogenated oils, I’m glad my parents were eccentric. Mom and Dad, thanks for being such squares. My Assassin’s Creed skills may suck, but I make pretty killer (hydrogenated oil free!) brownies…which you might never eat again, now that I’m marrying a guy who owns an Xbox.