Aside from a few rounds of Wii Tennis on Christmas Eve of 2006, I’ve never really played videogames with my parents. They have their tastes (Tiger Woods Golf for my dad, Bejeweled and Sudoku for my mom) and I have mine (indie puzzle games, first-person shooters and anything with the name “Tim Schafer” on the box). There’s not really much overlap between playing 18 holes at St. Andrews and bombarding a hulking lungfish named Linda with bolts of raw psychic aggression.
It’s a different story with my brothers, though. There’s an 11-year gap between my younger brother, Evan, and my older brother, Nate. But despite the fact that Evan got his driver’s license around the same time Nate got his first mortgage, our tastes in games have developed right alongside one another. When I was 11, it was head-to-head matches of Command & Conquer with Nate over a null modem connection – the network equivalent of tin cans and string. Later, when I went off to college and Evan started high school, I’d come home during breaks and join Evan in extended Halo multiplayer sessions. (They typically devolved into games of “chicken” whenever Warthogs were involved.) And just this past Christmas, the three of us spent an evening passing a Rock Band guitar back and forth while our parents looked on in amusement.
It’s not so different with the authors of this week’s issue, “Mario in the Family.” In one way or another, videogames have helped us relate to our loved ones – or at least understand them a bit better than we did before. I’m not holding my breath for my dad to join me for a round of Left 4 Dead anytime soon, and I probably won’t ever be able to enjoy a game of Scrabble like my mom does. But I’ll always have a soft spot for the games we played as a family.