When videogames seem to be held up as the vile cause of all of society's ills, it's always a relief to see something more heartwarming - sometimes it takes a little electronic Pikachu.
If you're on this site, you're probably a gamer. If you're a gamer, you probably roll your eyes and /facepalm every time you see another story about people blaming some act of violence on the Xbox 360 that just so happened to be somewhere in the vicinity.
So we cheer when we read something positive, like Sesame Street claiming games can be good for kids. Or, as Brenden Sears writes in an article in this week's Escapist, it can be as simple as a touching story about how a love for games and their characters can bring a family together.
Like everything, it started with good intentions: After his five-year-old brother Joey took a nasty spill and broke his leg, Sears' parents decided to get him a virtual pet to keep him company - a tiny Tamagotchi-style Pikachu.
The only problem? The little electric mouse, which Joey named "Tiger," was powered by an internal pedometer, meaning that in order to keep him up and alive, Joey would have to walk - not exactly an easy task with a leg broken in three places.
So the whole family chipped in:
We all take turns building Tiger into something more than a piece of plastic. He becomes the family hobby, the center of our shared effort to make new adventures, new crises only he could resolve. It's goofy, but we do it as a family. We do it to make one of our own feel better. Even Dad chips in.
We make such a big deal about how the new casual games can get families who've never touched a controller to get into the hobby, but it's stories like these that make us remember that games can bring people together without ever sitting them down in front of the TV.
Be sure to check out Issue 211 for the full article, "A Pikachu in the Family."