“‘Mom, you are crouching again!”
“I can’t help it!” I said. “I can’t figure out how to stand up straight.”
Sure enough, my character was tramping across the green block landscape slumped forward like a sulky teen who just broke up with her boyfriend.
We got an Xbox for Christmas, the goal, of course, being to insinuate ourselves into the lives of our children so that even their virtual reality is not safe from their parents’ antics.
“Just get in the house and stop wandering off!” advised my 10-year-old, who was teaching me how to play Minecraft. By “teaching,” I mean yelling at me continually as I stabbed at buttons.
But I didn’t go inside the house he had built for us. I was feeling rather full of myself, having just slaughtered a pig with a few swipes of my bare, block hands, earning my household pork chops. I was now off to chop down trees for an addition.
There was only one problem.
“I can’t figure out how to put this pork chop down,” I lamented.
My boy was too busy killing a spider with glowing red eyes to help me, so I just went with it.
I chopped down that tree with a pork chop. Who knew the other white meat could be so versatile?
“I got us more wood for the house!” I announced.
I only got a grunt. It was starting to get dark in our virtual world, and my son was killing another spider.
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I moved across the screen, getting stuck in holes, stuck under tree branches, falling off cliffs.
The first-person vantage point of the game, like all modern offerings, messes with me. I grew up on a steady diet of old-school Nintendo, not this herky, jerky Blair Witch Project-meets-Luigi madness. Still, I wasn’t ready to give up. I wanted to make my boy proud, and that’s when I saw the llama. Eager to get the sort of accolades earned by my pig slaughter, I chased down the llama, and by “chased” I mean I stumbled and crouched across the screen until the llama was eventually cornered by some square blocks of earth. Then I began mowing down the animal with my pork chop.
The llama, however, was not going down without a fight. It kicked me and made angry llama noises. But I kept at it and eventually I killed that llama.
“I killed a llama!” I chirped. “What do I get for killing a llama?!”
“Ummm, you get nothing,” said my kid, giving me a look that said, “what kind of sicko kills a llama?”
“OK, now we have standards?” I said. “That’s the line we don’t cross? Llamas? It is not like it was a unicorn or something.”
I sulked back to the house to call it a night.
I jumped into bed and pushed a button, destroying the bed in one swipe.
“What did you do?” he yelled.
“I don’t know ... I just pushed a button. I was trying to ... ” I said, looking down at the controller that had, no lie, 11 buttons! Plus two joysticks and an up-down-side-to-side tossed in for good measure. “I am sorry ... I ...”
I stopped talking and walked to the corner with my pork chop.
“I am just going to crouch over here till morning.”