I didn’t mean for it to happen. We were in the living room of my apartment and I was playing Ocarina of Time on my Nintendo 64. It started so innocently with the words, “Nathan, I’m stuck on this level. Look it up in the player’s guide and tell me where to go.” My young son, barely old enough to read, reached for the book and started flipping pages. He found the solution and helped me move on to the next part of the game. All of a sudden it was no longer just me playing a game. We were on the adventure together. He was kind of like my Navi except way less irritating. He would cheer for me, find where to go, see things that I missed, and sometimes run from the room when a certain sound effect was too scary for his liking. (There was a pretty scary sound for spiders in the dungeons)
Soon he was poring over player’s guides for other games. Any time we drove somewhere, he was sitting in the back seat with one of those books. I used to get upset when the pages would get bent or if the cover came off. But how upset could I really be? My son was interested in my world. I remember thinking to myself, “If they made a player’s guide version of the Bible my son would be a master theologian.” We would have fantastic conversations about various games and I would be astonished at how much he remembered. He knew secrets and side quests that I had never heard about.
I’m not sure when the transition happened, but I think it was when he was around fourteen. He became the player and I became the observer. Oh sure, it started innocently enough. I was playing a game like Assassin’s Creed and he was watching me play. He said, “That looks like fun. Can I try?” I grudgingly handed over the controller. The next thing you know I’m watching him complete the missions and head to the next city. Two hours later, I’m the guy doing the navigating. Suddenly I’m looking things up on the internet and trying to tell him what to do. I’m the guy running from the room when the enemies are too scary. Would I ever get my game back? What monster had I created? By the way, the internet has killed the market for player’s guides and that’s a shame. I’ll have to write my thoughts about that another time.
Nate has surpassed me in many ways. He has always loved a good story and video games have some of the best immersive storylines around. I’m sure it was a factor in his decision to pursue animation and film production as he starts Savannah College of Art and Design this fall. He loves movies and especially animated ones by Pixar. He even received some scholarships and his future is bright. Perhaps one day there will be many who will say, “I helped him to become…” but I will always know that I am the one who made him the video game monster. Watch the video he made below. He was working on his cinematography merit badge for Boy Scouts. I’m the zombie.