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My Gamer Mom

My mother will kick your ass in Mario Kart Wii.

It's Mother's Day, and Kyle Hilliard's reader discussion on moms who game got me thinking about my own mother, with whom I'm spending the weekend, and who has been a gamer almost as long as I have.

Our first console was the Atari 2600, and considering how long we had it (we went straight from the Atari to an N64) and my family's income at the time, I'm guessing my parents got it at a garage sale or something.  I don't remember my mother ever playing Atari with my sister and I (I was very young at the time, having been born in 1989), though she never condemned our playing, either.  In fact, I'm willing to bet that she enjoyed our gaming, as it kept us busy, and the console was a hip consumer product we could actually brag about having.

Then, one day, while visiting my sister at her boyfriend's place, my parents were introduced to the Nintendo 64 via GoldenEye.  I'm not sure that they actually played it that day, but I do remember having ample discussions in the long car ride home about how fun the multiplayer looked. 

Again, I was young, so I don't remember the day my parents came home with the N64, but something in the back of my mind tells me it was a family Christmas present. Our first game was GoldenEye, but our library soon expanded to include games like Perfect Dark and Ocarina of Time.

One of us always played as Mr. Blonde, who was tall and less at-risk of succumbing to headshots. Image taken from the XBLA version, because it looks better.

Though I eventually came to possess my own systems before moving away to college in 2007 (various Nintendo handhelds and a PS2), one of, if not the primary family-time-activity for us was playing multiplayer Perfect Dark or GoldenEye for literally hours on-end.  My parents, specifically my mother, had no qualms about their young daughter (and their even younger son--my brother is about six years younger than I am) playing violent games (Perfect Dark was rated M!).

My mother is also a humongous Ocarina of Time fan.  I rented it back in 1998 when it was first released, and begged my parents to get it for me.  They complied, and it soon became a point of intense bonding between me and my mother.  We both had save files (our first three were named Link, Zelda, and Impa), and whereas I excelled at archery, she was mature and in-touch with adult reality enough to know that the Shadow Temple held no really scary dangers (the first time I played the game, I had nightmares about ReDead).  We continued to play it throughout the time I was in grade school; by the time I graduated from high school, I'm willing to bet we beat it a collective 30+ times.  We now have our own mini-language derived from the game (Rupees are "poopies," any kind of even non-Zelda hearts are "farts," etc.), and she always has the soundtrack CD available in her car.  When I visit her for the weekend, our go-to activity (if it's not massages while watching The Outer Limits) is to watch each other play the game. She scoffed when I told her I was getting a tattoo--until I told her it was going to be of a Deku Scrub.

Now, for the most part, Mom sticks to games she knows she'll like: Zelda (she's put approximately 112 hours into Skyward Sword so far), James Bond games (even though the last few have been lackluster), and games based off movies she likes (such as the Narnia series).  She also enjoyed LostWinds, a fantastically beautiful WiiWare released back in 2008, and I don't know anybody with better Mario Kart Wii skills. She doesn't personally own any non-Nintendo systems, though someday, when I have enough money to ditch my 360 for Microsoft's next-gen console, I may give it to her and force her to try Skyrim. I think her sticking to solely Nintendo games and consoles stems from a lack of time to play games (she is perpetually on-call for her job and maintains several gardens at her house) rather than a fear of difference.

This Mother's Day, I'd like to thank my mother for being open-minded about violence and other things oft-condemned by authority regarding video games.  Her openness to not only those characteristics of games, but also to the fun and connectivity of video games as a medium, has made it possible for us to bond over games for more than a decade, and for me to pursue work in game studies without fear of being misunderstood.  My experience with my gamer mother is not an experience afforded to all, or even to many people.  For that, I am grateful.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

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