Mom, Love, And Video Games
Moms and video games. Not two things that go together, usually.
“My mom is very confused by gaming,” says one friend.
“She struggles with the automatic lock on her car, never mind technology,” adds another.
“My mom played Mario Kart once. Once.”
In many ways, my mom was my gateway to gaming. My mother has been an avid gamer since before the advent of the personal computer. She loves gaming, and always has. What’s even rarer is that, as the youngest child in a family of 5, raised in a developing country, this love blossomed on pretty much desert ground.
But blossom it did, and when she bore her first child (yours truly here – thanks for doing that by the way, mom), she passed on that love. The reason my sister and I play is because of her. I have many fond childhood memories of hunkering down in front of a console with my mom, trying to bend juvenile fists and uncoordinated fingers to my will whilst my mother effortlessly completed objectives and killed bad guys.
I’m incredibly lucky to have this close connection with my mother, and to be able to say that videogames are an important aspect of our relationship, when many of my friends – none of my friends, in fact – can claim the same.
So in honour of Mother’s Day, I asked my mom about her five favourite PC games.
Top Five Favourite PC Games (Mom Edition, And In No Particular Order)
1. Diablo III
“I love loot,” my mom confesses. “I like hunting for the best gear and upgrading my items to build the strongest character. I have one of each character – well, actually, not any more, I deleted my Barbarian, maybe I will return to it next season, I dunno. But I like exploring the different builds of each character. I also really enjoy the team aspect – you can join public games, or make private parties with friends – and share items with them. I love to help people also. Even if I come across a great item for a character I have, if there’s someone in my party with that character, I will give it to them instead of keeping it for myself.”
What do you like about the gameplay?
“I like that it’s not complicated. Even if you’re playing single player, it’s not hard.”
Does it get boring?
“Yeah, after a while, it can be the same stuff over and over, but you know, every season there are changes, enough to keep it interesting.”
What’s your favourite character?
“Demon Hunter. I’ve been playing that since the game came out. It was my first character, and I’ve always had one.”
Have you gotten an invitation to try the Necromancer yet?
My mother makes a moue. “Not yet,” she says sadly. “I want the Necromancer. I want it so much. They never sent me an invite. F–k them.”
2. Leisure Suit Larry
Tell me about Leisure Suit Larry. This one is from a bit before my time.
My mom giggles. “This one is from a long time ago. A really long time ago. It’s a puzzle game – it was the first puzzle game I ever played! I got it soon after your dad and I moved to our new house. It’s similar to Monkey Island or Grim Fandango. Except it’s spicier.”
How did you start playing this game?
My mom outright laughs. “Your dad! He was the one to tell me about the game. He said I would like it. You can ask your dad about it – he would remember more, I think.”
I could, but this is a Mother’s Day article, and Father’s Day is not until June, so I will not. Also, you do know there’s a remake, right mom?
“Yeah I know – I have it, I bought it on Steam. But it’s different from the old version. Now it’s so specific and restrictive, more fiddly. I don’t like it as much.”
3. Monkey Island
So. Monkey Island. You know Curse of Monkey Island is one of my favourite games of all time?
“Me too! I played all of the games in the series.”
Including the Telltale ones?
So this one is also a puzzler, like Leisure Suit Larry. I’m sensing a theme here.
“Yeah, but I like it more. It’s a similar concept, but I like the story, and the characters. Leisure Suit Larry is more stupid, you know?” She laughs. “Actually, so is Guybrush, so they are a bit similar in that way. But the Monkey Island series is really funny. It’s less about being racy, and more about an actual plot, as well as being a little absurd, a little ridiculous. I remember one puzzle where you have to infest a character’s wig with lice!”
My mother breaks into peals of laughter, and it’s clear that the memory has stuck with her, even after twenty years. That is the mark of a great game.
4. Stardew Valley
“It’s a little bit like Harvest Moon. You know I like farming and stuff. In the game, you can meet someone, marry them. You can fish… have a house, have a kid. Actually it is a lot like Harvest Moon.”
Do you have any funny names you like to give your animals in the game?
“I have a cow named Moomoo. And one named Betsy. I dunno, that’s a really cow name. And I have a dog named Muffy.” (Side note: our actual dog’s name is Muffy.)
You know, I am alarmed at how much you like farming games. Have you ever considered retiring to the countryside with an actual farm?
“I think I would be happy with that, yeah. I’d have a couple cows, a horse. Chickens. Actually when I was young, maybe nine or so, I had a baby chick that my sister and I, um, took from the neighbours when it was just wandering around. And I fed her, cleaned her, took care of her, raised her… and one day my dad had company coming. And he didn’t have time to go to the market. So he asked me if I could give up my chicken. And I said no! But then my mom and him kept asking, and you know, when you’re a good child, you do what your parents ask. So we had chicken that night. But I cried and cried. She wasn’t even that big yet.”
At least you don’t have to kill your chickens in Stardew Valley.
“Yeah. It’s a cute game. Actually, I haven’t played it in a while. It’s a nice game, but right now I am focused more on Diablo III.”
5. The Sims
“I liked to get a lot of money. Like with the cheat code? And then just decorate my house. You liked to make the people suffer, I wasn’t into that really. Although one time my house burned down, and the person died! The only person in the house. And then… the game just kept going. So I had to restart. But this time I made sure my character read the cooking books, so that didn’t happen again.”
Bonus Round: What Gaming Was Like Before Windows
“There was a game, text-based game… I don’t remember what it was called, but it was like ‘Go left’ and then it tells you what kind of stuff there is and you have to move into these different rooms and ugh, it was boring. This was before Windows, on DOS. Games on DOS sucked. I remember having to pay $10 to access a bulletin board with games, and then burning them onto these tiny 3.5” disks. Well, your dad would burn them for me anyway. I did have one game I liked, CD-Man – I played the first couple of levels, but the third one was ‘Under construction’. Forever. Anyway, PC games are much better now.”
Now curious, my mom Googles ‘CD-Man’. Her glee is unbounded when she finds an emulated version of the game. A wave of nostalgia washes over me: I’ve sat on her lap and watched her play this before, when I was very, very young. My heart swells, a lump rises in my throat. I have to take a moment before I thank my mom. For this. For everything.
My mother may not be the most skilled, most studied, or most talented gamer, but no one can deny her passion for it. It’s just one of the things that makes my mom so special. Video games are irrevocably woven throughout the fabric of our relationship and my childhood memories, have shaped me and my life and my interests and my personality in ways I can’t even quantify. And I have mom to thank for it.
“Oh, by the way,” my mom says, “I just bought a HyperX Cloud II headset. They’re on sale on Amazon,” she adds helpfully. “You should get one. I hear the reviews are great.”
I won’t – I’m really picky about my peripherals – but maybe I should consider it.
Sometimes, after all, mother really does know best.