It’s that time of year again. The flowers start to bloom. The bees start buzzing in the air. The air is crisp and smells of pansies and petunias. The sun is staying out later and so are the neighborhood children. Their shouts of joy can be heard even inside our living room as they zoom by on their bicycles.
Shouts can be heard inside my living room as well. However, they aren’t usually shouts of joy. Generally they are strings of curse words hurled at the TV as my husband gets sniped, no doubt by a thirteen year old kid in his parent’s basement, playing Call of Duty IV.
While most people see the return of spring as a time to get out, take walks, plant things, have cook-outs and read lazily in hammocks, my husband maniacally creeps up behind virtual soldiers and stabs them in the back. Granted, this behavior is not limited to the season of rebirth. He’s all about the virtual carnage every season, but his blood lust has risen drastically since he just got an XBox. And Call of Duty 4. Oh, and Grand Theft Auto 4. Even though he has had the game for less than three hours, he has already pulled out the map and pointed out the sheer expansiveness of the game. He also popped it in the second he got home and as soon as I walked in the door, he tried to show me the “amazing graphics.”
Now it’s not that I don’t appreciate good computer graphics. I love the detail the Sims 2 brings. I think it is incredibly cool that if I zoom in close enough the tiny turkey dinner they are eating actually looks fairly similar to the feast my mother-in-law and I prepared this year. The fact that the babies can smile and I can see their little baby legs squirm as they are tickled impresses me. I especially like the fact that I can make my Sims paint pictures from my personal photo album, so that I can paper my virtual walls with portraits of my son, just like my actual house. I can appreciate the hours, days, weeks, months, etc. that goes into planning these games. What I find a bit harder is appreciating the hours, days, weeks, months, etc. that my husband feels he needs to devote to the games in order to thank the designers.
It’s not that I have a problem with the games themselves. Sure, they are horribly violent and I don’t have a desire to play any game that allows you to have sex with a hooker, beat her up moments later and then take your money back. Although I see the humor in selling drugs from a converted ice cream truck, I don’t want to do it. And while I can enjoy my Sims for a few hours once every week or so (much less during heavy grading times), I simply cannot understand how my husband can devote five to six hours straight sitting in front of the TV driving a virtual car around a city, sometimes not even reaking any havoc, but instead just marveling at how cool it all is.
When my husband focusses on something, the house could actually fall down around him, and he wouldn’t notice. The baby can scream, and he doesn’t even break eye contact. It’s not that he doesn’t love our son. He adores him. It’s just that all his brain can think is, “must chase down rival gang member and beat him to death with bat, then slice his corpse open.”
What baffles me even more is the fact that after six years of being together, at least three of which have involved this game, he still thinks I care. I will be in the family room grading or on the computer and I will hear a shout from the living room, “quick, honey, come here.” Thinking that something is wrong, I run to the room, only to find him reving up a motorcycle to get an insane stunt bonus by jumping it off some ramp. Or flying a helicopter over a mountain and seeing clouds, or driving a car wildly through the streets while some hapless digi-man is clinging to the hood. I don’t know why I fall for it. It’s probably the insistance in both his voice and the way in which he keeps calling me until I peak into the other room.
With the new release, awesome graphics and sheer size of the map he showed me, I know I have several months of this game to look forward to. I’m sort of hoping he develops his usual addiction so he can get most of it out of his system before summer comes. While I have grading I don’t mind him careening through the streets doing drive bys, but once I’m on vacation, I want some control over the TV (or to go out, or read).
Fortunately he’s been invited to a video game gathering tonight. The baby is in bed and instead of watching him hijack an ambulance and mow people down in it, I’ll get to watch the episode of Bones I didn’t get to watch last night because he was getting his ass kicked by teeny boppers online.
Plus I get french fries and egg rolls for dinner. Maybe there is an upside to the game….naw.