October 26, 2021

Xbox One X

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Passing on the gift of games

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“Soulcalibur 5?” I ask.

“No. It’s ‘Sooouuulcalibur Fiiiive,'” my niece corrects me with added exaggeration and animated hand gestures, mimicking the announcer from the game’s title screen. Part of the ceremony of playing a game with my niece and nephew are the theatrics that precede and occur during our gaming bouts. This can include a dramatic declaration of a game’s title or the subsequent and inevitable screams and tears once their character dies on-screen.

I experienced this for the first time when I set up a Raspberry Pi Zero for them, one of those astonishingly small computers that’s composed of a single board. Attaching all the necessary cables made this tiny setup look absurd, but they were giddy, tightly holding onto Super Nintendo-style controllers they could barely get their tiny hands around. After becoming frustrated with the speed of Sonic the Hedgehog, I thought I’d let them try the first Super Mario Bros. Following a short demonstration, my nephew wanted to take over. He couldn’t time his jumps over the evil Goomba mushrooms, screamed the words “GAME OVER”, glowing on the black screen, after he’d used up his lives, and ran out of the room crying towards his mother. It was calamitous.

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