In My Defense, I Did Conquer Tzichlitan With my Ninja Tanks…

A lot of peo­ple think video games are the lat­est agent of our progeny’s demise and I am one of them. I can’t think of a more ridicu­lous and pos­si­bly sin­is­ter lead­ing indi­ca­tor of immi­nent doom than kids who won’t clean their room or feed their dog but never for­get to flush the toi­let or feed their gold­fish on Sims. It scares the beje­sus out of me and I strive to threaten my chil­dren with unin­ter­rupted painful flog­ging if they spend more than 18 min­utes a day play­ing video games.

I’ve also made some dis­parag­ing com­ments about some of the retired peo­ple I know who spend hours and hours play­ing video games. Bingo and soli­tary have been usurped by Zelda and online soli­tary.

To all of this I have thrown up my hands and shaken a sage and surly fin­ger at all involved, say­ing they are squan­der­ing the pre­cious few moments they have here on this lit­tle ball of dirt. Which makes me a pathetic a sad old hypocrite.

At about 1:30 in the after­noon this Sat­ur­day, I started play­ing a game. I just wanted to see what it was like. I’d seen the Roon slack­jawed and dazed, play­ing this game for three hours at a stretch, which is pretty good even for him, and I won­dered what was so compelling.

The game is called Civilizations/Revolution. The graph­ics are aver­age. The length of game­play is only a cou­ple of hours. There are no car incen­di­ary crashes or crim­son head-shots. In the game, you choose to start a civ­i­liza­tion, say the Roman Empire, from scratch and endeavor to take them from cave­man to Cos­mo­naut ahead of all the other empires in the game. It. Is. Awe­some.

I started just after lunch and a few min­utes later, [My Attor­ney] called and asked what I fed the boys.

Hot dogs.“
“For din­ner?“
“Din­ner? No I just gave them hot dogs just now.“
“Do you have any idea what time it is?“
“What? Uh, three?“
“It’s eleven o’clock.”

I had been play­ing this game for ten hours. TEN HOURS. I don’t do any­thing for ten hours. I don’t even sleep for ten hours. I looked around at my house, empty and dark, the dog crouched by the door with his legs crossed, the boys passed out on the couch under a pro­tec­tive blan­ket of spent Chee­tos bags. I real­ized I was dehy­drated, I was starv­ing, and I’d been hold­ing it for some­thing like three hours straight because, dude, I needed to get the peo­ple of Pima to build one more Galleon so I could make a fleet and sink the new ships from Bis­mark, my enemy to the north.

I have never been so into a game in my life. Again, you have to under­stand, the graph­ics are sub par. But the manip­u­la­tion of a tiny uni­verse is bril­liant! And it affects your world view. We started watch­ing a movie which showed the 18th cen­tury work­ers of a dying fac­tory and I instantly realised that if only there were more of them, that coun­try could upgrade to the indus­trial era so, hey, it teaches history.

Late the next day the fam­ily wanted again to watch a movie and I was play­ing the game, my world dom­i­nat­ing Egypt­ian empire hav­ing just dis­cov­ered the Inter­net and on the brink of col­o­niz­ing Alpha Cen­tauri when the fam­ily G politely asked me to turn. Off. The. Game. I reacted ungra­ciously (I’m being diplo­matic here) and my son started laugh­ing. “Geeze, dad, you’re act­ing just like me. You’re addicted, dude!”

I’m so scared. I have two simul­ta­ne­ous dead­lines, a huge com­plic­taed cer­e­mony, Bad Movie Night, and god knows what else due in the next two weeks but I am ter­ri­fied that what’s gonna hap­pen is [My Attor­ney] is going to come home and find the kids ema­ci­ated and me sur­rounded by a nest of laun­dry and cold pizza look­ing like Uncle Fes­ter and mum­bling to myself: “I gotta research steam power. I got to build more legions. I got to get a submarine …”

About Bull Garlington

Christopher Garlington is the humor columnist for Chicago Parent magazine, Seattle Parent Map, and New York Parenting magazine. His stories have appeared in Atlanta Parent, Baton Rouge Parent, Parenting ABC (U.K.); Florida, Orlando, Orlando Weekly, Catholic Digest, Retort, Another Realm, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and other magazines. He is the author of the infamous anti-parenting blog, Death By Children; co-author of The Beat Cop’s Guide to Chicago Eats.

  • Death By Children

    It gets worse. I was up until 3 am last night con­quer­ing the Ger­mans. Total anni­hi­la­tion. I am vic­to­ri­ous! I am also stu­pid. And sleepy. What a moron.

  • Ran­dom­Mon­key

    You’re not a moron. I can under­stand this addic­tion. I once turned on the com­puter to “check” on my vil­lage (I play a dif­fer­ent world-building game). The next thing I knew, my hubby was say­ing “Honey, are you ready for bed yet?”