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My teenage son, like most teenage boys, likes his video games. He doesn't play them as often as he used to (thank goodness) and with less obsessive enthusiasm, but he has the few games he likes to play and takes his playing seriously.
I have always had the philosophy that it is better to know exactly what is going on even if it is knowledge gained painfully, so I have always insisted that both the gaming systems and the computer be in communal areas of our home rather than allowing my kids to shut themselves in their rooms for endless hours doing whatever they do unwatched no matter how much less annoying it might be for me. This has always served four purposes in my mind, it has kept us in each other's company, kept me aware of what they are into, and made it possible for me to share in some degree with their various electronic interests, and helped to hold down the hours spent engrossed in them.
As a consequence of this philosophy, I know more about video games than a lot of parents and have even played them. Recently, Chuck was playing a particular game that involves both role playing as the main character and a lot of crazy futuristic combat when he ran into a situation where he felt he needed some guidance. There are places you can go online and get such guidance from people who have nothing better to do with their time than write voluminous pages of walk-throughs covering every single moment of game play. Chuck asked if I would go to one of these sites and get him some information, which I did, during which I learned some rather interesting things about the game. I should say that there is a part one and part two to this game with part three coming out in the spring. Evidently, how you played part one has a direct effect on the way it goes in part two and will carry over to part three. It is very complicated. You can play the game as a paragon of virtue or a typical anti-hero type and each one changes the game and your relationships with the other characters. These relationships can get rather complicated and effect the outcome of the game. I also found out that the main character can have romantic relationships with one or all of the characters in the game depending upon whether he is a noble fellow or a complete cad. I asked Chuck about this since I had never observed his character behaving like anything other than a cloistered monk. He informed me that he wanted to play the game as a paragon and relationships had consequences that were unpredictable.
I was rather surprised. “Do you mean to tell me,” I asked, “that your virtuous and noble character who is saving the galaxy from untold horrors cannot find a little comfort and warmth with another character?”
Chuck informed me that he had unknowingly found himself in a relationship with one of his crew members in the first game which had resulted in the young lady being furious with him for not being in touch with her in the second game, even though he had been very nice to her, so he decided that nothing good could come from getting involved with anyone on any romantic level, even though he would not gain the positive romance points if he did. I got that, but I thought it was kind of lousy for the poor hero.
The amazing thing is that if you play both games and don't like the way it turned out you can go back and do it all over again to put yourself in a better position when the third game comes out. Chuck decided to do this and started back on the first game, this time carefully avoiding any romantic entanglements in the most gentlemanly way possible. When he started into the second game, the young lady who had torn his head off the first time, instead of being indifferent, went right ahead and tore his head off anyway despite the fact that they had no romantic relationship at all. Poor Chuck, he thought he had managed to avoid the possibility of being harangued to no avail. I could not help but laugh. Women...go figure...there is just no pleasing them. Get involved with them and don't call immediately after you save the universe and they will ream you out and tell you you're a dog. Don't take advantage of them and be a perfect gentleman and they will still rip you to pieces. What's a futuristic, noble, galaxy-saving hero to do? I told Chuck that he should let this be a lesson to him – sometimes you are damned if you do and damned if you don't and even if you could go back and do it again the outcome would be the same anyway and even a paragon can end up spending time in the dog house.
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