Hey there my fellow retro handheld enjoyers, today I’m going to be doing something a little bit different for Mother’s Day. Instead of doing a review, or a first look at some upcoming piece of tech, I’m going to be telling you a story about a special person. Who, you might ask? Well, if you are asking that, you might have wanted to pay closer attention in school when they taught “context clues” because I did just say this was for Mother’s Day. So I’m probably not going to tell a story about my orthodontist. Unless my mother was an orthodontist, I suppose, but really who would choose their own parent as their orthodontist? Free lecture with every cavity filling, “I told you you’ve been eating too much candy these past few months, every time I turn around you’ve got a bag of M&Ms in your hand. Then you went and had three pieces of cake at Aunt Margaret’s birthday party, and I said you should brush your teeth but no, you never listen to me, you’re just fine letting all these teeth rot out of your head.” Um… I may have gotten a bit off topic there. I do that, it’s fine.

So anyway, I’m going to tell a story about my mother. My real mother, not my imaginary orthodontist mother. You see, many of the members of our community are around a similar age as I am, where we’ve either already got kids or soon to have em. I was talking one day with Stubbs about how age and kids have changed his relationship with our beloved hobby of gaming, and it got me to thinking. So let me take you way back to when Raven was just a little cheep cheep in the nest.

First of all, I was a miracle baby, because of course I am. After some attempts and unfortunate failures, little Raven graced the Earth as a large, loud, and stubborn baby who would one day grow to be a large, loud, stubborn adult. Less than two years later my sister would be born. So my parents had me, the two year old Destroyer of Worlds, and my baby sister to take care of. I’m sure we probably disrupted the normal flow of their day is what I’m saying.

Fast forward a couple years, and I was probably about four when I remember this stuff happening. Now four is in that haze of memory where none of them are quite solid or vivid, so it’s mostly thoughts and feelings, but I’ve since had these memories corroborated by my mother. She would tuck me in at night, make sure I was sleeping, presumably after already putting my sister down for the night. I would drift off into the deep darkness of sleep, and BOOM! The bright light of a CRT television would flood the room like a flashbang going off! At some point, my mother had decided the perfect time to play video games was after she’d put us to bed, my guess being that we were too much of a handful during the day.

So there she’d be, in my bedroom, with a Sega Genesis and Sonic the Hedgehog. In fairness, I don’t think I woke up every time it happened, I got pretty used to it. I attribute this at least partially to my adult ability to sleep through a tornado. I also think it contributed to my later passion for video games, since she was subliminally programming me as I slept with the flashing lights of the Blue Blur. I think I played the games sometimes too, but I was four and wasn’t very good at the “slow down and be careful” parts of the levels. I mean, I’m still not, but I had an excuse back then. My mother probably let me play as the indestructible Tails when Sonic 2 came out, since I could just do whatever while she played normally, and there was no fear of me meeting my permanent doom.

The first I remember us playing together was a few years later, when I had a Playstation. There was a game called Future Cop LAPD by EA, and I remember me and my mom playing through the co-op for that game on numerous occasions. It was a fun way to bond, even as the gaming torch was more being passed my way for the time. I made friends my age, and started gaming with them, and it was a normal part of growing up. I didn’t become less close with my mother, but for a while our relationship took a different shape, and it would be like this for a number of years. I’m sure I roped her into a game or two from time to time, especially Crash Mode in Burnout 2 anyone else remember that? I probably played against her in Soul Calibur 2 as well, but I suppose none of that ever imprinted the same way as Future Cop did.

Fast forward to teenage years, and due to a series of events involving my falling in love with Fable for the Xbox at a cousin’s house, my parents wound up buying me an Xbox 360 for either Christmas or my birthday, I don’t remember which. Now despite having owned a Playstation and a Gamecube before this, the 360 was really the console which ignited my passion for gaming that I carry to this day. It would also forge the bond of gaming I share with my mother.

What was the 360 very well known for? Shooters. What did I love to play as a teenaged boy? Shooters. They also turned out to be great co-op experiences. Of course, my mother at this time was probably in her 40s, and up until now in her gaming career had not really had to deal much with the complexity of dual analog controls. Needless to say, and she would probably agree, those early days of playing shooters with her son were likely a bit rough. I think I was dealing about 95% of the kills at first. That was ok though, the fun of it was playing together. And so we did, so many series. Halo, Gears of War, Borderlands, Army of Two. We even played Dead Island together, despite her being terrified of zombies.

Adulthood came along, I got a job, things changed for a bit, I switched to PC gaming, but eventually my mother said “hey so when are we going to play games together again?” We’d run out of obvious options, but I looked into co-op experiences for us. Well hey, there’s a whole bunch of Lego games that are said to be fun and family friendly, so that’s what we started playing together. I’m pretty sure we played, like, all of them. This was where we discovered a pretty interesting difference between the two of us. I had hung up my completionist hat many years prior, when games like the Assassin’s Creed series just beat that out of me with their exhaustive checklists of collectibles. So as we played the Lego games I was just content to experience the levels and the story and move on. My mother meanwhile, wanted to go back and do everything.

So it soon became a thing where we would play together normally, and then later when I went to work she would play on her own and replay through the levels to collect all the golden bricks and minikits and stuff. At this point, she worked from home, so it worked out pretty well. Soon after this, I got an Xbox One X so we could go back and play through the Halo collection, or catch up on Gears of War for the newer Gears 4 and 5, and likewise with Borderlands 1, 2, and the Pre-Sequel in preparation for 3. I even tried to get her to play Dying Light, but the parkour and the being chased by Volatiles at night combined to make the experience a bit too overwhelming. She did get to enjoy one of her first solo open world games by playing Red Dead Redemption via backward compatibility, and she loved that game.

It got to the point that when I moved out, I left the Xbox with her so that she would still have access to her Lego games that she had become so hooked on. For a while it was tough to play together, we’d gotten used to playing couch co-op over the years and I was living far enough away now that it was tough to come by regularly to play. I tried remoting in to the Xbox to play the Lego Skywalker Saga with her, but man did my internet connection not like to do that smoothly. But hey, Borderlands 3 features crossplay between Xbox and PC, let’s play that.

We’re actually still playing that today, slowly working through the story. It was crashing on the Xbox One X though, and my mother was really interested in Hogwarts Legacy (we also bonded over the books when I was young, and we would attend the midnight releases at Barnes & Noble for every book starting with the second one), so I went and bought her a Series S on a good sale. She proceeded to become hopelessly addicted to that game, to the extent that she not only finished it before me but has begun combing the map to complete all of the collectibles just like in the Lego games.

Of course now, due to a complicated series of events, one of my gaming PCs now resides at her house. This will be helpful in overcoming the crossplay necessity, since we’ve been looking forward for a while to playing Halo Infinite together and were both really disappointed when they axed the couch co-op plans for the game. So we have plans both now and for the future to continue to play video games together, even as I’ve become married and am perhaps soon to start my own family.

So the point of this whole story, if you haven’t figured it out, is a simple one. If you’re going to have kids, they’re going to change your life, in numerous unexpected ways. Other parents can give you tips and hints, even try to read from their road map for you, but every relationship and every kid will be different and nobody can truly tell you what to expect. I can however tell you that, at least for my mother, she found a way to continue the hobby of gaming when she had a couple of tiny terrors in her home. It went on to forge a powerful bond of mutual enjoyment with her eldest child, which continues to tie us together as I’ve flown away from the nest.

This doesn’t have to apply just to gaming, although that’s the focus of our community. Any hobby you have that you’re passionate about, that you enjoy participating in, you don’t necessarily have to give it up when you become a parent. It can, in fact, if you’re lucky, become something that you and your child enjoy together for many years. Um, but if your hobby is something like chainsaw juggling maybe wait until they’ve developed a good amount of their fine motor skills before introducing it to them, yeah?

So anyway, call your mother today, hug your mother today, do something to show you appreciate her. It’s Mother’s Day! We appreciate the mothers who have made their mark on our lives in their numerous ways, both those who are still with us and those who have sadly left to move on. We love and honor mothers today, who shape the children of tomorrow with their love and compassion and occasional smack to the head when we need it.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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