It’s 3:42 in the morning and, like most responsible fathers who lie awake at night, I’m worried about my kids. My oldest son in particular. To be clear, he’s a great kid and has a very bright future ahead of him and yet…and yet…there is something about him that has been troubling me for the last several months. Is it due to the fact that, at age 10, he is almost as tall as me? Is it because I took him up on his offer to repair our deck and we now have to endure walking on several hundred square feet of Lego bricks which, if you’ve ever stepped on a Lego brick before, you know is infinitely more painful than watching The Don kiss Putin’s ass? Is it because he shuns great musical groups like Pearl Jam and, instead, listens to Imagine Dragons and Zadie Wolfe? Possibly.
While I am mostly resigned to the fact that I have been reduced to being a short father who has the Lego logo permanently imprinted on the soles of his feet and is now a believer of Imagine Dragon’s superiority over all other musicians, what I am not resigned to, and why I am truly up at almost 4:00 in the morning, is the fact that my oldest son is far superior to me in the game Fortnite.
For those of you who may not know what Fortnite is, I suggest you keep it that way. If you have in fact heard of Fortnite, played it and are part of the same generation as me (old) you may know my pain. It seems like a simple game, you gather up weapons and materials and try to eliminate all the other players in order to win, yet it is not that simple.
At least for me.
As someone who grew up playing video games on Atari, Nintendo and at various arcades, I have seen and participated in the evolution of video games. From a joystick with one button to a controller with more buttons than I can count or know what to do with, I have played and, in my mind at least, excelled at all manner of video games.
My son, in case I haven’t mentioned it yet, is really good at this game.
Admittedly I’m not great at new video games due to the multitude of buttons and sticks involved. It’s a lot to remember and, not even being able to remember my kid’s names most of the time, I gave up trying to figure them out a long time ago. Besides giving up on remembering my kids names, I also gave up trying to figure out what button does what and when on the new video game controllers. Having cut my teeth on the old Atari system where I played such intense games as Pitfall which required running in a linear loop screen and occasionally jumping over an alligator’s head or onto a rope to swing across said alligator, the idea of using eight buttons, or combinations thereof, and three joysticks to control a medieval assassin is nearly impossible for me to comprehend and results in me using the mash method of playing these games. This method requires the player to just push a bunch of buttons and random joysticks in hopes of accomplishing the task of jumping over an alligator’s head while assassinating myself. So while I have an obvious issue with the complexity of video games these days, it doesn’t explain why, in my son’s words, I’m still a “newb” at Fortnite.
Before I get back to why my lack of comprehension of new fangled game controllers doesn’t provide an explanation for my lack of skill in Fortnite, I feel I should explain the term “newb” to those who may not have heard it before. The term “newb” is Greek and is loosely translated as “Dad who is old and has lost all of his video game skills” or “a soggy pita bread sandwich”. Regardless of what interpretation you go with it is obviously too close to comfort for me and has, to no small extent, led to the many sleepless nights like tonight.
Having spent the last several hours playing Fortnite in an attempt to gain the skills sufficient enough to
destory play as well as my son, it has become clear that the controls are not the issue. Admittedly, the controls may be the issue in that I don’t utilize most of the options, such as building bases and jumping as they are too much work to attempt during the game, particularly when I’m so focused on attempting to hide from everyone else in the game. My son calls this strategy “weak” and something only “newbs” do, but I disagree for no other reason than I am his dad and I refuse to accept that he is right. While I would probably be better at the game if I learned how to work the controls a little better the real issue, unfortunately, is the fact that my reflexes aren’t what they used to be and, I hate to admit it, an inability to be calm under pressure. When an opponent starts shooting at me, my natural instinct it to either run away or wet myself, neither of which works well to win in Fortnite. Before you focus too much on me wetting myself while playing a video game I am proud to say that I am infinitely better at the game when I team up with my son.
There are several, and ever-changing, modes of play in Fortnite that range from Solo (each player against each other), Squads (a team of four players against the rest of the teams), Two teams of fifty against each other and Duos, two players playing together against all other players. When my son and I have played together in the team modes I find that I am a better player because I want to protect my son from harm while also riding his coattails to victory. While he will take credit for us once getting a Victory Royale (meaning you have eliminated all other players from the game) it was obviously my decision to rush the opponent in an attempt to steal the glory from my son while stating that I was sacrificing myself in order to distract the other guy and, thereby, giving my son a chance to kill the guy and get the win. It was great to get the win with my son and I was happy that he won it for us as, in my mind at least, it made up for the other games when I panicked and accidentally eliminated him instead of an opponent and then blamed it on the game “glitching” (Greek for: “Dad who panics and eliminates his son in a video game then blames the game”).
Be it a glitch, controls or getting old I will continue to battle on in Fortnite in hopes of someday getting good enough to only eliminate my son in 75% of the games that we play together instead of the current 92%. If that doesn’t happen I will be forced to hire a Fortnite tutor to make it happen, even if I have to use my son’s college tuition to pay for it; he’s the one who just had to be so much better than me at Fortnite after all.