Narrative of a Newb: What the Heck Are All These Buttons For? (Part 1)

I’ve always considered myself a tech savvy lady. Not to toot my own horn, but I know my way around HTML and CSS, I can customize my iPhone settings with the greatest of ease, I still remember how to program a VCR (that is, if you’re still in possession of one and need assistance), and my first computer’s operating system was DOS, which I still know how to use. Yet somewhere amongst those lofty, geek-worthy credentials, I missed a step. I neglected to maintain the status quo on video gaming skills. Oh, the shame! The last video game I had played was Sonic the Hedgehog on Sega Genesis. Sometime shortly thereafter, I forgot all about the video games because, “oh-my-gosh-BOYS!!!” became a lot more interesting to me. Let’s fast forward fifteen mostly awkward years, shall we?

It was nearly one year ago that I casually mentioned to my family that I hadn’t played a video game since I was in my early teens. Their reaction still haunts me to this day. My sweet, loving son laughed at me and called me a “noob”. With my geek status suddenly called into question, I did what any self-respecting wife and mother would do. I sent my son to his room for calling me names and my husband to work on the ever present “fix-it” list… then took full advantage of the rare moment when the family room was empty to examine the source of all the drama. A small, inoffensive black box with a few cords and buttons rested beneath the television. This, I can handle, I thought to myself. “Okay! Power button? A-ha!” I remember thinking that this was going to be a piece of cake as the console quietly hummed to life at the touch of a button. Little did I know that this would be the first and last moment I would have that self-satisfied smile on my face when it came to a video game.

First off, I wasn’t set up as a user on the console. Now, I understand the necessity for information security, but can someone please explain to me why I need to create a login for a video game system? Because it seems to me that this might just be a little bit over the line of what is strictly necessary, though I’m sure at some point it was advertised as a key selling feature. Access denied? Surely I can register myself as a user… That shouldn’t have posed a problem for a geek like me. Except that there was no keyboard. Only this perverted, butterfly shaped lump of plastic with nearly as many buttons as your standard QWERTY, with what appeared to be alien hieroglyphics differentiating the keys. Never one to be easily deterred, I applied the tried-and-true method of old school geeks, and started pressing random buttons until something happened. I can only surmise I made a syntax error of some sort, because something did happen, but not what I had logically assumed should have happened.

I should have admitted defeat, accepted the unpleasant moniker of “noob”, and moved on. Instead, I mumbled a few less-than-ladylike words to myself, and called in reinforcements in the form of our family friend Patrick, who most conveniently runs K-9! VideoGaming. An hour later, I had a user account for the console, a user account for Call of Duty: Black Ops, and a crash course in the methodical order in which to access the game. It occurred to me at that point to question the apparent need for TOP SECRET security level clearance, but I dismissed it, maybe I wasn’t as up to date on information security protocols as I had thought. Regardless, I was all set! Wait, no I wasn’t. Custom classes? Maps? Kill streaks? Perks? I don’t recall signing up to become a government operative. What is all of this nonsense? And why was everyone laughing at me?

In retrospect, I wish that I had counted the number of times that weird little controller was snatched away from my hands between my husband, my son, and Patrick. I was feeling rather mutinous. At some point, teaching me became an exercise in futility, as the testosterone kicked in, and the men decided they would all be ever so helpful. My son had looks of both amusement and pity in his eyes as he said “We’ll just set everything up for you, and hand you the controller once the game actually starts.”

True to their word, as the countdown for the match to begin on what I now know to be called Nuke town, someone passed me the controller. Then chaos ensued. Three men proceeded to start yelling and barking various unintelligible instructions at me. Some I believe may have been button sequences, some were the directions in which I was supposed to be moving, most were “WATCH OUT FOR TH… You died. Again.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming this Friday!

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