When I see my son sitting on a couch, control pad in hand, jaw slightly slack, gazing intently at the screen across the room, I know I have only myself to blame. Certainly as a parent I could have done so much more to prohibit the flow of video games into my home. My attitude at the time was that these were part of the firmament. Making video games a forbidden fruit would have simply driven my son from the garden and sent him out into the cold, hard world in search of Knowledge, or at least the next level. I also would have felt like a complete hypocrite.
I had a habit, way back when. Before my son was born, I was up to several hours a week on the old Sega Genesis. It all started innocently enough: with that little blue hedgehog. I played my share of Sonic. I went from left to right as fast as I could, gathering as many rings as I could before I had to face off against the evil Doctor Robotnik. It was only after considerable amounts of time were spent in nerve-shredded frustration that I was able to overcome the forces of virtual evil and beat that particular game. All those hours of climbing the ladder, only to slide back down again finally paid off. That's when Vectorman came into my world.
I would like to tell you that Vectorman offered all manner of intellectual and physical challenges that weren't available in the hedgehog game, but that wouldn't be true. It was essentially the same drill: move from left to right, only this time I wasn't gathering rings, I was gathering power-ups in hopes of defeating the evil Warhead. Good versus evil, moving from left to right. It was a pretty standard video game trope. I played and played, inching ever closer to that final confrontation. It never happened.
My son was born and I put the Sega away. After considerable discussion with my wife, and some solid recognition of my new position in the world. Did I say discussion? That might be shading things a little lightly, but eventually the whole package, hedgehog and all, were sent packing. Nowadays, I find myself immersed in epic battles to save my own Civilization, but I save and quit whenever the dinner bell chimes or the dog needs to go out. Or if I've been staring at the screen too long.
But sometimes I still dream of Vectorman.