Big Pic­ture Mode

In­dus­try is­sues given the widescreen treat­ment

EDGE - - SECTIONS - NATHAN BROWN Nathan Brown is Edge’s deputy edi­tor, and is cur­rently clean­ing jam off his copy of Adam F’s Me­trop­o­lis

Nathan Brown hands the con­troller to his jam-cov­ered son

My 14-month-old son is ob­sessed with my record col­lec­tion. It’s quite un­der­stand­able: while his mother and I have re­sponded to his in­creas­ing mo­bil­ity and wingspan by mov­ing ev­ery item of risk or value up­wards and back­wards to get them out of the range of his some­how per­pet­u­ally jam-cov­ered hands, the records haven’t gone any­where. A thou­sand or so slabs of vinyl sit invit­ingly at ground level, all within easy reach. And reach he does, so we spent a cou­ple of hours this past week­end lis­ten­ing to what he was pulling out of the racks, mov­ing from golden-age hip hop to clas­sic Lau­rel Canyon rock, from ragga jun­gle to late-’90s Dutch trance (laugh all you want, but that am­phet­a­mine-paced wasps-in-a-tin sound was one of the few re­li­able ways to get him to sleep when he was two months old). It was a fun way to spend an af­ter­noon.

Yet while this week­end gave us both the chance to broaden our mu­si­cal hori­zons, it also proved that he is nowhere near ready for games. I sus­pected as much but, em­bold­ened by our mu­si­cal jour­ney and try­ing to run down the clock to din­ner­time, I de­cided to try again. I sat him on my lap with the iPad, guided his in­dex fin­ger and showed him how to sketch a world into life with Toca Na­ture, and then how to make suc­cu­lent ex­plo­sions in Fruit Ninja. There were gig­gles, but as soon as I let go of his hand, he put the whole thing on the screen, iOS’s mul­ti­touch recog­ni­tion kick­ing in and quit­ting to the home menu or fast-switch­ing be­tween apps. Then, in­evitably, came his spe­cial move: arch­ing his back and com­plain­ing un­til I put him down so he could run off to smear baby-jam on some re­cently cleaned sur­faces.

Fail­ing to take the hint, I de­cided to try him on Ul­tra Street Fighter IV. I knew this was the equiv­a­lent of ask­ing to bor­row 50p, be­ing turned down and ask­ing for a ten­ner, but he’s al­most as fas­ci­nated with my ar­cade sticks as he is with the records, so I fig­ured it was worth a go. It went hor­ri­bly, of course, and he wrig­gled free and wad­dled off, re­turn­ing only to turn off the 360 as the fi­nal battle was load­ing. (That’s an­other ob­ses­sion, thanks to his dis­cov­ery of the ‘ping’ noise a 360 Slim makes when turned on or off, ex­cept in his case it’s on and off and on and off and on and off un­til you just want to die.)

Ob­vi­ously, this will change as his mo­tor skills de­velop. Nonethe­less, I was struck by the very dif­fer­ent ap­proaches I’d taken. When he was go­ing through the record col­lec­tion, I’d been happy to let him pick what we played. Yet I’d cho­sen the games I thought he might like and un­der­stand, and as such his re­jec­tion of them stung me a bit.

I’ll per­se­vere, but when the time comes, will I let him bur­row through the cab­i­nets in the games room and choose what he wants to play? I doubt it. I want his first con­tact with a SNES to be Su­per Mario World, not Area 88 or Hat Trick Hero. His first fight­ing game has to be Street Fighter II, not Battle Arena

Toshinden or Mor­tal Kom­bat 3. And if he wrin­kles his nose at some beloved game of my youth? What if he doesn’t love

Pilotwings? Heart­break. And then I re­alised that this was all my fault. Why shouldn’t his for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ences with videogames be as or­ganic as his in­tro­duc­tion to mu­sic? If I try to force things, it’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult and dis­ap­point­ing. There will be tears and tantrums, and it’s not go­ing to be easy for him ei­ther. We look at mu­sic and games in very dif­fer­ent ways. You might hate my favourite mu­sic, and I yours, but we’d ac­cept our dif­fer­ence of opin­ion as a mat­ter of taste. We tend to see games as be­ing ob­jec­tively good or bad – but then we all know you don’t have to go too far on the In­ter­net to find some­one who feels the ex­act op­po­site about game X than you do.

You learn a lot very quickly when you have a child, but there are days when you feel like you’ve learned noth­ing at all. The one con­stant is that chil­dren are ex­plor­ers: they want to find out for them­selves what they like and dis­like, what’s ed­i­ble and what isn’t, and which house­hold sur­faces are yet to be cov­ered in jam. So I’ll just let it hap­pen. Maybe one day, when I least ex­pect it, he’ll tot­ter over and ask me to show him how to throw fire­balls. He’ll come home from school and ask if I have this game called Dark Souls that his teacher was talk­ing about. And maybe one day he’ll tell me that he likes

Hat Trick Hero more than he likes Su­per Mario World, and I’ll just have to ac­cept it. So long as he never beats me at Street Fighter, we’ll get along just fine.

Maybe one day he’ll tell me he likes Hat Trick Hero more than Su­per Mario World, and

I’ll just have to ac­cept it

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