My son and I recently found a new interest to share. It’s not something artistic such as singing, or athletic such as tae kwon do. No, instead my son and I both enjoy battling zombies together.
Little did I suspect what would happen when I sat down next to my kids six weeks ago to watch them play a computer game. I didn’t understand the appeal; what could possibly have them so sucked in they couldn’t stop when their screen time was up for the day? I wanted to understand why they were so hooked, and I wanted to know what they were talking about.
I’m not sure I should do a product endorsement here by identifying the game they were playing that day, but it involves walking corpses that want to break into a house and eat the occupant’s (the player’s) brains. By planting carnivorous (or should I say saprophytic?) plants all around the yard, the roof, and even the pool, the player can destroy the zombies. I watched for just a little while before asking, “When you die, can I try?” Maybe all the different plants appealed to the gardener and biologist in me because after defeating the first wave of attackers, I was hooked. “Mom, it’s my turn!” my son wailed.
That night after the kids went to bed, I ran to get the iPad so I could play just a couple of levels. And then a few more after that, until it was after midnight and I finally managed to tear myself away. After a few evenings of this I woke up in the night tapping my fingers on the mattress: I’d been playing the game in my sleep. The next day, instead of using my jogging time to clear my mind and relax, I tried out different zombie-defeating strategies in my head as I ran. After a couple of weeks I’d defeated every level, and become the household expert on the game. My son asked me to sit with him and advise him when he played. And I beamed when I overheard him proudly telling his friends that his mom had defeated every level and accomplished all the extra challenges.
Having vanquished the zombies, I can get back to my regular relaxation habits, like reading a good book before bed. I now sympathize with my kids when they want to play just one more level. As for me, my game days are over. That is, unless they introduce a new version of the game. Oh, and I have to help my son play. Hmmm. Maybe the zombies actually did eat my brain.