The XBOX Factor

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 11:59 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 8:26 a.m. CDT

We’ve entered a new phase of play in our family—video games.

We’ve had an Xbox 360 for several years now, but it wasn’t until recently that my son began choosing the video games over trucks and trains. 

Technically, the Xbox system belongs to my husband. I bought it for him as a Christmas gift a few years ago.  I justified buying my grown husband the gaming system with the thought that we could play “as a family.” It had “Kinnect,” where you get up and the camera allows you to play games using your body instead of a controller. We also assumed our son, who was two-years old when I bought it, eventually would start playing video games.

Flash forward some 24 months and I can count on one hand how many times we played it “as a family.”  The kids and I enjoy showing off our dance moves with games like Dance Central and Just Dance, but beyond that, I have avoided any kind of gaming like the Plague.

On the contrary, our son did, indeed, take a liking to it. And while it provided me an opportunity to clean the house, do laundry and have a moment’s peace to myself, I knew he likely would become addicted to the damn thing.  Sure enough, he now wakes up in the morning and without saying a word he goes into the toy room, turns it on and picks up where he left off the night before.

There are occasions he insists I sit down and play, usually some sort of Lego game (the purpose of which completely escapes me.)  But at least the Lego games make more sense than Minecraft, which boasts graphics that harken back to a meld of Coleco and Atari with a dash of Intellivision. Though unlike Minecraft, those games all were simple to understand. I wish they made Tetris or Super Mario Brothers for Xbox 360. 

I do my best to feign interest in Lego Star Wars, but I usually fall short of my son’s expectations to get him out of a tough level, and that is where my husband steps in.  I remember when I would count down the minutes until he got home so I could hand off a screaming baby. Now I await his arrival home to save me from video-gaming Hell.

I appreciate this new bond that has developed between father and son. But they also are partners in crime – ignoring me while they are playing, sitting there, the two of them, with the same blank looks on their faces…while their fingers work the controls with the madness of Mozart at the piano – jump, punch and run. I nearly have to turn the game off to get their attention. 

A few weeks ago, I was trying to get the family ready for church and my son and husband were playing Xbox.  I had to threaten both “my boys” with a time-out or grounding them from the game if they didn’t get off their butts and get ready for church. (I thought my addiction to Candy Crush was bad. This was downright ridiculous.)

It was time to put my foot down on this nonsense.  I had to have serious talk with my husband about how he is setting a bad example by disrespecting me.  I have a hard enough time getting out the door to go to work, get the kids into bed at a reasonable time and limit the amount of time they stare at any given screen in the house.  I don’t need the biggest kid in my house fueling the fire and making it any worse.

On the bright side, my son in so in love with his precious video games that I now have something to hang over his head when he is misbehaving.  Even the thought of losing his Xbox privileges has him standing at attention.  Now, if I could just get my husband to fall into line. 

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