Jul 01, 2013, 09:04AM

This Is My Son's Brain on Video Games

A crazy kaleidoscope of pre-adolescent adlibs.

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A lot of parents get techy when their kids get their hands on candy, cookies, cakes, or other sweets. Not me; the short and curlies on the back of my neck stand up at attention when a video game seizes my son's attention after a brief holiday from bright flashing blobs and pixelated, scrolling scenery. The exaggerated sound effects are not to blame; nor are the dinky, hackneyed scores that are de rigueur for everything from smartphone game apps to Nintendo DS marquee-franchise entries these days. Or even the games themselves, those interchangeable exercises of canned adrenaline or post-Tetris brain puzzlers or nth-generation RPGs. They're not problems in and of themselves; more than anything, they're enablers.

"What do these video games enable?" you ask? They effectively enable my son to become a haunted Pez dispenser of nonsensical ejaculations, violent exclamations, shrill screeches, dribbled vocal experiments, and blurts that make sense only in the context of the game being throttled. Rollercoasting war whoops with no apparent end? Hope you don't have a slipped disk. Nerve-squelching eeeees that suggest a drunk driver taking mountain curves too quickly in a thunderstorm? He brings that noise, and more besides. Too much more: exasperated gasps, aggravated sighs and grunts. Before video games, I didn't even know he was capable of making sounds like that, sounds that suggest that one is being poked hard in the guts with the blunt end of a wooden lance.

Seriously, hand this kid Pop Star or Super Mario Brothers 2 or, you know, Temple Run, and he transforms into a mental-ward escapee who has recently decided to actively and excitedly idolize Michael Leslie Winslow. The worst part is that my son is in no way aware that all these yelps and stutters and wooooos are emanating from him: he's pure, undiluted id. And in so descending into that particular world he is somehow suddenly and ineffably beyond the admonitions of his two annoyed, uncomprehending parents, like an insufferable amalgamation of 20 years of noisome hip-hop adlibs deployed with neither rhyme nor reason. Which reminds me: I should probably call my own parents now, and retroactively and profusely apologize to them.


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