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Grandma gets an Xbox

If my posts have dropped off this last week, it’s because for Christmas my son gave me what might seem like an  unlikely gift for a grandmother — an Xbox 360 with several games, half a dozen movies, music, and TV shows (that he brought over on an external hard drive). Of course, he did all the set-up and hooking in with my home network, etc.

It’s all been pretty overwhelming. So much to learn! How to run the Xbox and access all the stuff on it and, through it, on my big computer. Which controller does what, and how. Whew! I already had a couple of remotes just for the TV and cable box. Now I’ve also got the Xbox remote and controller. Each has some unique functions, and several have a lot of overlapping functions. Hey, one function per remote would be too easy!

Son, of course is all “Have you watched this yet?” and “Have you played that yet?” No, sweetie, I’m still trying to figure out how to operate the damn remote and get from the TV to the Xbox and back again without bursting into tears of frustration. Seriously, I was this close to calling him the first night; I’d gotten the Xbox turned off but couldn’t get the TV back on.

I swear I never used to be this stupid. And I absolutely hate feeling helpless and stupid. I don’t know how fast I would have picked all this up at his age, but I can tell you that at my age, the learning curve has been steep and painful! It doesn’t help that my seven-year-old grandson is IMing me on the same system from his house! (This is the same grandson I was babysitting one night and had to give up and ask him how to turn off their Xbox and just get the plain ol’ TV back on. One remote and 900 channels I could handle!)

You must understand, I’ve been gaming for ten years or so, but always on a PC, always with a keyboard. This game box and controller set-up is totally new to me.

For those interested, I’m cutting my teeth on Fallout 3 and Oblivion. There’s also a driving game (Project Gotham) that I haven’t even opened yet. And I did watch a movie the other night (“No Country For Old Men” — interesting movie, very unsatisfying ending) that was on TV, not one my son gave me.

So anyway, the bottom line, as I was explaining it to my son this afternoon, is that for me there’s a very fine line between challenge and frustration. As long as I can endure the frustration of feeling stupid, not knowing how to do something, and dying constantly, I’ll keep whacking away at the “challenges” of the game. It’s sort of a love/hate relationship. Happens to me with any new game. But it’s much worse in these games because I’m alone. These are not like MMORPGs, with other players around to answer questions and maybe help a bit.

Okay, I’ve babbled long enough. Just one other thing that has been a huge disappointment to both me and son. I have an older TV, not HD. Not a problem I’d particularly noticed till I started the first Xbox game. As with any game, there’s a lot of tiny type on the screen giving you info all the time. And I’m struggling to read it. Almost guessing, in some cases. Unless and until I spring for a new TV (nothing can be done for the old eyeballs), that’s one challenge/frustration I won’t be able to overcome.

5 Comments »

  1. I think this is fantastic. Your post on the anniversary of the death of that MMORPG player was moving and a little surprising to me, and I meant to comment then … but didn’t obviously …

    I’m not a gamer, not since I finally rescued the princess on the kids’ Nintendo back in ’91 or whenever the hell that was, but I understand the appeal, and see the games that the college students play on the systems they bring. They’re amazing. I think this is a great way to exercise the brain (and thumbs?) even if some hypnosis is involved. And the sheer battle with new technology is another whole dimension of the challenge, as you write.

    Game on grandma!
    __________
    Game on I shall! My rationale is that it’s good for my brain, as you noted, even if my eyes and thumbs protest.

  2. w00t, glad you got the 360. I got one, too! We can share gamertags, if you want, then harass each other online! 😀

    Recommended games: Fable 2, Grand Theft Auto 4, any of the Guitar Hero games, the various Lego games, and Assassin’s Creed 1 and 2.
    __________
    Awesome! I’ve watched the “kids” (my son and daughter-in-law) play GTA, Burnout Paradise (?), L4D and L4D2, and both Rockstar and Guitar Hero and they’re so good it’s intimidating. Son was suggesting Assassin’s Creed just before Christmas and I may look into that. So many options!

    And my gamertag is obvious … PiedType. Just don’t be mean about my painfully slow progress!

  3. Oh, and if you can, get Netflix. For a mere $9 a month, you can stream movies right onto your 360 and watch them without having to deal with discs.
    _________
    Son pointed out the Netflix thing right off the bat. I must be the only person in the world who doesn’t subscribe yet. I’m not sure if it’s a short attention span or what, but movies seem to be one of the last things I gravitate to for entertainment.

  4. There are TV shows available for streaming on Netflix as well. I spent a great deal of time streaming three seasons worth of Penn and Teller: Bullshit!.

    Also, another recommended game is Portal: Still Alive, which you can download. It’s a wonderful 3-D puzzle game.

    And my gamertag is Parskell.
    _________
    I was also given the first two seasons of Buffy. For whatever reason, my son is not going to rest till I’ve watched them.

    I’ll be watching for you …

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