I Fired My Family From Co-Op Gaming

Let me get one thing clear, right off the bat. I am an absolute DELIGHT to play video games with. I had a regular Gears of War 4 team a few years ago, a regular team for The Division, and I have a steady crew for Destiny 2 if I ever agree to bite that bullet. I know this problem I have with playing video games with my husband and nine-year-old son is definitely not due to me. They all just suck.

That said, I am fully aware of my lack of patience. There’s a reason why I never became a teacher, and there’s a reason why I collect and review strategy guides; patience is not my forte.

But I stand by that my family sucks at playing games.

I fired my husband from playing video games with me when we tried to play the first Gears of War game together. He hadn’t played video games consistently in awhile, and I was just getting into shooters. We thought this would be something fun to do together, especially since we had around the same level of expertise.

Oh, how wrong I was.

During that first Berserker fight, I told him to just stay in the corners and dodge roll away from the giant bitch after five failures in a row caused by his death. (By the way, we were playing on casual, not hardcore or insanity.) After we failed a mission AGAIN because he died at the very end, I dropped my controller, whipped my head in his direction, and yelled out, “REALLY?”

family co-op gaming

Goddammit, Dom! Stay alive FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

We completed two Acts together, and after that second night, I told him he was fired. He didn’t believe me until he came home from a night out and found me playing without him.

“Did you really fire me?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes, I did,” I responded flatly. “You suck.”

Obviously since my son is only 9, I don’t play violent shooters with him. We have tried to play a few LEGO video games together, as he is more obsessed with LEGO than I am and he sometimes needs help getting through some of the puzzles and platforming. He drives me insane while playing these games.

Because of him, I’ve learned that there are two types of LEGO game players: completionists and level-burners. I am a LEGO completionist. I want to explore every nook and cranny, collect every spare stud, and break every LEGO piece I can. My son is a level-burner. He simply wants to kill all the things and get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Sometimes I’m able to explore and pick up the minikits and glorious blue studs while he runs around beating up all of the enemies or staring at a puzzle that stumps him. Sometimes he runs right into the open door to finish the level right as I’m setting up how to snag that minikit in the upper corner.

Yes, I know he’s nine. I know he’s not listening when I ask him for the hundredth time to stop running to the end. I know I’m the adult and I should be patient with him and let him run the show when we play together. It doesn’t mean that any of that is happening in my OCD, control freak of a brain.

I fired him back when he was five and we attempted to play LEGO Star Wars together. That LEGO game is horrendous for co-op play unless both players have patience and have the same LEGO personalities. The camera only follows one player, so when my son runs off to one area, the camera will drag me in that direction, disrupting any stud collecting. And if one of us (HIM) falls off a ledge, the other player has to go back down to the bottom too, because the camera won’t pan out to let him try to make the jumps back up. We were both utterly miserable.

family co-op gaming

I didn’t let him down as harshly as I did my husband, but we had a long termination talk about how I was going to go another way, that it wasn’t him, it was me, and that this was best since he was obviously so unhappy working in this environment. He took it quite well, especially with the Kit-Kat severance package I gave him.

Now that it’s been four years later, he really, really, REALLY wants to play the Transformers Cybertron games together. I’m not sure how much longer I can put him off. Why can’t we just go rollerblading together instead?

Gaming in this house is now strictly solo. I play alone or with other friends, the husband plays alone occasionally, and the nine-year-old plays alone with some assistance. I will help the four-year-old, but I’m never opening that can of worms to play with him. I can’t watch him play games at all. He doesn’t collect items, he doesn’t look around, and he can’t aim to shoot if his life depended on it. Not sure how everyone else in this house is so terrible at gaming aside from me. Obviously, I’m NOT the problem here.