Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Plants vs Zombies - Unsolicited Advice

Rather than post another video, I wanted to mention a small bone of contention in our household surrounding Plants vs Zombies. You'll see how the two incidents are related.

1) A few days ago, I noticed that my son was not running downstairs to the computer the minute he heard the Plants vs Zombies theme song music. I went to investigate and it turns out he had misunderstood a comment from my husband. My son said, "Dad says he doesn't want me to watch him anymore." We had a little chat and my husband explained that our son was watching him and "being bossy" and trying to tell my husband what to do. After he refused to stop all the extra editorial comments, my husband asked him to go do something else and let him play on his own.

2) I started my own file on the family Plants vs Zombies account. As I've mentioned numerous times, I'm not the best gamer in the house. My husband came to watch me play and help me out, but I started to get stressed out when he'd say "no, don't put that Pea Shooter so close to the front; you need range and the zombies will eat them too quickly" or "why did you choose to use the cherry bomb instead of plant more sunflowers?" I only played one or two rounds and then stopped. There's only so much constructive criticism one can take at once.

So, it's interesting to see that although gaming can be social in terms of watcher and player, having a "back seat driver" can be a real pain-in-the-backside. For the viewer, seeing "obvious" mistakes, it can be frustrating to holler advice that isn't taken and see errors made in front of you. For the player, having the challenge of a critic in addition to the challenge of the game itself can be a real discouragement. Add the usual family dynamics (father-son, mother-daughter, and other variations), it can be even more off-putting. As I was typing this, my husband had to walk away from watching my daughter play the new Lego Universe MMO. We'll see if we learn anything from my reflection (although I doubt the rest of the family reads this blog). Car conversation?

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