The other day this comic was posted here on Kotaku. When I first read it I thought it was dark, depressing, and a major bummer. But then I began to think about my relationship with my dad when I was a young gamer…
My childhood was neither terrible nor extraordinary. I have a very loving and caring family, so as a kid I really had nothing to complain about. Even so, I remember often wanting to get away from it all to get lost in a game's fantasy world. I don't necessarily regret this, but this web comic certainly made me reflect on how I must have looked to my dad. He never really understood video games or why I liked them so much. I tried endlessly to get him to play them with me with no success save for one time when he tried the tennis on Wii Sports. My dad is an engineer and he would say, "I spend all day in front of a screen, I don't want to do that at home too." I understand that a lot more now.
Still, I felt like I had probably acted like the kid in the comic at some point in time, so I wanted to let my dad know how I felt. I sent him this:
I just saw this comic the other day and it made me think of you. I know when I was a kid and I hit a certain age I sat around a lot and played video games instead of coming to you to play and do things. I'm sorry.
I was young and restless, and I sought adventure that I was convinced the real world couldn't provide (sometimes I'm still convinced of this). It wasn't until I was 16 and we went to France together that I realized that maybe you wanted adventure too, and that maybe we were far more similar than I thought.
I'm sure I shrugged things off and I'm sure I probably confused, and maybe hurt you a few times. I enjoyed getting lost in my games. We moved a lot and games helped me because it always took some time to make friends in a new place. Now that I'm older I look back at all the games, computers, and other things like Pokemon cards and I see that you really put up with a lot. I know I wasn't a bad egg or anything and I was always a good student, but I never meant to push you away with my toys.
Now that I'm older I see that they're just toys, even though I thought they were something more when I was younger. I don't know, maybe I'm growing up (something I said I would never do), but I want you to know that my best memories as a kid were all the things we did as a family. I'm a very independent person, and sometimes very reclusive, but I don't really remember all the toys I played with when I was a kid. I remember the family trips, hiking, rafting, and fishing in Montana, going to Disneyland (even though it wasn't your favorite), and driving up the coast of Oregon. I remember the Eiffel Tower, Omaha Beach, St. Malo, and walking down the cobblestone streets of Amboise.
If I could go back and do it all over again, I would, because as I get older I realize that all the stuff we did was pretty damn special. I bet we can still get quite a few more adventures in.
I wasn't sure how he'd respond, we haven't always been very good at communicating, but this is how he replied:
"Thanks for the email Patrick. I greatly appreciate it and I would do it all again also, although I would try harder to spend more time with you (and not so basketball oriented either)."
It felt good to read that... Of course, then he immediately went into talking about ideas for where to eat dinner the next time he and my mom are in town, but you get the picture, father-son bond and all that.
Try not to let technology (yes, even games) get in the way of the real memories, and remember to tell the important people in your life how you feel. Someday you may not have the chance!
Follow Patrick on Twitter @mr_patrickallan.