The circle of life. Our parents took us to football games on the understanding that come kick-about, they’d be the ones showing us the ropes, who scored the goals. Our generation grew up with video games, it’s only fair we now be the ones whupping our kids’ butts on the console.
Yet all those sessions in our teens and twenties playing everything from Street Fighter II to GTA appear to amount to nothing after each embarrassing defeat at the hands of a child who still doesn’t know how to work a microwave.
It isn’t just that we’re out of practice, or don’t have the time to. Games have got a hell of a lot more complicated.
“It’s not about point and click, or press everything and you’re bound to hit something,” patronises Otis, a 15-year-old gamer I’ve roped in to help me win, who suggests my retro games like Tekken are child’s play compared to something like Tale of Wuxia, where the training session is something like algebra.
Or Dwarf Fortress, where everything is made up of font symbols similar to The Matrix. That’s before you get into complete other worlds like Eve Online, where they have their own laws and currency.
You’re here because you refuse to accept it’s Game Over. You want to win, show them who’s the big boss. Here are a few expert tips from a teen traitor on how to beat them at their own game.
With thanks to Otis J from Jam Jinxers
Play to your strengths
Trying to take them on in something as complex as Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will leave you dead every time, so master a game in line with the one you used to be a dab hand at once. If you were good at arcade games like Super Smash TV, go for something like HellDivers. If shooting things dead was your thing a la Doom, practice Far Cry 5.
Don’t go for the obvious
Everyone will tell you to play Fortnite, because everyone plays Fortnite. There are other games like it – PlayerUnknown’s Battleground, Ring of Elysium, SOS Battle Royale – find one your child isn’t au fait with (always check reviews before buying – if it’s deemed too complex or lame it’ll defeat the objective).
Put the time in
Practice may be obvious advice, but making time needs planning. Set yourself a deadline (let your kid know: in four weekends time, it’s war). Spend all your spare time practicing that game, avoid social media, go online only to get tips on how to better your game.
Take it from the pros
You’ve scratched your head at why kids watch other people play games, now it’s your turn. It’s not cheating to see experts on Twitch, YouTube and Reddit talk you through how it’s done – once you know how, you still have to be able to do it yourself. See it as saving time. Join forums like gamefaqs.com and Steam communities for answers to all your confusions.
You don’t have the time, dedication or natural talent your kids have, but you have money. Otis is convinced gameplay is heightened by purchasing gaming headsets, a gaming chair, custom-built mouse with Delta Zero technology, keyboard with anti-ghosting mechanism... These things might not make you suddenly become a whizz at Cuphead, but it will make your kids love you more (assuming you let them use it!)
Ultimately, if your goal is the need to beat your kid at a game, buy the old console and game from your hey day on eBay, brush up on your skills and let the kid have it! There’s little doubt the mini-you will work it out and start beating you very soon, but gaming is about bonding between parent and child. And nothing can beat that. Plus at least you will win the first game... probably.