Wil buys a new game. It’s super effective!

A pair of twenty-something Bros, dressed and posed in a manner that was such a hilarious cliche, if I described them exactly as I saw them, my editor would have said, "no, that's too cliche," stood near the front of the store, communicating in some kind of Broglish that leaned heavily on the word "fuck" and its many derivatives.

I guess I'm Old Man Wheaton, because I looked around at all the 7 and 8 year-olds in the store and felt mildly offended that these two Bros couldn't be bothered to make an effort to tone it down just a little bit.

But such is the way of The Bro. If they had common sense and a WIS stat higher than d6+2, they probably wouldn't be Bros.

I walked around them, went to the DS games, and felt like a teenager buying his first box of condoms. I felt my face get warm, I caught myself looking around to ensure I wasn't being watched, and I reached for the nearest copy of Pokémon Black Version.

I turned it over in my hand and read the back. "I can't believe I'm actually going to do this," I thought. "I'm 38 years-old, and I'm buying Pokémon for the first time in my life."

The Bros left the store, trailing expletives behind them. Something was, apparently, a lot of fucking bullshit. The precious children I was so concerned about moments earlier didn't seem to notice. Maybe they play a lot of Call of Duty online. Or maybe I'm just an a dad nearing forty.

I nervously drummed my fingers on the game as I replayed the conversation I had with my friend Jerry about two months ago, where he assured me that Pokémon on the DS is a fun RPG that starts anew with each release, and is incredibly fun when you play it with your friends. The last game Jerry recommended to me, Might and Magic Clash of Heroes remains one of the greatest games I've ever played on the DS, so I trust him.

I trust him enough to find myself standing in GameStop*, feeling like I was renting porn, and wanting to ensure that I was getting Big Wet Asses 4, instead of Wet Big Asses 4. I approached the counter.

"Can I help you with anything?" The guy asked me.

"Yes, but you have to promise that you're not going to make fun of me."

The other guy smirked, and the first guy told me that he would not make fun of me.

"Okay," I exhaled and realized that my shoulders were tense. I relaxed them. "Do you have … Pokémon White Version?"

He sort of chuckled. The other guy failed to cover a laugh.

"Hey!" I said, "I can see you judging me!" I said to the other guy.

"No, man. I just thought that was funny. We both play Pokémon," The other guy said.

"Yeah, it's nothing to be embarrassed about; it's a really fun RPG," The first guy said.

"That's what my friend told me," I said, "so here I am at 38 years-old finally buying Pokémon for the first time.

"I am given to understand that they are essentially the same. Is that right?"

The other guy said that I had been correctly informed, and added that it pretty much depended on what box I liked better.

"Well, this thing kind of looks like … a dragon? I guess? Yeah, a dragon … and dragon's are cool, so…"

The first guy typed a few things on his computer. "We have White version, but we only have it used."

"I actually prefer to buy games new, to support the developer and stuff," I said, feeling a little self-conscious, like I had just extolled the virtues of fidelity while standing in a whorehouse, or giving a shit about the middle class while visiting Congress.

"No worries," he said.

"Okay, so I guess I'll take this, and Super Scribblenauts."

He rang me up.

"Hey, I … really like the work you do on Big Bang Theory," he said.

I know this sounds weird, but I often forget that when I'm interacting with strangers, there's a non-zero chance that they know my name and have seen me act. It used to make me feel like I had an arm growing out of my head when it happened, but I've gotten over that, and now it actually makes me happy, because I'm proud of what I do.

"Oh, thanks, man! I like being on Big Bang Theory," I said.

"Did you want a bag for these?" He asked.

"No, I'm good," I said, "I'll carry them out in the open so the whole world can know my shame. Thanks for your help."

I walked out of the store, past another employee who was explaining the differences between a couple of FPS games to a guy who was about my age, and seemed as uncertain about his purchase decision as I was about mine, but not nearly as self-conscious.

*I get it; some of you hate GameStop. That's cool, and you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I don't need a list of reasons why it sucks, delivered in Broglish. Twitter already accomplished that for me earlier today, thanks.

100 thoughts on “Wil buys a new game. It’s super effective!”

  1. Your journey to the Dark Side is complete! *evil laughter*
    No, but seriously, Pokemon White is the first game in the series I’ve bought since the Ruby/Sapphire days (I was a junkie as a kid) and even though I’m only in my early 20’s I felt the same way when I went to pick it up.

  2. I, for one, am glad that games have been around for a long enough time that people of all ages can now enjoy games. The innovations by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony of late have done a lot to bring families and friends together to enjoy spending time with each other AND gaming.
    Now, if only we had our gorram holodecks >:-D

  3. Shouldn’t your Fez picture be wearing a bowtie?
    Are the Pokemon games on DS turn based? I’ve always sticked with Zelda because it’s free roaming and you can actually physically attack the monsters. How does the battle system work on the Pokemon games?

  4. You are far too bad a badass for your own good. Don’t worry, Pokemon is and will always be a great thing, no matter your age or previous history with the franchise. Its got a lot of nostalgic value for me, but hey…the formula holds up over time.

  5. I worked for Gamestop for a while. IMHO, Gamestop is essentially a bunch of local guys looking to make a bit of cash doing something they like. It is a lot of fun; you get to play a lot of the newest games, and tell people about the games you love to play. I find that hating a company is generally a stupid way to live your life.
    Be sure to write a review about Pokemon soon! I played the first Pokemon game back on my oldskool 8-bit gameboy, until it got stolen by one of my college roommates… I loved that game.

  6. I’m proud that you owned up to it! You could have all too easily claimed to be buying the game for your kids. “Well, it’s little Tommy’s birthday this weekend and I hear that this Poke-A-Mon thing is all the rage. I mean, I’d rather play Dante’s Inferno or some manly game with violence and sex, but you know, he’s a kid…” or whatever.
    I’m always the only girl in the video game store and the Bros usually say something stupid like, “Picking out something for your boyfriend?” :(

  7. I find it awesome you’re giving Pokemon a try, when I’m that generation that played Pokemon in kindergarten, and now I’m in college and still playing Pokemon. It’s been and will continue to be a big part of my life, so this post made me smile a lot. I really hope you like it!! Black and White are the best yet.

  8. There is no shame in liking what you like. I am over 40, have a PS3 for the awesome graphics, and play all the LEGO games on it because they are damn fun. Not to mention, easier to deal with than getting fragged online by 13 year old in Call of Duty.

  9. I just had pretty much the same experience buying Pokemon for the first time at thirty (minus the bro exchange). Before I knew it I had sunk in 53hrs. Shame: It’s what’s for breakfast.

  10. That’s a bummer. Maybe if a friend has a copy, I’ll try it. It’s just so…satisfying…to actually be able to beat up the bad guys, you know?

  11. Thanks for not being a tool to people who recognize you in public. A member of my favourite band came into the store where I used to work once and I just had to say something. I told him I really like his music and his only response was a very sarcastic “So do I.” I still like the band, but definitely feel a bit different every time I hear their music now.
    I get that celebrities must get sick of being recognized, but I don’t see why it’s so hard to just politely say “thank you” when someone gives you a genuine compliment.
    So thanks for not being a jerk! yay!

  12. I know the feeling. For me turn-based combat has its ups and downs, both in RPGs and turn-based strategy vs. RTS. It just depends on what I’m in the mood for really.

  13. Except for the Bros, it sounds like you had a great experience. I’m only a few years younger than you, but even when I was younger I’d try to rein in my speech when little kids were around. I don’t mind going to Gamestop when they have the best deal, but I also don’t usually buy used games. I just wait til they come down in price, since I don’t get to play a lot. It was cool of those guys to treat you like a regular guy instead of the “Big Deal” you are. ;)

  14. Super Scribblenauts is pretty cool, but I like the original one much better. Either version, it just blows my mind how I can type in just about anything and it will appear on teh screen. Some people are so clever! And I’m glad you’re nice to fans as well. I know it can get tiresome to constantly be recognized, but it always such a thrill to see a celebrity you admire. I think it’s great that you’re good about “not being a dick” to fans! :)

  15. Reminds me a story that happened in the parisian subway : a 20 years old guy was laughing about a 30 years old man playing Pokemon, two rows back, and his friend just replied “shut your fuckin’ mouth, I actually PLAY Pokemon too…”
    So don’t worry, you’re not alone in this world ;)

  16. At least Gamestop people know the products they sell and can give me advice and help. I go into a mom-and-pop Lawn and Garden center and even THEY don’t know anything if I ask “What should I do to improve my lawn?” I’ve been playing Pokemon since Pokemon Yellow and I’m not giving up on the franchise any time soon. Black and White are easily the best games of the whole franchise; they blow my mind.

  17. I am nearly 30 and cam totally relate to this. Even though I have been playing Pokemon since it hit the US I still feel the same way!
    Also: Super Scribblenauts FTW.

  18. I still own, and regularly play, my Atari 2600 and Genesis. I feel that gives me street cred and always bring that up when those young whipper-snappers laugh at my game choices. Hey, I not only own, but have beaten, both Earthworm Jim and Sonic the Hedgehog…yes, the ORIGINAL Sonic with NO save function. I’ve earned the right to play Pokeman or any Disney or Lego game I choose.
    It also helps to mumble that it’s for my son… ;-)

  19. I worked at a Game Crazy before the company shut down. One of my favorite memories was this guy came in who was this really big tough looking guy. And for about 15 minutes we chatted about how amazing Kingdom Hearts 2 is and what a basses Mickey Mouse was. Well crafted games are know no age.

  20. Loved Earthworm Jim when I had it. Never got past the giant boss battle where Earthworm Jim was bouncing up and down on giant booger bungees with the boss. Tried downloading it as a game for my phone, but the controls weren’t responsive enough and I gave up on it.

  21. Wil Wheaton has earned the title “Kind Of A Big Deal.”
    (Sorry, couldn’t resist. I’ve been playing too much Guild Wars and they have a whole set of titles that are Anchorman references.)

  22. I didn’t get Pokemon Black or White before coming out to Afghanistan because I was still playing Pokemon HeartGold. My wife has SoulSilver. I have Pokemon Diamond and Platinum. She has Pokemon Pearl. And we have Pokemon Ruby, Pokemon ForestGreen, and even Pokemon Yellow. She’s a nurse, I’m a military contractor / Tech Support / Paralegal student and we’re both approaching 30.
    Pokemon is srs bsns.

  23. I finished Sonic 2, because I hit some kind of glitch just right in the Chemical Plant zone, got lucky with rings and extra lives and a checkpoint. I was able to get 2 lives after dying once, and then I could go back from the checkpoint and do it again. Found it by accident, could never find it again after that. Got 99 lives. Then I had to play through to the end, nonstop, because of course there were no save games back then, and there was no way I was gonna just lose all those lives. Made it through the last boss with sheer persistence. Think I went through 30 or 40 lives on the last boss though.

  24. Yeah, I managed to beat it while in college. It took about a week (yes, I skipped class), lots of delivery pizza, about a case of beer, very little sleep and leaving the console on the whole time. I figured that there are worse images to burn in to my TV than Sonic. Fortunately, the image did NOT burn into my TV as I had always been told it would if I paused the game for a few hours.
    For the record, I can’t even get close to beating it now. College was a time of magic and mayhem.

  25. Dude. I’m a 39-year-old father of three, and, just last week, I spent an entire childless twelve hours playing “Mass Effect” and eating an entire bag of taco Doritos. People like us? We spit upon society’s bourgeois concept of “maturity”. Or something.

  26. Earthworm Jim 2 was far better than the first one, but I never could beat it. I LOVE Earthworm Jim. Someone needs to bring him back…both in video game and cartoon form.
    Again, the Earthworm Jim challenge was accomplished during a blown off week of college. I think I may have been drinking whiskey this time, but I really don’t remember. I did beat it though. I have a picture of the final screen for both Sonic and Earthworm Jim to prove it.
    Maybe that’s why I can’t accomplish these things anymore, I hardly ever drink anymore. Is that the key? :D

  27. I’ve heard about that “cheat” or glitch or whatever for Sonic 2, but I’ve never been able to find it. I’d feel obligated to continue playing, no matter how long it took, if I did. As a 43 year old single mother of a teenager, it’s probably just as well I can’t find it…lol. Stupid responsibilities and adulthood…

  28. Sometime I was looking for a Star Wars game, and played many demos. First I thought Lego Star Wars must be lame by it’s name, but after I played it’s demo, I realized it’s way cooler than the straightforward epI-III games. That totally surprised me.

  29. See…street cred! Woohoo!
    I was obsessed with Sonic. I never had a Nintendo (although I bought my son an N64, of course), so I missed the whole Mario Brothers obsession. Sonic was/is my obsession. It takes serious obsession to beat ANY game that doesn’t have a save function.

  30. Note to Self: Look for Big Wet Asses 4 the next time I’m at the video store. :)
    Congrats on overcoming your fear of Pokemon. Never played it myself…but I did solder in a new battery to an ancient Pokemon game that I sold to a very happy collector a few weeks ago. I almost started to play the game while I was testing it, but once again I couldn’t get myself to try. Considering that my “testing” of the old games I clean up for sale can sometimes last a few hours or days…I’ve yet to give Pikachu and gang a try. But I might reconsider it now. ^_^
    And I total relate to feeling like the guy who is too old for video games. I buy old cartridge games on an almost daily basis, and my line for the sometimes giggling cashiers is that they are all “for my nephew”. The honest truth is that I sell some, keep the rest for myself and my nephew has never seen a single one. And considering how much he loves his shiny modern DSi he wouldn’t care much for them anyway.
    Actually…just a few days ago when I bought a box of games and an old N64 console, I found myself turning red so I shouted out “Yes, I’m 36 years old and I LOVE PLAYING VIDEO GAMES!!!” which made me feel a little better…but I doubt it will help find any dates in the near future. ;)

  31. They keep improving the game play as well. No longer do you have the yank-of-the-leash effect when your partner tries to go too far away on screen. Batman, Indy 2, and Harry Potter are all pretty awesome as well.

  32. I’m 46 and I played Pong on a friend’s TV waaaaaay back when. I’ve loved the idea of videogames ever since the first Playstation came out. However, first husband told me they were juvenile and discouraged my play. I, stupidly, believed him.
    Fast forward to now and my second marriage and…awesome husband of awesomeness (yeah, it’s a little sickening) asked if I’d play Portal2 with him if he got it. I said yes and it arrived last Tuesday. We’ve been playing it almost every evening. He’s being helpful and patient while I work out how to move around and other newbie pitfalls.
    I’m glad to be getting into videogames now–even if it’s been a bazillion years since I first fell in love with the idea. It’s never too late and you’re never too old.
    PS: Awesome husband of awesomeness is thinking about getting me my own controller for the xBox. Fancy!

  33. Ha, good for you. I was in Gamestop yesterday buying my kid Portal 2 and was sooo tempted to buy myself Pokemon. But it was a lot easier to do when the kid was of the age to play it with me. :) If you love it, please post — that’ll be enough to make me succumb.

  34. Bros speaking in their native tongue never fails to induce the shaking of my head in confusion. It’s like watching a gaggle of aliens trying to speak our language and defiling it in a truly gargantuan way.
    What do you think of the game? I played Pokemon Blue (the first Pokemon game for Gameboy, my sister had the twin Red version) and now I have HeartGold (my husband has SoulSilver). And you know what? I totally just got my 7th gym badge, and I’m wicked proud of myself. I’ll be 28 in 23 days, and I’m still enjoying Pokemon. You can, too. :D

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