Not very long ago in a galaxy not so far away, two teenagers got hopelessly addicted to LEGO Star Wars II.
Riley and I have been playing Star Wars video games since we knew what video games were. So this isn’t really unusual. But when I look at the game stats and see that we’ve dedicated over 24 hours to a game designed for eight-year-old boys, I can’t help but be a little surprised. It’s the last two weeks of summer. Other kids are spending this time of year partying and getting all of the stupid out of their systems before the school year starts. We’ve been at the Bruning’s house until 1 AM for most of the last week in an attempt to completely beat the game—beat all the levels, unlock all of the characters, do all of the side-missions that were designed to frustrate you and keep you from beating the game. I’m a few months shy of nineteen years old; Riley turned seventeen a few days ago. We will not be beaten. (85% done—the end is in sight!).
Sara has been there for much of the adventure as a cheerleader. While she’s not exactly good at games, I think she enjoys watching as much as we enjoy playing. Riley and I have played this game a thousand times, so we know every trick. But Sara is still relatively new and still gets surprised. She screams a lot. A lot. So much so that she’s not allowed to play Donkey Kong when my parents are home. But I like it when Sara watches; it makes the game new again.
I’ve heard a lot of parents lament the end of the “childhood”. They think that kids spend too much time indoors, playing video games until their eyes fall out of their skulls (I say again, we play this game until one in the morning). I don’t disagree with that. I know that some of my best days were spent playing HORSE or capture the flag or Manhunt. But I also think that playing this video game is as good a use of my time.
This last week has been a ton of fun, though the game itself isn’t a work of art. Riley and I, after thirteen years of playing games together, can play co-op like we read one other’s minds. Sara is taking an interest in Star Wars, something that Riley and I have been huge fans of for a long time; it’s making our iron-strong friendship even tighter. Twice, I’ve laughed so hard while playing the game that I had to pause and wipe tears out of my eyes.
School starts for Riley and Sara in just a few days. Our hours-long PlayStation binges and movie-watching-parties will have to come to an end for a while. I’m counting down the days until winter break, when we can crack out The Complete Saga.