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— I am 57 years old and hardly into video games. Any sort of gaming, for that matter. With the possible exception of Scrabble, all board games bore me. Gambling bores me, even if I'm winning. So my son's suggestion that father-and-son video gaming is akin to playing catch or tossing the old pigskin around is an idea I resisted. Still, one does what one can as a father, and this seemed at least reasonable. The game he had in mind is called World of Warcraft. You may be familiar with it. I certainly was not and remain almost as unfamiliar with it as I was before he had me attempt to play the thing. My character -- one he pretty much assigned me -- was a kind of minotaur hunter with a large club. The graphics are both astounding and intentionally distracting. The movements of the specialized mouse are confounding and require a dexterity that only hours of practice, day after day, can provide. This is exactly what my son does, often well into the small hours of the morning after being at it all night. He is disabled and cannot work, so video-gaming is pretty much his full-time job. He has suffered enough in recent years that his mother and I offer no objection. After all, he's not taking drugs, gangbanging, or doing anything at all that seems remotely harmful. Still, his pleading insistence that I join him in this is both heart-warming and exasperating.

His simple explanations of the game rules, techniques, et cetera, to me are inscrutable. "Click here, there, the other place...but only with your right thumb on the side of the mouse, and only the left side and the front lever, not the back one." The mouse I use for work has no levers along its side whatever, only a right and left sort of oblong hemisphere. Now, this clicking business along the side is only to accelerate or retard your character's progress as he chases down prey on the screen. To change his direction is...I forgot...some other unusual use of the mouse.

Now, mouse aside, there are four keys or characters on the keyboard itself that are used to pummel your intended prey, which is a kind of cross between a ostrich, an ungainly and overgrown duck or goose, and a long-legged, long-necked pigeon. These four keys are W, A, D, and S, known as ASWAD. I'm sure I have this wrong; but whatever their precise function may be, their use requires a left-handed coordination and proficiency that again seems to require years of tiresome repetition, inevitable failures (your character will die many times before you get it right), and a motivation that completely escapes me.

Granted, this is only one primitive aspect of Warcraft. There are many others. But my son wanted to introduce me to the basics. The basics of this game are the kinds of stuff -- the right stuff, you might say -- needed to fly an F-14 or the space shuttle or to navigate a lunar module.

I anticipate, even as I write these words, someone writing in to say, "You've got it all wrong! That's not how you play Warcraft at all!" That is precisely what I am trying to convey here. I have no idea how to play this game and no idea really what I'm talking about.

Less than 15 minutes into my son's coaching, I found myself quoting Homer Simpson. In one episode of The Simpsons, Bart wants his father to come to his Little League game. Homer rolls his eyes and says something to the effect that, "I told you, son. That sort of thing bores me!" To which Bart replies, "Well, I show up at all your stupid interventions." This is far too close to the literal truth involving the two of us playing Warcraft.

Did I mention that my son is not a child but a grown man? He used to read widely, but now his literary diet consists of manuals or guides that are not meant to be read cover-to-cover, but dipped into for brief references to questionable situations that may come up while playing online with others in Akron or Brussels. He has perhaps two dozen of these expensive hardcovers with titles like Deathwing, Genestealer, Dark Millenium,or Demon: The Fallen.

This all began with Dungeons and Dragons years ago. As a boy, he tried to teach me to play that one too. I failed to grasp the simplest elements of the deal.

It is not as if I expect my boy to become a lawyer or real estate dealer. I am pleased that he finds so much pleasure in these pursuits. My true regret about the business is what appears to be severe brain damage on my part (likely, likely) and a seemingly increasing either reluctance or inability to learn.

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