Happy Father’s Day, America. Children are a treasure, aren’t they? A rare gift.
Hello, my name is Mark Serrels and I am a father. I have children, two to be precise. The first is 5 years old. Gentle, caring. His hobbies include being good at sports, riding his bicycle at speeds I’m uncomfortable with and video games.
The second is 2. Sentient. He’s alive, I’m certain of that. His hobbies include chaos, chewing up food but not swallowing it, and making my life a living hell.
We have a complex relationship.
I mean, I love him. I guess. With that deep parental “protect your genetic code at all costs” love. There is affection, even though he bites me when I cuddle him and delivers hell-screams from another dimension when I try to put him down to sleep.
But also: Christ on a bike, could he please stop wrecking my shit? Seriously.
As someone who’s been writing about technology for over a decade, I tend to have a lot of expensive, potentially fragile gadgets lying around the house. My children — both of them (the good one and the hell-dwarf) — have systematically done their very best to destroy everything I hold dear.
So, with Father’s Day in mind, I’d like to present this, the comprehensive list of technology and video games my children have destroyed.
Video games … so many video games
My children have destroyed more video games than I care to count.
I’ve spent a significant part of my working life writing about video games, so as you might expect, I own a lot of them. The vast majority of the TV we consume is now streamed digitally, but video games are the last bastion of physical media.
Basically I still own a lot of discs. Fragile, scratchable discs.
Some, like poor old Splatoon, were flat-up snapped in two. Most got the “used as makeshift frisbees” treatment. Others were used as surfboards on my nice, scratchy wooden floorboards.
Let me tell you, nothing beats waking up in the morning to find your favourite video game disc data down on the floor. You know the scratches are there if you dare to look. A waking nightmare.
Destiny, The Witcher 3, Wind Waker HD, Pikmin 3 … rest in peace. We hardly knew ye.
3DS cartridges … god knows where they are!
At this juncture I’d like to point out that much of this chaos and destruction is my fault. I could and should be better at hiding technology from my kids. The house is child-proof, for their safety, but sadly not for the safety of my consoles, games, tablets, phones, etc.
It’s laziness, pure and simple. I accept this. Like most people who work in tech and handle cutting-edge technology regularly, I tend to take expensive gadgets for granted. When I was dead broke, I protected them with my life. Today, in 2018, I never seem to learn my lesson.
Case in point: every 3DS game I ever owned.
For a while my 2-year-old was a big fan of shoving things into other things.
This resulted in a lot of strange situations. Food lodged in the gaps between furniture. Toys where no toys have been before. PlayStation 4 discs shoved upside down into Xbox Ones. The unholiest of unions.
Then there was that time I found a 3DS game inside my PlayStation 4.
My PlayStation 4 wasn’t reading discs. Or it would read discs, but make a noise like it had an intense case of trapped wind. I wondered why?
I gave the console a shake. A rattling noise. I’m no techspert, but that didn’t sit right. I decided to take it apart. That’s when I saw it.
What the hell? I took the disc drive apart.
Yep, that’s exactly what you think it is. A copy of Zelda Tri-Force Heroes lodged in my PlayStation 4 disc drive.
Don’t have kids.
Rest in pieces, iPad
Dear iPad Mini 2, I’d like to thank you for your service.
When I needed help making my kid sit on the potty during toilet training, you were there for me. During three-hour drives from Sydney to Canberra, you kept my children occupied with your myriad games and Netflix app. When my children woke up at some ungodly hour and I needed an extra hour of sleep or I would literally and actually die, you provided respite.
You fought well. You stood up well to the punishment of everyday life in a household with two young boys. When accidentally dropped onto hard wooden floors, you dusted yourself off. When yanked off the charger like a misbehaving dog on a leash, you sucked it up like a champion.
But even the boldest warriors have their limits. iPad Mini 2, you did well. Two months ago, when I tried to charge you for the last time, you started back up for a minute … then died. You never stirred again.
Rest well, my friend. Rest easy. You’ve earned this.
Nintendo, I am sorry
Nintendo devices have easily taken the most punishment.
There’s my Wii U. Many think of the Wii U as a huge failure for Nintendo, but personally, that console was huge for me and my oldest son, who practically learned to play video games on it. So many perfectly pitched family games. Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8…
As a result my Wii U took a ridiculous amount of punishment. The poor bugger can’t even turn on anymore. I suspect, much like the PlayStation 4, it has a belly full of lost 3DS cartridges lodged inside. But now that I have the Nintendo Switch, I’m loath to tear the thing apart.
Speaking of the Nintendo Switch, it’s my newest console, and my pride and joy. You know what it’s like: You spend money on a brand new piece of tech, you treat it with kid gloves, you obsess over it. You hold the screen awkwardly to the light: “Is that a scratch? I think I can see a scratch.”
I’ll never forget that moment it actually got a scratch. I went to the toilet for two minutes. When I came back the Nintendo Switch had been removed from its charging dock. The panic I felt was akin to losing your child in a crowded supermarket. I panicked.
“WHERE IS IT?”
[Shaking random strangers in the street]
“WHERE IS THE SWITCH?”
Then I found it, screen face down in a pile of scattered Lego.
The damage? Two or three mild scratches I can never unsee.
Nintendo Labo lasted a single day. But that’s to be expected when you target an expensive video game product made out of cardboard at children.
I’m missing two Nintendo Switch controllers. To this day I have no idea where they are. I have my suspicions. My 2-year-old went through a period where he liked to pick up small, crucially important things and, uh, put them in the trash. If you were lucky, you’d spot the discarded item before taking the garbage out — like that time I waded through a bunch of trash and found a set of car keys lodged in an empty tin of baked beans.
Both my wife and I can only assume our spare Switch controllers are resting easy in a landfill somewhere in Sydney.
There’s so much collateral damage. Hand prints on my LG C7 OLED TV. Scratches on my iPhone X. This is the point of the story where I’m supposed to say, “Ah, but it’s all worth it, right gang?”
This is where I’m supposed to talk about unconditional love.
Instead I’m going to leave you with a short anecdote about the time my 2-year-old finally learned how to say “I love you”.
It was a beautiful moment. We were in the children’s bedroom, about to put them both to sleep. They had been bathed, rosy-cheeked, dried in fluffy towels, fresh nappies, pajamas. Magical.
My wife: “I love you!”
My 2YO: “I love you, mummy!”
My 5YO: “I love you!”
My 2YO: “I love you, bruddah!”
Me: “I love you!”
My 2YO: “NO LOVE YOU, DADDY.”
The most expensive and fragile thing my children continually break? My poor aching heart.
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