One of our more frequent and recent family pastimes has involved getting out a video game console from 2001 — eight years before my eldest was born — hooking up multiple controllers, and racing or battling it out.
It’s become a once-or-twice a week event in our house that after all homework, dinner, chores, and bedtime preparation is done that we take out the Gamecube and load up one of three titles: Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart Double Dash, or LEGO Star Wars Trilogy. All benefit from multiplayer, allowing two to four people to jump in at the same time. If we have more players than controllers, we operate on the “winner keeps playing, loser gives it up” principle.
There’s a lot I love about these times beyond just doing something together as a family, and I think that a huge part of it is how social it becomes. We aren’t playing in separate, isolated ways, spread out throughout the house with tablets and the like. We’re just all bunched together, enjoying the same game, and our conversation keeps buzzing around it.
And since the kids are young, there isn’t a lot of smack talk involved. It’s actually pretty funny in a cute way how they keep encouraging each other or making up new goals. For example, in Mario Kart they are more concerned about finding each other on the track and staying together, so there’s a lot of backtracking and shouted commands, much to the consternation of the floating cloud guy with his U-turn sign.
Even those not currently playing have figured out ways to get in on the fun, mostly by becoming sports commentators who state the obvious. “HE JUST WENT INTO LAP THREE! HE NEEDS TO SPEED UP!” and “KIRBY JUST HIT JIGGLYPUFF! GET THE POKEBALL, DAD! GET IT! WHY DIDN’T YOU GET IT?”
Dad don’t need no pokéball to win, son. He’s got skills.
I don’t think I have any deep point to make with this post, perhaps other than to say that there’s still some life in those older consoles. The Gamecube seems amazingly suited to four-player fun, and I am glad I don’t have to keep hunting down batteries for wiimotes.