I have a daughter who is an avid gamer. A few years ago she built her own computer so it would have a terrabite of memory and a screen with definition that even 3D can’t rival, plus it’s fast. Jet rocket fast. Speed of Light fast. It’s amazing that I understand even this much of her language because it’s something I’m soooo not into. I try, I really do, but I’m lost. If it isn’t Mah Jong, Yukon Solitaire, or Magic Puzzles you can count me out. For awhile I was an Angry Birds fanatic, then it was Bubble Witch Saga but with each of those games money is needed to keep winning and I’m cheap. I won’t pay money to play a computer game. Not Carolyn.
Carolyn loves fantasy. It began with the Redwall book series, progressed to Harry Potter and eventually it blossomed into a passion for all things Lord of the Rings. She was prohibited from attending the first movies due to their rating and her age. When they came to video we watched them at home and she was hooked. She had a friend that was also a devoted fan so they wrote a sarcastic version of the script, her first foray into writing fan fiction. It kept them busy for at least a year. Before this endeavor, Carolyn wasn’t a speller, in fact she was pretty abysmal. After this endeavor not only could she spell better, her grammar and typing skills were sharp. It was pretty lofty composing for 12yr olds, but because of the subject matter they were diligent, hardly noticing the amount of time spent on the project. I counted it as English in our homeschool and let her run with it. There were a few hiccups with spellcheck when Tolkien’s language or the names of his characters and places were highlighted with no alternative spelling. It only added to the humor of the project. The girls emailed their drafts back and forth to each other or sat on the phone reading them out loud.
It was probably inevitable that she would evolve into a gamer. Of course, it’s all about fantasy, no military or racing games darken the hard drive of her custom built delivery vehicle. Dragons, knights, quests, maidens with weapons, magical lands, potions and plant medicinals grace her gaming world. She waited for a game to come out recently and purchased it, eagerly anticipating hours of play. It required long download times, updating her graphic card, and various head pops out of her room to update us on the time left for upload completion. We had to reconfigure a few mobile devices in the house in order to speed up the process (again, please appreciate my grasp of this subject!). For a couple of days we laughed, watching her go through all of this just to have this game available for play. We were tempted to break out the Proseco when it was complete. Battle noises drifted out of her room and the glow of her screen seeped through her closed door till 1 am (3 am is out of the question, she ain’t 15 anymore!)
For several years she wrote with friends through these sites, venturing into another form of fan fiction. We spent a morning discussing this several years ago (maybe I should know what she does online?) and I got a lesson in how you write in an RP (role play) group. RP groups are made up of other gamers who want these fantasy stories to go off in various avenues that the games don’t explore. As she described her characters, story line, events, languages and so on I probably had a minor film over my eyes. I managed to ask enough appropriate questions to at least make her feel validated, and inform my discomfort at the thought of her writing stories with people she’d never met in person. Eventually she found a group that decided to have a face to face gathering with members from as far away as Canada. Her best friend came out of it. The two of them are currently writing a book together. I know I’ll have to read it (sigh..me and fantasy), listening to their process has been delightful.
Writing and literature have dominated her tween, teen and college years. Writing was her coping mechanism growing up when life was stressful. I have a hunch that if we perused her old journals the handwriting would be undecipherable and the spelling atrocious but the content delightful. Throughout college her professors consistently encouraged her to explore this writing hobby. She began to coach other students with their writing, even being paid by the college to do so. Her major evolved into English Literature, her senior thesis was based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland–the stepping stone for much of fantasy literature in the 20th century. I read that, it was fantastic. Her professor claimed it publishable, encouraging her to pursue additional credentials and a career in teaching writing/literature at any level. My bragging rights are polishing up nicely.
During our homeschool years we attended several conventions. One of the running themes was about discovering and teaching to your children’s gifts. In this context gifts were more what I consider talents, abilities and skills that our girls excelled in. In particular I remember one lecturer stating that “If your child is a terrible speller they probably aren’t going to grow up to be a book editor”. I got up and walked out. Right then I knew that our path in homeschooling was going to digress even further from the norm. I believed, and still do, that “All things are possible” and I chose never to limit what my children were capable of based on their natural talents and abilities. What if God called my abysmal speller to a foreign country with no written Bibles and that child translated the Scriptures. Was I really going to tell God that “She can’t do that because she’s an abysmal speller?” Nope, not me.
As it turns out both our girls found fields of study that were the opposite of their natural academic strengths. I was a terrible science teacher (here’s a book kiddo, read and take the test) yet our older daughter has a career in medicine. Though I was a strong english teacher I despaired of ever convincing Carolyn that spelling was important. Now she’s pursuing higher education in the written arts. I love that God delights in confounding our natural understanding. He loves us to be wholly dependent on him. Yes he gifts us with natural talents but he stretches and grows us beyond our imagined capabilites. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
As 2015 approaches I’m praying for some of that strength for my weaknesses. I could use an infusion of his empowering presence. 2014 hasn’t been the easiest year and right about now I’m ready for some heavenly help. In fact, as I think on this, if he can teach me the fundamentals of gamers’ language he must be able to do just about anything!