After glancing at the weekly weather report and seeing nothing but cartoon suns and temperatures in the upper 90s, I realize there is no use fighting it: summer is officially here.
Call me a curmudgeon (I dare you), but all summer means to me these days is sweltering heat, stifling humidity, and tons of obnoxious kids out of school who are overpopulating my local hang-outs. The warmest time of year just isn’t the same without the prospect of summer vacation and hours upon hours of free time. I have so many fond memories of sleeping in late with my siblings to watch cartoon re-runs and eat sugary cereals; eager to start a day of swimming at the neighbors’ pool and playing outside until the sun sets. Along with these balmy afternoons of leisure, summer also meant loading up the family car with plenty of games and snacks to keep us occupied on the long rides to visit our relatives. Of all the trips we would take every summer, my favorite place to visit was my grandparents’ home in Apex, North Carolina.
Known throughout our family as The Oasis, my grandparents’ house was a paradise for any kid on summer vacation. There was a basement playroom filled with toys, a large pool in the backyard, and plenty of storage closets and tall beds that made for excellent hide-and-seek locales. To top it off, my grandparents had decorated their home with all manner of trinkets and treasures from their worldly travels. Since my Grandfather was a Marine Fighter Pilot, he and my Grammy had been stationed in various locations around the globe, but their passion for travel did not retire with his military service. My family would frequently hear tales of far-off journeys to Southeast Asia, annual visits to England, and travels across the United States. On each of their trips, my grandparents would bring back a new memento to add to their collection.
What I loved about our summer visits to the Oasis was having the chance to hear all sorts of stories about the items my grandparents brought back. After crowded family dinners, Grammy and Grandfather would take the time to answer every grandchild’s inquiry into the history of some artifact. The most asked-about pieces were the miniature knight’s armor with a menacing mace and a wooden pub sign shaped like a propeller that adorned the entrance to Grandfather’s rec room. My personal favorite was the hand-carved tiki with opal eyes from New Zealand, which stood only three inches tall but still stuck its tongue out in defiance. My grandparents were so eager to share their lives and stories with the family, and I appreciate every moment they took to do so.
For some time now, one of my aunts has been sharing GIMMGP through email with most of our extended family. We are the sort to encourage creative and professional endeavors throughout our family, even if the subject matter is a bit foreign to some. At this year’s annual Easter visit to my parents’ house, Grammy expressed her enjoyment of Laura and my blog, even though she had never played a video game before (save for solitaire on the PC). This, she said, was a situation she wished to remedy. Grammy had brought her Nook to our yearly gathering, and she wanted to sit down with me and pick out some games for her to try. I was elated; after years of sharing her life and experiences with me, I had the chance to share this huge part of my life with my beloved Grammy.
We grabbed a corner of the couch and pulled up the App Store on her Nook. There were dozens of options, and many of them seemed to be recreations of traditional card/board games, or “find the hidden objects” type of games. After searching for a time and comparing various titles, Grammy decided on two games: Cut the Rope and Bejeweled 2. I had seen both of these games advertised before, but never personally played them, so this turned out to be a new gaming experience both of us. Even though both titles seemed to be designed as single-player games, we had no trouble adapting them for multiplayer fun. With the Nook sitting between us, Grammy and I were frantically matching gems to clear the board in Bejeweled 2. Cut the Rope turned into a “pass-the-controller” sort of game, as we would take turns slicing through restraints to feed candy to an adorable dinosaur. Both of the games provided us with quite a bit of fun, and Grammy said she was glad to have something to play on her next trip abroad.
Several summers have passed since our family decided to sell the Oasis, and many of the treasures from my grandparents’ travels have made their way to various relatives. Some of those items are here at GIMMGP Headquarters, sitting on bookshelves and mantles right next to our own souvenirs and piles of video games. Just like the stories that are tied to my grandparents’ mementos, so many of the video games I have played are tethered to happy moments from my life. That was part of the reason why GIMMGP was started: to pull out these favored games, and share wonderful memories with family and friends. I know from now on, whenever I play Cut the Rope or Bejeweled, I will remember sitting beside my Grammy and sharing in a joyful moment.