I’ve mostly given up on buying new video games — at least until I can afford an upgrade to a Playstation 4 without fear of divorce. I’m content to play my copy of FIFA 13 on PS3 when I have a few spare moments, but for the most part, my gaming career remains in semi-retirement. I really don’t play any other game and haven’t for a few years now.
I can’t keep up with the technology so long as I’m still financially responsible to my wife and son.
Yet, there I was last Friday, on a thrift shop couch, answering a video game challenge from a high school kid. For the sake of my dignity, I had to show up and try to prove that the 32-year-old man could at least hold his own — even if I would’ve felt more comfortable playing with QB Bills while battling it out on original Nintendo’s Tecmo Super Bowl (the greatest video game mankind will ever produce).
But let’s back up first — not all the way to me receiving a Nintendo as a joint Christmas present with my siblings on Christmas of 1989 but at least to how I ended up on the second-hand furniture playing video games in the Platte County High School parking lot.
I like to have fun on Twitter, which should be no secret to some of you.
That being the case, I received quite a real-life laugh out loud when I saw one of my photos being used to disparage Platte County senior Ethan Karsten and his abilities in playing Madden. I’ve seen the jokes before, too, so I (probably stupidly) weighed in myself to let Ethan, a two-time state wrestling champion for the Pirates, know that I had become wise to his reputation.
A really funny joke, until he responded to my work account, @Citizen_Ross, with a simple message, “PLAY ME.”
Well then. This created a quandary.
I decided to joke it off, letting Ethan know that playing me might not be good for him if he lost. Imagine the reputation hit, if me, an aging veteran managed to accept and win this challenge. Besides, we couldn’t make this matchup happen in a socially acceptable setting … right?
The members of Platte County’s student section began egging on the matchup, even providing a venue. These ingenious members of “PC Pirate Nation” have begun hosting tailgates prior to the team’s football games, and they’ve got a quite a setup, up to and including a flat screen TV, Xbox One and a gasoline generator to provide the power.
Just a few problems:
I’ve never really been a Madden guy. I used to play the NCAA Football series, mostly competently, but even that had been years since lawsuits forced EA Sports to halt production a few years back.
I’ve always been a Playstation guy. I’m not a fan of the Xbox controllers.
And most importantly, I’m too old to be doing this.
So I did what any wily veteran would do — change the rules. I offered to accept if my schedule allowed (it did) and if we could play FIFA 15 instead of Madden (we could). So, I guess you could say it was on, and I was prepared to be served, although I’m quite certain neither of those phrases still applies in today’s society.
I showed up, posed for a boxing style showdown picture with Ethan and sat down on the couch, which the students purchased earlier in the day to further upgrade their setup.
The controller felt wrong, the graphics were too good and I was too nervous due to my competitive nature. Not a good combination. After all, I did once huck a PS3 controller at a co-worker during an exceedingly tense and now semi-famous game of FIFA a few years back, but that’s another story.
Austin Kincaid, a fellow Platte County student even provided live Twitter updates. Platte County principal Chad Sayre even showed up to monitor the situation. This was the real deal.
I even picked Tottenham Hotspur, my favorite English team, as a fallback excuse with Ethan using Spanish superpower Barcelona.
Turns out the excuse wasn’t needed. Ethan took leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but I tied the score at the end of the first half on a goal from an injured Harry Kane and then in the dying seconds of extra time before the final whistle with Nacer Chadli with what most considered a pretty nifty move.
We skipped the formalities and went to penalty kicks where my experience and his inexperience with the FIFA platform allowed me to win 5-4. He missed two over the bar, while I made 5 of 6 tries.
Even I’ll admit, I’m lucky we didn’t play Madden, but it all ended in good fun with a friendly handshake and a photo of my arm raised in victory and Ethan’s head hanging in shame. We kept jabbing a bit about it on Twitter, and I’m glad I showed up for the challenge.
The old guy still has it, at least enough to not be a total embarrassment, and I’m keeping the PS4 on my Christmas list. Fingers crossed.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.