Just a few weeks before Christmas my husband suggested we “test out” the playsets for the Disney Infinity we had bought for our son. His reasoning was that we could earn a few fun items for him as a surprise, since the Pirates of the Caribbean playset was probably going to be a little challenging for a four year old. It should be noted that we were severely underestimating our son’s abilities here, and he ended up schooling US on the game mechanics the same day he got the new pieces. But we didn’t know that yet.
We were tired, we were bored, and we really wanted to play the game. It seemed like a good idea. It would be fun, relatively simple, and we would be actually DOING something together besides falling asleep watching Netflix.
The thing about testing out a new area of a “world” is that we had no idea where the fuck we were going. I had woefully overestimated the usefulness of the “go here, moron” arrows that lead the Disney characters to their next objectives, and so I just assumed that my husband would figure out where he needed to go. To put it bluntly, I didn’t bother waiting for him to catch up and I often wandered off to do my own thing. I would be mindlessly collecting items and he would be like “hey, get your ass over to this ship so we can GO!”
Don’t Play Video Games With Your Spouse If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going…
I have ZERO sense of direction. I should mention that now, because that’s very important. I mostly wander around aimlessly on game maps and go by landmarks. Where am I? Well, see that thing I’m standing beside on my side of the screen? Go there. How did I get there? How should I know? I just followed the arrows and that’s where I went! Pay attention to where I was and know how to retrace my steps? Uh, no, sorry, didn’t do that. I followed the arrow. What do you mean that now because I got there first the arrows aren’t directing you to where I am? No I can’t come back to get you! Why? Because I DON’T KNOW HOW I GOT HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE AND I’LL GET US BOTH LOST!
Wait! Where ARE you? How did you get there? I don’t know where that is! What do you mean it’s over there? No, I’m nowhere near there. No, I have no idea…wait, how come I can’t just jump down here? Well THAT’S stupid! They should let people just jump! Look, can’t you just get to ME? Here, take my controller and take me to you then because I give up.
Well we get to Tia Dalma’s island and that’s pretty much been the conversation between us up until that point in the game. I’ve already gotten lost once when he took the lead and tried to get me to follow him to our ship. I have already shown him that I cannot follow directions; a reminder of all the other times I fail to follow simple directions in our marriage because I have a tendency to run on “autopilot”. I’m so used to just doing things on my own that I have a real problem shifting from that default setting and letting myself be “led” when it’s probably a better idea to just go with his plan in the first place.
In a nutshell: this is bringing out all our worst qualities and communication issues.
Especially When You Also Suck at Navigating
Things get worse as he tries to get to where I ran off to without him and he keeps asking me HOW I got there and what HE needs to do and I am ZERO help because honestly I just followed the arrows. I have never been on this map before. I know absolutely fuck all as to what I’m doing; I’m about as clueless as he is. The only difference is that my gaming style is vastly different from his. He likes to KNOW what he’s doing (like with most things in life); I just wing it (also like most things in life). I NEVER know what I’m doing, dude! How did I beat your ass? I pressed a bunch of buttons that did a super cool move and then I just mashed the shit out of it. How did I beat half my games? I button mashed the shit out of the “attack” commands. Strategy? What’s that? No strategy aside from “hack and slash at monsters, kill monsters, use any healing items/team mates as healers and magic users”. I don’t dodge attacks, I just keep hacking and slashing until you die. You can’t GET an attack in if I kill you before you can use the attack.
So he’s lost, he’s now getting extremely annoyed with my non-answers to his questions and my lack of any directions other than “just go that way. No, not that way. I guess maybe this way? No? I don’t know, there was a bridge and a gate…no, I don’t remember where it was. How should I know whether or not you already passed it? I have no idea where you are. You’re sure the arrows aren’t showing you the right way?”
If You Can’t Drive, DEFINITELY Don’t Play a Game That Requires Driving…
He finally convinced me to get on the little boat in the water (and thus ABANDON THE MISSION I WAS ON IN FAVOR OF GOING TO GET HIS ASS TO THE ISLAND I WAS ON–WASTE TIME) and then tells me to row to him. I have NO idea how to get the boat to move in the right direction because this game is so new to me and I am a shitty driver on land or on sea, and especially when I don’t know the terrain/map very well. So I get “stuck”. I can’t turn my boat around because I don’t know how and he’s getting MORE annoyed with my inability to help him or even do a “simple” thing like “drive a boat”. Well, to be fair, I am much better on land. I can jump and run and hack and slash on land. On the road or at sea I have to rely on technical strategy and…oh to hell with it, I’ll use HIS words: I have to “THINK instead of just DO”. That’s not my specialty. I don’t do thinking games unless it’s a puzzle, but even then I’m usually faking my way through those or cheating with YouTube videos to show me how to do it. HIS games are all racing and first person shooter games. HIS games require thinking before doing; they are not my games.
Be In the Mood To Kick Each Other’s Asses to Diffuse the Tension
So back to the clusterfuck that was this game, he finally takes my controller from my hands to make my character meet up with his character. The arrows fix themselves so that we both now are being led in the right direction. We get on land and he immediately slashes at my character.
“Hey!” I shout; indignantly I might add.
“You pissed me off,” he shrugs.
I unleash my masterful sword techniques on his unwitting character and Davy Jones’ fish men look on in confusion because we’re killing each other instead of going after them and the treasure they are trying to beat us to.
Don’t Try to Do a Puzzle Without Communicating Your Intentions…
The next part of the level was…a puzzle. Yep. And much like the boat incident, I’m used to just doing things and letting the pieces fall as they might. My husband gets to that area and starts pressing random trigger spots, messing up my progress and irritating the shit out of me.
“Well, we need to communicate,” he says.
Clearly. Isn’t that what every relationship expert says? Well, here’s the thing about being in a relationship for almost ten years or more. You get lazy. You get REALLY bad at communication. You’re tired, he’s tired, the kids have worn you down and you just get into this bubble of thinking the other person should just KNOW what you mean. You’ve been together for TEN YEARS! Shouldn’t they KNOW by now, without you having to say anything?
And in this case, he can SEE the screen! He’s looking at the same thing I am! Can’t he figure out what I’m trying to do? It’s NOT rocket science! It’s not a cup on the table or a pile of laundry on the floor; he should be able to figure out that if I’M jumping on that ledge to climb the statue HE should be doing the same thing. But no, he’s not following me and then he asks “how did you get up there?” and I’m like “I followed the arrows”.
“How did you get to the other end of the island so quickly?”
I. Followed. The. Arrows.
A Relationship Tester Not Seen Since Mario Party…
He did not follow the arrows. He did not climb the statue. He did not slide down the rope to the other side of the island. And the kicker is that if you do not follow your team mate in THIS playset, you can’t take the ship out to sea. You can’t do shit without the other team mate getting back to the ship too. There’s no option to force them into your area like in the Toy Story playset where if I wanted to go to the Goo Volcanos/Cave I could just go there, and my son or husband had the option of hitting the square button and joining me no matter where they were on the map. That homing beacon was a lifesaver for all the times they got their asses lost on the map and I needed to get shit done. But there is no failsafe in the original playset of Incredibles/Pirates/Monsters Inc.
Perhaps Disney realized the error of their ways when marriages imploded and siblings murdered each other and families were torn apart in a violent bloodbath not seen since Mario Party became a thing? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that after we gave our son the games and I played through the maps with him (and we did eventually beat the Pirates game) that my husband walked in the door after work, took one look at the screen and the level we were currently jumping and climbing and hacking and slashing (and mastering) our way through.
“Is that the same island that we had trouble on?”
“You mean the island that almost destroyed our marriage? Yep”.
Our son chimes in and tells his daddy how we beat the game and killed the bad guys and the Kraken is our friend now and helps take down the ships.
My husband asks how we did that.
“We followed the arrows, Daddy.”