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Video games never held any attraction for me. My sons played them endlessly when they were children, and now my five-year-old granddaughter does as well. The only difference is that my kids played Nintendo, and my granddaughter uses a tablet. She’s been asking me to play with her for a long time and even cajoled me to create a login, but the appeal to this arcane form of recreation never came. Her zeal bedeviled me, and I accepted this as uncommon ground. Until now.

My son and family are spending some time with her other grandparents for a while, and they live out-of-state. I miss her. Then I remembered her favorite game has a private chat function. Since she has no phone for texting, I thought this would be a great way to reach out to her. We used the chat tool, and she called me using her mom’s cell. Then then she roped me into the game, of course. The navigation and controls eluded me, but I fumbled my way through. Remotely, with amazing patience, she tried to help me as we talked through it.

Once I stumbled upon the help menu, I finally started to get the hang of it. It took me a while to figure out the objective of the game, but my objective was met. I just wanted to stay connected with her and realized I had to meet her on her level, on a different playing field so to speak.

From the time my kids were little, I remember people squabbling over whether or not audio/video games have any value, if it refines eye-hand coordination or makes you brain-dead. I never worried about it and saw no residue of permanent damage as my boys grew into men. I can’t speak to whether there’s a value-add.

All I know is that my relationship with my grandchildren will tether me to whatever means are available to be in their lives no matter where they are. We have to use the devices we’re given to keep each other close.  For all the condemnation about technology, I’m grateful there are tools available to stay connected, especially now when there’s so much distance in the world on so many levels.