In Real Life

The Witness Is For My Bigger

“I need a poo-poo. I need my Batman phone.”

My son is three years old. He has a Batman phone.

Fact check: my three-year-old son does not have a Batman phone. He has a reconditioned iPad Mini 2, which we bought him for his birthday. It has a Batman shaped cover on it because we anticipated he would drop it. Frequently.

We were correct in that assumption.

Secondly, we don’t let our son watch Batman. Not even the cartoons. But for some unknown reason he loves Batman. Either they’re binge watching Batman at daycare or he’s ingested this shit via osmosis; via the terrifying brute force of marketing, a culture obsessed with super heroes. Either that or he’s just copying the big boys.

He says something adorable when we skip past superhero related shows on Netflix, the kind he knows he’s not allowed to watch.

He says: ‘that’s for my bigger!’

Translation: “I’ll be allowed to watch that television show when I’m better equipped to digest it.”

So: we’ve bought him this iPad. My wife and I ummed and ahhed over the decision. Our reasoning: this stuff is going to be part of his universe. Technology will be a huge part of his world. Might as well give him an early start.

But things have escalated in strange ways. As mentioned above, he now demands his iPad Mini whenever he wants to take a shit:

“I need a poo-poo. I need my Batman Phone.”

It’s crazy how quickly children learn the habits of adults. Do they learn it via osmosis or do they learn it from the big boys? Daddy has done many a poo-poo, mobile phone in hand. Daddy rarely does a poo-poo without his Batman phone. My son is asking himself the same question I’m asking: what the hell is one supposed to do while squeezing out a four pounder on the potty?

Figuratively and literally, you never know if you’re doing this shit right. Kids are like the worst video game ever. The rules are constantly shifting. The rules are never clear. The rules are different for each goddamn kid and each goddamn moment. By the time you’ve finally learned the rules you’re on to a brand new set.

It’s a healthy bunch of bullshit. That’s what I’m trying to say.

Fucking… The Witness. Fucking hell man.

The Witness is great. It’s great because, as a parent of a young child, you can play it with the wee buggers running around. No-one’s getting shot, punched, stabbed or otherwise.

But The Witness is terrible because god damn – why does it have to make me feel like the goddamn village idiot each and every time I turn it on. Jesus wept.

In The Witness there is no middle ground – you oscillate wildly between opposing extremes. You’re either Stephen Hawking or Forrest Gump. You’re never… say, Neil deGrasse Tyson. You’re never cruising through the expanses of the known universe at your own slick pace, being witty, smooth and comfortable in your own skin. Most of the time you’re learning by brute force. You’re a monkey, beating a stick against that smooth unknown obelisk. You’re trapped in an insecure prison of your own ineptitude, battling for those rare sublime moments when you get it. When you get to whisper to yourself (or scream loudly at no-one in particular) I AM A FUCKING GENIUS.

It’s the Dark Souls thing – in puzzle form. The Witness allows you to attempt parts of the game you’re clearly ill-equipped for. The only difference: in Dark Souls the limitation is your gear, maybe your technical skills. In The Witness it’s a far more concrete obstacle – you literally do not know how to do this thing. You have not learned the rules. You don’t even know the language.

“This puzzle is for my bigger.”

I’ve done some weird stuff whilst playing The Witness.

I’ve heard stories of people writing on notepads and whatnot. That’s boring. That’s sort of necessary when you get to a certain point.

Me? I grabbed one of my son’s felt tip pens and started drawing on my television. I was like a bootleg Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. I’m drawing on a goddamn TV, freaking out the whole time. ‘I hope this isn’t a permanent marker’.

Thankfully it wasn’t.

The Witness is frustrating. Right? But it’s a different kind of frustrating. Some games make you want to punch things. Dark Souls, Trials – these games make me want to properly punch things. The Witness doesn’t really make me want to punch anything. Instead it saps the life out of me; it drains me of my will. It makes me question my life choices. Maybe I should have installed Luminosity on my mobile phone? Maybe I should abandon my principles and google this shit? Maybe I shouldn’t have smoked all that weed in high school…

Maybe I’m overthinking this. It’s not that bad. Life is good. I’ve just about managed to scrub this goddamn blue texta off my expensive 46-inch plasma and I’ve finally solved this goddamn puzzle.

My son in on the toilet squeezing out a four pounder with his Batman phone. He’s stuck trying to find his way out of a menu screen he can’t read because he’s three-years-old. Finally, he screams: “I can’t DO IT!”

I hear a crashing noise.

I think he just punched his iPad.

Wonder where he learned that from? Must have learned it via osmosis.

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