30 May

“Throwin’ a grenade!” My Father yells.“Crouch over here or you’re gonna eat it!” My brother Kyan yelled back. Despite being less than 10 feet apart and separated by thin walls, my family tends to scream regardless of how clear quality a microphone can be. It’s always the same: “shoot, shoot, shoot!” or “No, no, no!” or if you’re unlucky, a string of all curse words possible to say in a three-second interval. “Can someone get the door?!” I heard my mother scream into the abyss of gamer catastrophe.  

Being in my family’s house when you don’t have headphones on can sound like you’re in a zoo mixed with a demolition derby. You can’t begin to hear your own thoughts when it’s drowned out by digital gunfire, for example how the doorbell had been ringing. I threw off my headphones and yelled “I’ll get it!” to my family, but I doubt anyone could hear me except my youngest brother Evan whom I’d been on a call, playing Minecraft. “Wait don’t leave your player out in the open!” he shrieked.  

Every person in my immediate family is a bunch of geeks. Evan and I are PC Gamers. My older little brother, Kyan, plays the oculus (VR) and he plays on Xbox live with my Dad. My mom has sworn off her gaming days for the most part, but believe me, the fire is still there, or else she wouldn’t be making an effort to learn the lore of Apex Legends with my dad. Don’t get me started on how I was almost named ‘Katana’ like The Mortal Kombat character, I feel robbed of not having that name.  

With the continuous screams of my house, the neighbors know by now that this is the house that sounds like a warzone action movie with Tom Cruise as the lead actor. To those that don’t, it can be jarring. Especially when you don’t expect your pizza delivery to be answered by a twenty-one-year-old woman in a full Princess Peach cosplay.  

The big geek described: that would be me, the only person that took off their headphones to listen for the doorbell when expecting the fourth pizza delivery of the week. What I wouldn’t do to relive the day my family and I successfully made a teenage delivery boy feel like he needed early retirement. That’s just how intense my family is though; you need earplugs and a hefty screaming voice to save your sanity. Many people wish for their families to be as ‘cool’ as mine but to be honest, it has its pros and cons. 

      After I threw the cash my mom left out for the delivery boy, I frantically ran to the kitchen to put down the three boxes. Delightful smells of pepperoni and cheese almost overpower my free will, but sadly to my stomach, I have a game of Minecraft to get back to. The excruciating heat is still present on my hands as I try my best to rush back to my room. Before I could get back I heard a louder than usual and noticeably pubescent screech of a fourteen-year-old boy, "Anna! There's a creeper right next to you!" Haphazardly, I have a failed attempt at putting my headphones on my head, chords covering my face and only one ear barely covers. Although, it was already too late; my character, Steve, had been blown up by a creeper.  

As soon as I was able to get my mic adjusted and headset on more than just one ear, I yell back to my youngest brother, "Explain why you didn't have time to save me?" I could hear him laughing as he gave his sheepish reply "... I saw a cool dog...and I wanted to tame it." I almost got a frustrated rebuttal out but was met with an equal amount of sass from him "please explain why you went AFK?" his attitude was so thick, I could essentially hear his smug grin. "Unlike anyone else in this house, I actually listen for when the doorbell rings." Putting two and two together he immediately knows what's here. It's only every other day we get pizza, almost three times a week, and leftovers to spare, why would he be surprised much less still enthused? "We got pizza?!" he yelled so loud I had to take my headphones back off before my ears started to bleed. "Yes Evan, when do we ever not?" That's the unfortunate part of having a family with the appetite of teenagers, it gets old having junk food all the time. 

After reloading my, now-dead, character, I went back to mining solo. This is just more my style; being able to play how I want like when I was a kid. Back then, Minecraft was just a small plot of land with nothing fun to do except blow up your surroundings, what more could a destructive eight-year-old ask for? Not much different than other games I played as a kid, but at the same Minecraft was very tame compared to what I played for the years following 2009. 

  Ten years ago, when I was eleven, I didn't have many friends. I had just moved from Louisiana to Alabama and I didn't know how to not be my tu-tu-wearing, neon leggings-having, Pokémon-obsessed nerd that I was. With that Disney channel outfit combo, it made middle school a lot harder. So how did I cope with almost no friends and too much free time? I played a lot of video games, but not cutesy 'baby games' like Minecraft or Webkinz. I played Left For Dead 2, a zombie co-op survival game where you'd play as one of four survivors set in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was very comforting that my new favorite game was also something that reminded me of home, after moving. This was also one of my first times making online-friends. Unfortunately, it was also my first of many unsupervised moments talking to strangers on the internet. 

 Looking back, I'm surprised I wasn't kidnapped. I would gladly hop on Xbox Live and turn my mic on to talk to my teammates and whenever a male-dominated space is faced with the case of a young girl online talking to them they take one of three routes: 1."Are you a girl?" (surprised), 2."Are you a girl?" (predatory), and 3. "Go make me a sandwich." All of this would just make me try and fail to deepen my voice and say "...No..." when I had the voice of a tea kettle that inhaled helium. I think all of these crappy things had to happen as a learning experience considering that I've gotten way ‘better’ at comebacks, I say better but this mostly involved me saying “Your mom” to any harsh or creepy response.  Learning to navigate and stay safe online was not an easy trick. It's not really something our parents could teach us considering they were just as lost. My parents are still trying to teach us about proper safety with being online, but hey Mom and Dad, I am a certified Xbox zombie killer, I know my way. Our house rules however are a different story. 

After mining for a while, I thought I finally found some diamonds, but sadly it was the cursed lapis lazuli, a grey stone with very similar blue spots to diamonds. As I let my disappointment fester, Evan ran back into my room holding a hot slice of pizza. “Ah! Ah! Ah! This is still hot!” he said in between failed bites of molten pizza, breathing onto the slice with every bite trying to cool it down and not burn his mouth in the same breath. “Why don’t you have a plate?” I said to him. Another failed bite he said “Ah! There weren’t any clean plates.” “Ugh,” I groan “You couldn’t wash just one to eat?” “I did them last time, it’s Kyan’s turn.” I groan one more time before shooing him away. It’s like my brothers just don’t value their chores, even when it’s their downfall. “You did this to yourself, have fun burning your mouth to hell and back.” I went back to my game to block out the noise again. Sometimes it is better to just ignore some of these issues and do what you can on your own. 

A few more hours of playing passed and I thought I had enough materials and courage to fight The Ender Dragon. Being in a house where everyone is their own special variant of neurodivergence with the added plus of everyone having ADHD, is its own special battle. But dealing with some of these issues is a lot like fighting the Ender Dragon though. The dragon is located in “The End  Land” a nifty thing about this area of the game is that you can’t place a bed and sleep in The End, to save your game. You have to have full confidence, commitment, and willpower to defeat the dragon, or else, the bed explodes and you die. Yep, they make the beds explode, but to many, this is a great way to defeat the dragon! This thing that was supposed to be so debilitating and harsh ended up being the fastest and most effective way to solve the problem. Much like the mind of people with ADHD, sometimes your fast thinking and wandering minds can lead to some really beneficial advantages when it comes to creativity. 

Having a family like this, you learn to not feel very confident in anything being done in time or on schedule but when it is, it’s done pretty well compared to most. Every family member is guilty of immediately logging online or binge-watching movies when we get home from an outing. Yes, the geeks go outside occasionally, we do in fact ‘touch grass’ sometimes. Who can blame us when we have the best Wi-Fi in the neighborhood? We’ve dabbled in board games and card games to interact IRL, but inevitably we are a chronically online family. When we need something done, however, we tend to get frustrated with each other. Ironically, everyone is in the same boat, and no one remembers what the original conflict was by the end of the day. Regardless of how much we can’t focus on chores, there’s always one thing we never forget and that is to love each other. At the end of the day, it’s best to take a rest and enjoy what you have, or else you might explode in turn to defeat The Ender Dragon. 

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