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Eric Turner


4 min
Rated:
General

Play & Love


The House That Plays Together

Coordinated axe attack therapy

by Eric Turner

After years of tumultuous marriage, Mom and Dad are finally splitting up. Mom has been apartment hunting and Dad’s all packed up. On top of that, they caught me smoking weed this morning and are furious about it.

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The House That Plays Together | Coordinated axe attack therapy

“I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.” He says to me. And it fucking stings.

Then things erupt.

Yelling is the normal volume of my home life; coffee cups drop and shatter regularly. Sometimes I wish they’d work things out. But most of the time I wish he’d just leave and quit prolonging the inevitable.

“Maybe if you weren’t at work all the fucking time!” cries mom.

“What do you want me to do, let our family starve?”

“I don’t fucking know. I just don’t know anymore,” she responds. Broken.

I look at the floor. At the broken pieces of porcelain that my brother missed when he vacuumed earlier that day. After another episode. Neither do I, Mom, I think to myself.

Ethan is crying. Again. Seems like all he does is cry. Jesus, he’s fucking 8 years old.

After years of tumultuous marriage, Mom and Dad are finally splitting up. Mom has been apartment hunting and Dad’s all packed up.

“I asked you two not to fight in front of Ethan.”

“Oh, don’t even get me fucking started on you, Chong,” spits Dad. He’s not done lecturing me about the weed. But I can take it.

“Get started on me if you want to, but please do it where my little brother can’t hear you.”


The family powers through dinner at Mom’s insistence. In her house, we all eat together regardless of circumstance. Go wherever you want, be mad at whoever you want, shit, divorce whoever you want — but you better be home for dinner. Even on nights like this one, you have to show up. What a shitty night it is. After years of tumultuous marriage, Mom and Dad are finally splitting up. Mom has been apartment hunting and Dad’s all packed up. On top of that, they caught me smoking weed this morning and are furious about it.

Then, Ethan looks up from his half-eaten dinner. “Can we all play D&D tonight?”

As Dungeon Master, it’s my job to get them started on an adventure that’s distracting enough to make our problems disappear for a moment.

Even for my dad, who’s been playing for over 25 years, it took some convincing. Eventually he and Mom agree to play.

A few hours later, we have the party ready. Ethan is an elven ranger, Dad and my friend Devon are dwarf fighters, and Mom opted for a dragonborn cleric because, “I like the dragon girl on Game of Thrones.”

As Dungeon Master, it’s my job to get them started on an adventure that’s distracting enough to make our problems disappear for a moment.

So here goes.

“Your party is shopping at the local bazaar. There are an assortment of fantastical items for sale, but you are all are short on cash.” They bicker over what might be the most valuable, who deserves what magical weapon more. Soon, inklings of real life arguments start to trickle in. Dad is getting ready to retreat to a tavern. I have to act fast.

“A sheep has entered and is nudging the leg of the beautiful cleric.” This makes Mom blush a bit. “It has a note tied to it.” She wants it read.

“I am the great and powerful wizard Horasteones, and I need your help.”

The party bickers some more. Eventually, they decide to hear the sheep out.

The sheep opens its mouth and produces another note.

“My apprentice, Anthraxes, has transformed me into a sheep, and I need you to take my wand back from him and help restore me to my human form. But beware, he lives in the woods, and will certainly have lackeys on the way.”

There’s more squabbling. I quickly shut it down: “An orc approaches with two wolves in his wake, yelling for his sheep.”

Suddenly, the party feels like a cohesive unit. There’s no bickering, just unification in the bloodbath.

The party responds quickly. Dad and Devon perform coordinated axe attacks. Ethan the elf and Mom the cleric go into defense mode, protecting Horasteones. Suddenly, the party feels like a cohesive unit. There’s no bickering, just unification in the bloodbath. They work together, quickly disposing of their enemies. As they wipe the blood from their blades, they make a decision: they will help the sheep wizard.

Of course, this brings them back to arguing.

“We need to bring potions.”

“We’ll be fine, I can heal.”

“But what if…”

My parents could argue for hours, but there’s only so much space between the city and the woods.

“You soon find yourselves at Anthraxes’s lair, where he sits in psionic meditation above. He bellows a warning.” But the party doesn’t listen. They need that wand.

“Ethan, the Elven ranger, quickly sends two arrows into Anthraxes, but then they are jumped by another pack of wolves. Devon turns to decapitate one with his Dwarven battleaxe as another bites into his side. Mom comes to his aid with her healing magic, and Dad hurls tiny rapiers with Dwarven strength toward Anthraxes.

“In turn, Anthraxes hurls magic missiles his way, leaving Dad nearly incapacitated. Ethan seeks to avenge his fallen comrades, and begins shooting arrows as quickly as he can. Bobbing and weaving, Anthraxes retreats to his bedroom, and the fight dies down for a minute. The party gives chase.”

“You reach the second floor. A thunderous crack sounds. Your eyes move upwards to see the mighty Anthraxes now riding a young dragon that glistens black in the sunlight. Before you have time to take any action, it spews a blast of fire at you.”

Any family turmoil is gone in this moment. The party has to move and act like a single unit if they want to survive. The dragon bites at Mom, allowing Ethan the elf to fire another arrow. The dragon claws at the dwarves, who climb on its back, advancing their offensive. A few minutes later, the cleric finds herself tending to her husband, the dwarf, keeping him alive with bandaging and potions.

A few hours of D&D, and we’ve forgotten the divorce and the fighting.

“Ethan lands a critical hit to the beast’s jugular, and it gurgles in its death throes. The dragon is defeated.”

“That was awesome!” Ethan yells. The rest of the family nods in agreement. Ethan retrieves the wand and hands it over to Horasteones.

The sheep becomes a wizard again and banishes Anthraxes. Everyone gets magical weapons and goes home. Score. High fives all around. Laughs, smiles, recaps.

And that’s the true magic. A few hours of D&D, and we’ve forgotten the divorce and the fighting. At least for the moment. We just defeated an evil sorcerer, an army of wolves, and a dragon — and that’s enough to remind us that we are a family.

Geeks Need Love Too

The romance of video games

For many of us, video games figure into our everyday lives - and into our relationships, too. Sometimes we’re licking real life’s wounds while hiding out in some RPG, other times couples are learning how to move and fight as one, and other times we are just using a game as foreplay. One thing is for sure, lots of us are doing it.

One man. One broken heart. One rented video game. You’ll never guess what happens next. Ok, he plays the game. Heartache becomes escapism within a classic RPG, and maybe he’ll even get the girl. But probably not.

Love & Smash Bros. is an amazing tale of

  1. Winding down and letting it all hang the fuck out

  2. Dealing with the pressures of life that we all deal with

  3. How the right Player 2 can make life’s challenges so much easier to manage. We enjoyed it so much that it was the first short film we shot of one of our stories.

A very different take on the perfect Player 2, or Player 3… Milena’s story about how video games are good foreplay gets pretty steamy, if you know what I mean. STEAMY.