Wandering into a room, I become fascinated with a video game the kids are playing. A ninja is jumping all over the screen, leaping about, whacking zombie-like things with a shimmering blade aflame with blue light. I’ve no idea what game this is, and while the graphics aren’t amazing, I am reasonably impressed. The kid with the controller is leaping from one opponent to the next, dodging the great big axes the zombies are wielding, and slashes of blue light criss-cross a zombie whenever he hits one.
“Why don’t the zombies fall apart when you slash them like that?” I ask.
“Well, these are tough zombies. They’re fiends, in fact,” says one of the kids who isn’t playing.
I snort. “Well, it looks like you just cut that one in half. Twice. And then cross-cut him. He should be in six pieces on the floor by now.”
“That’s not how the game works,” he tells me.
I ponder this for a moment. “That’s silly,” I say. “When I hit zombies, they fall apart.”
“Well, these are special zombies. They’re strong, you have to hit them a lot.”
“If you hit a zombie with a magic sword, the zombie falls apart. That’s why I have a magic sword, after all. A magic sword isn’t any good if it doesn’t kill a zombie on the first blow.”
“Yes, but then the arm chases you all over the place, and the parts grow into bigger zombies,” the kid argues.
“That’s why you have a magic sword,” I tell him. “When I fight zombies, I always make sure I have the right sword for the job. You don’t want little body parts pulling you down, after all. You have to have the right sword.”
“Oh, yeah…” the kid says, getting sarcastic. “Well, when I hunt zombies, I use a magic M-16.”
“That’s a silly way to hunt zombies,” I say. “Magic bullets are in very short supply, and if your assault rifle gets all gummed up with zombie dust, it’s ruined. You’ll be a target for every zombie running away from a guy with a magic sword. Like me.”
“I still prefer the M-16.”
“Suit yourself. Give me a magic weapon with no moving parts. Easy to clean, no hassle, and perfect for use in places where an assault rifle is impractical, like a hospital corridor.”
“Oh, and you’ve really fought zombies, have you?”
Jesus, I think, are we only now getting to this part of the conversation? “Of course. Haven’t you? You were going on about your magic M-16.”
“That’s a joke. I don’t have a magic M-16.”
“Oh, well, fine. Here I was, thinking I was talking with a professional.”
“You haven’t hunted zombies.”
“How do you think I learned how zombies collapse in combat, my friend? Of course I’ve hunted zombies.”
“But you don’t have a sword.”
“Of course I do. What sort of fool would go hunting zombies without a sword?”
The other kids in the room have stopped watching the game, a little disconcerted by this discussion, a little off balance. The kid who started the conversation hesitates, and then soldiers bravely on. “OK, but in this game, zombies don’t go down that easily. You need to hit them a lot.”
“They should make the game more realistic, then,” I say.
“Yeah,” says another kid, the one who had been playing. “I hate fighting these guys. They should make it easier to fight zombies here. I mean, we have a magic sword, right?”
“Yeah,” says another kid. “And the parts shouldn’t keep dragging themselves across the floor.”
I wink at the kid who started the argument, and leave. It’s his problem now.