This article was originally written by the Chinese game blog ChuApp(触乐) and translated by PandaYoo.com after it was licensed. Copyright belongs to the original author and it is forbidden to reprint without permission.
Author: Chen Jing
From Northshire Abbey to the Goldshire
The phone suddenly rang. Pan Yu picked it up and saw the call came from his father. He pressed the answer key, said “hello”, and the responding from the otherside came with familiar local accent.
Father spoke a little quickly, a little confusedly. He is 81 years old and has lived in Hefei for more than 50 years, but he still speaks with the accent of his hometown, Xin Chang. Pan Yu listened for a while. As he listened, he used his free hand to pick up things, tie his shoelace, and get the key – being ready to go out.
“You still have to come over.” His father said.
“Sure.” Pan Yu said and hung up the phone.
His dad doesn`t live far away. It only takes 20-minute to go there, a distance which could ensure personal space and easy to take care of the old man. It will be faster to be there by riding a bike or driving a car. Pan Yu has walked this road countless times, only recently it has become more frequently.
When Pan Yu opened the door with the key, he saw his father’s back. The old man, in keeping with a decades-long habit, stood upright, leaned forward, and held his magnifying glass close to the monitor, not knowing what he was looking at. Hearing the sound, he turned from his son’s e-sports chair and stood up.
“I’m stuck again.” “How do I get to the Goldshire from Northshire Abbey?”
“You could raise your own avatar”
Pan Yu took over the mouse and keyboard. What on the screen was a gray, multi-magnified mosaic texturing. Immediately, he knew his father had stuck his avatar in some corner again. He might have tried to get out, but he was neither familiar with the key position nor able to adjust the angle of view, so he had to wait for his son to solve the problem.
Pan Yu moved the mouse lightly to let the character return to the center of the screen. This level 5 human warrior had 32 silver and 80 copper coins in his bag, along with a few low-grade equipments, which were not much better than initial equipments. The mission showed that the character should take Sheriff Macbride’s papers to Sheriff Doohan of the Goldshire in Elwynn Forest.
“Follow the question mark,” Pan Yu presses the keyboard while speaking to his father, “look at the map, this is your position. Below that question mark is the Goldshire, you could complete your mission there.”
“Slow down, slow down,” said the father,” how did you open the map?”
“M,” dad repeated in a low voice, placing his index finger on the M key and pressed it, and did it again, watching the map being opened and closed obediently.
It was the third time in two days that Pan taught his father how tochech the map. “You can also use the mouse to click here.”
Father reached for his magnifying glass, so Pan Yu hurriedly pointed to the upper right corner of the screen and said that: “here.”
“Click here, check the map, and there’s a question mark in the south,” dad followed his son’s instructions step by step, “that is the Goldshire?”
“Yes, you’ll find out when you get there… Wait a minute, don`t be so hasty. Put on those equipments you have been given, ” Pan Yu said, ” You are a worrior, you should equip Plate armor.”
It took Pan Yu a long time to explain to his father what Plate armour was, what shortcut keys were and how to set the skills. Dad is old, can’t learn new things as easy as he was young. It is quite hard for him to remember things and may just forget after a night. Some very simple operations, such as using hearthstone, often have to be taught over and over again.
Teaching his 81-year-old father how to play World of Warcraft was quite difficult. But Pan Yu never thinks about giving up, or even getting impatient. This is not the first time he has done it.
Fifteen years ago, When Pan Yu was 32 years old, he played World of Warcraft every day after work. At that time, he defeated monsters, did quests, went to dungeons; His father ofen sat behind him, quietly watching and occasionally evaluating: this was interesting; why this monster was this big; you have been playing quite a long time, needed to stand up and do some exercises…
At first, Pan Yu just responded perfunctorily. Later, his father could not help himself and asked Pan Yu if could let him play. Pan Yu agreed, and then taught his father little by little: WASD moving, mouse for adjusting the angle of view, number key for skills…… Because his main avatar was a hunter, Pan Yu taught his father the simplest operations: targeting those monsters, releasing his pet to attack, and picking up trophies from the bodies.
Pan Yu admitted that teaching his father to play the game, to some extent, was selfish. He told his father how to fight the monsters, but did not mention anything else. As a result, when he left the computer, his father could become a free substitute. As soon as he wanted to go out, he ran to a map and said to his father: “don’t go anywhere. Kill those monsters here and do nothing else.”
At first, his dad was so interested in Azeroth. After a week, he was no longer satisfied with the boring farming, began to run around the map to try everything new to him. Some NPCs with exclamation marks on their heads, he interacted with them one by one; rushed into new areas no matter it was dangerous or not; even when he met horde, he did not know how to fight back. When the screen turned grey and white because the avatar is dead, He still wondered why he could do nothing.
Pan Yu does not object to his father’s new hobbies, and he is happy to have a new topic between father and son. The only problem was that dad was so involved in the game that he didn’t want to give the account back.
“If you really want to play, you could register an account of your own,” Pan Yu told his dad. It was not just a suggestion but also with action – he bought his father a new computer.
In the first few days after having the new computer, the man who was addicted to the game at became his father. Pan Yu originally suggested his father to play a night elf hunter like him, but his father finally chose the human warrior. “Those blue skin and pointy ears felt so wrong to me,” his father said that human were the only race he could accept.
Only knowing how to farming is not enough if you want to develop a character from level 1. It was the first time that his father played a 3D game. He did not know how to adjust the viewing angle, could not find the direction, could not understand how to complete a mission, not to mention those much more complicated systems. In order to let his father enjoy the game more easily, Pan Yu sat behind him for hours, starting from the most basic part of the gaming, answering every question of his father.
Half a month later, Pan Yu`s father was able to form a team with him, but it took his dad another two months to skillfully walk, run, fight with monsters and do quests like common players without any serious problems. During this time, It was Pan Yu who often sat behind his father, either to play games, or to do something else. His father asked and he answered, occasionally evaluating that: the skill is ready, pressing 2; run to the other side; the task on the other side; you have been playing a long time, needed to stand up and do some exercises…”
Then dad stood up and went out on the balcony to smoke with his son.
“I shot him, and he hit me with a lightning chain!”
“That was a lot of damage!”
“So true! And there came another rogue.”
“And then you were dead.”
“You were dead too.”
The father and son looked at each other silently, only the burning red spot of the cigarette flickering in the darkness.
It was not a pleasant experience of being bullying by an Orc Shaman and a Forsaken rogue. Curiously, Pan Yu still remembers every word his father complained, his tone and manner more than ten years later.
leaving and coming back
Pan Yu’s father grew up in a village surrounded by mountains in Xinchang, Zhejiang province. He saw so many gullies and ponds, and knew the truth that knowledge could change fate very early. As a teenager, he became the only high school student in the village. In the 1950s and 1960s, a high school student was as valuable as a college student today.
His father’s decision to join the army after high school was a wise one at the time. When he was discharged from the army, he was assigned to the public security system, where he studied character identification and handwriting identification while working. Later, he went to the Public Security University for further study, and finally became a criminal investigation expert in the Hefei Public Security Bureau. He stayed in that job for decades until he retired.
Dad is an ineloquent man. Because much of his work involves secrecy, he rarely talks to his family about the details of those cases. As a child, Pan Yu dreamed like all polices` children that his father must had experienced so many fantastic adventures, but he never told his family about them. As growing up, Pan Yu gradually understand that his father’s battlefield is mostly in the shadow. “In the 70s and 80s, they handled many cases of counter-revolutionary crimes. Weren’t there many signs and words left by the spies? Father would search for clues through these things and arrest those spies.”
Pan Yu was born in the early 1970s. When he was in primary school, game center were booming, those very old consoles were the enlightenment of games for that generation. Despite the objections of teachers and parents, childrens secretly saved a few coins from their breakfast and went to the centers to find a console to play with. Pan Yu was no exception. Recall at that time, Pan Yu feels that he was the standard “gaming addict”. In The King of Fighters and Street Fighter he was always beaten by his friends, only his skills of side-scrolling video game was in the middle level.
You are reading Panda!Yoo
A blog about modern Chinese culture and consumption trends. If you are interested in Chinese food, drinks, games, movies, novels, dramas, please follow us.
Getting caught by parents or teachers while playing in game centers was inevitable. Pan Yu had been caught by both of his teacher and his father. Once he was caught, he would either be beaten or criticized. He never thought it was anything serious: “Not to mention those years,even now many parents will not agree their childrens with playing games.” But beating and criticizing only had very limited effect, Pan Yu played not only the arcade games, but also console games, PC games, mobile game, from Mario, Contra to Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, to Honor of Kings and Onmyoji. As long as it is the game, Pan Yu will try it, keeping playing if likes and uninstalling if dislike.
In 2002, when his father retired from the Hefei Public Security Bureau, he received an invitation from the Hangzhou Judicial Expertise Institute. At that time, domestic experts in this field were very few, and rehiring was very common. My father hesitated, but his homesickness and the need for a job after being away from Zhejiang for so long led him to finally accept the invitation to Hangzhou, which took him another 18 years.
In this 18 years, Pan left school and began to work, got married, had children and doesn’t give up video games. In 2005, he participated in an essay contest in a game forum and wrote a story. He won the third prize — a closed test account of World of Warcraft, thus becoming one of the earliest players of WOW in China.
Vanilla version was Pan Yu’s happiest time in WOW. At that time, he played almost no other games and devoted himself toWorld of Warcraft. He and a group of friends established a guild called “the legend of thesilver moon”, took the server`s first kill of Molten Core. Blackwing Lair was also very memorable for him. It was really tired – 40 people kept playing all night long, but the happiness was also really true.
What’s more, he is already an adult now, so his parents no longer object to his playing games, except to occasionally remind him to pay attention to his health. Teaching his father to develop a new avatar is also rare pleasure.
In following expansions, the game became more and more complex with more and more content, but Pan Yu felt that they were not as interesting as before. “The content repeats too much. Every time I get a big update, I have to start all over again. I feel tired and have different original intention.” The brothers in the guild are actively or passively AFK because of their work and family. Seeing more and more grey IDs in the list of friends, Pan Yu thought he might also leave the game every day.
Due to the work, dad spent more time in Hangzhou and less time in Hefei. Pan Yu still kept his previous max-level avatar, but he never got on them again. After some time, Pan Yu made up his mind to AFK. He thought about making a phone call to tell his father: I would not play World of Warcraft any more, but I didn’t delete your character. But for some reason, he couldn’t say those words, and ended up with nothing definite.
He consoled himself with the thought that day might not care. However, Pan Yu occasionally wondered if father really did.
The pure joy
Pan Yu admires his father’s state when he is playing games. “He’s really into it and really enjoy the game.” In Azeroth, his father father is like a traveler who has strayed into a dreamland. Everything in this world is new to him, and small rewarding can bring him great happiness. Whenever he arrives at a new area, the first place he goes is the inn, going inside and chatting with the NPC. It is the same habit of him in real life — finding himself a bed to sleep before he continues the adventure without hesitation.
“I remember when he was about level-30 he was awarded a blue quality one-handed sword for completing a mission. After he equipped it, he came to show it off to me, which made him very happy.” Pan Yu had long forgotten the name of the weapon, but he still remembered the look of triumph on his father’s face.
“Such a weapon would be quite common for older players, but my father is different. He is not like those young people, knowing nothing of all those routines, understanding that there are more precious items. In his mind, that weapon was the best, and the pleasure of receiving it was the simplest.”
Because of this, Pan Yu will not talk too much. Generally, he will say only a few words when dad reaches some specific steps of the quests. Too much takling is unnecessary and may make the old man feel bad. In addition, his father has been playing the game at a slow pace, doing quests, fighting monsters, digging mines, no dungeons, no PVP. In this way, it is more appropriate for dad to explore by his own.
Not going to the dungeons was his father’s insistence. He can’t type, and his eyes and hearing are not very good. Sometimes he has to hold a magnifying glass and wear a hearing aid to understand what a quest is asking him to do and how to do it. Dungeons have high requirements for skills and reaction speed, and he is afraid of affecting others.
Pan Yu also supports his father not to go to dungeons, but the reason is not quite the same as his father: “now the environment of formal version is just so-so. Everyone keeps silence in the random team, join and start directly. You make a mistake and you get moved from the team. No one wants to know who’s on the other side of the line or how he plays.” He feels the environment is not suitable for aged people who wants to team up.
The UI of the game itself is also not friendly to aged players either. Font size is too small to see clearly without reading glasses and magnifying glasses; Plugins are too complex, a few more buttons are a mess; expertise, auction houses, arenas, battlefields, prestige, daily quests… Even many old players feel tired about these, not to mention those aged players with limited energy.
Dad had no problem with this. This year, he returned to Hefei from Hangzhou and truly retired this time. Seeing his son playing with the vanilla version of WOW brought back memories of his adventures in Azeroth more than a decade ago.
But in how to play the game, experiences from more than a decade ago has been completely forgotten. Pan Yu taught from the beginning, and his father learnt from the very start: WASD are movement, mouse for adjusting the angle, number key for using skills… His father learns seriously, Pan Yu teaches patiently, father and son seem to find a tacit understanding.
Now his father plays two characters at the same time, a warrior and a warlock, both of which have reached more than 20 levels. Except for the difference in operation, there is no difference between the two avatars. He logins whichever he wants, doing quests, farming monsters, digging some mines and riding around without any purpose. Everything looks exactly the same as it did a dozen years ago.
Sometimes, Pan Yu wonders if the simple joy of video game keeps aged people from experiencing the more complex parts of the game, or if the game systems limit them to enjoy.
“Today’s games are not developed for aged people,” Pan Yu said, “some games may be played by older players, such as The Legend of Mir or The Legend of Lan Yue, but they are only for middle-aged people like 40s and 50s.”
He calculated that the earliest people in China who had access to games were now in their 40s and 50s. For game companies, that age is about the upper limit for those who have had gaming experience, can accept the game, and are willing to purchase for games.Yet for most of the older people who have very little experience or very negative attitude to video games, may not be willing to spend any money even if they want to play. Their influence on the game is not enough to give developers considerable profit.
His father is an example. From more than a decade ago to now, his understanding of World of Warcraft is still the same: run the game and play it directly. Pan Yu never told him that the game cost money, let alone what is a point card or a monthly card. His father knows nothing that when the World of Warcraft mainland service announced that it would cancel its point cards and adopt only monthly card, players rushing to recharge points at the last minute crashed the servers.
Even so, Pan Yu is still confident that the elderly, not only his father but also himself, can play games. “I’m sure we’ll all play games as we get older,” he says. “When we get older, the group of older players will grow, and the game companies will adjust to our habits. If there were World of Warcraft then, I would establish a guild of 70-year-old and 80-year-old men and women. It would be fun.”
That may be the story of life
With the background of being a soldier, dad kept himself in good health. Except that he had some problems with his eyes and ears, he practices tai chi and does some exercise every day. He has a strict diet and self-discipline, making his living habits much better than most young people of nowadays.
But Pan’s biggest concern is still his father’s health. When his father plays a little longer, he cannot help reminding him to get up and do some exercise. More than a decade ago, his father had told him the same thing. To this, Pan Yu is not surprised at all: many things can only be understood when you reach the same position, “that may be the story of life.”
As his father stood up to move, Pan Yu’s 4-year-old daughter rushed to the computer, moved the mouse and pressed the spacebar: “Daddy, that little man is jumping!”
“If you press this button, he will jump,” Pan Yu held his daughter and pressed the shortcut key, “look, you can ride a horse.”
‘It is fun!”His daughter looked up, “when are Papa and Grandpa going to fight monsters again? I want to join you!”
His daughter doesn’t know what World of Warcraft is yet. She just thinks it’s fun for her dad and grandpa to fight monsters and she wants to play with them.
Pan Yu admits that he has influenced his father and daughter: “how can you not be interested in games with a son and a father who really likes games?”
But he also acknowledges that in his family, games are as the same of TV shows, movies, storybooks and variety shows – a way for family members to communicate with each other. Before dad plays World of Warcraft, although they lived near each other, they didn’t have much to talk with each other. Since his father started playing, he visited him almost every day, sometimes on the phone, sometimes on his own and sometimes with his daughter.
“Even fathers and sons have to find something in common to talk about. If we have the same topics and hobbies, we can do more and better in love and company.” Pan Yu believes that World of Warcraft is a good topic for the elderly people to feel they can still keep up with the time.
Like it or not, the reality is that those rapidly developing technologies have left those old people behind. His dad is not a smartphone user, so it is more often for him to call his son rather than using the WeChat. Taobao, Alipay, Pinduoduo, Meituan, Douyin and other popular apps are all absent from his father’s mobile phone. Pan Yu did not bind any bank cards to his father’s account due to safety.
Even the profession his father’s excel in is becoming less and less applicable. With the popularity of computers and mobile phones, many people will even write few words a year. Pan yu occasionally thinks that in the future, handwriting identification as a profession will become more and more rare, or even disappear.
His daughters is another matter. When He was young, Pan Yu was scolded and punished for playing games secretly. What he said most was that “if I have children in the future, I will let him play games.” However, as a father now, he says that he wants his daughter to stay away from the game as long as possible.
His experience of playing games and teaching his father to play World of Warcraft also influenced Pan Yu and his daughter. Of course, he could not see games as a monster as other parents did, but he understood better how games appealed to people — “as a diversion, a hobby, it is just a game; If you’re addicted to the game as a distraction, there’s something wrong in somewhere else.”
Pan Yu makes up his mind that when his daughter starts to play games, he will recommend some “nice games” — excellent pictures, excellent stories, knowledge expansion, self-challenge, leisure and relaxation…There is only one exception, “games that lead people to pay must not be banned.”
To support his father playing World of Warcraft, Pan has invested a lot: new computer, new keyboard, new mice, new chair. With all these new equipments, they are able to continue their adventure in Azeroth again.
Pan Yu also developed a hunter again in the official version. Some time later, when both his father and his characters have achieved the max level, he plans to take him to try the random dungeons.
He also posted storiesof between dad and World of Warcraft on forums. The comments were dominated by “Good health to the old chap” and “I hope I can play games when I’m 80”. There are players visiting their servers, writing letters and sending pets to dad. Some other suggested that he could buy his father a writing pad or voice-to-text software. This can make his father try much more gaming content.
Dad did not expect so many people to pay attention to him. Every time he received a gift or a greeting, he would solemnly say “thank you”.
(The pseudonym “Pan Yu” was used, at the respondent’s request.)