I recently completed an Xbox game that, it’s fair to say, I became a little obsessed with. The title in question was the excellent Batman: Arkham Asylum. As well as enjoying every last minute of it, I realised that there are a few at-best tenuous parallels that I thought I could draw between it and being a parent.
First of all, it is quite literally set in a madhouse. Speaking on behalf all parents everywhere, I don’t feel I need to elaborate on that particular point. Next up are the hidden secrets, the like of which you find in a number of video games.
In this one, the Dark Knight’s tricky old foe, The Riddler, has hidden little question mark trophies all over the island that is home to the asylum. Cheeky little scamp. Some of them are in hard-to-reach places. Dylan does the same thing with his dummies. I’ll often be on some mission or other in the house when, out of the corner of my eye, I will spot one of them in a random place. I then immediately abandon said quest to get the precious prize and return it to the steriliser, naturally forgetting my original aim in the process.
There are also unlockable upgrades as rewards for achieving experience points that you can apply to Batman to improve his chances. This is very much like real life! For example, as a parent you eventually get a full night’s sleep power-up in return for those numerous challenging nights early on. And you also get to a point where your child can eat more of the things that you can, making family dinnertime easier for all concerned.
No game or, indeed, flight-of-fancy blog post comparing it to parenthood, would be complete without a few boss battles thrown in and both deliver. Batman has to take on a number of these including Poison Ivy and his old nemesis The Joker while Kate and I have some altogether more fiendish challenges to overcome.
Nappy changing time is easily tougher than either of these enemies. Give me comic book violence with the odds stacked ridiculously against the central protagonist anytime – getting Dylan and his flailing limbs into a clean nappy without getting covered in proverbial or him wandering down the corridor and weeing on the carpet is much harder. Dinnertime and bedtime can also, on occasion, be trickier than a far-fetched fracas involving numerous henchmen – indeed, I think there have been times in which I’ve been more bruised and battered than Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego.
The game’s heartily-anticipated sequel Batman: Arkham City is out next month. Is it any coincidence that the Boy Wonder, Robin, has a prominent role in it? Ha! I think not…