I spent a few days recently in Grand Junction, Colorado visiting my cousin and her two sons. One of them recently turned 11, and the booty he took in from the celebration included a copy of The Wind Waker, part of the Legend of Zelda family of video games. “Genie, and you know what else? If you come watch me play, you can see the monster that looks kind of like a warthog.”
Can’t argue with that invitation.
I curled up on the couch in their basement and watched him as he directed Link, the small, blonde character on screen, to run down a wooden dock, leap into the water and swim up to the beach. Link ran up the sand, leaving wet footprints in his wake before approaching a stand of grasses.
Thwack-thwack! With a swing of the sword, my cousin’s son had used Link to eliminate the nagging horticulture. Thwack-thwack! Another few clumps disappeared.
“Why are you cutting down all the plants?” I asked. My eleven-year-old companion did not answer. He was too absorbed in mowing down everything green in his path.
Up a hill from the beach stood a scowling adult male character up to his thighs in a huge patch of green clumps. Link approached the character, who made some sort of electronic noise in his general direction and waved his arms about robotically. Then my cousin’s son directed Link to cut down almost all the grasses. Thwack-thwack! Thwack-thwack!
Then a clump fell, exposing a floating green gem – a rupee, in the game’s parlance – which Link retrieved. My cousin’s son’s score moved up by a point. It seems the grasses hide the gems.
“That gardener was mad at you for cutting down all his plants,” I said, later, to the eleven-year-old gamer. “He wanted you to leave them alone.”
“No, he didn’t,” said my cousin’s son. “He just wanted to tell me where the rupees were.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “He looked pretty scowley to me.”
But the next night, when once again, my young gamer buddy coaxed me back to the couch for another mesmerizing session of game-watching, we did, in fact, go through the part of the game where Link receives instructions from a different, yet equally ill-tempered gardener: Cut down the grasses. Find the rupees.
Mystery solved. I guess the gardeners in Zelda-land are much more forgiving than gardeners in real life. Can you imagine encouraging someone to cut down all your plantlife and take your cash?