Jacob and I were beyond hopscotch, hide-and-seek, rubber-band gun wars, and Tiddly Winks. At ages 9 and 7 we knew that the best games were the ones we invented, and that was how Computer Battles evolved: a game of plotting and clever talk.
In the protection of our separate rooms, which doubled as bases, we made plans to destroy each other with the help of our imaginary multi-functional computers. The action proceeded as follows.
Jacob: “My computer made some bombs, and I’m hiding them outside your base."
Me: “Then my computer built a video camera that sees you."
Jacob: “But I saw you, so now I’m going to blast your cameras.”
Me: “Well, my cameras have shields around them.”
Jacob: “But my gun has special blasters that can destroy your shields.”
Me: “But my shields are rubber so your blasters bounce off them.”
Jacob: “Your computer can’t build that kind of shield; you have to go to the store to get those.”
Since my brother was my senior and capable of outtalking me, I’d have to go to the store—a lengthy journey up and down the stairs twenty times under the mocking eye of Jacob. The journey usually wore down our excitement for the game or provoked our dad into telling us to take our activities outside because we were wearing down the carpet.
Aside from cunning talk, the game required a great deal of pretending as well. On several occasions when I realized that I was defenseless against Jacob’s ingenious plans, I’d have to walk out of my base and let his bombs blow me up. Nothing was fatal though, and even if it was, and I dramatically admitted, “BLEAH! I’m dead,” Jacob would quickly come to my aid by saying, “But your computer found you and brought you back to life!”
Jacob wasn’t about to let his nemesis die. After all, the game was about sibling sparing not sibling annihilation.