"Hey, do y'all have the new Super Smash Bros.?"

I can't believe I'm asking this question. Fighting games aren't exactly my favorite videogame genre. Sure, I fiddle with them sometimes—at 12, I rented Mortal Kombat II at the video store because "Hey! It's the game Congress hates!"—but they aren't much fun to play if you don't have real people to fight. (All my friends are mature, responsible adults who'd rather go out drinking at the bar than play some videogame). So I wouldn't pay $50 for a fighting game, and I sure as heck wouldn't show up excitedly at Target on release date.

I hadn't.

"Tomorrow," says the guy behind the counter. "Tomorrow's the big day."

Why did I go home to count the hours until I could go back to Target and pick up Super Smash Bros.: Brawl? I think it's because Super Smash Bros. manages to be simple and familiar, yet surprisingly deep. I know these characters, their stories: Link and Pikachu and Princess Zelda and Kirby and Fox McCloud are all old friends of mine. The primary rule of the series—for the love of God, don't fall off the platform!—is one I've been trying to follow since I first played Super Mario Bros. all those years ago. And I can make Donkey Kong drum the platform with his hands without needing a Ph.D to remember how to do it. (After years of on-off Mortal Kombat practice, I can make Liu Kang shoot fireballs…sometimes).

It's tomorrow. It's also 22 degrees Fahrenheit with the windchill and my mom has taken the car. Because of a visual-spatial disability, I don't know how to get many places on my own; I wasn't able to get anywhere alone at all until I graduated from college. This kind of freedom is still new to me, and going anywhere without my mom or a friend makes me all giddy, like a 16-year-old with a driver's license. But I've never gone anywhere alone in the cold.

I have trouble dressing for the weather—whenever I try to convert a number to how it feels outside, and then convert that to what I should wear to be comfortable, something always gets lost in the translation—so I'm glad it's below freezing out. I know that below freezing is Very Cold, and I should probably wear the warmest stuff I can find. In a sweatshirt and sweatpants, mittens, stocking cap and my winter coat, I go out.

On the way to Target is a church with a street I have to cross. Because the clocks have changed, I forget it's one o'clock instead of noon. And because I'm a heathen Catholic who has lost her way, I forget about Mass. There are swarms of cars in the parking lot. I wait.

"I know why you're here," says the guy behind the counter. "Smash Bros.?"


Five minutes after I come back home with my prize, my mom arrives. I tell her I went on an adventure. In the cold.

And she says, "You didn't." Her voice falls.

"I did."

"I bought your game for you! I wanted to surprise you!"


Tera Kirk

Tera Kirk

Tera Kirk grew up in a small Nebraska town called Papillion. Although she has a nonverbal learning disability that affects her visual-spatial skills (among other things), she's always loved video games. Her first game system was a Commodore Vic-20, which her mom bought at a garage sale for $20. With this little computer Tera learned to write Mad Libs in BASIC, to play chess and to steal gold from Fort Knox.

But then a friend introduced her to the seedy underworld of the Mario brothers and she spent her saved-up birthday and Christmas money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Her mom didn't like the Nintendo at first, but The Legend of Zelda changed her mind. (When Tera got Zelda II: The Adventure of Link one Christmas, she suspected it was as much for her mother as for her).

Though she graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2002 and recently learned how to find the movie theater restroom by herself, Tera still loves video games. Far from being a brain-rotting waste of time, they've helped her practice spatial skills and discover new passions. Her love of games like Kid Icarus and The Battle of Olympus led to a degree in Classical Languages and Literatures. She thinks games have a place in discussions on disability and other cultural issues, and is excited to work with the like-minded staff at GameCritics.com.
Tera Kirk

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