Playing Battleborn reminded me of the first time I got high — I was confused, overwhelmed, I kept asking people where I was, and in the end all I wanted was to lay down and take a nap.

My kids have been playing Battleborn for a few weeks now, and they love it. I mean, they love it. They love it so much, in fact, that it was my 8-year-old daughter and not my 8 year-old son who wanted to teach me how to play the game this month. She rarely gets excited enough about a game to want to drag my old, sorry butt along with her. But this time, she couldn’t wait. She was also happy to show my 72-year-old mother, who is in town visiting, how to play.

Before we got started, my daughter let my mother know that they said some bad words in Battleborn, which she then proceeded to list off: “Hell, pissed, damnit….” “Okay, thanks honey,” I said.

We chose to play in the “Versus Private” mode, which put me and my daughter on the same team. There is also a Story mode, but I was told that it would be way too hard for me. Fair enough, I suppose. I leave those decisions to the experts.

As is usual when I play games with my kids, picking our characters and their respective skins was the most time-consuming part of the game. The characters are drawn like comic book characters and were really fun to look at. There was everyone from El Dragon (who looked like a Mexican wrestler), to Mellka (badass woman with a brown and white mohawk), and my family’s favorite, Toby, the tiny penguin who lives inside a larger robot. Toby is described as, “adorable, territorial, and advanced,” which, in my opinion, is everything you could want in a soldier. I decided to go with something a little different, however, and let the game pick my character for me. I ended up with something called “Shayne and Aurox,” which is a dude inside a larger robot and nowhere near as adorable as Toby. My daughter chose Galilea who is apparently extremely awesome for reasons I could not understand.

Game on.


Toby is a penguin in a big robot. What could be cuter?

Using a split screen with maps on the left side for each character, we moved through a setting called “Overgrowth” looking for bad guys and then pressing all of the buttons to try to hurt them. At least, that was my strategy. As usual, I had trouble with the right toggle that controls where your character is looking, so I spent a lot of time running while looking at the ground or following my daughter’s character while moving blindly sideways. Whenever I saw a bad guy, or what I thought might be a bad guy because, in my defense, there were a whole lot of guys, I would press my buttons and hope for the best. After a minute or so of this, my kids would yell, “Mom, run away!! Run away!!” and I would start running in the opposite direction, typically into a rock or off a cliff.

I had no idea what was happening anywhere at any time. I couldn’t tell when I killed somebody or where I was supposed to go, so I just kept getting these things called “shards” because it was the only measurable activity I could understand. Although, when I asked my kids what getting shards did, they said, “it gets you more shards.”


And during all of this chaos, my kids were talking to me non-stop in a language I didn’t understand. They said things like: “turret,” “sniped,” “upgrade,” and “I got a rogue loop map.” My mother sat there and laughed because neither one of us could figure out what was happening. My kids, however, were on it. They knew exactly what was going on and why and what to do next and how to do it. It was astonishing.

When I had finally had enough, I gave up the controller to my son, who said, “Maybe we should have done the tutorial instead.”

Wait, what? That was an option?! Yeah, maybe that would have been a good choice.

Battleborn is a great game for kids who are already gamers and have young, pliable minds that can understand this kind of gameplay. As for me, I just felt old, confused, and a little high.

This article was written by

Meredith Bland is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Brain, Mother; Narratively; Blogher; Time; and Parentmap among others. She also writes at her humor blog, Pile of Babies.