Learning to Love Zelda

If you don't turn that thing off right now, I'm turning it off for you."

"Mom! I'm about to beat this level. I just need another...Don't touch that! Mom! Now look what you did. Now I died!"

That was a fairly typical exchange between my 12-year-old son Nat and me back in January, at the height of his obsession with the Nintendo 64 game Legend of Zelda. We followed that script most nights. And it typically ended in his death--or rather that of his sword-wielding surrogate, the great man-boy hero Link.

We were getting nowhere. My son's game habit was...

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