Insomnia65: Over(watch) the Fallout obsession?

Earlier this year, I wrote about my stepson’s obsession with Fallout. He first found out about the series when he caught my other-half playing Fallout 4 on his laptop in 2015 and has been infatuated by Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic world ever since.

In that article I talked about some frustrations that have occurred over the past year as a result of his obsession. He doesn’t understand why nobody else at his school is interested in the franchise and is beginning to believe he doesn’t fit in. On one hand I’m kind of proud that Ethan doesn’t like Fortnite and would prefer to devote his time to a video game that’s detailed, atmospheric and story-rich; but on the other, I get that the preference makes it more difficult for him at this stage in his life.

I said that maybe one day he’ll find something to replace his Fallout infatuation, the same way The Legend of Zelda eventually did with Minecraft, or a friend who shares his interests would come along. Perhaps that time has finally arrived. A game that was free for a weekend on the Xbox One last month and an attraction at Insomnia65 recently could hold the answer. As mentioned on Friday, this gaming event is never going to be the favourite in my calendar but I might now have to show it some appreciation.

On a Saturday when his best friend Spencer came over, Ethan came downstairs to ask if he could download something on his console. We were apprehensive for several reasons when we were told it was Overwatch, the first being whether it was going to be suitable for him in terms of age-rating and multiplayer. We had nothing to worry about however: a quick internet search revealed a PEGI 12 rating and his headset had been having issues so he couldn’t communicate with anyone online.

We told him it was ok to go ahead but still felt wary. You see, my stepson has shown an aversion to any kind of competitive team-play and has been known to get incredibly frustrated when he feels as though he’s not mastering something quickly enough. Star Wars Battlefront went down a treat because he likes Star Wars but he quickly resorted to running around the training maps on his own and making up stories in his head. And Splatoon was fun at first – until he felt the other players were far better and would always win.

We hoped that having Spencer around would mean he wouldn’t show the extent of his frustration but listened out for any raised voices just in case. The boys seemed to have a good time though and when his friend had to go home, Ethan quickly retreated to his bedroom in the way most 12-year olds do. Pete went to visit him a little later to see what he was up to and when he came back down to the kitchen, the look on his face made me think something was horribly wrong.

“You’ll never guess what’s going on up there,” he said. “Ethan is actually good at Overwatch.” I honestly thought he was trying to prank me initially but no: my stepson’s team were winning rounds, he was getting kills and was even awarded Play of the Game a couple of times. Needless to say, my other-half and I were surprised. The kid had never shown much interest in, enjoyment from or – dare I say it – talent for competitive multiplayers before so this was all new to us.

A few weeks after the free trial had ended, that episode had almost been forgotten. We were only reminded of it during the car-journey to Insomnia65 when Ethan told us he’d heard that an Overwatch tournament would begin shortly after we were due to arrive at the NEC and it was the first area he wanted to visit. Pete and I threw a couple of confused sideways glances at each other in the front-seats but told him it sounded like a good plan – this day out was all about him, after all.

He surprised us once again by absolutely loving it. By the end of the tournament he was cheering on the teams and even commentating on their actions, telling us what he thought their strategies were. We on the other-hand could barely keep up with what was happening onscreen; the gameplay was too fast and bright, and the fact it kept switching between each characters’ perspective made it difficult to follow what was going on. Maybe that’s a sign I’m getting on a bit.

Ethan, Spencer, ice-cream, boys

The following day, Ethan asked if he could spend his pocket-money on the full version of Overwatch and he happily spent the morning playing until it was time to take him back to his mum and stepdad. On the way there we asked him how he’d found out about the game and why he’d wanted to try it originally, and we received probably the best answer possible: Spencer. It was something his friend had introduced him to and he’d only given it a go because he’d been asked to. But then he realised it was something he actually enjoyed.

So maybe now Ethan has found a friend who shares the same interests, and is ready to leave his Fallout obsession behind. I’m pleased for him. I’m also a little relieved too; moving on from the franchise is going to be good for all of us.

14 thoughts on “Insomnia65: Over(watch) the Fallout obsession?

  1. Overwatch is a great game and the lore of it is wonderfully inclusive.

    I would only advise caution with regards to online play. Overwatch is notoriously toxic, and I’m speaking from personal experience. I stopped playing the game because I simply could not keep dealing with abusive people online. It’s a magnitude greater for women, the abuse being shocking.

    I still enjoy watching the game, say the Overwatch League, but just can’t play it anymore.

    But if you can protect Ethan from that, it’s great fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What Ethan hasn’t realised is that when he’s in his bedroom, he talks far too loudly and you can hear every word wherever you are in the house. So if he was being subjected to verbal abuse – or, god forbid, participating in it – we’d be in there like a shot. He also hasn’t yet realised we keep a close eye on his internet and gaming history so we know what he’s up to! he he

      Horrible behaviour towards others online seems to become more common with every new game so sadly he’s going to come into contact with it at some point. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    • I stopped playing for similar reasons. Right up there with GTA Online in terms of toxicity, I’m talking PC here though, maybe it’s better on consoles?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve put in over 450 to overwatch now. And whilst there is some toxicity out there it’s usually reserved for competitive matches and even then I dont think it’s as frequent as other games.
    Also the Overwatch League will be coming to London next year for one of its stages so it could be a great opportunity for Ethan to see the best of the best live! London Spitfire is the team to support fyi 😋

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know about this – thanks for the heads-up! I’ll have to keep an eye out for tickets and see if we can sort out a surprise. 😉


  3. I love this. Overwatch for me I have noticed online hasnt been as toxic as I have seen with others. There hasnt been alot of open chat and I forget about the chat box on my left sometimes unelss I am playing with my friends who dont have a mic. But if there is any multiplayer shooter my kids enjoy it def is overwatch. There are a range of characters to fit their needs and it’s not super hard. I finally started playing probably March of this year.. I have had my eyes on OW since 2016 and I just had a fear of I was not going to pick it up but I have and im addicted to say the least. Im glad your son has a buddy to grow and play with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to admit that I haven’t actually tried Overwatch for myself, so reading this makes me think I should give it a go! We’ve got the boys staying with us again this weekend so there’ll be plenty of opportunity to do so. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Can Ethan give me some tips? Haha I am not great at Overwatch, I enjoy it but it’s a game I dip in and out of. The last time I did I think was last year and then the year before that.

    I am wary myself as my lack of skill even in non-competitive matches can mean some negativity aimed in my direction. It isn’t something that happened a lot thankfully but at times people were frustrated by me. However I also had found some lovely players who gave me tips and stayed in matches with me so I could work with them. I still appreciate their advice and the fact they were willing to help and to try to team up and work together as a lot go off and do their own thing so having one person say if we go from here, you stay back and support and you do this and such like helped someone like me. On Xbox when I played there wasn’t a lot of public team voice chat so there might not be much that he hears. Though the last time I played was a while ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is pretty much the reason why I stay away from competitive games. Admittedly, I’ve never experienced any negativity when I have played, but I’m not the greatest and it’s the fear of being the target of any negativity as a result that holds me back. Perhaps that’s unjustified and I should give Overwatch a try – particularly if there are others playing who are willing to give advice. 🤔


  5. When you’re letting him play games with competitive online matches, watch out for lootboxes. PEGI hasn’t included them in their age rating yet, so you can’t see which titles are affected. For example, NBA 2K20, which has slot machines and other elements where you can spend real money on has a rating of PEGI 3 years and up, even if it includes real world gambling. The House of Commons just announced though that they are planning to make it so that games for minors can’t have lootboxes in the future, but until then parents will have to be on the lookout by themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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