Getting the rest of the team to beta test his new gaming system had been a mistake.
He hadn’t thought half of them would even do it - Thor enjoyed trying new things but got bored easily, Bruce barely played video games (from what Tony could tell), and Steve was still trying to figure out the internet, let alone the latest StarkTech. But Clint had gotten a glimpse of the new game Tony had been programming and immediately demanded he be allowed to play it. Tony had tried to resist at first, but Clint was nothing if not persistent. Which was how Tony had eventually ended up handing over the prototype system and several games and told them all to have at it. All they had to do was fill out review forms when they were done and make note of any bugs or problems.
To his complete and utter surprise, they all took to the task like a house on fire. And Tony thinks maybe he got that phrase messed up a little bit but he doesn’t care because he’s too busy wondering whether to laugh or cry at the test reviews his teammates had written for him.
Clint, as Tony expected, had jumped on the first-person-shooter-combo-stealth game and didn’t let anyone else touch it, like he was protecting his child or something. He spent a lot of time swearing at his “child,” however he assured them that it was his way of showing affection. Clint’s commentary contained a lot of exclamation marks and crudely drawn diagrams of new guns Tony should add to the game. Additional comments from Natasha noted the inaccurate elements of the stealth gameplay and also told him to put more protective gear on the main female character, normal women can’t stop bullets with their abs. The “normal” was added as an afterthought, squeezed in above with a line drawn down, which made Tony wonder if Natasha actually did know any women who could deflect bullets that way.
Natasha became almost as protective of her chosen game as Clint had of his. She hadn’t bothered actually choosing it, of course. She’d just taken whatever was left after the others called dibs on theirs, a very colorful and bright children’s game that involved restoring parts of a fictional world’s ecosystem through magic. Tony had assumed she’d play ten minutes of it and call it quits, but in the end she’d handed him a file folder containing a typed review of nearly every part of the game, from the music to the graphics to a critique of the storyline. Tony was surprised but grateful; he’d thought this game was the weakest of his beta batch, but it seemed Natasha had actually liked it. Color him surprised.
Bruce, being Tony’s favorite, didn’t get to choose his game either. Instead Tony ordered him to test out the action/adventure platformer he was particularly proud of. Bruce, bless him, hadn’t even complained, just smiled and nodded. Tony realized this was probably a bad idea after the fact, when the first comment Bruce had written in his review in large, block letters was THE DIFFICULTY CURVE IS ALL OVER THE PLACE. When Tony went to check the security footage to see how close Bruce had actually come to Hulking out while playing, he had an incredible “Twilight Zone” moment upon seeing Pepper testing out the game with Bruce. Whenever one of them got too frustrated, they’d hand over the controller. Tony felt a little pang in his chest while he watched, something that felt a little like “this is my family,” and he immediately cleared his throat and shut off the footage.
Thor, good old Thor who never failed to amused, had picked up the RPG with great glee for a guy who couldn’t originally tell you what RPG stood for. His reviews, if possible, contained more exclamation marks than Clint’s, but less drawings, which was something of a letdown. However, he did provide a number of new ideas that Tony couldn’t wait to start working on. Turns out your typical dungeons-and-dragons RPG on Migdard was regular life on Asgard, and so Tony was regaled with paragraphs of what he assumed was Thor’s own personal experience. Tony wondered if he could just scrap the whole game and redo it with Thor as the main character. He made a note to discuss the matter of possible legal issues with Pepper later.
Steve had protested at first, telling Tony he wasn’t exactly the best test subject for something like this, but he’d eventually agreed to try the logic and puzzle game. It can’t be that difficult, he’d said, since puzzles can’t possibly have changed that much. Tony was unprepared for how into the game Steve would get. The man was determined to figure out every single answer, and by himself to boot. Tony would walk into the living room to find Steve surrounded by papers with math and diagrams and riddles and everything else scribbled on them, concentrating like the fate of the world depended on him getting 100% completion. He took the longest out of all of them to beat his game, but when he had finished, he found Tony and handed over his review with a huge smile on his face. That was incredible, Tony, he had gushed, and Tony flapped his hands and frowned and tried to explain it wasn’t really that special compared to every other puzzle game out there. Steve wasn’t having any of that, however, so Tony sighed and accepted the praise, promising to get Steve a DS and all the Professor Layton games if he would just shut up, please.
He thought it would all be over, then, but once again to his surprise and possibly his horror, he came home from a meeting at Stark Industries to find Clint and Thor teaching Bruce and Steve how to properly play with the Wii. And no, that wasn’t an innuendo, as much as Tony would have liked it to be. No, they were legitimately playing Just Dance, and all Tony could do was stare and wonder where they’d even got their hands on Just Dance because Tony sure as hell hadn’t bought it. He didn’t say anything, though, because Bruce and Steve dancing to “Who Let the Dogs Out?” was not something you interrupted. Ever.
Then Natasha started bringing home Xbox360 games and got into arguments with Clint whether it or the Playstation 3 was better. Steve loved his new DS, didn’t even complain that Tony had gotten a custom made red, white, and blue cover for it. Thor discovered the wonders of fighting games and Bruce became almost creepily addicted to racing games. And everyone, Steve and Bruce included, huddled around on the floor at night with the lights off to play horror games together.
Yeah, Tony thinks that getting the team to test his new gaming system had been a huge mistake. But when Clint shrieks at a zombie popping up out of nowhere, or Steve looks kind of horrified when Natasha beats someone to death in Grand Theft Auto, Tony can’t really bring himself to care. Because this is his home, his family, and even if they try to tell him that Portal isn’t the best game ever created, he still thinks he just might love them anyway.