ByMichael Haynes, writer at
I'm part lawyer, part professor, and full gamer. Gamerfy Your Life!
Michael Haynes

My son was born three weeks ago. He’s our first, and although fresh parenthood has brought some new challenges — like how to sleep for 20 minutes at a time and avoiding projectile poop during a diaper change — I’d say we’re doing pretty good so far. My wife wants our baby Jack to stay a baby forever, but I just can’t wait until he’s old enough to get into the family business. No, not lawyering. Gaming.

We’re a gaming family. My parents raised me to love everything board and card, and my wife and I eat dinners while competing over a few or five games of Sorry! or Cribbage. My dad and I bonded over the NES and The Legend of Zelda, and my sister calls me every time she beats EarthBound. It’s an understatement to say that I’m looking forward to my firstborn taking up that same sword.

I used to have nightmares about spiders and losing teeth, but now my biggest fear is that Jack won’t want to be a . Oh, the humanity of having a son that would rather go outside and play instead of plopping down on the couch for a weekend Skyrim marathon! What do I do if Jack turns out to be — gasp! — a jock or a socialite, instead of the rightful heir to the family nerd jewels?

There’s no time to lose! It is my civic dork duty to expose my son to the gamer life long before he is old enough to differentiate between a Nintendo Switch cartridge and a cheese puff. After reading all the parenting books and meditating with child development gurus on top of Mt. Preschool, I’ve made a plan of action that will work better than a silver arrow on Ganon.

1. Music

According to parenting books and early childhood learning specialists (like my wife), music can enhance baby brain development. Additionally, soft music like lullabies will sooth babies and provide higher quality sleep. Theoretically, if I could play a lullaby to Jack resembling video-game-theme music lullaby, it would acclimate him to gaming culture and boost his brain at the same time!

8-Bit Baby to the rescue! This is a series of classic video game themes played slowly on a piano in a soft, lilting style. There’s Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania and more!

8-Bit Baby is on Spotify, too, so I can play the music in Jack’s nursery from my cell phone. Soon Jack will be goo-gooing and gah-gahing in tune with Koji Kondo’s greatest works; one step closer to becoming daddy’s little gamer.

2. Toys

Children love toys, especially stuffed animals. Besides offering joy and imagination through play, stuffed animals help babies cope with the separation anxiety that arises when parents leave the room. Think about that favorite teddy bear you had as a kid. Remember how important it was to you, how comforting it was to hold? Now, imagine if, instead of a teddy bear, you had or Mega Man protecting you from monsters under the bed.

My wife and I have happily gathered for Jack a modest collection of stuffed animals. Most of them fit the woodland creature nursery theme, such as foxes, rabbits, and the giant Costco bear. But hidden among the cast of Bambi and Thumper are some more exciting faces — Mega Man, Mario and Yoshi among others.

"Mega Man 11" will feature robot masters like Big-Bird Man, Cat-in-the-Hat Man and Clifford Man.
"Mega Man 11" will feature robot masters like Big-Bird Man, Cat-in-the-Hat Man and Clifford Man.

Right now my son just sees colorful blobs of fabric and fur, but it will be so pleasing to hear him ask for his before I turn out the lights. What is stuffed today will be on the screen tomorrow.

3. Books

It is well established in early childhood development that reading to babies has tremendously positive impacts on literacy and language skills. No matter what book you choose, babies benefit from hearing your voice and seeing colorful visuals.

Colorful visuals and lots of words to speak? I know the perfect book — The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia. Hyrule Historia describes in detail all of the games and how they fit together in a timeline.

"Link found the bombs in Level 2, and used them to slay the mighty Dodongo."
"Link found the bombs in Level 2, and used them to slay the mighty Dodongo."

The large green tome has 280 pages full of stories, vibrant maps, and inspiring pictures that Jack will love. We will spend hours and hours reading together, with Jack hearing my fatherly voice tell the epic tales of the Hero of Time.

Brain development and the adventures of Link — we’re hitting two birds with one boomerang.

4. Gaming By Association

If music, toys, and books fail to indoctrinate my son to the gaming lifestyle, then my last resort is simple osmosis. I’ll just boot up the PlayStation and play a few Rocket League games with Jack lying next to me. Maybe seeing his old man smashing buttons and jostling joysticks will awaken his inner nerd spirit, and the rest will be destiny (or Halo).

Then, if none of that works I’ll just put the controller in Jack’s hands and hope. Heck, at least it makes for a great picture!

Any gaming parents have any handy hints for turning their spawn into a gamer? Sound off in the comments below.

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