I grew up on video games. Loved them. Still do. I grew up visiting arcades with my uncles, or going to friends who had the newest and coolest system. I loved being able to disappear into whatever game was available. I would barricade myself in my room for hours whenever I needed some time with my beloved Super Nintendo or my Gameboy. Both of which I still own and have been known to pull out from time to time. ** Game of choice: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the 7 Stars **
As I grew up my love for games only expanded. I watched as the systems enhanced and the games became more inventive and I found myself becoming more entrenched in the games as I played them. I would finish the game, then erase my history and start over again. The cycle was never-ending and as far as I was concerned it was never-changing. I had found my one true love. Or at least that's what I thought.
Then my life was changed when I met this girl, Keely, about 5 years. Not sure what she was thinking, but she's stuck with me now because we got married, and had a son together and are waiting to find out if our next is a boy or girl (coming this September).
Being a father is a lot more work than anyone could ever explain. Add to that an overtime job and everything I do at home as freelance work and your time is gone before you know it. All those hours I spent playing video games disappeared really quickly, and it took me some time before I learned how to find that time again. I carved it out, because I could feel that I was missing something, so what follows is my:
Surefire 4 steps to get your gaming fix
Don't miss out on your opportunity to spend time with your little one and expose them to the world of gaming that you so deeply love. I remember spending time in front of our little 26-inch tube T.V. with my little man in my lap playing Xbox and he was enthralled by the movement, the colors and the sounds.
My wife scoffed at me the first time she saw me sitting like this, but as long as you don't abuse this time, it truly did help me build some connections with my son. Hearing him giggle and watching him point at the screen was almost as fun as playing the game to me. Eventually my wife grew accustomed to seeing me with Brycen in this way, and she realized that I wasn't shirking my responsibilities because I was still interacting with him, and I was actually sharing something important to me with him.
Now don't get me wrong, this step isn't meant to take over at every moment that you have with your son or daughter, but it's a good chance to get a minute with your video games and share that experience with your child.
---- 1 point for an inventive dad ----
This one can be a little more difficult if you're like me and the majority of your games are either Call of Duty or Hack/Slash RPG's. Seeing as those aren't really meant for tiny eyes, there are many options out there that will get you some gaming time while still involving your son/daughter.
Luckily I have a son, and for him superheroes are the IT thing right now. He can't get enough of them. He pretends that he's Spiderman, Superman, Batman and Hulk nearly 24/7. So when I came home with Lego Marvel & Lego Batman, there was little I could do to contain his excitement. - But even with a girl, I'm sure you could invest in Barbie or something? I'll let you know how it goes if the new baby is a girl.
So finding games that you can share is a solid step 2. Does he understand the concept of mission based games? No. -- Does he care that I'm trying to accomplish something? No. -- Does he know how to actually play the game? No. -- Does it give you a chance to decompress and have some fun with a video game? Yes. -- And that's the thing to remember when working through Step 2.
Brycen was ecstatic the first time that I let him hold his own Xbox controller. He about jumped through the roof, because up until that point it was Daddy's controller and he knew he wasn't supposed to touch it. Watching him light up while he pretends to actually be playing the game with me is as fun as the game itself. Now that I finally have 2 Xbox One controllers I do actually let him play with me, because ultimately the Lego games are his and I don't really care about finishing them like I would about the other games in my collection.
---- 1 more point for a brilliant dad. ----
This is when the real gaming is accomplished. This is when you take the baby monitor and disappear. I can't tell you how many times I have taken advantage of this time to disappear into the basement so that I can decompress and jump back into a game that I truly want to play.
This is when the real gaming begins. This is also the step that I'm currently mastering. I spend most weekend naptimes and most bedtimes (when Mommy is sleeping too because ya know being pregnant and working full time is tiring too) downstairs in my 'happy place'. Currently I'm playing through Assassin's Creed: Black Flag again since I just upgraded to the Xbox One. I have a few games as you saw earlier in step 2, and my collection is slowly growing. I still have my 360 connected as well because there are games that I still love playing on the older system.
Getting a solid couple of hours of play time on the weekends has drastically changed my emotional status through the week. I usually multitask this time and pull out my Ipad and stream Hulu or Netflix as well.... Because I'm always going to need more material to write about here on Moviepilot.
But the truth is that I can't stress this point enough. It's one thing to use the first 2 steps sparingly as your kids grow up, it's another thing to allow yourself to return to your gaming roots and remember what you love about them. It helps to have a supportive wife - although she may call you a dork at times, ultimately it's a good thing and it's solid stress relief to shoot people in Call of Duty instead of going on a rampage in real life --- just saying.
---- 1 point for a time managing dad. ----
There is nothing more satisfying than getting a few minutes of a game while you're away from your console or your desktop (depending on your gaming preference). Now, not everyone can still own a gameboy like me or afford a PSP or a Nintendo DS/3DS ... But I would wager that anyone reading this article has a smart phone. The beauty of smart phones is that you can almost always find a game that you can indulge yourself on.
Taking a few minutes while on a break at work, or while you son insists that he can dress himself all by himself, or is convinced that he can use the potty all on his own (still working on getting him to keep it in the bowl rather than on the floor around it.. but it's a work in progress). All these moments can be improved upon by the wonder of the Apple Store or Google Play.
Playing games on my phone or on the Ipad help me avoid some of the dullest times of my day, and it's a good brain break to pull out the cell phone and disappear into whatever my current game happens to be.
---- 1 point for a resourceful dad. ----
All in all, it's very possible to enjoy your video games even when your life changes dramatically. I'm living proof that it's possible to keep your games and your love for them no matter how your life changes.
So there you have it. This was my gaming set-up. What do you all think? Have any tips that I missed?