A parent thread - Do you have child?


#1

As of today, I am a proud father to a four month old boy. Unsurprisingly life has changed in pretty much every conceivable way, but in two areas that seem a) interesting to me and b) hopefully interesting in terms of a discussion.

  1. My gaming has changed. This was always likely to happen but pre-birth I thought I would essentially stop gaming outside of a mobile game or two. Now it could well be that this has proved perfect timing with the release of the Switch, but I am still actually playing a fair bit. True, a lot of it is 5-10 minute bursts but also I find that I am sitting down and playing Puyo Puyo with my wife (who normally is not interested in gaming at all) and I checked my log time the other day on Zelda and it is actually 70+ hours, which equates to 10+ hours a week I guess since release. So clearly I am finding time somehow!

  2. Emotionally I seem to be more tuned-in to writing in games. I am currently playing I Am Setsuna and there is a lot of the typical “protect family/friends/the world” and I find myself way more emotionally invested now that I would have been six months ago. This is certainly having an impact when I watch TV and films (even Fast and Furious 8 had some family stuff in that had me welling up, which is mind-blowingly crazy) but also in games as well.

Just wondering how you fellow Dad’s manage on the gaming front, and also if you have found your attitudes changing to family/violence/other stuff in games.

Or, if you want, we can all just talk about our kids.


Most Charming Son?
#2

Dad of a couple here!

I think there’s something to that emotional connection idea. I played Asura’s Wrath soon after the birth of my daughter, and, along with being a pretty rad game about being very angry, Asura’s passion and rage around protecting his daughter resonated with me at the time.

Dadhood puts you in weird gaming places. When my second was born, I got REAL DEEP into Avengers Academy, because it basically rewarded me for being awake in the middle of the night. Trying to play it now, I don’t know how I ever had the time to check in so often and so late to keep these heroes producing widgets and dancing for coins.

Now, I mostly play Overwatch while everyone sleeps. There’s an accessibility to it that works well for late night dad gaming.


#3

Father of two girls! A toddler an an 5 month old, and the emotional connection deal is very real. I got about half a track into that Mount Eerie album that Austin was recommending before I had to bail on it; it was just waaaaay too much for me right now.

Honestly, I’ve barely touched any games in the past two and half years, as it’s been a real struggle to fit them into my life, but I find myself reading more and more about them in an effort to keep up with the scene. I doubt I’ll ever get around to playing Nier, so a well thought out Spoilercast is honestly the only way I’ll ever get to engage with the game.

Mostly I end up playing mobile games nowadays, on the iPad and 3DS primarily (eyeing up a Switch when the holiday season rolls around), with the occasional sleepless night spent in the basement in front of Crusader Kings II with an infant in hand.


#4

I have a two-year-old daughter and a one-month-old son. My gaming nowadays consists of sometimes, once everyone else is in bed, sneaking in some Breath of the Wild before I hit the sack myself.

My attitudes towards games haven’t changed dramatically, though? I mean, maybe I’m a ‘prude’ in some ways but the overly violent/sexualized stuff never appealed to me anyway (not that this is the only Way In Which Gaming Tastes Can Change Post-Child, but). I’d certainly be curious to hear others share their thoughts on the idea, though. My time spent gaming was already winding down from my prior heydays anyway.

I guess that’s one difference, actually – I used to be more involved in the gaming community online, used to try and write about things, used to have a podcast, more actively admin my own site or two, etc. A lot of that’s on the backburner, for the moment, and I’m 100% okay with it.

I imagine at some point I’ll play a video game and realize that the having-a-child thing will resonate with me a lot more deeply if it feature that theme!


#5

I have two boys, Baden 8 and Riley 6 and it’s funny how my gaming habits have changed. When the first was born I actually got back into games after a 5-6 year hiatus. I would play at nights when their mother would go to bed early, she would be completely beat, so she would go to bed around 8 o’clock and I would turn the Xbox 360 on which had been given to us as a Christmas Gift with Rockband. I had primarily played games on a PC and not even that for ages, but I bought Dragon Age Origins and started playing through that.

It’s weird because when I was younger I loved games, I convinced my 2 brothers and my sister to forgo Birthday presents one year and have a joint Christmas present so we could get a Sega Master System II ( I wanted a Nintendo but apparently they were more expensive than the Sega’s in Australia). I used to bug friends to play their SNES whenever I visited. When I was in my late teens I would knock off of work and go straight over to a mates place and play Counter Strike till 6am, only stopping to walk up to Macca’s for a midnight snack. And then I meet the boy’s mother and all that stopped, life happened and games were just too hard to fit in.

And then I played DA: Origins, and all of a sudden remembering what it was like to lose yourself in a world again brought back that passion for games. I immediately moved on to Mass Effect which utterly consumed me I think I played through that series like 6 times. Then I started Skyrim and Dark Souls and Deus Ex: HR. And all of a sudden that passion for games was back.

I love playing games with my kids now, my oldest has started to really love reading and it’s awesome seeing him starting to work games out himself instead of just asking Dad to tell him what the writing says and see how he interprets things. We started a playthrough of Ni No Kuni together, we all pass the controller around and take turns, I do funny voices for the characters when the game decides that we didn’t want to pay the voice actor to say the next 5mins of exposition. Riley just goes around and grinds mobs and Baden is the one to want to push the story along. Sharing that game with them has become the highlight of my week. I have already started looking into what we should play next. Thinking about watching them play through Dark Souls for the first time, seeing them try the new Legend of Zelda is something I look forward too, milestones like losing their first teeth or first day at school.


#6

Hey, dad to a wonderfully curious 22 month old girl. Congratulations on making it to month 4! Things only get better from here!

  1. To answer your first point, before my daughter was born I just assumed that gaming was over. My wife and I have played games together for 10 years. We both love the same genres and would watch each other play stuff since we started dating in 2007. To my surprise, I actually got more time to game after the dust settled when we got home from the hospital. True, having my mother-in-law there to help played a role in that, but once you settle into a routine (SUPER SUPER IMPORTANT, ROUTINES ARE LIFE) you find that a lot of the first year of having a child is a ton of “Hurry up and wait”. We did a lot of Netflix binges during year one because, well, newborns kind of suck at doing interesting stuff. I’ve lost a bit of time now that she’s almost 2, but I still find a few hours a night to play things here and there.

  2. This point is a bit more interesting. I’ve always been an emotional guy, and I tend to cry at emotional things in movies and games fairly easily. But now anything with kids getting sick/hurt/dying, or anything to do with familial pain or loss hits me extra hard in the gut. It almost feels like a physical punch. So I’d say at least that has changed.

Enjoy the early months while you can, it starts to happen very quickly before you know it.


#7

New dad of a three-month-old boy here!

Gaming is weird now in that the only times I play are games that don’t demand progress and/or can be interrupted at any time for baby needs (so like I’ll play Breath of the Wild for either 10 or 30 minutes)

…and I’m often playing on consoles that allow me to be close to my son like the Nintendo Switch, 3DS, etc, so I can like enjoy a good game but also take watch over him while he rests. I don’t play for long anymore either. Maybe an hour max but usually it’s just in 30 min bursts.

Also! Thought I’d spread a bit of dad advice I got a while back from fellow indie dad Ben Burbank. He said:

“You know those 4 or 5 profoundly happy memories you have from your childhood? Try and give those to your kids only better.”


#8

This is really good advice. I have many good memories from my childhood watching my dad play the Sid Meier trifecta of Civilization, Colonization, and Railroad Tycoon. I’m pretty sure we spent dozens upon dozens of hours guiding trains and settlers around.

As a new dad to a 3 month old girl, I hope to recreate at least some of that magic but fear that as she grows up she won’t show interest. I assume that all I can do is show enthusiasm and hope she follows suit.

It has been tough to squeeze video games in. I have played a lot of Hearthstone on my phone (luckily a new expansion released!), while criminally having to ignore the end of the Witcher 3 DLC.

I’m interested to read how other dads have seen their video game hobby progress as their child ages.


#9

Quite a few new babies then! I am hopeful the Boy will be into gaming when he is older, but will leave that firmly in his hands. If he is anything like his mum, he won’t listen to me much anyway!

Glad it’s not just me on the emotions front. I do feel like it’s a massive change for me. Not that I was a robot before, but I have found a large difference now that is very noticeable. I wonder if I would have just lost if had I started Last of Us for the first time this week.


#10

Father of a one-year-old boy. I’ve had a variety of gaming sessions, from a quick 2 to 5 minutes when settling him to sleep, to whole 6 hours when the wife decided to give me a break. I’ll admit I spent most of that day just reading up on gaming news, watching playthroughs, podcast or napping.

The experience made me more intentional with what I buy or play. I’ll think about the game and weight up the reviews against what I hope/hype it to be, before taking a couple of days to think about purchasing. Not because of the cost but because the real currency is time. This has led to less risky purchases and, in turn, fewer enjoyable experiences. Where before I had time on my hands to play everything with no expectation and no time limit, now I must try mitigate grinding time on games, or make a concerted effort to see a movie with mates. It has left less opportunity for surprise.

Way too early to say whether I’ll find that surprising emotional connection with a game again, but it has definitely swayed my watching habits to shows and movies with safer, less harsh themes of life. I just feel I have less time to feel sad for a fictional character when I have a real character that warrants my attention.

In part I wonder if I am contributing to the stale nature of some of the top grossing games and movies.


#11

I have a three year old and a three month old and have found my gaming habits changing with the different stages and configurations of our lives. The first one did not sleep much during the first year, so I would spend a lot of nights pacing and rocking her, firing up a turned-based game that I could play one-handed if I wanted to sit for a bit. In those first couple of months I remember playing a fair amount of X-COM and Banner Saga. I started listening to podcasts about games as a means of participating vicariously. After a few months I could manage a controller while holding her, returning even to Dark Souls, whose pace and autosaving (unexpectedly) allowed the much needed ability for me to instantly drop the game without too much frustration.

As she grew older and became a toddler I gained back some independent time but it also became harder to find the space to play, as she became conscious enough visually to be frightened of monsters and suspense, and curious enough to hoard attention and know when it was being divided. Gaming became more segregated into times and spaces where I was alone, and in the last eighteen months or so, this organization of video game habits has actually facilitated and made me more interested in online co-op.

The second child arrived in January and confounded this attempt at delineating time and space (our babies seem to be of the fussy kind, incensed at having been forced into existence). Seems like when I get home from work, someone hands me a baby, which I then switch out for a toddler until half of us falls asleep. I mostly play with blocks at this juncture in my life, sometimes sneaking in some 3DS time if the baby is sleeping on me, or trading my own sleep-hours for running my empire of cyborg otters in Stellaris. I’m looking forward to when this second baby is a bit older and can keep a less erratic schedule. I’d like to get back to Overwatching with friends in the evening or squeezing in a two hour adventure recommended by someone.


#12

I have two kids. Six and three.
I have very little time to play games, at least as much as I “should”.
Because of this, I have got nowhere close to finishing Nier, HZD, Yakuza 0 - any long-ass game that needs a TV.
Switch and 3DS FTW.

But, we do play some games “together”.
The Lego ones.
And, just recently, a new run through of Wind Waker, as my oldest son caught a bit of BOTW and got quite into it.
So that’s nice.


#13

I have two babbets, both outrageous in their own ways. Big One is certified human, Little One is possibly all or part goblin.

It’s funny to think about gaming and kids because I have this clear memory of sitting the Target parking lot after purchasing Dragon Quest IX for the DS and thinking “this could be the last video game I ever buy.”

And lo, it was not so.

After Big One was born I stopped doing everything that wasn’t childcare, working full time, or grad school. But soon after grad school finished and Big One began to play on her own and sleep regularly, I started playing games in the evening after she was sleeping.

And, related to writing in games, I wrote a comment here about games that haunted me and that my reaction to Bioshock before children was VERY different than my reaction after children. The ending I was shown in Bioshock was rather touching, and saving all the little Sisters was driving motivation I might have been able to ignore before kids.

As far as finding time to game goes: I recently bought a PS4 and parked it in front of my exercise bike. It’s incredibly difficult to find time to play games and exercise for long periods so I feel like this is perfect synergy. I was able to finish The Witcher 3 and Uncharted 4 in couple months this way.

Speaking of The Witcher 3: that game is about a lot of things, but mostly it’s about Dad Feels. Anyone else get chocked up during the Bloody Baron, Island of Mist, and Uldaryk? Woof.


#14

It’s funny how common the idea that gaming life would be over is, and how often it’s really not like that. But, I thought a similar thing when I got married. I thought back then “welp, better get MMOs out of my system before I’m married” and in reality, I could easily get back into WoW… just with more late night scheduling.


#15

Holy bones, Bloody Baron got me - got me good. Might be my favorite videogame quest.
Might also be that I started playing The Witcher 3 a couple of weeks after my second human was born, so it was all kind of raw and fresh and filled with visceral memories.

Speaking of The Witcher 3, what I enjoy most about that game are the sidequests and witcher work, which makes it work for me time-wise, since, if I can find an hour or two to rub together, I can do something that feels satisfying in that game narratively (not just make the numbers go up in anticipation for when I can coherently advance the story).


#16

Yes, tW3 is great for short(er) sessions. Even without quests I can set aside 45 minutes and clear the question marks on a certain portion of the map. It’s great for letting you do something neat with whatever amount of time you have.


#17

Oh man if I had played Bloody Baron after my Son’s birth? Geez. I would imagine that would hit me hard.


#18

@HermanBloom Hi Herman, is this thread specifically about just fathers participating or would it be okay if all kinds of parents jumped in to talk about how they deal with their video game habits now that they have kids? If so, could you please change the thread title so people feel more welcome posting? Thanks!


#19

Oh heck yes, all are welcome, I will edit now!


#20

I’m a dad to two, a 3yo and 7mo. Like all you I pretty well figured my gaming would be over when I had kids but that’s not happend. If anything it fits better in to my life these days because I don’t have a lot of mental energy for a tough book or really intense prestige television after a full day.

The biggest change for me has been that I just don’t worry about my gaming as much anymore. I’m totally ok with dropping a game partway through and moving on or coming back weeks, months, or even years later. My time, mental space, and emotional endurance is much more constrained and usually it’s out of my control, so I let that dictate how I relate to the hobby rather than the other way around. It’s been very healthy.