The conception: Bow-chicka-bow-wow…well, not quite. Before my son was a twinkle in my eye, I made a decision to be a dad and looked into the requirements for that role. I understood my time, my money, and my sanity were going to be heavily tapped into. I understood I had to stop being selfish. As a gamer who could play World of Warcraft for more hours weekly than an accountant puts in the week before tax day, this was a big decision for me to make. I realized that lifestyle would not work, and I began thinning out my schedule by leaving MMOs. By the time the bun was in the oven, I had sold off my World of Warcraft account and was only playing console games. I did this, because MMOs have an underlying contract where you help others with your time and they, in turn, assist you. Needing this precious time, the decision was simple. Four years later, I have not looked back.
The rabbit done died: My son was planned ahead of time, so I had the ability to say goodbye to MMOs before they began interfering with real life things. I found myself playing console games during the 40 weeks he was gestating. My wife fell asleep early, and so I was often free to play to my heart’s content. It was during this time I began noticing the financial squeeze of having a child. Furnishing an additional room, getting baby supplies, prenatal visits to the doctor and planning for my wife who had always worked to be off for maternity leave (sans pay), left me tightening the purse strings. I traded in many games to help offset costs of new ones and I found myself not buying games unless they were huge wants. By the time we approached his due date, I felt I was mentally and financially ready for this little bundle of joy.
Congratulations, it’s a boy: My son came into my very structured world and flipped the table. He was born before his due date and didn’t understand my sleep schedule. For the first few months, sleep and sanity eluded me. Between working full time, assisting with diapers and feedings, and spending time with my wife and son, I found myself struggling to have any free time. My systems went un-updated and by Thanksgiving that first year, I was in such a bad need of a fix, I invited my younger sister to come over and play my games so I could hear and see the story line. It was halfway through this first year that things began to get easier. He was soon sleeping through the night and I carved a nice chunk of time into my day. After my wife fell asleep and before his last feeding of the night, I would find myself with an hour or two just for me. It may not seem like much, but this was the end of the tougher times and the beginning of me becoming a parent gamer.
He is mobile: As my son got older, he also became more mobile. As he was mobile, I also needed to be mobile. I purchased my 3DS XL and found myself playing and putting down and playing and putting down throughout the day. It was the perfect system for keeping up with a schedule that included nap and feeding times where I could play and then just close the system and be able to help and play with my son. As my son got older he started noticing the device in my hands and became curious. He would sit on my lap and watch and even press buttons and move the joystick. It dawned on me that if he enjoyed the small screen, perhaps he would love the larger screen. The first of the new systems to be purchased in my household was a WiiU. The games were bright and child friendly, the controls were easy, and most importantly they were fun. As he got older, his ability to communicate has made for some amazing dialogues. I have been yelled at for hurting Bowser and scolded for not choosing the correct blue character (always choose Mega Man, it is never Sonic with him).
A new gamer in training: My son is now three and a half. He love Smash Bros., Mario Kart and Splatoon. We play these games together and I find the controller more often in his hands than in my own. If there is a mature game I NEED to play, I can play it in the evening after he goes to bed, but those don’t seem to happen as frequently any longer. Long gone are the days of raiding and achievements, yet I could not be happier with how things have turned out. I am raising the next generation of gamer and I get to spend time bonding with him doing the hobby I love.