In the nine months I have been waiting for the arrival of my first child, one question has been nagging at the back of my head. Will I still be able to Game? After a week it turns out that there is no simple answer to this.
As you can see from the articles on the site, gaming is a way of life for me and always has been, since my beloved NES. As well as costing me my 20:20 vision, the NES bred in me a love of all varieties of game, from horrible tie-ins like James Bond Jnr to all time classics like Mario and Zelda, I was hooked. the love affair has continued to this day when I am the ripe age of 33. The arrival of my son in the house has thrown gaming and indeed everything into chaos.
Firstly there is the question of time. I won’t lie, despite my son being very well-behaved, getting up a few times overnight puts a strange kind of fatigue on you. It isn’t like a late night session of COD or Halo 5, it’s a deeper ingrained tiredness, that makes you not want to do things, even when your body isn’t really that bad. I can only put it down to a combination of the stress of the birth, time in the hospital and the adrenaline that pumps through your body in the first few days with a child in the house. During the week before and since he was born, my gaming has been totally of the mobile variety. You may sniff at Minion Paradise, but when there isn’t much else on the table a few seconds clicking the yellow creatures around is enough to give you the momentary break from reality, that gamers crave.
Once your new family is home, the shock to the system is palpable. Where before your chores had a set time limit, that you were able to arrange your day around, a baby has no set time limit. They need to be fed and changed at least once every three hours and the time needed for this varies from 10 minutes to two hours. Now if you have read my other piece on the death of gaming as you age, you will know that dedicated gaming sessions are already under threat as you age. With this in mind, I tried to be smart as far as my gaming choices went. Fallout 4 is good for this, a game where you can play for a few minutes or a few hours and most importantly, save at any stage. When my wife was feeling better I was able to try some Star Wars Battlefront. Both these reviews and impressions are to follow this week. This leads me to the only answer as far as gaming goes. Plan it.
There is simply no way I can come in at night anymore and just throw on a few games of Rocket League or sit down for a session on Metal Gear Solid. The threat of interruption is too great to play online unless you have it planned out well in advance and you can forget about the feeling of ‘one more game’. Now before you all have panic attacks and swear yourselves off reproduction for life, I have to tell you that it’s ok. You can still game and you can still do it the way you did before. It just has to be planned in advance.
To get another opinion, I reached out to Christian Spicer, stand-up comedian, gamer, podcast royalty and most importantly the father of two young children. This was his take on the early days with a newborn.
It’s all about priorities. There is still time to game if you want to make time for it, but at the same time, Fallout 4 will still be there in a few months. On the other hand, those first few months with your new kid will only happen once. Gaming is great and I love it and the community around it, but for me, family comes first. So sure, maybe I can’t be the best Street Fighter player anymore, but I have two daughters that are awesome people…so I’m cool with that trade off…and who knows, maybe one or both of them will end up as great Street Fighter players one day 🙂Other than that, it’s really just how little sleep is enough for you. Ha. Family, family, family. Game. Sleep. Repeat 🙂
There will be more time for it as the bambino gets older, and of course he’ll want to join in. My girls like to play their terrible Peppa Wii game, but also like to watch me play DK64 and Lego Star Wars.
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I remember the first eight terribly sleep deprived months of my two year old son’s life like it was yesterday, and this post has taken me straight back! I don’t resent the loss of gaming time in hindsight, just sometimes in the moment when I really want to be playing and I go with being a responsible father instead. I think it’s worth it though. Anyway, Hearthstone on iPad was my best friend in those late night baby settling times. So much so that I wrote about it soon after starting my blog. Who’d have thought writing about games i something I’d make time for right after having a kid? Crazy…
Now he’s big on Donkey Kong Country on the SNES 🙂
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My daughter is a teenager by now, but I know what you mean: family and kids have to come first. That’s one of the reasons why I hardly ever do any console gaming. My handheld devices are my best friends, to pick up whenever I can, and to take with my everywhere. There is always some gaming time to find, commuting to work, waiting at the dentist, during lunch break. And like Steve says, it doesn’t just have to be a dedicated gaming handheld. App games can be good too.
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Gaming does get easier. Just takes time, patience, and a change of expectations. Handheld gaming became my best friend during this season. Good luck!
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