Babies and Games

If the dragon's age was 18 months it'd be even worse

Edit – this feature was supposed to be purely for our Supporter Program, but I messed up and it temporarily went public. In hindsight I don’t want to seem like a terrible tease, so it’s open to all again.

No Raised By Screens this week as I’ve been up since 4am looking after a rampaging toddler, and frankly I’m just not up to it. Instead, a relevant lament of sorts. Apologies in advance.

I’ve been a father for just over 18 months now, to a daughter who by sheer coincidence just happens to be the most amazing little girl in all of human existence. It’s amazing, it’s exhausting, it takes over everything. So much is gained, but so much is lost.

Including games. For a good couple of decades, games have been where I’ve retreated to be myself. No obligations to anyone else, no need to put on a show – just me, the screen and my imagination. I’d go to games almost every day.

I can’t do that any more. Well, I can – games are my job. It’s a good job. But my job is also writing, and that means I don’t play games for work in anything like the way I play games for myself – deadlines and note-taking and fact-checking (sometimes) and worrying-worrying-worrying that I’ve got it as right as my head full of subjectivity could possibly allow.

Clearly, I am extremely privileged that a large part of my job involves playing games – there are far worse ways to spend a weekday. But it’s an entirely different affair to a no-strings retreat into something my brain has identified as exactly what it wants to do for hours at a time.

I can’t do that any more. My duties (that being childcare and work) begin at 6am if I’m lucky, and end at 7.30pm if I’m lucky. By the time I’ve made and eaten dinner it’s 8.30pm. Then there’s washing up and clearing up a thousand soft toys to be done. The clock says 9 now. If I’m not in bed by 10pm the next day’s going to be awful. Not that I heeded this wisdom during the week Civ: Beyond Earth was released. I’m still paying for that.

Oh, I squeeze in things here and there. A spot of Binding of Isaac or a fiddle with a little iPad game, perhaps. In a way, the selectiveness this requires is a boon – I’m less likely to invest mental energies in a stinker, and I don’t have the perennial problem of leaving something unfinished.

But, y’know, it’s Holiday Season. Games a’comin’. Dragon Age, Far Cry, Elite – games which require a huge time investment, games which can’t be played in 15 minute chunks while the kid’s distracted by a yoghurt or Iggle Piggle. Am I just not going to play those? I don’t think I’ve ever missed a Bioware game (though some I wish I had) before. I know my chums are going to form gangs in Elite: Dangerous that I won’t be a part of. I won’t get to tell the rest of RPS that they’re completely wrong about a Far Cry game.

I’m going to have to come to terms with missing out, in the same way I’m gradually coming to terms with rarely going to the pub or cinema, or occasionally getting someone else’s poo on my hands. It feels like a huge loss, though of course I’ve been blessed with something wonderful to replace it. If you’re a parent, how have you dealt with this change?

Maybe there’ll be peace at the end of it. Maybe I’ll shift closer to treating the games I play for work in the way I treated games I played for myself. Maybe I’ll make damned sure that what I do play for myself is exactly what I need, and exactly what deserves my attention, rather than squandering my precious time on a forgettable shooter or needlessly long roleplaying game.

Maybe the grandparents will take her for a week next Summer and I’ll get to play Dragon Age.


  1. Baboonanza says:

    Just cut back on sleep man! I tend to get my gaming in from 4:30/5am (while holding a baby) until the 2 year-old monster gets up at 6am. Couple of hours of toddler fun and I’m off to work to do some programmin’.

    It gets easier if you can get them into a regular wake-up time, our son was pretty random too at 18 months.

    Honestly, I don’t know what I did all day before I had children. Every day was like a holiday and I didn’t even realise it!

    • Drayk says:


      I am the proud father of 3 amazing little boys. The twins are 4 and little Hector is just 2 month old.
      My usual day begins at 6.30 and finish at 8.30 with the boys, then it’s some time with my gf and I usually start playing around 10. That gives me about 2hours of gaming. I don’t do that every day but often enough that I don’t feel too frustrated. Sometimes I play a bit of Oceanhorn on their moms Ipad with the twins, trying to navigate the game and solve puzzles.

      I should probably sleep some more but … Hey, I’ll sleep when I am dead !

  2. Melloj says:

    This article makes me weep…..those poor unplayed games that I’ve acquired over a couple of years of Steam sales (I have a 3 year old and a 11 month old). No one to pay attention to them, no one to tell them they are doing alright. I just hope they don’t rob a corner store in a few years.

    I just destroy myself with binge-gaming on Friday or Saturday night if my wife is too exhausted to do anything together.

  3. Gnoupi says:

    I’m currently in the “expecting” phase (well, I’m a guy, but I expect it too. In a way), and I was wondering about all this.

    Games are where I spend a large part of my free time. It’s what I do before going to work, what I do during a part of the evening (my wife also, since we are both gamers). So I am thinking, what will be “then”.
    I’m glad about what will happen, even though it will bring its fair share of extra work and decrease of free time. I’m fine with that in general, but I was thinking how it will change my gaming patterns.

    I currently spend a lot of my gaming time in DOTA 2. Obviously, I understand that this will have to decrease. MOBAs (or whatever you like to call them) are the exact example of games which don’t allow for life to happen next to you. It takes you for 45-60 minutes, your entire focus is on it, and nothing else exists around. You can’t even gently have a break for emergencies (DOTA2 features a pause, but the people you play with, equally fueled on adrenaline, can’t process that the game should stop for a moment for someone and mash the unpause button, without even giving you time to explain). Those games require your full attention for almost an hour, and are clearly not compatible with this kind of context.
    I mean sure, if one of us is taking care fully of the baby at this moment, it allows the other to play uninterrupted, but it’s an unpleasant situation and feels selfish.

    However, while those games (and obviously most competitive multiplayer games) are not suited anymore, I got to think what would, then.

    You can play big single player games (RPGs typically), since you can pause them… but you can’t really get into the story if you have to run every now and then, especially during a dialog or a cutscene (and not many games have the decency to let you pause during those).

    So that leaves mostly with two big groups, I think :
    – the games which you can play in short bursts (roguelikes are a good example of that, see also games like Luftrausers or Race the Sun)
    – the turn-based games (even though you can forget what you were doing between two turns, then). I expect grand strategy, 4X games to be quite present then. Management simulations too, in a way, as long as you can pause them (or not, some simulations are fun to let run when not watching too.

    That covers the single-player, though not quite the multiplayer coop ones we play together.
    For those, it depends on the main criteria: can you actually pause the world ? (MMOs are not really appropriate if both are playing it, no one can really take a break whenever necessary) If so, then it can work, for those fabled nap times that I hear about.

    I guess we will see. It sure will be a large change, but certainly a fun one. Also, I keep in mind that once the first years will be gone, will come another era: the time of the Player 3.

    • Tssha says:

      I think that’s the perspective that’s often forgotten in Daddy and Games pieces. Sooner or later, they get to welcome Player 3 into their lives, and that’s gotta be a great feeling.

      Basically, if Paul Soares jr. can game with his kids…maybe that gives hope to the rest of us. I’ve got a niece and an imminent nephew (just give it 9 months), and I’m looking forward to when I can game with them.

      And maybe…just maybe…if I find that special someone…

    • dahools says:

      I think you will be shocked at what games you can and cant play. My daughter is 27 months old and I feel Alec’s article sums up my life pretty much exactly. Except I dont play games for a living. I wouldn’t give her up for anything my life is so much better with her in it, but as a consequence of this my gaming time is cut down to an hr or two in the evening before bed.
      You mention RPG’s would be good, I would like to agree however I bought divinity oringial sin on release and am still trying to finish it. Im somewhere in a phantom forest. I find my gaming habits moving toward mobile/tablet (the source of all evil in the world) however sitting in bed with your tablet for half hour before you drop off will probably end up scratching your itch.
      As an eample I think I have about 10-15 hrs in BF4 (month one purchase) multiplayer quite frankly embarassing concidering how I have probably only seen about 5 maps.

  4. Optimaximal says:

    It all gets better once they’re a) more independent and b) have developed and predictable sleeping patterns. Number 2 is ~ 18 months and she’s firmly in the ‘I slept for 5 minutes before lunch, so here’s 4 hours of grief until 2am and I don’t care if I did the same last night’ brigade, so it’s a major slog, but manageable.

    I finished Mass Effect 2 weeks before the birth of our first, but then didn’ t get near an RPG until ME3, 3 years later. I also managed Assassins Creed 2 shortly after and recently tackled both Blood Dragon and Splinter Cell: Conviction! It’s all about agreeing time apart from the significant other – I’m lucky in so far as I can leave her for a few hours on weekend evenings when Downton/X-Factor is a thing. That and either gaming from a laptop or now Steam streaming!

    Luckily, as #1 approaches 5, I’m introducing him to the more suitable games in my collection. He enjoys LEGO Minifigures Online (urgh), Burnout Paradise, Train Sim 2k15, Euro Truck Sim 2 and FTL. The proper LEGO games come next year, as the combat-focus is both above his dexterity and we don’t want him going into school thumping things either.

    • mukuste says:

      Your… 5 year old can play FTL?!

      • cyrenic says:

        My 5 year old son played it quite a bit. Like many games, he played it completely differently than I did, but he got several hours of enjoyment out of it. He would generally restart the game the instant it got difficult, but I downloaded a file that unlocked all the ships for him. So he’d just restart the game constantly and see how far he could get before running into a tough fight or other hazard. He also loved looking at the different ships in the hangar.

        • Reapy says:

          I guess it isn’t just my son that resets when things get hard!

          He is just about to turn 5, and the other coming up on 3… Thinking back I used to use ‘trainers’ all the time though, so it must run in the family ;)

          Though I have to say hes fully sucked in by Nintendo despite the plethora of indie games in the house and its mario kart/party and/or smash all the time with him. I kinda hate all of those games and keep trying to prod him towards others but the characters are just so damn charming.

          Though he did randomly want to play volgarr, then bit trip runner 2 for a bit which was cool, but then we’re right back to nintendo/lego XYZ games (which I might add are ticking time bombs on the 360,, lego hobbit froze on us mid save, corrupting it and losing about 20 hours, resulting in a very upset 2 year old when all his characters were gone).

      • Optimaximal says:

        I play with him. We go on space adventures together…

        I read the text, do most of the fights and control the mouse, but he decides where we go, whether to run from a battle or fight and generally has a whale of a time role-playing being in charge of his own personal space ship.

        Same for Train Sim – most here would firmly write that thing off as the DLC sponge it is, but ignore the fact that it’s more cost-effective & practical than a real train set. The boy is fairly train-mad, so loves blowing the whistle, pretending to plan the route on his magnet board (ignoring the fact this is a railway), serving drinks to the passengers and generally driving the things way to fast for the line limits.

        • The Unnamed Council says:

          Train Simulator is a sleeper hit in that regard, I can confirm ;-).

          My now 6-year-old son loves playing that with me (we recently got the Halloween edition – those special “wanky” editions are getting better in terms of accessability). And yes, he too loves blowing the horn :D.

          And both he and my 8-year-old daughter love chiding me when I go to fast and just overshoot the last train station that would have gotten us a gold (yeah, I wish) rating.

          I have registered a Hex: Shards of Fate account for either of them and they enjoy that to a certain extent. Mostly it’s balancing non-violent screen gaming vs. much more better pursuits for kids, though, so we don’t play often.

          As for the original article: Like many of us dads here I feel like we could have written the article ourselves…

  5. tomnullpointer says:

    It might sound like a long way off, but my 7 and 9 year old now have me running a local Minecraft server the half week they are with me and we play Hearthsone against each other on ipad etc when they are at their mums. Admittedly I am coding while they are ‘redesigning’ my minecraft house, but they were super happy to cheer me on in my SL1 Dark Souls2 quest, and they love playing towerfall, gangbeasts etc with me. PLaying some of the zelda games etc was a lovely shared experience, even when they were pretty small. They also make pretty good playtesters for my own projects!
    I mean early days is hard, thats to be expected, but also theres probably a lot of fairly rubbish/mediocre games you can afford to miss, and tbh in my opinion MOBAs/MMORPGs should be at the bottom of your priorities list, under more productive/novel experiences (just my opinion) regardless of if you have children or not.
    And it was impossible to get you to the pub anyway Alec :)

  6. guygodbois00 says:

    I support Mr Meer in his mistake making programe.

  7. Melody says:

    Aaaaand that is why I’m not planning to have a kid for the next, you know, century or two. Not just games, but I’m not ready to sacrifice a considerable chunk of my life for someone else’s life. I know it’s not all bad, and that for all that is lost there is something gained somewhere else. I just don’t want to.

    I apologize if I don’t sound very empathetic, I think I understand, actually, but it’s a perspective that terrifies me, just thinking about it. I don’t have much to share, or any suggestions, even though I have a father who is also a gamer, and a 7 months old step-sister (I’m 22), and I can see him making similar sacrifices to you in that respect. I guess in a few years as she grows and becomes slightly more independent, it’ll get better. It’ll be less overwhelming.
    But: you’re a great writer, for what it’s worth, and you show enough of yourself in your writing that I feel confident to say you’re probably a great person and parent too.

    Give it your best. *hugs*

    • RQH says:

      I think you will find, as you grow older, that babies or no babies, giving up your life for someone else’s is all there is in this lonely world.

      • Melody says:

        For a partner or close friend yes.
        For a baby, it’s not an attractive perspective to me at the moment =)

        • Burius1981 says:

          I thought he same way though my early twenties, it’s fine. After five or ten years your opinion might change. It’s actually pretty awesome have a little you running around.

          • syllopsium says:

            .. or not. Some of us have never wanted children despite being surrounded by several at various points, and at 41 I’m doubtful my mind will change. I understand why people want children, it’s just not for me.

            Also, giving everything to someone else isn’t enough, either.

            You might expect, therefore, that I have loads of time to game, but various life stuff and helping out at groups consumes a lot of my time. I have to think before considering If I really will make a go of finishing an RPG.

          • dahools says:

            Thats true. I would recommend always wait til ur ready but its not often discussed what you get in return only what you sacrifice. Yes you will lose many things game time being one of them initially but what you get in return is irreplaceable by anything else in the world. so never say never is all I will say.

          • Burius1981 says:

            To clarify a bit about my earlier statement, I’m not saying that everyone’s opinion on having children will change, just that it may change. I’m only 32, but I’ve known a number of people who were adamant about not having children 10 or 15 years ago that have them now or who have changed their mind about the idea. If someone doesn’t want kids, hey what ever floats yer boat. Please excuse my excitement over my own though, I make a conscious effort to hold back but it is tough for anyone to not talk about something they are excited about.

            My son is a little over a year old and he is awesome, I was very content with my life before him and I am quite happy with it now. A bit less gaming sure, but I enjoy the time I spend with him so it’s ok and as he gets older it’s an activity that we can share. It’s cliché to say to someone “You don’t know what you’re missing” but for me it was certainly true.

      • MerseyMal says:

        My wife and I are 44 years old and in the 16 years of marriage neither of us have changed our minds. Content enough to be uncle & aunt to my nieces in Australia and honorary uncles and aunts to close friends’ kids.

        • RQH says:

          I was not suggesting that anyone would inevitably change their minds about having kids. Only that if the reason is “I don’t want to sacrifice a large part of myself for other people” then there’s a lot more than kids you would have to pass up. You sacrifice a large part of yourself for someone else in a marriage (or any kind of relationship.) You sacrifice a large part of yourself for others when you work to excel at your job, or when you volunteer in your community. The vast majority of things that are worth doing involve putting the needs of others ahead of your own.

    • Reapy says:

      It’s good to know what you want, or don’t want! Having a child when you feel like you do currently is probably going to be a bad thing for yourself, your partner, and the kid. It really is a shift in self identity in terms of what you can and can’t do anymore, of the control and freedom to choose where you want to be spending time you JUST GOT finally as you get out of school.

      I always knew I wanted kids but not until I was 30 did I feel ready for them. In my late 20’s I picked up and tried a ton of hobbies/activities that I never got around to, trying to think I needed to get it all covered. My wife is a bit older than me so she was wanting to have kids sooner than I expected. I kind of delayed and said on my 30th, but as my bday approached it felt a bit like a ticking time bomb!

      A month or so later I don’t know what it was but I guess I felt ready for the idea, I had done most of what I wanted to do in life (not that I have any high ambitions in life, I like sitting around playing games, and having solid friendships ).

      I actually found I had a lot more gaming time at first when they were babies. There are a lot of times you have to just sit there and hold them, and there is nothing better to fit in your hand on the couch than a controller. I even played a bunch of torchlight with 1 hand on the mouse at the PC.

      It is only a bit later on as they get more active and opinionated that you lose time to play the games you want the way you want. But lucky for us, kids love games too, and playing games is a whole nother way to get to know who they are.

      But anyway, I guess I just wanted to chime in and say not wanting children doesn’t make anything wrong with you and people shouldn’t feel guilt for not wanting to do a thing. I believe that most of the emotional harm we do to ourselves comes through trying to be things we are not due to cultural/social pressures, and its important to identify what we do and don’t want to be doing with ourselves and stick to it!

      • Melody says:

        Well, personally I wasn’t feeling guilty in the slightest, but I appreciate the thought anyway.
        Hopefully your post will reach other people who do =)

        • Jediben says:

          No kids for me either. A pug and two cats are already enough, and they exited the baby stage within two months of receiving them. No way I could give up everything that makes me feel like me for another mouth to feed on this interstellar spore of a rock!

    • Martel says:

      My daughter is now 3, and I’ve had many of the same experiences. First thing I’d suggest is find turn-based games. Obviously things like dota don’t count, but something like King’s Bounty is great. I used that to get me through the first few weeks of a newborn :)

      You don’t say if you have a spouse or not, but the way we handle it in my house is I have one night a week that is basically just mine. It took some coordination but all my gaming friends have the same evening free as well now (for the most part). So Friday night for us is basically group binge-gaming and we do all our multiplayer and coop games. The rest of the week is me trying to sneak in other games here and there. It does get easier as they get older.

      It was a shock going from a few hours of gaming a day to a few hours a week (depending on the week of course) you get used to it and then you get a lot of other things to look forward to, like raising your own little gamer. My daughter isn’t overly interested in videogames right now, but she’s all about tabletop games, which I’d rather play with her anyway. So there is light at the end of the tunnel.
      Edit* Sorry Melody, this wasn’t meant to be a reply but its own post.

    • Deano2099 says:

      I think Jimmy Carr once said that not having kids was like finding a cheat code for life.

      It’s fine not to want them, and it’s odd that we are finally at a point as a society where everything can be accepted as “not for me” – we all like different food, entertainment, hobbies and so on – and yet deciding that kids are not for you…. People thinkers a bit odd. Whereas surely the notion that having kids is something everyone would like is the crazy one.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      Yeah not much interest in younglings of my own here either (though I have a niece and nephew who are lovely little people). Someone did point out that this means I am the first person in thousands of generations of ancestors to make this decision though, which is a strange perspective on it.

  8. nikos says:

    Others have covered the ground re: it gets better (but not always) as they grow older and more predictable; and, games that allow shorter sessions are great.

    But as I recently discovered when I impulse-bought the Elite Beta, it is very nicely playable in short-ish sessions between 30-60 minutes. Admittedly you won’t be able to play with your friends, but this is enough time to enjoy, not get too tired and still keep something in your head about what you’ll do next session.

    • JaminBob says:

      This whole thread has been massive ‘therapy’ for me as dad of a 16m old. But this one resonated…

      Thought of all sorts of drastic action to play, taking leave from work, not telling the missus and getting a cheap advanced train fare… For e.g.

      But the shortish session games that leave you with decisions to ponder over the next day seem to be a nice balance with work, sleep, fatherly duty and games.

      Plus reading about games I’ll never have time to play.

  9. RQH says:

    I am learning. Mine’s only 3 months old, so I have to carve out gaming time either just after we’ve put her down to sleep, or sometimes if she’s willing to sit quietly on my lap I can play something turn-based, like Beyond Earth. I’m amazed that between those times I’ve managed to put 20-something hours into that game. But then, we took her to meet Sid Meier at Firaxicon when she was only 6 weeks, so I think she gets it ;)

    Also, you’re wrong. My daughter is the most amazing little girl in all of human existence.

    • Berzee says:

      Playing a turn-based game with a sleeping baby in one arm is one of the best things. :D I finished a good portion of a King’s Bounty that way (but not the whole thing because nobody really finishes a King’s Bounty).

      Then he progressed to the “eternally bouncing” stage, but it was great while it lasted. ^_^

      • Reapy says:

        Also discovering the impact of a swivel chair, high dps mouse, and a child bumping your arm every .2 seconds are not a good combination.

      • RQH says:

        Oh, the eternal bouncing stage! My right leg shakes involuntarily all the time now, even when I’m at work.

  10. Broken says:

    I’m in pretty much the same boat. My little one is just over 2 years old, and as busy as anything. I am lucky that I’m home with her at 4pm, and she’s usually in bed by 7pm, and between my wife and me we’re got most things sorted by 8pm, which gives me an hour till I hit the bed at 9pm to be up again at 4am to get ready for work, with 2-3 wakeups for the little terror during the night.

    This last week I tried to see how much gaming I could get in. I actually managed to finish the Awakening expansion for Dragon Age Origins. I managed about 8 hours of gaming for the week, which, judging by the reviews, will put me at about 10 weeks to get through Dragon Age Inquisition. I think I can do it!

  11. aukondk says:

    My daughter is 2 and has just got to the point where I can sit her with me and play a little Minecraft without her trying to climb up and sit on the keyboard. Her commentary, “where’s the purple man?” “bats!” etc is so adorable I started recording it. Youtube Playlist “DotCraft”

    Having a kid will be more liberating for me in the end. My wife isn’t a gamer and has no hobbies of her own so a) Dotty will become a gaming partner for me (when she gains a little dexterity) and b) she can play with her mum while I game.

  12. Omroth says:

    I have a 12-month-old who mercifully sleeps through the night 75% of the time. I probably have 90 minutes in the evening to myself every day, and to be honest that’s actually enough. I’ve just never been into massively long gaming sessions.

    Massively long drinking sessions on the other hand…

  13. chewbaccasdad says:

    I’m in the expecting boat – Chewbaccasmum has a due date of Christmas Day – and I’ve made my peace with the fact that my gaming is going to be seriously limited for the foreseeable.

    I’m focusing on the positives, too. When the point comes that I have some free time for gaming, there should be quite a backlog for me to work through, hopefully time-discounted too and full featured. Case in point – GTA V PC will be released after the little monster is born. I love loading up GTA IV with a trainer and a load of mods; by the time I actually get round to playing GTA V, I should have my pick of mods to play with.

    And Chewbaccasmum doesn’t game so eventually I’ll have someone to play with me :)

    p.s. If I’d known articles like this were on the Supporters Program, I’d have signed up ages ago. I think I’ll start a subscription on my next payday.

    • RQH says:

      Congratulations. Little ones are a lot of work, but my goodness they are astonishing. Mine is just learning to laugh. I wouldn’t trade the sound of even one of those awkward grunty laughs for all the time to game in the world.

      • chewbaccasdad says:

        Haha, thank you. Honestly, I can’t wait. I’m not going to be lying on my deathbed wishing I’d spent more time trying to get earn Steam achievements, after all.

  14. Evernight says:

    I have a 6 week old and I must say reading this was both depressing and endearing. Depressing in that it appears never to get better and endearing to read that this is a common “condition”.

    Right now my gaming is a sacrifice of sleep. My wife goes to bed at 9pm so she can get up at 4 AM with her when she gets up. I can sleep then, or stay up but I am responsible for her 1-2 wake ups between 9PM and 2AM. Works starts at 7 AM. How much sleep can I do without? Last night was 2 hours followed by 4.5. Not great, but survivable.

    The stress also moves on to my wife as well when she sees me wanting to spend less time with the infant and more time playing games. I am not going to sit here an lie to new parents and say that infants are enough reward in themselves. They sometimes suck – sometimes alot. You will get tired and you will hate it and you will begin to regret having this child. It happens.

    Thanks for writing this Mr. Meer.

    • Chuckaluphagus says:

      For me, cutting back on sleep in order to play or work has only been tolerable for very short periods of time, a few days at most. The tiredness catches up with me quickly, and I’ll start making stupid mistakes and losing my coordination, and that just makes gaming unpleasant.

      Your child is still very young, but as he or she gets older they’ll sleep a lot more consistently, and wake up much less often, which means you’ll recover a lot of your own time in the evenings. Also, if you’re like me, the memories of those initial two months will become very fuzzy and muted, and so all of that frustration will be very hard to recall.

      It will get better, and it should start getting better soon. In the meanwhile, it seems like there are a lot of us here with young children – feel free to gripe, if it helps.

      • Tssha says:

        Very fuzzy and muted…happens just in time for you to forget how horrible that was and have yet another one and then go through it all over again…

        Still worth it. At least, so I’ve heard.

  15. li says:

    Is that why you’re making the Raised by Screens series, Alec?
    Thinking maybe one day you’ll see your offspring discovering new games, having the joy you had as a child?

    Well, that’s what it made me think of, before I read this piece. I don’t have children, and seeing as it’s already difficult to do all what one wants to do without, I don’t want to imagine what it’s like with. But that might happen one day, and that conceivable day can only be drawing closer.

    And when I think or read about my childhood games, I can’t resist the thought, will the flesh of my flesh experience something similar, will I be able to share anything like this with him or her?

  16. RaboP4 says:

    I have an 18 month old as well. Divinity Original Sin came out in June, and it’s the only serious PC game I’ve been playing in that time. I reached the final area yesterday.

    On the other hand, I have probably clocked 1000 hours in Threes, Hoplite, Fallen London, Hearthstone, and Hexcells infinite.

    • dahools says:

      I am in the same boat as you. Not even sure if im in the final area yet. I dont think ive dragged an rpg out this long ever. I have promised myself I will finish it before xmas. Will try during a day when im working nights and finish early the night before.

  17. Berzee says:

    Get your wisdom teeth extracted! That’s a good two days of gaming and milkshakes right there. (Plus a week of moderate misery afterwards but don’t worry about that).

    I’ve used up all my superfluous teeth now though, and so I will have to find another approach. =P Me wee bairn is just 9 months so I am just a noob without useful suggestions — I will just take your article as a sign that I should prepare myself for a longer haul. (It can be tempting to think “Oh, once they’re X months old things will settle down” but I think it’s probably better if I stop trying to predict it and let it be a surprise when it happens).

    Also, one thing I’ve found is that, in some situations where disappearing behind a monitor for several hours would be impractical, a board game can be a more effective way to build imaginary empires while still keeping an eye on the lad. =)

  18. drewski says:

    Just imagine how bad your gaming time would be if you *didn’t* do it for a living, Alec!

  19. Chuckaluphagus says:

    I’m in exactly the same boat as you. By the time the munchkin is in bed it’s past eight o’clock, most nights, and then there’s all the chores to do to prepare for tomorrow. I don’t have the energy and mental capacity to dig into all of these deeper games that I really do want to play. Anything requiring careful attention or continuous action is going to be a complete boondoggle; at the end of the day, my brain is too tired to be up to the challenge.

    Games that I’d like to get deep into, that have been sitting around in my backlog for ages now — both Witchers, Banner Saga, XCOM, more Civ 5, the Grimrocks — those have to happen in frantic sessions in my lunch hour, when I’m awake and caffeinated enough. Lunchtime half-hour sessions of Team Fortress 2 are remarkably satisfying — among other things, they’ve shown me that my twitch reflexes have not utterly atrophied, and that I can still score credibly high in a match while gleefully setting the opposition on fire. But I can only squeeze in those quick sessions, and diving deep becomes frustratingly impossible.

    Things are starting to change as my son gets older, though. He’s two-and-a-half now, and about three months ago I started introducing him to computer and video games, with him either watching on my lap or attempting to participate. His favorites so far, in descending order of preference, are: Rock Band, Rock Band, Beatles Rock Band, Mario Kart, Rock Band, Burnout:Paradise and Runner 2 – music, cars and cartoony graphics are the way to go, it seems. I’m not going to show him Banner Saga, or XCOM, or TF2 – they’d freak him right out at the moment, and they’re all not kid-appropriate. Anything we play together has to be something we’ll both enjoy, but fortunately that leaves a lot of options on the table. As he gets older, we’ll start adding in games with more depth. And as he becomes more independent, I hope that I’ll regain a bit of my free time and mental capacity and some day be able to become engrossed in a game again.

    • rocktart says:

      Oh, and Sonic all Star Racing is as good as Graham keeps saying it is

      • Chuckaluphagus says:

        I actually have that (it was cheap from the Humble Store recently), and I have yet to install and play it. Thanks for the reminder!

      • Arathain says:

        It really is. My almost-three year old calls it ‘the taxi game’ because I like the Crazy Taxi character.

        • rocktart says:

          Both of my kids insist I play the ‘monkey maracas track’. I’ve no idea what Sega game that is from,

          • Arathain says:

            Samba de Amigo. A rhythm action game for the… er… Dreamcast? I think. There were maraca peripherals.

          • Chuckaluphagus says:

            Ooh, it has monkeys, too? That’ll be a big draw for my son. When we play Mario Kart: Double Dash he insists on using Baby ‘uigi and Diddy Kong, i.e. Team “Monkey Baby!”

    • Haphaz77 says:

      I’m glad I’m into XCOM, Civ 5 and rogue-likes. My 8 month old makes gaming sessions rare, but at least he is sleeping well enough. I’m really looking forward to introducing him to games. It’s great to read all these stories.

  20. AlwaysRight says:

    This is exactly what I’m going through at the moment. I have a 18 month old lad, I’ve been up since 4am, I have a gruelling 6am to 9pm routine, no cinema, soft toys, no pub, Iggle Piggle, Dragon Age so close…. but… so far.

    no time.

  21. rocktart says:

    I found that having a small child (I’ve got 2 now) means that anything which you can’t pause or save at any point is saved for when everyone else is out of the house – which does happen. Grandparents taking charge to give you (and especially the mother) a rest, NCT events where your attendance is not mandatory and ‘catching up on sleep’ were my only opportunities for full on gaming for a while.
    I found that good options for short burst gaming were X-com and King’s Bounty. WoW was good too, as there are lots of options of different things to do if that floats your boat (archaeology and pet battles are both things I probably wouldn’t have spent much time with if they hadn’t been so easy to do while cradling a baby in 1 arm).
    I’ve also developed an unexpected appreciation of point and click adventure games and even hidden object games.

  22. Arathain says:

    Yeah. It’s tough. I have an almost-three and a one month old. Available gaming goes in phases, really- with just a very small baby who needs lots of soothing to sleep I popped a yoga ball in front of my keyboard and played with a pillow and a sleeping baby on my lap. I actually got a year of OK gaming from that. Once they start to become more active, aware and engaged that gets tougher. They want and deserve more of your time. The older one goes to bed later than most kids, too.

    I get home from work, make/eat dinner, try to get some housework done and engage with the older one, then get him cleaned up for bed. Try to finish the housework I started. Then maybe, if the baby isn’t crying, I have 30 minutes of leisure time before I go to bed slightly too late. Often, my wife and I might spend some time together. Sometimes I play a game. Usually I’m too tired to do lengthy, involved story heavy stuff. My play sessions are too unpredictable as it is, and I lost the thread of stories pretty easily. Roguelikes are great. Good burst games like Cook Serve Delicious. I start a lot of 4X games that I will barely reach the mid-game of.

    Hearthstone has been an absolute blessing. Competitive multiplayer that I can play in short sessions with persistent rewards and a long but pleasant learning curve- perfect.

    Incidentally, despite the impositions on my gaming time, being a parent is absolutely worth it, and I’m about as happy as I’ve ever been.

  23. Burius1981 says:

    I sympathize Alec. My son is 13 months old and while he is awake any gaming is out of the question. I can’t really complain about it, he loves me and wants me to do stuff with him. I just hold off on gaming until after he goes to bed around 9:00pm. He usually takes one or two decent naps during the day so on the weekend I may get a little more in but I always feel under pressure to be ready to save or finish what I’m doing since he could wake up at any time. You must plan your game time a bit more so that you can get the most out of it. Don’t go along with your friends and play Dota2 if you aren’t in the mood for it, play what you want to play.

    It’s funny you mentioned shipping them off to the grandparents, I’ve done that for the day three times. The first two days were surreal. No diapers to change, no bottles to prepare or wash, no chasing this little monster around making sure he doesn’t pull things off of tables (he is a little tall for his age); it actually felt quite lonely and I was so overwhelmed by choosing which games to dedicate the day to that I didn’t really get any fulfillment out of them.

    I see it getting better in the future, honestly I am really excited about the prospect of sharing this past time with him as he gets older along with all of my other interests and finding out what sticks with him as well.

  24. machinaexdeus says:

    My wife and I are unable to have children. I would give every game I am yet to play and the memory of every game I have played for the stress, the tiredness etc that you are experiencing now. Please, everyone here, every time you begrudge losing your time think of how lucky you actually are.

    • RQH says:

      I’m so sorry. I certainly am grateful. I know the struggle of fertility treatments, but I can’t imagine how difficult that is. Thank you for the perspective, and I wish you and your wife the best.

    • chargen says:

      You should seriously consider adopting. Speaking as the father both children who are genetically mine and children whom I adopted, genetics mean nothing. Raising a child makes you his/her parent. And there are a lot of kids out there who need adopting.

      • RQH says:

        I agree. I didn’t adopt, exactly, but my wife is related to our daughter and I’m not. This has always been something I was fine with, but I know it was very important to my wife to experience pregnancy, etc. So everyone’s a little different in that regard, and I’m guessing that knowing you can adopt doesn’t necessarily diminish the pain of finding out you can’t have kids of your own.

    • jezcentral says:

      Yeah, we are all grateful for what we have. I guess the reason we are all bemoaning our lack of gaming time is that it was gaming that went when our spare time got squeezed.

  25. Jamesworkshop says:

    Wow more parents here than I expected.

    I would if not for my lack of an obliging partner.

  26. Agnol117 says:

    This is part of why I set up a second monitor — I can game on one screen while letting my daughter watch her cartoons on the other. Of course, she’s starting to get to the age where she can engage with me as I play the games, so that’s a plus.

  27. n0manarmy says:

    I’m a first time father of a 16 month girl and she, much like your child, is amazing to watch and grow. Her first battery operated toys she chose to turn them upside and try to get at the batteries instead of play with the device!

    I thank my wife because she was very adamant about sleep training. This not only helped our sanity but also provided us with precious hours of free time to do as we wished, in the confines of our home that is.

    I was home with my daughter yesterday because she was sick, her nap was 3 hours and 15min! It was a blissful time for me to jaunt around Dark Souls PC edition!

    I have had to change my gaming habits significantly when my daughter was born. She was a colic baby (AKA reflux baby) so in the beginning there was long periods of feedings and then keeping her up right before putting her down. These times I retreated to my cell phone. Here I found that the games were either quick to pick and put down or there were emulators that could provide quick save and load features.

    As she got older and we were able to regulate her napping and sleeping, my games shifted to things that were easy to launch and pause. I logged 280+ hours in Tales of Maj’Ayel and Civ 5 a piece. There was enough replayability in the games that I didn’t feel like I was losing much when there would be long droughts without play. Diablo 3 is a huge time sink since its easy to hop off and on, they make enough changes to the game periodically that when my gaming time ebb and flows, there’s usually new stuff to explore by then. BioShock Infinite was probably the hardest game for me to play, reason being is there is no quick save or load feature. There would be times where I would have to park myself to go take care of my daughter or leave the game all together, losing any current progress. I did cherish the story line and the game more though because it was more like reading chapters periodically in a book instead of a massive binge fest like when I used to plow through games.

    I also invested in a tablet since the consoles were going to be an issue. First consoles are expensive compared to tablet/mobile gaming and either required subscriptions and/or the games were significantly more expensive which are hard to justify on a budget based around a child. I was lucky to get an NVidia Shield Tablet, controller, and case which I play constantly using emulators or their GRID streaming capabilities. Also its more capable of playing the higher end games such as the Square Enix line and the load times are very quick. The tablet also fits snugly in the diaper bag when there are trips to be had!

    In the end, the gaming that suffered the most for me were massively multiplayer games. Current gen MMOs require decently new systems and stretches of time which are no longer available to me as a 30 something parent. It’s becoming harder to find good games that are light enough that we can squeeze them in to our busy schedules but indepth enough that they don’t feel cheap. There is this horrible trend of freemiums that I suspect that game developers will hope to fill this niche with. I gag when I think of this being the future of our generations gaming direction, especially when we have such little time left to enjoy them.

    Video monitors are a god send when you’re gaming during nap times. If you can see that the child is fine and they are just testing you, then you win. If all you hear is crying and you go running in every time…they’ve won! Baby 1, parent 0.

    I think this topic deserves expansion as well. As a parent I feel concerned about my child’s screen time. As a gamer I can’t wait till she can hold a controller and we can sit in our bean bags playing through all the consoles over again.

    I battle this dilemma every day. My wife does not want screen time and I agree, however there is also good that comes of it.

  28. jezcentral says:

    The answer is weekend-long LAN parties. (I make sure either my Mum or hers can stay over to cover, though) and then disappear off to one of SWLans bashes (I recommend either LeachLAN or uLAN). That’s when the old me resurfaces, and gaming sessions are 18 hours long per day.

    I have two little ones, 2.5 and .5. The worst bit is the audio. I have to listen out for them, so I can’t play a game that requires headphones, so I end up playing Peggle or Bejewelled 3, which are not my regular bag at all.

    My games list is full of games like Dishonored, Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3, all the Assassins Creeds up to 3, CODBLOPS 2, Crysis 3, Sleeping Dogs, Starcraft 2, Heart of the Swarm, Thief, that I bought and never got to play. I can’t be the only person who gets his gaming thrills vicariously by BUYING games. Sod playing the damn things.

    I have Dragon Age coming up, and if I’m lucky, and get an hour a night in, I’ll be finished around April. That’s just not tenable. It’s struck me that this might be the one, where my gaming identity slips from my fingers, and I spend the next few years getting in to other things, so I never come back once I get any free time. (God, I hope not).

    But trust me on the LAN parties.

    • Arathain says:

      Ah, sound! I don’t even think about that one. But whenever I put on a pair of headphones at home I only ever cover one ear. it’s going to take me quite a long time to break that habit.

      • jezcentral says:

        Same here, but the one-ear headphone-wearing is a bit rubbish for things like TF2 and other FPSes.

        I do have a baby monitor which lights up, when it picks up sound, and I rely on that. But that doesn’t tell me the difference between a sleepy bark from the baby, and the little one throwing her guts up.

        It’s quite funny to see how many people are in the same parental boat. There’s always retirement, I suppose.

        • dahools says:

          Had to read that twice to realise you were on about a baby monitor. I was thinking what pc monitor flashes when it picks up sound? Thats genius! If ur wearing headphones. But yeah I feel the idiot now.

          • jezcentral says:

            Sorry, fixed. :) I’m the idiot, although, in my defence, I have been up since 3am yesterday, being thrown up over by my six month old.

            I’m now back in her bedroom as she continues to dry-heave. This evening, I got two, whole, 5-minute rounds of TF2 in, and had my attempt at Heart of the Swarm crash to desktop twice. Ugh. And that’s the best gaming night I’ve had in two weeks. Not joking.

  29. Flimgoblin says:

    Playing Dark Souls, just into Anor Londo. Eldest watches for an hour over shoulder (constantly talking, and telling me which way to go, asking me to do that funny roll thing again, saying “watch out” a lot…) then decides to spend the next day making a castle out of cardboard.

    I seem to have mostly coped by giving up on ever actually playing anything that isn’t DOTA – and replacing sleep with DOTA… an hour or two here and there full of adrenaline to wake me up seems to work better than games that I have to spend time to immerse myself in (though I do occasionally give it a try – managed to divert myself Skyrim for a while, though have since given up on that. Currently trying to replay the longest journey so I can play Dreamfall: Chapters with more than fuzzy memories of what happened before, if I can get past the DOTA button)

  30. melnificent says:

    10 years since I became a parent. The first few years you are their everything, gaming moves down the list as other things take priority, cleaning becomes a quick 2 minutes here and there in the day and hopefully an hour after bedtime.

    It gets easier though, around 3 years old both of mine picked up my interest in gaming. My elder one got a DS at 4 and a PC at 6, followed by a new laptop at 8. This meant that initially my gaming was more about teaching her to game. Slowly though she learnt default controls and the WASD + Mouse combo. After that she was off, ETS2, Minecraft and a slow progression of games to her steam library ( link to ).

    The 2nd child is where things change permanently though. Suddenly you have to look after a baby and entertain your first child. That’s exhausting, but so rewarding. But your gaming takes a major hit, and what you do play is more child centred, friendly or even……educational.

    Mine are now 10 and 4 and I’d never change them for the world. My elder one has already published a book and my younger one can’t understand why the internet isn’t always available (at places outside of our home). They also made the plushie bucket a while back which pretty much made their month.

  31. itsbenderingtime says:

    I have a pair of 19-month-old twins. The way I see it, my life (as I used to think of it) is on indefinite hold. I fully embrace the monastic existence of work, chores, sleep, and playing with children. I don’t play games (or have any other hobbies) at the moment, but that’s okay, I’ve accepted that. As the twins have been getting older, things seem to ease up ever so slowly, and I’ve found that I can add little pieces of my former life back and do things I’ve been unable to do since they were born. I can keep a small handful of plants alive now. My pets aren’t neglected any more. I can go running or lift weights a few times a week. Soon, I might be able to clean my house. It gets better, bit by bit.

    Someday, the games can come back too. I consider myself on a leave of absence. And there are good things to that too. When I play games all the time, I end up playing through all the real gems and start playing mediocre stuff that I don’t enjoy it as much. But now, by the time I can play games again, there should be a nice backlog of real winners that should occupy me for a while without having to dip into the junk for my fix.

  32. mpk says:

    My son is five and I’m at the stage of wondering when the time will be right to start up a Steam account for him and begin filling it up with games. In the past year he’s completed Lego Marvel Superheroes, Batman 2 and Movie all on his own – apart from some small instances of fatherly assistance.

    I love watching (and inevitably, hearing) him play, although sometimes I do get annoyed when he gets stuck in games. (I mean, it’s not my fault he doesn’t have thirty years of gaming experience – why don’t they teach basic gaming mechanics in Primary 1? ).

    Being a gamer dad is great, but I do get sad when I introduce him to one of the classics and it’s too low-fi to interet him. But then, I didn’t start listening to my Dad’s LPs til I was in my teens, so there’s hope for him yet.

  33. Herring says:

    It’s difficult, but do-able. Obviously the gaming scales back with everything else in your life (like TV, socializing, dress-sense, ability to relate to non-parents, sentience) but you can cram it in.

    I remember WoW was released when my first was only a few weeks old. She was going for 2 hrs between feeds but would sleep for longer if lying on someone. So after her 4-5 AM feed I’d grab her, set up on the computer and leave her to sleep on my chest.

    Mum would get 3-4 hrs uninterrupted sleep, baby would get some nice kip listening to my heartbeat and I’d get a long session in Azeroth while snuggling with little one.


    And now my girls are 12 and 9 we all go into Azeroth together :D

  34. dangerman77 says:

    I know it’s unrefined, tasteless and probably against TOS here, but I wholeheartly recommend the Vita as the gaming device of choice for the parent-of-young-and-extremely-time-and-energy-demanding-children(plural) set. The amazing one-button suspend/resume-state feature more than makes up for the (mostly) limited and craptastic library of games. You can even forget about the Vita, let the battery die, and with a quick recharge you are back up and running where you left off. No booting, loading, loading a save, hunger, mischief and tears, saving, closing, shutting down process to get in the way.

    With two children under age three, it allows me quick access to a gaming fix, whenever and wherever I can squeeze it in (especially if wearing clothes with big enough pockets to carry it around).

  35. simmuskhan says:

    Thanks so much for writing this!

    I’ve got a fantastic, brilliant, intelligent, funny, awesome 3 (almost 4) year old.

    I used to play a LOT of games. Now I just don’t have the time or energy.

    I envy you guys who have enough energy at the end of the day for gaming, but I just don’t!

    He spends the main part of every Wednesday with my Mum and Dad, so that’s my gaming time. I’ve just had to learn to cope with fewer games and it really has made me think about which games I really want to spend my precious time on, it’s been interesting what has stayed and what has gone.

    We now play Minecraft together for a couple hours a week, it’s been great. So far I still do the stuff, at his direction. We have some amazingly colourful structures!

    Anyway, between the ages of 0 and 2 he did not sleep for more than a half hour at a time, and even then mostly only if you were actually rocking him. As a result, I’ve clocked up way, way, way over 1,000 hours of Civ V as you can walk around and just periodically pause to issue a command and hit next turn =)

    It does get better with time, but it’ll be at a different rate for different parents and different kids – plenty of variables there.

    Good to hear that I’m not alone, great to hear from all you other mums and dads who have just had to put gaming on hold (or at least on greatly reduced terms) for a period of time.

    Looking forward to always having a co-op buddy in a few years time though =)

  36. Tarn says:

    It’s a challenge for the first year-or-so while sleep is utterly disrupted. But my son’s now approaching his 2nd birthday and I’m finding more time for fun stuff like gaming. The main difference is that, of an evening, I have enough time to choose ONE frivolous activity. Gone are the days when I could watch a TV episode, then play a game, then read a book, browse a magazine etc. i pick one, and that’s it.

    A friend of mine, when I announced I was going to have a baby, said “oh, that’s the best game in the world”. And he had a point – I get to play with him, which is immense fun. Not at computer games, but at playing in general. I get to help him grow up and improve his skills.

    When he learned to walk: ACHIEVEMENT.
    When he learned to talk: ACHIEVEMENT.

    Having a baby is basically like levelling up a character in a 3rd person RPG, but with a REALLY obtuse skill tree and dodgy mouse and keyboard controls.

    • jezcentral says:

      And no matter how many times you start a new campaign, you have to go through that initial tutorial section EVERY DAMN TIME.

  37. Feet says:

    [Rambling response, sorry about this]

    I have a 3 year old and a 10 month old. I used to do 15 to 20 hours gaming a week. My own experience of being a dad has been that they’ve both eventually been pretty good sleepers, they have both tended to quieten down by 7.30pm and don’t wake till after 6.30am, so I might get a couple of 2 hour evening slots per week to do something just for me, which is sometimes gaming. It can’t be anything that requires me to remember anything about a narrative between sessions.

    I find roguelikes, TBS and multiplayer FPS are the best things.

    With roguelikes, on any given “go” you are learning and refining and honing your skill and knowledge and progressing further and further, but that “go” might never take more than an hour. Games like Skelunky,and Teleglitch has been my go to’s for this over the last few years, currently it’s Dungeon of the Endless.

    Anything turn-based can (if you’re sensible to stop before it’s bed time) can also fit into this.

    Titan Fall was also good for short bursts of skill based gaming in the same vein, got 20 hours enjoyment out of that over a month or so.

    Bad examples of games I’ve bought that I just couldn’t engage with (due to lack of time or energy) are any single player FPS game, like Borderlands 2 or Metro Last Light. I can never remember why I’m doing something, or who this guy is and why he’s mad, and where I’m going and where I’ve been and… no. Frustrating stuff.

    I’ve learned to adapt my gaming habits to fit my lifestyle.

  38. Immense Being says:

    I’m so glad I bought the Humongous Bundle on Humble Bundle a while back. My 3 year old really enjoys playing those Pajama Sam, Putt Putt, and Freddie Fish games.

    Also Kingdom Hearts. I bought an adapter that allows me to plug 2 controllers into one port and we both control the same player.

  39. iivo says:

    Hehe, i feel you. My daughter is 16 months old. In the first 3-4 months, she slept up until around 9 am. Both her and her mother. I would get up at about 6:30 am, made coffee for wife while computer/ps3 was booting, then had about 2 hours of game time before they woke up. This was in the weekends. During the week, i also had to get dressed/ready for work, and that cut the game-time to about one hour. Of course, this did not happen daily, because life (and especially life with a baby) is unpredictable.

    Edit: In those moths she liked to fall asleep while lying on my chest, so i would hold her until she fell asleep, them my wife would set-up the ps3 and a pillow, and i would just lie there, the little one sleeping on my chest and game away. This also helped my wife get a few hours of relaxed sleep.

    Now, daughter gets up at around 7 am. So that doesn’t work anymore. She goes to sleep around 9 pm, so i spend some time with my wife up until around 11 pm. She usually goes to sleep then, and if I still have some energy left, i play games until around 1:30 am (of course the next day i’m gonna need more coffee than usual). Having 4-5 hours of sleep is not something you can do every day, so this happens twice or thrice a week. But hey, it’s still something :)

  40. ChrisSuffern says:

    Yes, so much is gained, and so much is lost. That is not to say the gain counter balances the loss. You could become a paraplegic in an accident and be awarded millions in compensation. That will not stop you mourning your former mobility. Excuse the poor analogy, but I think you get what I’m saying.

    It will differ for everyone, but the more you can accept the loss and delight in the gain, the better you will do. I really wish I could do that as well as others posting here seem to be. But to be honest, I struggle with it.

  41. MadZab says:

    My son is almost three months old now and I musst say that I don’t particularly miss binge-playing epic RPGs that much. I get most of my gaming done in the morning, actually, when both baby and its mother are still asleep and I don’t have to go to work yet. Anything you can play in bursts works well: Do a level of Teleglitch or another roguelike, two or three days of Don’t Starve, maybe start a mission in KSP.

    People who fear the sacrifices of having children don’t think about the change of perspective the process of procreation brings. When you grow up you don’t particularly miss watching Sesame Street either. I wouldn’t have had childreen in my early twenties but now that I’m thirty it’s quite alright and instincts mean that a single smile from that little bugger is like a serious hit of cocaine dosed up with lots and lots of endorphine anyways.

    No matter how bad your night is, your baby smiling is positivity for the entire day.

    • iivo says:

      a friend put it very accurately: You get two weeks of stress, and no sleep, and fuss and crying, but the he/she smiles at you.. and then you say it’s worth it

  42. SuicideKing says:

    I won’t get to tell the rest of RPS that they’re completely wrong about a Far Cry game.

    Damn, after feeling similarly about FC3, i think this is a Bad Thing.

  43. zipdrive says:

    Yes, that’s the way it goes.
    What Alec didn’t mention is that this true squared regarding multiplayer games, as when you hit a certain age, your group of friends are also becoming parents and it’s doubly difficult to find free time for both yourself and someone else.

    And don’t get me started about non-digital games. Those have to wait to special occasions…or retirement.

  44. Fellhuhn says:

    My son is eight month old and we currently have about 2.5 hours each day for ourselves when he went to bed. This time is (at this time of year) spend with a movie or one episode of the current show we are watching (Boardwalk Empire currently, just for the record (and the NSA)). Since either don’t take up the whole 2.5 hours the rest of the time is available for some gaming for me while my wife spends the time surfing the net (on her laptop next to me) or whatever. So it is something between 0 and 1.5 hours of gaming each day. It is not great but at least it is something. The first thing I learned with a kid that you never can do anything besides taking care of him. Every try to fire up a game just gets frustrating. Especially as I am don’t want him to watch me gaming as he would stare at the big TV the whole time.
    So I try for higher quality gaming instead of annoying stuff. In games like the Batman titles I focus on the main missions and only those side missions that sound like fun. I also ignore all collectibles as they add nothing to the game itself.

  45. jonfitt says:

    I find that online gaming suffers the most during the early years. You need something that you can stop at a moments notice to go tend to someone who’s woken up. So for a game to be baby friendly it needs to be pausable.
    But more than that it needs to be quick-savable and quittable at a moment’s notice. For those Saturday nap times where you settle down for a game session and 20 minutes later it’s done. A checkpoint that’s 5 minutes away is no good.

    I had great problems with Borderlands because every time you save and quit (which you can do at any time) you go back to the beginning of a zone and all the monsters reset. That means that you have to invest enough time to complete a zone and get to the next fast travel location, or don’t bother. Took me fooking ages to do the DLCs as they have no fast travel once you’re in. In the end I started leaving the game on and sleeping my PC for days at a time. Hardly ideal!

    The 100 hour open ended games are problematic. Sure you can play them in 2 hour burst for the next few months, but in that time a backlog piles up and you end up either getting way behind or quitting before the end.
    On my backlog I have Dragon Age 1 & 2, and Skyrim among other such games.

    I love it when AAA games are described as “short”. Spec Ops was a great length, Bioshock Infinite was good, Dishonored was a good length too. I want a game that gets in, makes its point, and leaves. I’ve got things to do, and I’m not looking for a game to try and be a new hobby, it should be one small part. Alternatively this is where rouge-likes can work well. FTL is a 1-2 hour game that you can not play for several months, then go back an play another 1-2 hour game. But I like them to have some meta progression though, like unlockable ships, to give an incentive to try to achieve something in one playthrough.

  46. Greedy says:

    Can totally relate to the feeling of being completely overwhelmed when you actually get a full day of free gaming time. It’s really hard to look at my backlog and actually choose something :)