RPS Asks: About Over-A-Tiny-Shoulder Gaming

For three weeks I’ve played only two games. I’ve re-played (for I think the sixth time) the wonderful Flow Free on Android (sometimes I consider converting RPS to an Android site, just so I can wax on about why this game is so exceptional, and why it’s distinct from all the other copycat games of the same type), and obsessively looping all three of the Hexcells games on my PC while watching Once Upon A Time on the other monitor. Between me and all this has been a new tiny human, my first kid, born three weeks ago. Hexcells and the morbid fairytale adventures of Storybrooke have predominantly been played between 1am and 6am, while a squirmy boy agrees to sleep only because I’ve one arm hooked ’round him. I’ve finished all three Hexcells games twice in the last week (and 24 episodes of OUAT), and it leaves me wondering, what games have RPS mums and dads played in these mad times?

Twitter has informed me that people have completed vast RPGs (I know, I know, I really should be playing Dragon Age at this point, and I imagine that early morning hours will eventually be how I find time to fit it into my life), while watching seasons of Breaking Bad, True Detective, and so on, and mopping puke, poo and tears away. AND SOME OF THEM HAVE HAD BABIES TOO!!!!!! No, seriously, folks.

So what’s been your experience? Which games got you through the horrors of seeing 4am for the fourteenth night in a row? Indeed, which games did you finally have time for once you realised sleep was in fact optional?


  1. Omroth says:

    The Magic Planeswalkers games on IPad are perfect.

    • drussard says:

      In the same genre, Hearthstone will eat up those long night hours. Civ and Xcom for simple one hand functioning early on then moving to Terraria or another easily dropped game once they fell asleep and I could put them down. These days (3 and 4) I stick with games with a pause function or simple MMOs with positive communities or easily filtered chat. Project Gorgon now, the kids enjoy killing spiders and tigers. It has the added pleasure of being completely exceptional.

  2. Optimaximal says:

    I 100%-ed Sword and Sworcery when I was on paternity leave.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Or it was a very long paternity leave, or you are cheating, seeing how some parts of the games are only accessible on a full or a new moon :P

      • tobecooper says:

        You can control the time flow in the game world.
        No cheating required, when you can rest on a piece of rock in the cosmic waiting room :)

      • Optimaximal says:

        I did adjust the date to get the ‘cheater’ achievement, but as mentioned, there’s a shrine where you can rest to change the moon phases.

  3. bateleur says:

    I always used to play Magic the Gathering online whilst doing night time feeds for my two (they’re twins). These days Hearthstone would probably work even better. Quite apart from anything else, if a sudden volcano of milky vomit ruins your Arena run it’s only cost you 150 gold instead of the $14 for a MtGO draft!

  4. thedosbox says:

    The two Defense Grid games can be played one handed.

  5. dadsized says:

    this is relevant to my interests

    • Gnoupi says:

      Mine as well, preparing for the time to come in the next months.

    • anandus says:

      Same here, got one coming in december

      • instantcoffe says:

        What the hell, are we all parents on this here website?
        I did finish two of the Mass Effects while being on night duty. Ah, diapers in space!

      • gunslingerfry says:

        Got you beat. Due last Sunday. I assume at some point they’ll make it come out.

  6. Faldrath says:

    Mostly King of Dragon Pass and a bit of Warhammer Quest on my phone. If you can be at the computer, why not play a turn-based strategy?

  7. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    Microsoft keyboards make baby cry :(

    (srsly big ‘yin, games journalist, standards to uphold and what not :P)

    • RealWeaponX says:

      In John’s defence I submit my £5 Tesco value keyboard…

    • Feste says:

      Also their ergonmic keyboards which are the only things that have kept me programming over the years.

      • Alice O'Connor says:

        I’ve gone my entire career typing on an MS Natural keyboard from 2006.

        Once I pried a key off out of curiosity, wondering what had collected beneath.

        Hooooooooooooo boy.

        • SuicideKing says:

          I’ve been using the same Model M -like keyboard since 1998. And you’re scaring me. :D

    • John Walker says:

      Let it be my eccentricity. These are the only keyboards I like to type on, and they stopped making them! I have a pile of them, found on ebay, in the corner of my study, which should keep me going for the next few years. After that, I guess I retire.

    • Gap Gen says:

      This is why, like John, you have to invest in a high-end babypad like the one he’s using in the picture at the top of the article. It takes a while to adjust to controlling fast-paced RTSs through a series of burpings and nappy changes, but after a few days it feels completely intuitive.

      • TWChristine says:

        At the risk of sounding creepy, it’s things like this that have made me miss your posts! Not that you’ve gone anywhere I imagine, I just haven’t had the time in a while to check main RPS page like I used to.. and from the looks of it there are lots of new faces, and few old ones.. :(

        • Gap Gen says:

          Thanks, you too :) I haven’t been posting quite as much, I don’t think, plus I guess with more articles comments are spread thinner. I should probably post in the forums, but eh.

  8. Sorbicol says:

    I played a rather remarkable amount of Civ V while Mini-Sorb was also balanced on my lap. that was fine until she started waking up every hour for a feed, which Generally meant I was too brain dead to do anything for a very long time.

    • Bobka says:

      Though I haven’t had kids yet, turn-based gaming really seems like the way to go.

      • joshg says:

        Turn-based helps, but if you’re holding an infant, being able to play with one hand is more important.

    • carvabass says:

      Same here, so much Civ V plus a good amount of Total War. My childhood best friend has 3 kids, and has mastered holding a bottle with his chin while he plays Battlefield. That’s master parenting right there.

  9. Rolento says:

    When my daughter was a baby a few years ago, it was COH the majority of the time (when she was sleeping on my other arm:))

  10. Dog Pants says:

    I saw the title image and immediately related to it. In fact, I’ve been relating to your Twitter feed for weeks. My experience of fatherhood is strongly influenced by finding games I can play one-handed while I have a baby sleeping or feeding on the other arm.

    On my first attempt, six years ago, I worked through World of Warcraft by remapping jump and run to my mouse’s thumb buttons. Wrath of the Lich King came out just in time for me to finish the Burning Crusade content. I could only really play solo content, but it was decent gaming fodder. I also played a lot of Plants Vs Zombies.

    My second attempt has been harder. I have less time for an MMO with two kids even just doing solo content, although I have considered checking out Warlords of Draenor. As with yourself, I’ve consumed every bit of Hexcells I can get. I played a good long stint of Xenonauts, and now I’m getting on with Wastelands 2. I’ve also discovered on this occasion that it’s easier to hold a joypad in my lap than reach for a keyboard, so all three of us have played through Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. My six-year-old daughter loves that, sometimes using the controller at the same time or taking over from me. My son prefers the blocks of colours from Hexcells.

    Either way, I try to include them in what I’m doing (and save the more visceral games for after they’re in bed).

    • Rizlar says:

      Funny, I saw the picture and wondered what on earth John was doing with that small person. It looks like he’s about to sacrifice it and transcend into a form of pure hexcells.

      • Dog Pants says:

        He might be. That level took me about 12 attempts to finish with no mistakes.

  11. LycanGav says:

    Civ IV and V got me through many restless nights, as did Sword of the Stars: The Pit. Turn based stuff was definitely the order of the day for a while.

  12. padger says:

    Strategy games, John. You know the ones. Just need a mouse. Perfect, eh?

  13. jezcentral says:

    XCOM would be an obvious answer, but I never got to play any games while looking after the baby. The wife would have pitched a fit. (It’s okay, I can say that. I’m epileptic.)

    Instead I had to play games when they slept, which means ones that did not need sound, so I could listen out for them, when they started to cry. The Old Republic space missions, in other words. I’m not sure that will be of any help to you.

    • Dog Pants says:

      Oh boy, have I learned to appreciate subtitles. I can play with the kids awake, but it doesn’t make any difference because I can’t hear them over the noise.

  14. RightSaidJames says:

    Runescape is the obvious answer here: only requires a mouse, and you can spend 30s to 1 minute AFK (i.e. being thrown up on) with few ill effects or disadvantage.

  15. aldo_14 says:

    Well, mine is three-and-a-bit now, and I can barely remember anything between 3 months and 2 years.

    At the start it was easy – she woke every couple of hours to feed/change, but didn’t mind noise in the interim, so I’d stay up late playing whatever, or watching TV, and handle the first feed or two (this being preferable to trying to sleep and waking every two hours anyway).

    Then, um, it ended up being things like Civ, Football Manager… anything that could be paused and left, really, especially as I’d normally be working at the same time. I still have a massive backlog on Steam of games I bought and never played from that time, and everything I did play is in a fuzzy mess of between 12-2am when everything was quiet.

    Now is good (the wee yin finally sleeps through the night, on her own. Mostly). She’s happy watching me play Lego Marvel Super Heroes* and Kerbal Space Program (especially as she can do the launch stages – picked up the concept of using a stack decoupler pretty quickly, and of engines and ‘fool tanks’. But did get a bit panicky when I took my Kerbals out onto the surface of Mun) in particular (also, Mario Kart on the Wii U – which is an excelled ‘family’ console). Scribblenauts is excellent for when the Alphabet stage comes, too.

    *there was one stage where she kept punching me. I asked her ‘What are you doing?’ …. “Hulk smash, papa!”

    • Arathain says:

      My almost-3 is really enjoying watching me play Lego Marvel. He calls it “the flying game”. Smashing things is funny, as is turning into other things.

    • bill says:

      Did anyone else find that having kids completely destroys your memory?

      I used to have a good memory, but I feel like 2-3 years of bad sleep (etc..) decreased my IQ by a fair bit, knackered my lower back and also destroyed my memory.

      I think the hair loss was coincidental though.

      • instantcoffe says:

        Don’t forget about the greying of the few hair left. And the memory loss. Did you mention that? I forget.
        I forget a lot of things and my sleep pattern has never been quite like it used to be. It’s like having been on the night shift for too long.

  16. Arathain says:

    Turn based strategy titles are good.

    -You only need one hand.
    -You can walk away from the computer at any time to deal with assorted body fluids or to futilely attempt to put the tiny blighter down.
    -They make time pass like nobody’s business, which can get you through those long nights a little more smoothly.
    -Dexterity requirements are sufficiently low that you can do them while bouncing gently in your seat, because if you stop bouncing they’ll wake up and all your hard work up to this point will be wasted never stop bouncing never stop…

    Not sure how folk manage epic story-based titles on minimal sleep. How on earth do you keep track of what’s going on.

    Congratulations on a fine looking child, John. You two are going to have a lot of fun together.

    • bill says:

      I’ve been considering them, but I feel like i’d have to keep leaving them in the middle of whatever was going on, and then when I came back to them I wouldn’t remember what I was doing.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      ^ ^This. Any sort of clicker in fact that doesn’t use WASD or keyboard primarily. Point and click adventure games, city builders, The Sims, tower defense games, non-competitive RTS’s etc.

  17. Casaubon22 says:

    I recognize the pose in this picture–it made me stop and read. My little one spent many hours like that, some with my working, some with me gaming.

    XCOM was the perfect answer for me. Save at every turn–walk away, nothing bad happens. Runs great on my Surface Pro, with save games synced in the cloud. Easy to enjoy for a short time, or a long time.

    Also, Card Hunter, for all the same reasons as above.

  18. mattevansc3 says:

    The early days of parenthood were the easiest. Plonked the baby in a bouncer within legs reach of a chair, played torchlight on the Xbox while the wife slept and just gently bounced the bottom of the bouncer with my toes while occasionally pausing to play coochie-coo with the baby.

    My daughter is now 20 months and gaming revolves around anything turn based. She’s just got to the age where she is phasing out her daytime naps but still to young to play with toys on her own for more than ten minutes. Literally from 7am to 7pm its Da! Da! Da! Da! Da!…Mah! Mah! Mah! (in true Simpson’s fashion my daughter is calling me by name as well…I blame the wife for that). I get a few hours on a Tuesday after work to clean up and game before my parents drop her off from babysitting her for the day.

  19. Aetylus says:

    I needed to meet the essential requirements of single player, single handed, off-line, drop-it-at-moments-notice… which translated into most TBS… for me EU, Civ and Xcom.

    When I also needed to add minimal brain function to the requirements, board game conversions like Qvadriga and Ticket to Ride became idea.

    And of course the incessant web browsing meant I found a new website – one Rock, Paper, Shotgun – the reading of which quickly became a key part of the nightly ritual.

  20. MuscleHorse says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this article. I once told someone that I had been playing Stalker while my son slept on me in a sling. He gave me a disgusted look. I may still be disgusting but at least I now have company.

    • Arathain says:

      Got to play those violent games now, before they get old enough to wonder what you’re playing.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Could be worse, I was playing CK2 while my wife was still pregnant with our daughter and my wife looked more than a bit concerned when I explained to her what the game was like…I was trying to usurp a throne by marrying my son to a lord’s daughter while making assassination plots against his two infant sons.

  21. Stevostin says:

    WoW farming for the mum. Not that much anyway.

  22. Bull0 says:

    Pretty much anything with a working pause feature, which can be played with either just the mouse or a pad (I’ve found most of the time with little people you can get your arms round them and hands together to use a pad without squashing them, but YMMV, care should be applied). Non real-time strategy works well. Of course, I can’t remember what I was actually playing at the time – extreme sleep deprivation and all that

  23. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I’ve hated all Final Fantasies since 8 but I found myself kinda liking 13 because it doesn’t require me to play it at all, which is quite handy, ordinarily I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole.

    I played FTL when my daughter was a new born & Banished when it was my son, mostly because they were the one handed pausable games that came out at the time they were born.

    Endless Legend would probably be my go to game if i was at that stage right now, it’s absolutely cracking.

    I’ve played rayman legends with my daughter a bit, just letting her go wild on it and not worrying about her ruining my progress or some such, she’s 2 so it’s a different stage in her gaming education.

    Ohh and Kentucky Route Zero – The Wire of computer games.

  24. bonus_85 says:

    I have to say, a wireless Xbox controller is the best investment I have made as a (gaming) dad. Playing some casual controller friendly games (hello Urban Trial) while walking back and forth in front of the TV (steam big picture FTW) and my son sleeping in a baby carrier on my chest is really one of the nicer sides of parenting so far :) That and the realization that I can get by with 6-7 hours of sleep makes me think that my gaming days may not be over after all. Can’t wait till he is old enough to play kerbal though :D Awesome seeing som parenting focus on RPS by the way! Keep it coming.

  25. schurem says:

    My boy is now about 18 months old and sleeps about three hours in the afternoon. I havent had as much gaming done in ages. When he was still a true baby, like the first six months, he would sleep quite irregular and gaming was only done in short stints.

    When my better half was still pregnant, I counted on saying goodbye to anything lacking a pause button. I was looking with trepidation at going cold turkey from my tank addiction. In the end it turned out far easier than I imagined. Still, my buddies have gotten used to me suddenly going AFK because the boss is calling.

    One of the largest changes the little dude brought to my gaming life is that night gaming is out. Turning the monitor off at 23:30 feels almost as late night as 02:45 used to feel. No more late night gaming binges.

    Anyway, ymmv and its contingent on having as sweet a woman as I have ;-)

  26. Lenorian says:

    Puzzle quest 2 (now available for both ios and pc) was wonderfull for me. Just brainless enough, turn based and can be played one handed ! The heroes of mights and magics are also a good alternative on pc. Enjoy :)

  27. vecordae says:

    It depends on the baby. For the first bit, my child (known as The Skjeggbarn), was easy enough to manage. We set the baby up to be near the computer and I’d make faces at her between turns. A year later, though, and playing games near her can be difficult. She wants to do what I am doing, so she bellows and roars at me to sit her on my lap so she can slap at the keyboard. It’s fun for her, having the guys on the screen moves in response, but makes the game impossible for me to play. Ideally, I’d set up a second, disconnected keyboard for her to thump on, but I don’t have the space, and she doesn’t want it anyway. Same with controllers. She doesn’t want A controller. She wants MY controller.

    These days I must simply wait until she goes to bed or gets interested in something else for a time.

    • Bull0 says:

      There’s so much truth in this – they want YOUR keyboard, not any keyboard to bash on. People who tell you their kids are happy with a spare keyboard or pad are either lying or have exceptionally patient kids, mine figured it out in about four seconds.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Don’t forget their inquisitive nature is a nightmare around electronics. My daughter broke my Xbox because she figured out pushing the they button made a noise, the disc ready would pop out, she could push it in, press the eject button and start the process over again. This continued until the Xbox did ready would not stay closed.

      • MacTheGeek says:

        The first time my son crawled across the living room floor, it was to get to the wireless keyboard that controls our HTPC. The look of triumph on his face when he slapped his hand down on the keys was awesome to behold.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      My friend’s kid is about one and a half, and when they come round to mine he likes to grab a pad and press all the buttons. (Useful in a house where there’s no end of dangerous and/or fragile things within reach of small hands)
      So far he seems to prefer the PS3 pad over the Xbox and Gamecube. Clever boy, the PS has always been my favourite pad :)

  28. Jonfon says:

    Sins of a Solar Empire I think. And City of Heroes but that was with SG mates who knew I could vanish in an instant or hit Afk at any moment.

  29. zat0ichi says:


  30. melnificent says:

    You’ve got it backwards. If it’s the midnight-6am feeding then don’t put on more than a little light and don’t game, or have loud noises. Pay attention to them of course, but it’s not play time it’s stupid o’clock.

    This is only for the next 2-3 months. What you are doing is teaching your baby that if it’s dark and the house is quiet then they should be quiet too, and hence sleep. Yes you are giving up possible gaming time, but you are laying down the rules to increase your gaming time overall

    It worked for both my children and they have slept through the night from about 10 weeks old. One is now 4 years old and the other 10. Apart from when they are really poorly or have a nightmare they have always slept the entire night.

  31. ZedZed says:

    Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

    Turn based, can be played one handed, you can leave the screen alone at any time, there are so many types of characters and gods to try which make the game seem very different – so even when you win with one type there are loads more to try. You can play online and discuss your game and ask advice on IRC (even at 3 in the morning), and there’s always a bit of strategy to think about when your doing the feed or changing the nappy. Graphic requirements are so low you can play it on a laptop if needed (propped up on the couch with baby/duvet etc.). No audio requirement to disturb baby either.

    If I had to play one game for the rest of my life, this would it.

  32. Feste says:

    I found Crusader Kings 2 to be an excellent game to play while watching the tiny man in my living room. Doesn’t need sound or more than one hand, didn’t require reflexes or coherent planning (and is in fact better without). Once I started planning who would be the best person to marry him off to, I gave it a rest though.

    Gratuitous Space Battles was pretty good, it only really needs 15 minutes attention at a time and then I could watch the pretty explosions. Luftrausers is good for the same 15 minutes of fun reason.

    In a different gear the Blackwell games are pretty much a nice novel to sit down and read. Also reading more novels was a thing I did.

  33. kael13 says:

    Every day, people just reinforcing my decision not to have children. Thank you, based brood-maker.

  34. hurlster says:

    Skyrim believe it or not, it was on the 360 at the time… i had both my kids in a bouncy chair taping my foot on it to get them over.. sorted!
    if your having trouble getting the nipper over i will recommend the noisebox out of a slumber bear or a sluber bear, total kryptonite to my two.

  35. DrHeaton says:

    I’ve not got kids yet but when I do I’m counting on my 3DS being a big part of my gaming. The fact that it can be closed and put to sleep at any time should be a godsend.

    • rangent says:

      This is a really good idea actually. I think I’m going to need to stock up on a few games in the next few weeks (expecting around new years).

      • DrHeaton says:

        You probably want to look at something like Fire Emblem Awakening (excellent turn based strategy with in built relationship sim) or Bravely Default (huge, but grindy, JRPG). Both should be manageable one handed.

        If you’re like me and had an N64 and loved the Zelda games you’ll be stupidly excited for Majora’s Mask in the new year but, like Ocarina of Time and the more recent Link Between Worlds, it’s at its best with sound up and played with two hands.

        Also, there’s no shame in playing Pokémon games. They work fine with no sound and are perfect for short bursts of play. Turn based combat and little to no story to follow.

  36. Tiktaalik says:

    Football Manager!

  37. Simplisto says:

    This was the subject of the article I wrote in my futile application for the RPS job a few months ago. I have a three year-old and a one year-old, and gaming certainly isn’t what it used to be. I’ve had to give up on Deus Ex: Human Revolution and I’m now having similar trouble with Metro 2033.

    I believe a good game for a parent of young children is:
    – A game which can be played one-handed in case you need to hold them.
    – A game where gratification can be reached quickly enough that your experience isn’t hurt if you’re called away.
    – A game that won’t take you a whole year to complete given your limited time to play them.

    So that’s – as others have mentioned – strategy games, but also a huge number of indie titles. Roguelike(alike)s are fantastic for parents with young’uns.

    If RPS had hired me I’d have and excuse to play through a greater variety and depth of games during working hours while free of the kids, but instead they selfishly gave the job to a superior writer and all-round nicer person.


    • mattevansc3 says:

      I’d add one thing to that list, regular auto-saves and check pointing. I tried playing this Diablo-clone on the Xbox360 called RAW (Realms At War?) and spent three weekends playing the same level because it only saves your progress once you’ve completed that level and the level takes about 30-45min to complete. Sounds easy enough but a big glowing button that makes a phone blouse when pressed (the Xbox360’s power button) is like honey to a bee. My child could not help but press it over and over again and make me lose my progress again and again.

      • Simplisto says:

        Even if they are sleeping at the start of that 30-45 minute session, you can be damn sure they won’t be for the last 5.

  38. joshg says:

    Tales of Maj’Eyal can be played mouse-only quite easily, especially with the glory that is auto-explore. (Not all roguelikes work as well one-handed; eg. Sword of the Stars wants you to use WASD and mouse.)

    Six-ish years ago when my oldest was a wee one, I managed to get him to sleep tucked into a fabric front-carrier deal, then proceeded to sit down and play TF2 for a while. There should be an achievement for this, but I won’t pretend it worked often (maybe for like a week or two, then he just wouldn’t sleep in that position anymore).

  39. Metalhead9806 says:

    Turn based point to click games are very good.

    Wasteland 2, Shadowrun Dragonfall, Divinity Original Sin, XCOM and the new Massive Chalice.

    All can be enjoyed at your own pace and played with just a mouse.

    • rangent says:

      Divinity looks really fun, but is it really a single-hand game? Seems like you’d need 2 hands to play it?

  40. Lobotomist says:

    I have quite bit experience here gone from hardcore gamer to father of two .. hehe

    There are some requirements a game must meet:

    1. Game should have quicksave or some sort of save on demand. Console save points shenanigans are not good. You dont want to be in middle of mission when kid needs you and you can not save.

    2. You should be able to play without sound. You need to hear kid crying or whatever. So no cut-scenes or immersion of any kind.

    3. Online games – especially ones with grouping or competitive groups are of the table.

    4. Low key pausable games that can be played in short sessions(and be rewarding) are the best.

    So what games meet this requirements:

    Turn based strategies. Especially Civilization or XCOM , some turn based RPGs like Divinity … FTL is great too.
    Old school rpgs , adventure games. Puzzle games if you are into it..

    More action like – Diablo 3 is very rewarding in short sessions (or long) same goes for Planetside 2 ( but you need sound for that one) ,Guild Wars 2 is perfect for short burst gaming too.

    Hope that helps…

  41. totem42 says:

    Dark Souls was a foolish choice for a while. There’s nothing like running away from a battle with some sort of demonic spider that is the last thing between you and the campfire you’ve been questing towards for the last 2 hours because of the squalling that has erupted above you. Good times!

    Otherwise, anything TBS (Civ, GCII, Xcom, KODP, KOL, etc.) or simply pausable. When the little man was able to ride in a baby carrier, i whiled away many an hour in front of the TV playing some console game or another with him snoozing on my chest.

    At a little over 3, Wii Sports and Mario Kart are good times, as is “the chicken game” on the PC (Proteus) with the tiny person. Without the tiny person, the steam/humble/gog libraries beckon. Sleep is for when you blow your video card out.

  42. Cardinal says:

    Super Hexagon, one handed and quick

  43. boundless08 says:

    I’m a few years off spawning my first mini me but I feel myself relating to this as I got my first kitten 2 months ago. I’m not trying to downplay an actual child or anything as I feel like it was a similar(but no where near as difficult) experience.

    She was a rescued kitten, very under nourished and would only fall asleep if she was touching off you, and not just lying on my lap but on my arm or hand. My games of choice during that time were the total war games and xcom.

    I feel like it was a dry run(that will probably be more true than I mean it) ofogaming with a baby

  44. BobsLawnService says:

    Ah, yes. Fun times. The wife and I played a fun game called “Try to keep it together”.

    Kid was more than 6 weeks prem so we had to feed him every 3 hours or according to the nurse he would starve himself to death. The post natal depression. The complete lack of any form of support. Then the missus’ milk drying up from the stress. More tears. More depression.

    I may have played some Civ 4 though. Maybe. Don’t really remember much.

    • Simon Hawthorne says:

      I’m sorry to hear that. I can somewhat empathise – our son was full term but ended up in NICU with an infection.

      For me – I’ve all but stopped gaming. And I’m surprised by how little I miss it. There simply isn’t time – I come home from work, take over from his mum to give her a rest, bath him, read him a story, put him to bed, cook and feed me and his Mum then go to bed around 8-9pm knowing we’ll be up 5-8 times in the night until we concede defeat at 5 am, keep him entertained for a couple of hours then it’s off to work to repeat.

      This is without the worries of strange growths, more infections and breastfeeding difficulties. Not knowing if you are doing something wrong is draining in itself.

      Even when I do get some time to myself, I usually don’t want to start anything as I know I’ll never finish.

      I love him more than anything in the world.

      I struggle to think of a game I’m upset about missing. Shadows of Mordor sounds good. Elite sounds good. Is that really it? Maybe I’ll play them someday but for now I’m playing the game of survival. Missed that in survival week!

      • BobsLawnService says:

        That was 6 years ago and he’s turned out well so it was worth it. I do think that the sleep deprivation as made me stupider but that could also be the old age.

  45. monsieur_cronkypont says:

    I’m a gaming dad but isn’t anyone else a bit conflicted? I love gaming, but I don’t want my two boys to be gamers (1 and 3), lest they be even worse at resisting the gaming gravity well than I am. I manage to restrict my gaming to when they are asleep or out, despite my obsessive personality.

    By the way – John and Alec, I love reading your articles about this! Congrats on the kid John!

    • joshg says:

      My oldest is six now, and we keep his screen time pretty restricted. He spends that screen time solely on games – we kind of don’t bother with TV in our house.

      He’ll play his 20 min of Minecraft, then spend hours making up pretend games about it and going off and building random stuff out of Lego or whatnot. Or now he’s been seeing me play Risk of Rain, so I play a bit of local co-op with him and then he has hours of pretend stories about the Sludge Guy or the Turrets Guy, and draws awesome pictures of it.

      I find the biggest problem to watch for is that a lot of combat-centered games will lead to a lot of combat-centered imaginative play. Mixing it with some creative-mode Minecraft, Contraption Maker, or anything else where you’re puzzle solving / building / whatever is good. Otherwise your cute kid ends up running around talking loudly about killing things over and over, and you start getting scowls from any non-gamers nearby.

      This can sneak up on you. I was caught off-guard when my kid totally viewed Star Wars as purely an exercise in stuff getting shot and blown up, because whoops, that’s all you do in Lego Star Wars! (Granted, that describes *most* of the movies’ content as well. But still.)

      Anyway, I’m still a little hesitant re: being the bad influence in my kid’s life. But watching him learn WASD controls was the proudest PC gamer dad moment ever.

    • twaitsfan says:

      No, I’m not really conflicted. As a matter of fact, I can’t wait to start getting in to games with them (4 & 2). You just need to teach them limits – it’s not like they’re not going to come across videogames. Mine play a bit but not much. Don’t shield your kids from things, except heroin. Expose them to things in healthy ways, except heroin.

  46. pantsmandatory says:

    I have a 3 and a half year old son. What I learned is you need to play something you can immediately stop at a moments notice. So it’s polite to avoid multiplayer games. Turn based or rogue likes (that you are prepared to sacrifice a run on) are the best options.

    Now he plays Marvel Lego on his own with a wireless controller and loves watching me play Heroes of the Storm.

    He’s also a fan of assisting me with X-Com the long war (where I avoid Chryssalid missions in front of him). He’s like a new type of ironman mode, as he shames me when I lose too many soldiers and go to load the game he says, ‘You going to load it dad? You going to make those people all better?’

  47. Premium User Badge

    zapatapon says:

    Only time of my life where I played online poker for money. I don’t recommend it

  48. shiptonator says:

    You might be able to get away with things like XCOM at the baby stage. But as the grow in size and cognitive ability even that will mean you have to divert your attention away from them for too long. And your partner will be cross with you because it and you are covered in poo and sick and will be totally unsympathetic to the glitched arrival of 6 mutons and a cyber disk.

    Eventually I found having a gaming rig totally impossible as little hands left it vulnerable and it occupied space that should be devoted to soft furnishings and non computer game based toys. It is now hidden in the cupboard under the stairs and I have to sit half in the cupboard to play anything which can leave one open to ridicule.

    Also the gaming window of opportunity is reduced to about an hour and a half – the only personal time you will have between kiddie bed time and your bedtime. And you have to decide whether you should actually just spend it watching TV or talking to your partner/spouse instead.

    So short term, simple easy, turn based tablet friendly games. Then when you get two sprogs you can enjoy trying to furtively play FTL while a two year old is distracted and a baby is being sick on you.

    Basically hardcore big gaming rig WOW, COD marathons, epic RPG chicanery, ghost stealth runs on hard mode and all of that is OVER.

    On the flip side you do of course have fully interactive human to entertain you for the next 40 odd years.

    Big congrats though – parent stuff is better than computer games. I think.

  49. Berzee says:

    Desktop Dungeons!

    I also played a lot of King’s Bounty and if I was fairly certain that he wouldn’t be waking up for at least 10 minutes I would risk a round of Hearthstone — but Desktop Dungeons was great for this. Well…depending on how tired you happen to be. After a certain point silly mistakes become inevitable and it’s time to do something else. =)

  50. nojjynb says:

    Believe it or not, Batman: Arkham Asylum with my first, then AA, AC and AO with my second.

    How did I manage this sorcery you ask? Xbox 360 controller via USB… then you can use both arms to hold the squirmy buggers and still be able to use both hands for gaming :)

    • gulag says:

      Just this minute finished the Poison Ivy boss fight in Arkham Asylum with a 360 wireless and a very involved 3 month old chap. It’s past his bedtime, and he provided an interesting layer of difficulty. Might have to get him a prop controller, or switch to ‘easy’.