No, Please No, Not Another Game Player Has Baby Article

Here is my dilemma. It’s nice, I think, to approach supporter posts with a desire to be more personal, more intimate, to shine the light on ourselves a little more brightly. Or to be even more self-indulgent than ever, if you’d prefer to think of it that way. So when considering what to write about in my weekly supporter column, I like to think about what’s going on in my life, pick a lens to look through. Except, four weeks ago my first son was born, and good grief, who wants to hear about that?

Oh my goodness, how many more games-journalists-becoming-parents can the internet cope with? And who is it for? People without kids are likely far less interested to read about an experience they don’t relate to. People who don’t want kids and never intend to have them can feel marginalised, excluded. People who want kids and haven’t yet, or those who want them and cannot have them, can find the whole topic misery-inducing. (My wife and I were trying for three years before ours came along, and I can testify that it’s really shit.) And people with kids already went through it, roll their eyes at the naivety of it, or don’t want to be reminded of it. Can the internet hold another, “How I game with my kid in my arm” article, without keeling over and just collapsing on the floor?

Let’s find out!

Just kidding. But I’ll eat this cake too, in talking about the phenomenon a bit more. What’s become apparent, over the last few weeks, is just how many people in RPS’s audience are parents, and how it’s actually a subject that perhaps merits more discussion. (I stress, discussion, rather than just anecdotes, which I definitely will write anyway.) I think it is, in fact, perhaps a neglected demographic of our audience! No, I really do.

It’s ghastly to write, and more ghastly to read, but becoming a parent changes how you see certain things. Let me put it a slightly less nauseating way: it rewires your brain against your will. And before it happens, it’s impossible to believe it’s real, not just some schmaltzy crap awful people say once they’re toting their JoJo Maman Bebe yak-cloth K’Tan carrier sling. When it happens, it’s helpless failure to withstand.

A few years back, when that Dead Island trailer came out, everyone was throwing their hats in the air and celebrating something that appeared both grotesque and mature, schlocky yet affecting. As the events played out backward, the awful realisation of the death of a child became apparent, and it achieved a sense of gravity. (One the game, which was ace fun, absolutely did not merit.) What splendid stuff, people thought. Then someone I know, who’d recently had their first kid, said they thought it was awful. They thought it was cruel, lazy and manipulative. It killed a child to achieve its aims, and having just had one, it was unbearable. And I thought, honestly, “Don’t be ridiculous.” Oh good grief, I can see what he meant now. Argh.

This clearly has implications beyond trailers. Is it going to affect the games I play? Is my brain under the control of an evil baby-ray, that causes me to become more puritanical, or perhaps just more sensitive, such that I have less potential for fun? Or to put it more blunty: AM I DOOMED?

Are those who want to have children all doomed? Doomed to become hand-waving worry-worts, tsking at entertainment about which we’d once have been blasé? Or are they the ones whose eyes are open?!

Oh, gosh, what awful stuff.

Well, I can report so far that it’s not affected my ability to sit back and enjoy burning down a village of red-suited Karatians, failing to recognise the utter horror of what I’m doing as they run around engulfed in flames, screaming their final desperate, terrified words. I hit the target, scored the point! Phew!

But then I think about that famous opening of The Last Of Us, which made me sniffle when I first played it, and wonder if I could put myself through it ever again. Would I be in pieces, unable to contemplate carrying on? Or whether the boring cover-shooting blah between the cutscenes would remain my real issue with it all.

Then I start panicking about what I’ll do when my boy is old enough to play games. Right now he can barely see colours, let alone the horror I’m inflicting on the people of Far Cry’s island, so things are safe. But what will I do? Close the door and forbid him to come in when daddy’s at work? Frantically task-switch to Lego Hunger Games or whatever series has by then been plastically realised? Will a significant proportion of my gaming become some forbidden secret I do when he’s not looking?

And what do I let him play? What are my feelings about violence, even cartoon violence? I’ve no idea! I’ve merrily never needed to know until now! And what if all the other kids in nursery school are playing GTA VI, and he’s getting bullied for not knowing how to murder a hooker? How will I possibly balance what he’s going to absorb from the world around me, and what I laughably think I can control reaching him? What if he gets to play the games on Jimmy’s Oculus Facebookrift house anyway, and then laughs at me when he gets home? WHAT ARE MY OPINIONS ABOUT THIS?

Oh heavens, is it too late to put the kid back? What have I done to my gaming life?

Or will it actually be brilliant? Will I be playing Lego Star Wars VI-VIII co-op with him, as we bond and high-five, before heading out to the woods to thrown rocks in a stream? Will he be a child genius who helps me solve tricky Hexcells puzzles? Will videogames be directly beamed into our minds, as we build epic castles in Minecraft II together?

I’ve no idea.

None at all.

Sorry.

This article was funded by the RPS Supporter program.

79 Comments

  1. BaconAndWaffles says:

    Welcome to the club.

  2. Melody says:

    People who don’t want kids and never intend to have them can feel marginalised, excluded.

    As someone who never intends to have kids (I’ve had this discussion in Alec’s article a few weeks ago), I don’t feel marginalized or excluded by this or other articles. (Even if that choice of words was hyperbolic) It’s a different perspective. Perspectives are good, and interesting. I found the article enjoyable, and also interesting.

    Besides, saying otherwise would make it sound like journos are some kind of slaves to the reader, and you know how problematic that idea is.

    RPS writers are real people with real personalities. You show that more prominently and earnestly than others. That’s why I come here and read everyday. If these are your (and others’) circumstances, what’s the matter?

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, it’s like I don’t particularly dislike aricles about DOTA, I just don’t read them (sorry DOTA writers). As long as every article isn’t AREN’T BABIES AMAZING I LOVE MY BABY GUYS GUYS GUYS BABIES, it’s fine. Although yes, John has rather had his cake and eaten it by writing a meta-commentary on gaming as a baby-haver.

      • Premium User Badge

        Thirith says:

        #toddlergate

        It’s actually about babies in journalism.

        • Premium User Badge

          MonkeyMonster says:

          nah, that’s the thing at the top and bottom of stairs to remove all fun from butt bouncing down them unsupervised :D

    • Colthor says:

      Yeah, I don’t feel excluded. Bemused, sure; everything anyone says or writes about having children is like those reviews which’re two thousand words of moaning followed by “10/10 best game ever”. I blame biology.

      • mouton says:

        hard drugs being constantly pumped to parents’ brains are the only thing stopping them from choking the little fuckers

    • Premium User Badge

      Serrit says:

      Exactly this. Nicely put Melody!

    • thristhart says:

      Yes, I agree! I have in the past found it exhausting when someone whom I followed has a child and their content turns into 100% talking about their kid, but that hasn’t happened to John and I doubt it will. As it is, your kid is part of who you are and an important part of the perspective you offer.

    • bill says:

      (i hope this doesn’t sound patronising…)

      As someone who never really thought about having kids until just before it happened (eg: a man), it’s interesting now to think that some people might not experience it.

      Not that it has to be experienced, your choice, but because it has such a profound effect on your life that it’s just weird to imagine going through your life without that effect.

      *wracks brain to think of a good analogy and fails*
      It’s like going through your whole life and never experiencing, er, work.

      Sorry… I got 3 hours sleep last night due to vomiting kids. Brain stopped working 4 years ago due to lack of sleep.

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        Sorry… I got 3 hours sleep last night due to vomiting kids. Brain stopped working 4 years ago due to lack of sleep.

        Well I’m sold! Where do I sign up for this product and/or newsletter because that sounds like a super fun thing I would like in my life…

      • mouton says:

        Not that it has to be experienced, your choice, but because it has such a profound effect on your life that it’s just weird to imagine going through your life without that effect.
        *wracks brain to think of a good analogy and fails*
        It’s like going through your whole life and never experiencing, er, work.

        Thanks for trying! I am a firm believer that everything can be described, it is just that people give up when it is too hard.

        And anyway, it is not so inconceivable to child-free folks like me – I have many friends with children and I can observe how it shifts them psychologically, what a draining grind it can be. It is in many ways a full time job or two, with no weekends, no sick days, no respite, ever. Yes, one can drop off kids with some blessed grandma or whatnot, but those hours are so few and so precious and the backlog of needs is so huge that it is only a relief enough not to get crazy. I mean, for many folks going to day work is actually the time when they rest.

        Of course, one’s mileage may vary.

      • unit 3000-21 says:

        “It’s like going through your whole life and never experiencing, er, work.”
        So, basically it’s really great?

  3. kdz says:

    As a very young person I actually really appreciate these articles on parenthood and babies and diapers. They give me important things to think about.

    • kael13 says:

      Yeah, like ‘avoid at all costs.’

      I’m so glad my girlfriend is more anti-children than me.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I don’t have kids, and I’m not entirely sure that will ever change, but my guess is that it’s best to first get the kid into a state in which it can move by itself, before it makes sense to worry about what it will do with that ability.

    Also, “K’Tan carrier” sounds like something that is kilometers long and launches insectoid fighter-craft.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Man, I really want a Homeworld sequel now. Or Freespace 3.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Unfortunately for parents, humans level up their movement skills well before they acquire their ‘comprehend danger’ skills. They’re actually easier to look after when they can’t move around much, once they can move around then you constantly have to keep your eyes on the little buggers and stop them from eg pulling frying pans off the stove.
      Source: babysitting other people’s kids.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Yep. And then they get to be 3-5ish and they level up their speech as well but don’t level up their charisma or int in any way and now they’re able to walk and speak but not to take care or think. It’s basically like being around drunk people all day and you can’t punch them.

        Source: I work in a nursery taking care of kids.

        • Diziet Sma says:

          I may well steal that analogy!

        • mattevansc3 says:

          Drunk people tend to be a bit lethargic, I’d liken it to a room full of crackheads.

      • tlwest says:

        Ah yes, the “suicide commando” age… I remember it well (still have the PTSD…)

  5. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    I’m in the “not yet but can’t wait” camp, and I definitely enjoy these sorts of articles. As Melody said, they offer a different perspective, which is a good and interesting thing. (And any counterexamples should be capable of being warped into “academically interesting”.)

    I also appreciate being able to think about things before they happen, when possible. Even if I can’t find an answer which satisfies me (often the case when offspring are the subject), I’ve at least set up some mental scaffolding to help me figure out an answer or improvise with slightly less stress. Theoretically. But often probably not. We’ll see.

    Good luck with yours, at any rate!

    …muahahahaaa… >:D

  6. Cochise779 says:

    As a kidless person, I think a little perspective is really valuable in recognizing that potentially one day there will have to be a reckoning between gaming and parenting. I like John’s approach to, recognizing that the parenting will inevitably impact gaming.

    But there is also a point where it becomes too much for me, where I not only don’t care but become annoyed that every single article a journo writes is about how the kid affects their gaming. I have left some very admired journos behind because I personally just lost the ability to relate to them. Almost like there’s a tipping point where it goes from being anecdotes and an occasional anecdote to the cornerstone of that writer’s style.

    Really hoping that doesn’t become the case here. It sure doesn’t SOUND like it will. Can only wait and see.

  7. Rizlar says:

    This seems appropriate. link to topatoco.com

  8. Deckard97 says:

    I never thought I’d have kids and now I have two. They are great and I love being a dad but I’m going through the same mixture of emotions. I loved that Dead Island trailer but when I watched it again with my new dad eyes I found myself getting angry with it. To be clear, I’ve become this way about all games and videos that involve the death or abuse of a child. I feel that I’ve got this new, exposed nerve than runs straight into my heart and some stranger is poking at it with a stick.

    It feels like a cheap manipulation of my emotions. Although I logically know what I was like before I had kids and I know that the people who make these trailers/movies aren’t trying to poke me as hard as they do, it still elicits an intense, visceral reaction from me every time. Part of it might be the early years of being a dad and protecting new beings that are completely dependent upon me. Once my kids are much older, perhaps I’ll feel less raw about it. For now, I just steer clear of it.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      I’m 100% with you on that. I’m also a father and for me the father’s instincts in that trailer ring hollow.

      Now this just may be me but with my daughter my first thought is always her preservation before my own. Of course she’s never been in that type of situation but little things like when she jumped on me while I’m drinking my cuppa my body’s first action is to move the cup away from her even if it results in pouring the tea over myself. Or when she got a bit to excited when I was cuddling her and head butted my in the face causing my nose to bleed my initial reaction was to bring her in closer and cwtch her just in case she was hurt (she wasn’t, her head might as well be a brick for the amount of damage she takes).

      Watching the father throw the child out of the window as his first reaction to be bitten by his child to me was unnatural. My experience with my daughter is the w opposite of that… And yes I have been bitten by daughter though I blame that bloody Paw Patrol cartoon for that, she thinks its funny to act like a dog.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Jarmo says:

    Re: What To Do about Gaming, Yours and Hers/His, with a Newly Arrived Baby Girl/Boy

    Like in many other parenting issues, the thing about gaming and a new child is that the parents have plenty of time to create best practises before the child actually needs them. A human child grows up in months and years and decades and this is time enough to come up with workable procedures for and about gaming which are suitable for your family and child. Fret not, it will come naturally when it’s time.

    Of course, this is not to say that it doesn’t require conscious thought and effort, but there’s no rush. We’ve brought up two kids to the brink of adulthood and gaming has always been a natural part of their environment and life. We agreed on e.g. what we let them play at what age (just like we did for other media) when their development called for the decisions. You know, like with everything else in their lives.

    Parenthood is not something that is thrust upon you in a minute. It’s something you grow into for the rest of your life once your child’s life has begun. It’s a natural process nature has amply provided us for. The people who were really bad at it went extinct long ago. The rest of us will manage. You will too. Happy gaming to you and your new child!

    • mattevansc3 says:

      It’s nowhere near that simple though. In the next ten years my daughter will evolve and adapt better than I will. I’m already a generation behind the kids and I’m only 33. When my nephews come over, one is thirteen and the other ten we’ve gone from playing Halo 3 to them wanting the iPad to watch Lets Play and Rap Battles which is completely alien to me.

      The world changes faster than we do which makes it almost impossible to prepare for.

  10. mpk says:

    I worry constantly about my son’s gaming education. He’ll be six in a fortnight and gaming has already embedded itself into his wee soul. There’s no escape now.

    So he’s learning about games from the past few years, which means he knows open worlds and 3D. But sometimes we’ll fire up the SNES, or he’ll want to play Super Mario World, which I’ve downloaded to the Wii, and he struggles. I worry that he doesn’t know about moving platforms, or how to deal with creatures who walk off the side of the screen, only to come back again in a few seconds. I worry that he’s missing the classics.

    And then I think – is this what my Dad went through when I refused to embrace vinyl? When I opted for tapes and Walkmen and popular music instead of prog and metal and hard rock? I mean, that’s what I like to listen to now, but will I really have to wait thirty years before I can have a conversation with my son about how good SNES Mario World really was? Cos that’s bloody terrifying.

    Also: before my son was born, I was a manly man who didn’t do such things as cry or show emotion. Since he was born, if you open a crisp packet in the wrong away I will drop to the floor and cry my fucking heart out. Episode 3 of The Walking Dead season one absolutely destroyed me – I had to stop the game and I cried for quite a while. It’s utterly amazing what having kids does to a blokes mind and body – never mind what it does to all the Mums out there. Kids are great.

    • mjricco says:

      Good lord – episode 3 of the Walking Dead still haunts me, I shiver even thinking about it.

      I’ve tried to tell everyone I know – almost exclusively non-gamers- about the emotional power of that game but they just don’t want to have a conversation about how to make a grown up weep.

      Parenthood just changes how your brain is wired when it comes to kids in peril – games, books, TV all becomes much harder to watch when kids are involved. And your moral outrage levels are also exponentially increased – I’ve just witnessed grandparents buying a 7-8 year old The Stick of Truth which made my blood boil, thats the buying of it not the game itself – I laughed my arse off playing it.

      • mpk says:

        (Trying desperately not to spoil here)

        What made it worse (for me, at least) was that I walked into the woods knowing that I couldn’t let Kenny do it. Utterly heartbreaking.

  11. sonofsanta says:

    Parenthood will, as many others have said, just leave you a weeping fucking wreck at the simplest of things. Sometimes they’ll catch you at just the right moment in just the right way and you’re gone. I think Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons would have been traumatic to play anyway, but playing it a month after my youngest son was born, at the point in my life where it was just sinking in that I have two sons, brothers that will go through life together, it was like yanking my heart out on a fish hook and raking it over coals. I was a mess.

    I am looking forward to moments of bonding over games though. And like all good Dads, I won’t hold back: there will be no quarter given, no “go easy on him, he’s only seven”. No! He will compete, and he will struggle, and he will know that on the day he finally beats me, he has truly beaten me, a gift he has earned himself and not one given as a platitude.

    And on that day, my son, you will be a man. A man who can win at Mario Kart.

    But that blue shell was totally unfair, obv, I can’t believe you got me with it on the final corner.

    (Oh! And congrats, of course. I was a silent reader of Pregnant Pause, but I was a reader. And I am sorry to say that the title of that blog was the worst pun you ever did make. Don’t do it again.)

    • rodan32 says:

      Yes, the gaming is fun. I’m a dad of five (boy-10, girl-9, girl-6, girl-5, boy-2), and the oldest two are willing to play with their poor old father. Mostly Terraria, but fun games like Altitude as well. My son LOVES Portal 2 and always begs to play co-op with me. He’s even posted levels he’s made (not sure if they’re any good).

      It’s awfully hard sometimes. Children are difficult. I don’t mean that they’re bad or obstinate (though they can be) but I mean that it’s painful watching them screw up and hurt themselves. But it’s worth it all told.

  12. jezcentral says:

    Yes, forget the Occulus Rift, mouse-and-keyboard, 1920×1200/1080 resolutions, Carmack’s brain or Looking Glass Studios, the biggest impact in gaming is the birth of your first child.

    Also, ditto the notes about going from borderline Aspergers Syndrome to weepy puddle of empathic snot and tears, overnight.

    Alas, my wife doesn’t like games, so I have no idea about how to get them involved. :(

    • mattevansc3 says:

      As someone going through the diagnosis process for Asperger Syndrome and already pre-diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome traits (you have to go through a pre-diagnosis with your local mental health unit before you can be referred for a full diagnosis assessment) that’s a completely inaccurate description of the condition.

      People with Asperger Syndrome display emotion just like any other person. The problem faced is in reading and recognising other peoples emotions. To somebody with Asperger Syndrome everybody is continuously wearing their poker face.

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      Also speaking as an autistic individual: you really, really should not use autism as an epithet.

  13. mavu says:

    Discovered this just now, and I wanted to welcome you to the club of people who HATE games with cutscenes that you cannot pause. And i can count the games that can pause videos on one hand. Could probably do it even with 3 fingers missing.

    Seriously. Everyone who sells or develops games without the (incredibly easy) function to pause a damn video should be forced to play with a 3 and 5 year old kid in the house. Seriously. Its infuriating. Because, why not have pause. Did ayone see a video player in the last 30 years without a way to pause videos? No. Way not? Because it would suck!
    Even VHS tapes could be paused. Cassettes. 8 Track tapes. EVEN ******* vinyl records could be paused (ok, not on every player, but still).

    2014 people. no pause in videos. Really?

    • Hillbert says:

      Or games when there’s no pause at all so you have to let yourself die because your eldest has just wandered downstairs with a nosebleed

      Dark Souls I’m looking at you here.

  14. Mathute87 says:

    Play The Binding of Isaac.

  15. Jakkar says:

    Yes, but what are they FOR?

  16. Kempston Wiggler says:

    Then someone I know, who’d recently had their first kid, said they thought it was awful. They thought it was cruel, lazy and manipulative. It killed a child to achieve its aims, and having just had one, it was unbearable. And I thought, honestly, “Don’t be ridiculous.” Oh good grief, I can see what he meant now. Argh.

    This kind of personal transformation really fascinates me. It seems easier to understand from a female biological perspective;becoming a mother is a huge biological shift for a woman, hormones on the rampage and all that. Brain chemistry changes too. I’ve long considered it fruitless to enter into certain debates with mothers because – and I say this with the greatest respect – motherhood refocuses them in a way that means entertaining certain thoughts, especially those that discuss possible harm to children, becomes very difficult for them. This is perfectly right and natural (we Men can be soulless monsters of logic sometimes) so I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that people can change thought patterns and beliefs, often in really fundamental ways.

    What intrigues me about John’s statement above, particularly writing as a Man who has not yet gone through such an experience is trying to work out exactly what triggered that kind of mental switch in him as well. The biological reason isn’t quite as clear cut, unless Men absorb a lot of the female hormones/pheromones during pregnancy?

    • Ryuuga says:

      Hormones can be triggered by external stimuli (sight, sound, touch, etc). No need for any osmosis or any pheromones (but yes, a pheromone would be an external stimulus, of course).

      Also I would be cautious to explain a mishmash of biology and culture and prejudice as solely biology, especially if said biology is a bit shaky on the pertinent details.. There is an obvious biological aspect to parenthood, but disentangling it from culture/prejudice/expectations etc is no simple task.

      • mouton says:

        Like gender, really. Yes, there is a strong biological part. But also layers upon layers of reinforced cultural bullshit.

        Of course, cultural bullshit is an indirect emanation of biology. The point is, we can control it much better than the more carnal aspects.

    • Josh W says:

      I’m not sure of the mechanism myself, but it should hopefully suggest that in the case of women, there is more to it than hormones. (In fact you can look at a lot of psychological history as people slowly getting over the idea that it’s all about the hormones, which is tricky, as having your homones fly about is something that can throw you off completely).

      • mouton says:

        Of course it is more than just hormones, the whole damn body is designed for the sole role of making babies. “hormones” is just a shorthand for “hits you biologically like a truck”

    • dropbear81 says:

      It’s interesting how much your brain changes once you have children. I’m in a same sex relationship, and my partner is the birth mother of our child. Even though I wasn’t the beneficiary of all those crazy hormones, how I see children and respond to images such as the Dead Island trailer is vastly different to how I would have responded before the birth of our daughter. It rips my heart out, and I’m a blubbering mess when I read about abused children and/or missing kids. Before this, I would feel sad but not devastated. Now when I seem something about a child in the news, I have to look away or not click on the news link, for fear of becoming a crying mess. Crazy, but it’s also amazing. Your brain really does change once you have kids.

      I remember reading that fathers and partners brains end up producing more oxytocin when being parents, which is our feel good hormone. Something to do with hearing crying babies and smelling newborns.

  17. quarpec says:

    one thing is certain: people, no matter who they, are will *never* get tired of someone talking endlessly about their kids!

  18. iamseb says:

    My daughter was born three weeks ago, so I’m still reeling from the plummet through life’s very own total perspective vortex. Whilst I appreciate it’s not for everyone, I’d happily read a regular series on gaming with a baby.

    Not sure if this has been shared, but it’s a great experiment in gaming with a child: link to medium.com

    • mpk says:

      Welcome to Dad Club!

      The first rule of Dad Club is: OMG BABIES ARE AMAZING
      The second rule of Dad Club is: you will cry more in the next few weeks than in the whole of your life up until your daughter’s birth.
      The third rule of Dad Club is: you will never, ever have a full nights sleep again.

      • Premium User Badge

        CyberPunkRock says:

        Couldn’t agree more. Especially since rule 3 brought me to the brink of getting angry at my little daughter due to exhaustion several times only to be overridden by rule 1 again. :-)

  19. Uncompetative says:

    Carry one talking about how you don’t want to talk about it and I’ll carry on skipping over your narcissistic articles.

  20. twaitsfan says:

    My first daughter was 3 months old and I was watching 28 Days Later. I got to the part where they walk into the abandoned gas station(?) and the main character sees a dead mother with a dead baby in her arms. I had to shut off the movie. That would NEVER had affected me before, and it came out of nowhere. I hadn’t realized that I changed that much. I’m not someone who says “The most wonderful moment of my life was seeing my child born!” It was special, but until that instance I didn’t think I’d changed at all.

  21. funkmesideways says:

    I have a 5 month old. Almost totally stopped gaming. If she is awake, I don’t want to play, I feel like I want to spend all my time playing with her instead. When she sleeps, she has to sleep on my chest during the day (can sleep in cot at night) so I sometimes manage a one handed mouse only game then.

    Saying that, I still read this site everyday and I am well aware of all the games I am missing out on

    • tlwest says:

      Don’t worry, if my experience is any guide, you get your life back in 20-30 years :-).

      More seriously, it’s important to keep just enough contact with one’s community that there is a life to go back to. Kids never stop being the most important part of one’s life, but for *their* sake, they cannot remain the focus of yours.

      That was the terrible lesson of parenthood. All the responsibility and less and less of the control. And, if you have kids like mine, that control must be voluntarily relinquished or occasionally even withdrawn. (It’s wonderful when they discover they can fly, but my God is pushing them out of the nest painful. – and that’s just making them ride public transit to school on their own :-))

  22. scut says:

    You wrote an article about your kid. Great job.

    • Scandalon says:

      You wrote a comment bad enough to make me block you the very first time. Great job.

  23. cylentstorm says:

    In the immortal words of The Fresh Prince: “Parents just don’t understand.”

    Ha. I’m no parent, but I’ve occasionally played that role–and it’s definitely something I can live without. That sort of fear and stress is an ill fit for someone like me. So, props to anyone who lives that life on a daily basis. I’ve seen what it does to people–no thanks. Don’t get me wrong–I love kids (you should meet my nephew–what a trip) but if I ever find myself thinking about how nice it would be to start a family, it isn’t long before I remember my friends and family and how nucking futs that anyone is when doing the Marriage: With Children thing. I snap out of it and laugh. There are all sorts of people that come to me every day with stories of how so-and-so just popped out their 3rd-4th freakin’ kid, and isn’t it wonderful? Isn’t it just peachy fucking keen, and why aren’t you smiling and happy and blah blah blah.

    Now, this is where people begin to hate me. First off: it isn’t the kids’ fault that their parents are irresponsible assholes that think setting up little baby factories everywhere is a good thing on an overpopulated planet. The clocks on the wildly unsustainable systems that most humans enjoy are accelerated every time that some pair of love-drunk fools fail to step back and look at the situation with any semblance of clarity. Sometimes it’s an accident, I know. But stop before you decide to make a hobby of it. Get a dog/cat/whatever. Adopt. Just think for a second–that’s all.

    Most of all–don’t blame the next generation for making the best of the mess that was left for them, and not magically pulling the solution to all of the world’s problems out of their asses. Hope only takes us so far, you know. Anyway–bring on the hate.

  24. Juan Carlo says:

    The only thing I resent about these sorts of “Gee, having a kid really changed my world view” discussions, apart from their complete and utter lack of originality (seriously, I’ve read this article many times before), is that often the veiled message behind them is: “The lives of childless people are trivial” or “I have totally reached a mature moral understanding of the world by having kids that childless people could never arrive at.”

    I don’t think Walker is arguing either of those points, but many people do and it’s very easy for this sort of argument to tread into that territory, which is the real turn off.

    Then there’s just the fact that no one really cares about your kids as much as you do. There’s no shortage of children in the world, and unless your kid was born with wings or the ability to levitate objects with his mind, your kid probably isn’t in any way special. So other than family members most people aren’t all that interested in hearing about your kids.

  25. Monggerel says:

    I never had friends and haven’t hung out with anybody in the past 8 or so years.
    Do articles about people having fun with other people around alienate or marginalize me?

    No. I just stare out of my dumb skull with eyes blazing green malice and seethe quietly. What does it matter. Hush up and pipe down. It’ll all be over soon.

    So no your babies and your opinions of your babies don’t make me feel any less welcome.

  26. Jediben says:

    I can’t believe that this is the type of content you get for paying the site. It’s like turkeys not only voting for Christmas but actually paying for the abattoir as well.

  27. Bob says:

    Congrats on the birth of your boy.

    I’m not a parent but I think my biggest problem would be finding a polite way to shout at the monitor if I had to re do a level through some piece of misfortune. My nieces and nephews weren’t really into games until they were nearly in their teens if that’s any help….I know it won’t be.

  28. Stevostin says:

    My son is 6 yo now. So here’s my advice: like 90% of absolutely normal parenthood fear, it will vanish away as something that had little bearing on what actually happened. Little, but not none. You’re not an idiot.

    Baby age: will impact the schedule and some of the screen activity you’re ok to show to a toddler. Not that baby will care that much, but Mum may have an opinion :P

    2-4 yo. Grows an interest into video game, especially tablet / DS. For you, it’s a new kind of joy: seing baby play/grow. Games are great to build brain cells connexion. Also, it’s sometimes easier as a shared activity than regular toys / games (board game available at that age are a chore to play mostly and you’re not even lego or just wood trains ready). Your kid idea of fun is sometimes “have mum or dad play that game that I wan’t to play but that I am still too dumb/clumsy to play”. Costume Quest all of a sudden became a hugely enjoyable experience. Sure, playing 50 times the same attack animation gets irritating if you’re a lonely adult, but a kid that age will indeed laugh and laugh each times. And that sound itself is like a rain of happiness in parent’s hears :)
    Side effect, kid will try to watch what you do. I really didn’t want my kid to see me playing TF2 (people explodes with blood and limbs) but finally renounced because he just obviously enjoyed it. Even his mum gave up preventing that. Prepare for hilarious comments from your 4 yo while playing.

    5yo and more: now has her/his own gaming life, whith her/his own games. I am very happy to have a laptop for the kid (not planned, just happened). I really understood the Minecraft empire when my son played it. It’s magic with kids, truly something else.

    I do block a few titles from being seen though. Dead Island isn’t “fun” (and actually it’s grim if you play it without the bigh numbers) for a 4 yo. Btw 4 years is roughly when the kid starts to develop fear. Stuff he was seing before again and again in video all in a sudden started to be object of terror. So same goes with video games although it has to be said you can’t be as scared of something daddy plays than a movie watched alone on your laptop.

    All in all it’s a welcome enrichement of my gamer’s life. Kids are recommended buy to conclude that review =)

    • Stevostin says:

      Oh, side note. Youtube is surprisingly “scary free” in side suggestion for my kid, but a friend had the reasonable idea to show him train videos. Later the kid was in front of train wrecks video with side navigation :(

  29. Premium User Badge

    heretic says:

    don’t let them play phantasmagoria, my dad played that with my bro and I when I was around 6 or 7 maybe? Can’t recall exactly, I’m now 25 and still traumatised

    • Premium User Badge

      zapatapon says:

      No offense intended, but that is quite lousy parenting from your dad

  30. souroldlemon says:

    That was a sad article to read, for reasons of envy.
    Good blog, although I wasn’t able to read much of it.

  31. Joshua Northey says:

    The main thing about having kids is it kills your free time. So you need to understand how that effects your gaming. Things you might have loved before, but take a lot of time are less attractive, things that are less enjoyable overall, but are pausable, or turn based, or most of all short look better.

  32. bill says:

    On the one hand, yeah.. welcome to the club. Been through all that. Will be going through it for the next 20 years.

    But on the other hand, it’s been nice to read about other people’s experiences and realise that you aren’t the first/only one to go through it.

    It is mindblowing how it changes your perspective on almost everything, and shatters some beliefs that you’ held for 30 odd years. And how people kept going on and on about that and you thought they were just being dumb.

    Write away!

    PS/ IF you are going to review violent games you might just have to GET AN OFFICE!

  33. Premium User Badge

    syllopsium says:

    I think it’s a good thing that the gaming community is now large and diverse enough that it’s much easier to cater for parents and other groups than concentrating on a narrowly defined set of people.

    I’m not interested in having children and that’s unlikely to change, but I have plenty of friends and relations who have children. If you want to keep in touch, you have to adapt to their lifestyle as they adjust to changes in yours.

    It’s not going to greatly or negatively affect existing games – there’s enough for everyone. In fact, it hopefully means more games for everyone. Acknowledgement some people need to pause the games at a moments notice, that some people have problems with classic input devices, that not everyone uses a latin character set or that many people don’t use extended character sets (that area isn’t really that bad, but there are still ‘western’ and ‘eastern’ games that don’t really cross borders well, and it’s not all down to cultural tastes).

    It should lead to more games, and greater tolerance as well.

  34. Daerth says:

    I still remember when I was quite young (9/10 or so) sitting beside my father who was playing the old Alien vs Predator games. I was so scared of the thing, I would sit on the chair with my legs curled up against my chest and my hands over my ears sometimes but I enjoyed it none the less.

    Even when I was younger, before we had a PC our parents never prevented us from playing games such as Mortal Kombat with all the gruesome fatalities and what not. I remember reading in one of the other articles here about how going to your friends house to play DOOM because you own parents wouldn’t allow it was some sort of a guilty pleasure but that was never the case for me with any games.

    Granted, things now are somewhat different… Some of the games which are of the biggest concern now (GTA etc) were only coming out as I was growing up so I was not surrounded by a world of M rated games. Still, even back then there were games which some parents would consider “harmful” for their children, but not my parents and you know what? Having the option to play it all, I would very often pick up Lego Loco over playing GTA, or Quake just because *I was given the option to chose what I want to play*.

    I didn’t have to feel bad about playing one or the other because I knew they were games and the way my parents approached it made sure that I didn’t feel like I was doing something wrong by playing the game, or doing things in game. Doing something in the real world had it’s consequences, sometimes in the form of a leather belt meets ass but as you can imagine it had nothing to do with the games I was playing.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think it matters that much WHAT games you let you kid see/play, it’s more important HOW you make them feel about it all. If that makes sense.

  35. Wowbagger says:

    I have recently become a father (it was a surprise baby not a planned one) and all I can say is it eats in to my gaming time something fierce, so avoid where possible people.*

    *please be aware of possible facetiousness.

  36. Hieronymusgoa says:

    This is about having a child but at the same time it is simply about “getting older/changing”. In the past I neither had a problem with video-game-killings nor the ones in movies.
    But the other day i was musing with a friend why we couldn’t get into Far Cry 3 so much as we wanted (due to the villain we were intrigued to play it) and we both realised:
    We are not comfortable anymore with shooting people in games if the game seems too realistic. We felt appaled by killing humans in a non-fantasy/scifi-scenario. It’s not that I think you shouldn’t be able to do something like that in games, we just became more squeamish about violence against humans. Shortly after that I saw the “No Russians” scene for the first time and was horrified by it. Why would anyone want to play a game having that in it? And I realised: That is how my parents felt when they saw us playing the first GTA.

    But as long as you reflect on that you have changed I guess you can realise that it is neither bad nor good.
    You have just changed, that happens in life :)

    (“The day you agree with the parents in Disney movies is when you have grown up”)

  37. Jinoru says:

    Here’s something you might enjoy John: link to medium.com

    I was born and raised through my toddler years when DOOM was released, though my dad never got into that game heavily at home, I did watch him play Solitaire on his lap, and then later QUAKE World standing next to him in his office. I never was obsessed about playing it because he got me and my brothers our own PC with some DOS educational softwares on it and for a long time that’s all we cared about was playing educational stuff and whatever our friends were playing on Nintendo or PS1 at their house.

    I’m planning on not letting my kids play any other game until they’ve experienced some of the classics, like QUAKE before any other shooters, and Super Mario, Legend of Zelda: OoT.

  38. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    I love the implication that in this distant future that’s too strange and too distant to even imagine at this point, the GTA series will be on installment 6. So true.