Well, I made it. My daughter is turning one and my fiancée and I are still alive. Sure, I’ve been peed on, had some poop get on my clothes, and have accidentally eaten more baby food than I care to admit but ultimately we’ve come through unscathed. If you’ve checked in with me after a month and six months, you may find a trend in this third article: I’m still playing games!
If you didn’t notice, one of the biggest changes in my life is that I no longer have a girlfriend, I have a fiancée! She said yes, everyone. And now Alison and I will be getting married in the autumn season of 2017. So on top of planning a great 1st birthday party for our daughter and still searching for a house, we’ve also been chipping away at the wedding planning. I’m already working on slipping in some small, video game-y details into it and I couldn’t be more excited. Let’s just say I hope Mario doesn’t mind wearing a suit.
The real meat and potatoes of these pieces are to tell you about my gaming life of a new parent though, so let’s dig into it. How does the parent of a one-year old play video games?
In a way, playing video games today reminds me of playing video games when I was in junior high. Because I can’t spend as much money on games, I’m spending more and more time with the games I have. I’m digging into some of them more than I ever have in recent years and honestly, it feels good. Six months ago I told you all I was spending a lot of time with RPGs like The Witcher 3. Guess what? I’m still playing The Witcher 3 with absolutely no end in sight. The most amazing thing about that? I’m okay in knowing I probably will never finish the game.
Personally, it’s a revelation to me. For the past four years I’ve been writing, podcasting, and doing as much as I can to be a part of the gaming community. As a part of that, I’ve always wanted to stay up to date with the recent releases. Even at my job – a warehouse job that has nothing to do with video games – people have come to expect me to know everything about every video game. Sure, I may have brought that upon myself but hey, when I was living for myself, I enjoyed being that guy.
This past year though, I’ve been weening myself off of the new release fever, and even of completely finishing games. I love RPGs but there’s absolutely no way I can finish all the ones I have right now, let alone any upcoming ones like Fallout 4 or Xenoblade Chronicles X. And it may not be the popular opinion, but I’m starting to be perfectly happy spending 5-10 hours with a game, getting my fill of it, and moving on. Bravely Default, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Dragon Quest V have all been started this year, and 2 of those 3 have been shelved for now, with the 3rd on the fence considering I just booted up Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. I know, I’m insane. I can’t help myself. But I’d rather experience these games in a small slice rather than not play them at all and slog through one game I’m not really excited to play for 50 hours.
Sometimes you get lucky though when a game like Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain comes along. I spend two months playing that game for 65 hours and loved absolutely every second of it. The game is constantly introducing new mechanics and rewarding the player with exciting things to do around every corner. It’s the perfect game to lose yourself in. And again, seeing my final percentage of completion at a measly 55% didn’t annoy me at all. I finished the game. I’ve seen the story. I listened to the tapes I wanted to. Done. Finito. Book closed. Moving on!
While those meaty experiences are still there, the allure of shorter, bite-sized experiences are all the more appealing. The Beginner’s Guide takes as long to play through as sitting down and watching a movie and for weeks it has consumed my mind. Then there’s mobile games of course, and the Phoenix Wright trilogy on my iPhone is always there to chip away at when I have nothing to do for 10-15 mins. Even games like Super Mario Maker are perfect to hop in and out of without feeling like you’re getting completely wrapped up in something. It might even be why I’m loving Trifoce Heroes so much. The brief mission structure just works so well for a guy who constantly has to be ready to change a diaper, or stop their kid from falling off a chair, or getting ready for nap time.
As far as the team goes, Alison and I have been on and off playing games here and there together. We definitely had some fun playing Super Mario Maker. I would make levels in secret and eventually spring them on her, which usually resulted in some hilarious gameplay on her end. And most recently we picked up Yoshi’s Wooly World and had an absolute blast. You’d never think Yoshi games sound so dirty until you play them cooperatively…
In the end, life as a gamer dad has been really good the last few months and it’s all because my family is growing closer. Alison and I have routines now and we know what to expect from being a parent. It’s certainly not simple, but we know how to manage it now and that makes it all the more easy to find time for each other as well as our hobbies. And it doesn’t hurt that the baby’s been sleeping through the night a lot better than before!
Who knows what the next year will hold but I have plans on what I’d like to do. I’m hoping once we get our own house and things settle a little more that I’ll have the space to really let my creative side flourish again. It will probably mean even less time to play games but that’s okay. I have an idea for a documentary about video games, and I’ve been messing around with programming in hopes to really start making games of my own. I’ll always be a fan first, but I would love to leave my mark in some way inside the culture of video games. If it happens, it happens, and if not, I’ll still be happy sharing my passion with my daughter as she grows up. She’s already holding the controllers like a pro!