Another installment from my third week of lists, a clinging-to-the-trees, back-to-school-special, dreading-impending-winter edition all about video games, families, and balancing your work, life and play to the max: the sun setting a little earlier each day, the ever-cooler-evenings all making for perfect gaming weather, tucked into an agoraphobic corner in your basement and plugged into some multi-player epic, awesome, pixelated fun.
One caveat: For us gaming geeks who have powered-up over the stereotypes of our creed, built into our digital lives the welcoming embrace of spouses, children, pets, and other responsibilities, there remains the common sense situation of putting life and family first. No kidding, right? But how… exactly?
6 Gear-Up-For-Winter Tips for Gamers with Families
Being a family guy that tries not bear any real word resemblance to its television namesake requires a bit of planning. Oops… Did I say a bit?
[ 1 ] Plan Ahead: No… Waaaay Ahead
…gaming as an adult is not only more acceptable to our peers, but actually a form of social interaction…
Spontaneous moments for epic gaming can still happen, but any responsible gamer dad is going to tell you that those moments get further and farther between as life progresses. We, the thirty-somethings of the twenty-first century are cutting new paths here too, remember. We are from a generation that has not only been among the first to have access to toys of such awesome digital immersion, but we are the first to forge through a new kind of real-life versus artificial-life balance that our ancestors didn’t have to deal with. My parents did not need to plan out time for gaming, and why is that? Gaming when you were an adult was a thing you did after a dinner party with grown-ups, playing checkers or whatever. Every other type of gaming was for kids. But now we live in this universe where gaming as an adult is not only more acceptable to our peers, but actually a form of social interaction: I don’t go to the bar with my friends as often as I should, but we do meet up online to kill virtual zombies on a fairly regular basis. Guys night is not about sneaking out to the pub — though I wouldn’t mind a few more of those too — but instead scheduling in some quiet time in the basement basking in the glow of my dual LCDs.
Abandoning your spouse to the solitude of an evening alone could be one of those epic fails that sends you to the doghouse, to be sure. But it doesn’t have to be: hand-in-hand with plenty of forewarning goes the general rule of ensuring you don’t compromise the only entertainment venue in the house… (and if you do: plan B? Or maybe you’re just on your there own, bud. Good luck!) While she might be first in line to contest my claims in the comments below, Monday night game nights while super-awesome game time for me are just as much a bonus for my wife. She gets full control over the television, Netflix, and the laptop (which is pretty much useless for gaming.) I hobble downstairs to plug in, and she usually waves a casual “see you later” while snapping up the remotes and booting up some girly-tee-vee. Compromise? Mutual respect? It all plays a role here.
[ 3 ] Get a Headset
…because you’re in mixed company, that’s why. The kids in bed trying to sleep is just one obvious reason, and I don’t think I need to list many more. You get the idea.
[ 4 ] Remember to Dust Off the Board Games, Too
Gamers, no matter who you are, should diversify once-in-a-while, too. I don’t care if you are a strict digit-arian, going analog on occasion is good for your sensibilities: this goes doubly so for you if you (a) have kids, or (b) are into MMORPGs… though the latter is a subject of a completely different article that I have yet to write. Board games may not exercise your keyboard trigger fingers, but they remind you of the broader origins of the play that has a lineage reaching into the modern digital counterparts. I won’t be so lame as to tell you that board games are better for kids, either: I’d say the research is probably still out on that one. But as much fun as I have playing Minecraft with my daughter, I think we have a little more fun plodding through a game of Kid’s Carcassonne. We get to interact, look each other in the eyes, laugh, learn, and hang out — all while playing a cool game. And in the heart of a cold winter, that is sure a lot better than just watching yet another Disney movie marathon. Make sure you have a few good family board game titles in reserve along with your epic Steam collection this season.
Some of the same guys who I play online with routinely make a more personal appearance at a live-action gaming party. I need to host more of these. I really do. And sure, this might be a micro-LAN party in someone’s basement, but as a collective of gaming fathers this has more often than not been a round-table, anything goes, board gaming extravaganza with food and drinks and kids running everywhere, the older tots popping in to investigate the multi-piece epic play of their parents. Getting together with friends to play games doesn’t need to be either (a) reserved for the post-dinner aperitif-hour or (b) a secondary outcome: build a party, gathering, or general all-round fun evening around some gaming.
[ 6 ] Stick to Your Bedtime
And ultimately, being a responsible gamer dad is really all about being serious about time limits. Those killer robots aren’t going anywhere. You still need to get up for work in the morning and drag your sorry self to the office. Say good night, pack it up, and get to bed.
All these screenshots were captured during the author’s personal game-play and are probably copyright by the folks who made the game: have respect and don’t steal or post without attribution. Know any other ways you can show some gaming respect? Comment below and share the secrets!