Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Being a Gamer Dad

I am a gamer, a developer, and a dad. I have a toddler at home that completely changed everything in my world. Gamers without kids might not understand that shift, so I will explain.

My daily routine before becoming a dad was fairly game-centric.

  • Get up in the morning and play a game with breakfast; find time to take care of 2 cats and a dog
  • Go to work, making games
  • Lunchtime, play games with other game developers
  • Continue making games, usually late into the night
  • Come home and walk the dog
  • Rinse, repeat
Now that I'm a dad, the routine has shifted considerably
  • Get up in the morning and barely have time to feed and change kid, while eating breakfast and taking care of 2 cats and a dog
  • Go to work, making games
  • Lunchtime, gym so that I have enough energy to keep up with the kid
  • Continue making games, but need to leave promptly at 5 to take care of the kid
  • Come home and take care of the kid. Find time to make dinner and take care of the dog
  • Fall asleep early
  • Rinse, repeat
Now in my pre-kid life, I had plenty of time to catch up on latest designs and releases. I would be current with the goings-on in the game world and familiar with all of the big titles that were just released. This is a necessary part of my job because games are a literacy. It is a literacy that changes and improves quickly, so if you lose touch you are no longer competitive as a developer. 

As dad's out there should know, your kid becomes your world in a good way. Every moment you spend with them is fantastic. Sometimes a little stressful and crazy, but you'd rather be the dad on the floor making stuffed animals talk than the dad in Cats in the Cradle. 

But I do need time to game, not just for my job but also for my own downtime. The simple solution would just be to fire up the console once the kid has gone down for the night, but this is also time to spend with the wife and this leads down the path of great dad, terrible husband.

So as a gamer dad, you need to pick your battles. Sneaking in a 1/2 hour when the kid is down for a nap and the wife is at the gym. Though keep in mind that even though your child is sleeping, you are like a fireman; you are on call that instant no matter what you are doing at the time.

I would recommend being selective of what games you play as a dad. I don't mean to keep just to the E for Everyone games. I mean that you should focus more on SP games with the ability to save at the drop of a hat. Nothing is worse than getting far in a MP game and then having to drop to check on things upstairs. 

You will not be able to play an MMO. Your kid is now your MMO.

It's like Children's Week, only permanent and no time to slay dragons

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