Gaming: On Toddler Time
Fatherhood definitely has its challenges; especially as the little ones begin to learn, explore and understand the world around them. For me this period is happening now. My beautiful daughter is two years old and finally becoming something that sounds and acts human. By this I mean her personality is blooming along with her communication and aptitude. She is an unstoppable ball of energy, full of life and curiosity. Even as I write this, she sits next to me blocking the screen and attempting to take-over the writing. With a child of this spirit, one eye is constantly watching her. I have to observe her movement and motivations and try to predict her actions. You’re always on edge just waiting for her to destroy something, interrupt you, or just want to play. She is also in constant need of any manner of things even something as sweet and simple as a hug. Why are these things important you ask? I am a guy who really enjoys video games and all of these things have a huge effect on the hobby I had long before my life was invaded by a blond hair, blue eyed, adorable stuntman with an affinity for fruit snacks and cuddling up to a Pixar film.
Now don’t get me wrong I would choose my daughter over video games without hesitation a million times over but I don’t have to. Instead I just had to learn how to manage my time, the content I choose to play in front of her, and use technology to my advantage. I also have to start factoring in games that I actively want to introduce and expose her to because I would like us to share these experiences someday. This may seem like a lot to factor in to just play a game but it’s necessary to ensure my hobby stays alive and, honestly, it’s not a huge sacrifice for the joy she brings.
So for all of those who are in a similar situation here are some ways I am able to balance my hobby and my daughter while still staying somewhat relevant in the gaming community. First, let’s talk about time management, which has actually gotten easier as my daughter has grown. When she was an infant, naps and rest time were random occurrences creating a small moment of opportunity. Now these moments are more scheduled and I can easily get a couple of hours of gaming in while she sleeps. The only downside is when it’s nap time, as opposed to full-on bed time, I’m only looking at maybe an hour or two of gaming so I have to be selective. Meaning I can’t get super involved in something like Skyrim or the Walking Dead. I have to be able to drop-out of the game and walk away at a moment’s notice.
Not only has a regular schedule helped me stay in touch with games, but thanks to technology I feel like I’m back in college and no game is safe from my console. With the addition of remote play I have an entire library of PS4 and Wii U games. Granted it’s not the greatest library in the world, but I am confident that both will eventually get there. Remote Play has been a God-send I just love the ability to play a Disney film for the little one and then jump into some Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag (PS4), or Mario 3D world (Wii U). The only disadvantage of Remote play is that I don’t have access to my PS3 from it, but with the incoming PlayStation NOW and Gaikai that may all be changing. With Remote Play I have the freedom to play whatever I want for almost as long as I want. I don’t have to worry about inappropriate content or my daughter’s looming curiosity because she is happily distracted.
Remote Play is the best thing to have as a gamer with kids and will only get better as time goes on. In fact, I would say without Remote Play I wouldn’t get nearly as much game time with nearly as many games as I do now. Eventually I would like my daughter to share and enjoy these experiences with me. Unfortunately, at this age, her attention span is that of a hummingbird. This makes it difficult for her to sit down, follow instructions, and run through the processes that are required in even the most basic games. For example, we have tried to play multiple games together already including Mario, Angry Birds, and even Marvel Pinball. All experiments resulted in her being more interested in the actual controller or touch screen than their effect on the gaming environment or character on screen. She definitely enjoys the colors, art, and animation but doesn’t quite understand the inputs yet. Soon she will understand, but until then it’s all just trial and error. Once in a while we have a nice moment where she just watches and enjoys all the action on screen. I cherish these rare occasions.
All in all my gaming life hasn’t been devastated by having a child, it’s just been changed and maybe for the better. I am much more aware of the games I bring into my home now. I also noticed that my horizons have expanded. Without having to censor content from my daughter I may have never fell in love with Games like Zen Pinball or Resogun because I would have instead played Call of Duty or Duke Nukem. I also find myself previewing content I may or may not want to introduce her to. Again exposing myself to games I normally would ignore. When it comes down to it though, without Remote Play I would be nowhere near the gamer I am now. Remote play is a God-send for gaming parents and without it I would be in serious withdrawal. Here is hoping that console manufacturers and game developers realize the potential here and Remote Play becomes a staple and focus from here on out. Giving us access to a library we could only dream of and allowing us to play whenever and wherever possible. Remote Play is the savior to gaming on toddler time.