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Dad For Hire

Shawn at Massively wrote a really great opinion piece today called “The raid can wait; your kids can’t.” Go ahead and read it — I have a few follow-up thoughts once you’re done.

With two tykes puttering around the house, I give a lot of thought these days as to the example that I’m setting for them.  When kids are small, it’s sort of like you don’t have to pay attention to your habits because you’re pretty sure they’re going to forget anything you do in the next 30 seconds anyway.  But sooner or later there’s that moment when a kid repeats something you said or does something that you do all the time, and it sinks in: They’re learning from you.  You are their biggest role model, and it doesn’t stop.

Hopefully my kids will learn from what I discuss with them, but they’ll definitely learn from how I act around them and how I respond to them.  And it would be a horrible lesson to pass along that “Games > Family”.  I don’t think anyone intentionally does this (unless they’re sadistic), but there’s always a pull in relationships between your own desires and what others want from you.  There has to be a balance and priorities and all of that, but some things automatically trump others.

Unless it’s for Work work, I don’t game around my kids that much, but when I do I notice how they come over and just peer up at my computer with that dazed expression that’s taking it all in.  I pick them up and share with them a bit of what’s going on, but then turn it off and encourage them to go back to playing with their toys.  Computers will come soon enough in their lives as it is.

One of the rules I’ve set down for myself is that I am never too busy for others — for those I minister to, for my wife, and for my kids.  My daughter is relentless when she wants my attention — she crawls over, expends a lot of effort to pull herself up on my pant leg, and then claws at my thigh until I pick her up or get on the floor with her.  And I do it — I don’t ever want her to think, “Gee, daddy loves me, but not as much as he loves the big glowing box over there.”

I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.  Games come and games go — by the time my son enters kindergarten, The Old Republic will already be a few years old.  By the time my daughter is in high school, computers as we know them today will be so ancient to be laughable.  But I’ll never get these years back with them, so I better not waste them now.

18 thoughts on “Dad For Hire

  1. I’ve recently reached the same stage with mine. It is pretty shocking when you realize they are learning. Have to really watch what I saw or what I watch on TV now.

  2. I, too, am well into this phase with my kids, and I really appreciated what Shawn wrote; it’s great to have someone with the attention of so many gamers step back and say, “There are a lot of important things out there, some of them more important than gaming. Don’t forget about the world around you, and make sure your priorities are healthy!”

    With two boys in the house (one 5 and the other nearly 2) I find a lot of excitement in the prospect of sharing a hobby I love. But I also find that previous “no brainers” actually take some consideration now. I can’t bring just any game into the house, because its not just me who will consume them, and I know they will both want to take part! As they should!

    Unfortunately many developers are still stuck in the “teens and college kids with unlimited time and disposable cash” way of thinking, and I miss out on what they have to offer because I just don’t have the time. As much as some bemoan the “casual-ization” of MMOs, its hard to argue with shifting demographics. Paying customers just don’t have the time anymore; this means I have to carefully pick and choose where I spend my precious gaming time – which is generally after everyone has gone to sleep.

    At least having little children has conditioned me to go without sleep!

    Anyway, well said and I agree with it all. Nothing can compare to time with your kids!

  3. Just the other day I was watching my son (age 2) sit there watching me game. I was playing something a tad violent (Uncharted)and found myself wondering what effect this was having on him. Like you, I really try to integrate my son into my gaming (I give him a controller, put him on my lap, etc.). Trying to figure out how gaming and raising a family fit together have been tough. Especially with some games (and friends) who demand a lot of time and attention. Recently, I have found myself gravitating towards games I can pause quickly. Like you, I don’t want my family to think that what is going on on the screen is more important than them. Good post sir.

  4. I’ve had raid guilds actively try to recruit my coercer, but I’ve told them all no. I can’t guarantee that I would be available at the raid times due to my family. Sure, some nights my daughter might be asleep by then and my wife be willing to “give me up” to a raid, but it’d probably not happen very often, and they want me 3 nights a week? Ain’t happening. Family is always >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> games.

  5. I’m mom to four kids, ranging in age from 5 to 15. I was a gamer long before I had kids, and I spent nearly my entire first pregnancy on bedrest, playing MUDs.

    Shawn’s article makes a lot of good points, but I think there’s more to it than just making sure our kids are a higher priority than gaming. I’m always aware of the behavior I’m modeling for my kids. They know that I play games, but they also see how I manage my time. They see that I take care of my responsibilities before I play, which includes my husband, my kids, their schoolwork (since we homeschool), housework and physical activity, and I set aside my games when any of those things needs attention. As they’ve gotten older, I talk to them about prioritizing work and play, and I’ve pointed out when I mess up and make a mistake too.

    Our kids are growing up around electronics. I want them to learn to manage their time and priorities regarding electronic media while they’re still in my house, and I can still guide them. Being a gaming parent provides a great opportunity to be a role model. Setting aside the games to take care of our kids is just one part of that. 🙂

  6. Sorry Syp, but you lost your bookmark with this post.

    I mean, really? How quickly one gaming journalist’s success can go to his head and create a hydra of self-importance.

    p.s. Sucks for me as a reader because I lose a blog, but good for your kids, sincerely.

  7. I have no idea what Jim’s going on about.

    Anyway, good article, imo. I’ve had to tone down gaming a lot for the sake of more important things lately, so this one stuck with me.

  8. I’m with Malcolm; Jim, you’re not making any sense, but your loss I suppose.

    Anyway, I too am a parent who games, and it’s definitely interesting to see how my habits have changed since my 4 kids have come into my life. I can definitely see a difference in the number of hours I spend playing, although the biggest difference is easily in what I’m playing; if I can turn off gore I do, and if I can turn off profanity, I do. If I can’t, then it either doesn’t get played or gets played after they’re in bed.

  9. Argh! The hydra! She grows out of control!

    I’m not quite sure how this is about letting anything go to my head — I’m just sharing my perspective as a gamer dad. If you notice, I’m looking at myself here, not telling others what they should or shouldn’t do. Blogs are an important platform for both honesty and chronicling one’s personal journey through whatever. I simply write whatever’s on my mind as long as it pertains to gaming here.

  10. Dammit, stop being so poignant.

    And um, Jim, what? Oh wait — Syp, change your tone AT ONCE! We are your readers and YOU OWE US the content we want. Right now! Sheesh. Isn’t that obvious?


  11. Oh wow, that really is one of those shit-storm topics, is it not. there are few ‘taboos’ like that inside the gaming community it seems, that you just must never ever utter lest you be called a traitor of the one and only true calling (gaming?).
    I dunno, as much as I love and identify with gaming, there are clear differences still between what’s ingame and irl, and priorities need to be there, in the real world, too.

    parenting&gaming is obviously one of those hot topics where you get too many extreme opinions come together; people telling you how it’s totally possible and they’re totally not neglecting their children while raiding 5 times a week on one side, other people pointing fingers toward childcare support as soon as they hear anyone with kids still dares to play online games. I don’t believe either of them frankly: I think reality is a little more complex than that and as wild as it sounds, it tends to vary from case to case. not an easy concept for black&white people.

    you sound like you’re looking for the healthy balance and question yourself and what you do, so more power to you. gaming is still ‘only’ something we do to enjoy ourselves – some things should get prio over that (and hopefully kids fall under enjoyment, too).

  12. That’s something I’ve been trying to work on lately; avoiding the computer until the kids are in bed or doing something that doesn’t really involve me. It goes beyond the computer though too; reading books, magazines or watching recorded shows that can’t include them.

    Including them or prioritizing them is top priority.

    They definitely more more from what they see you doing and less from what you tell them. They’re not equipped with rationale or reason at that age so it’s literally doing as they see you do. That includes how you treat others.

    They definitely won’t forget 30 seconds later.

    p.s. Bye Jim!

  13. Mine is still young enough that she doesn’t really pick up on the TV we watch or the games that we play, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t need attention. I always make sure to respond to her instead of prioritizing games or TV.

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