Holy Moly! It’s approaching the next holidays. An- or relaxation in the job. And in the end, this often dissolves during the holiday. Vacation, at home. Quiet days, long evenings. Video game time to wave off. Super Metroid, Shenmue 3, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, finally I play them all or at least one of them to the end. Moment? Only now? Why not earlier, why not last Christmas or the one before?
Two reasons that vehemently influence my favorite hobby that I had no idea before: my two children. The two of them have arrived and turned my life upside down. This reads like a phrase in which I used to think, even unaffected by the topic, always freely according to Werner: “Yes yes …”
I remember spending a few evenings on Pandora in Borderlands 2 at the time of pregnancy. Together with a friend, I have tackled countless bandits and monsters. Not even because I particularly like shooters, I would have liked to have played Portal 2 much longer, but the trip to the Borderlands was the next best co-op replacement for me. It was the exchange and the activity.
Video games like Minecraft (especially when you’re playing on one of the top Minecraft servers) offer variety to make the many evenings virtually interesting, sometimes with friends as after work, or usually much better in the single-player experience (❤️Mass Effect). What great stories I have experienced, on evenings that I “only” coordinated with friends and my partner and in which I was focused, challenged, and entertained for many hours.
Have they all disappeared? Will this be a warning for all those who move from gamer life to another, parental life? Fortunately not. But the effects are manifold and always make me think about what video games and parenthood mean.
Video games have been in my life for a long time. They made up a large part of my school days (NES and upwards) and in my studies (PC) and served there not only as a hobby, but a few times also as a study object. Later, in addition to the full-time work, I played a little less, but always long evenings. There was also a time between school and university when I didn’t play actively at all and thought I had outgrown it. Stupid, I know, because there is nothing to outgrow.
Video games now even have new links to my life. Even the industry is growing up and their parenthood is also flowing into the life worlds of the developers. Why else is there Heavy Rain or the God of War from 2018? Even limbo gains another dimension with this perspective.
Is it time?
In phases, I definitely get to play. But rarely more than two hours. Fatherhood brings with it more responsibility, to which in my case the video game hobby is most subordinate. I take time for jogging, for clamping blocks, where I actively build, without time pressure and without physically or mentally exerting myself, for series that I passively pursue and during which I relax my body. But the active hobby in the virtual has changed the most. Long evenings are (currently) a thing of the past.
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Is it just time?
Shorter sessions, other games. Instead of deep story monsters, they are condensed indies, sometimes pure gameplay pearls or a few songs in Beat Saber.
I now love games that are well-balanced in terms of narrativity and gameplay. And those who have learning curves from which you can sometimes get out and get back in later. So I experienced my time with Horizon Zero Dawn as completely fulfilled. A very good story, but not so confused that you lose touch. Gameplay that develops a flow early on and thus impresses well.
Especially these games, which manage to fascinate me so much that I want to continue and offer me the chances that I can and want to keep up on short game nights, through good quest design, and stimulating achievements. The hunt for power moons in Super Mario Odyssey has been a good game for me just because of that.
It’s no longer games that make it clear to me that I can invest less than two hours of time and stress on several subsequent evenings. Rogue-likes, souls-likes, time wasters who need long evenings where the instinctive reaction has to be trained hard. They no longer fit into my life. Also, games that deliver pure repetitive gameplay and in which you spend your time with the same tasks, as in my eyes car races and sports games. The time is up and I loved Need for Speed: Underground and Dirt 2 at times.
Now I watch Game Two or a few channels on YouTube in between. And in the evening, when really all the favorite series are in the season break, I also play games that no longer fit into my life.
Over time, it is clear that the hobby still gives me something that has a place in my life. I think it’s escapism the most, my ability to operate in other worlds than just the many diverse challenges in everyday life.
The stone is rolling
My children are now six years old, both. Not much longer and the video game and parenting topic will be many facets richer for me.
I’m looking forward to the near future because beautiful games are waiting for me: Horizon Forbidden West and a God of War sequel. I won’t buy them from the start, because I don’t have the time for that (I’m looking at Last of Us 2 and Cyberpunk 2077, now at the top of the pile of shame).
I’m even more looking forward to the first few hours when my kids torment the Joy-Cons and we start playing together and rolling all the questions I’m going to ask myself as a video game enthusiast and dad:
When do I allow my children to play?
Do I put an elaborately curated curriculum with the must-plays of the last 30 years in their hands? Or do I only buy new games that I have chosen with a connoisseur’s eye alone?
I’m excited because my hobby will continue to accompany me as a father and since I grew up with video games, unlike my parents, I can share my own experiences.
So playing parents are now an issue or is it just the “end game”? Joke.
Of course, for me very big, and my hobby gains weight, I approach my game selection with more focus and I look forward to all facets that enrich it over time. And believe me, when the time comes, it will also be an issue for you.
What did I “do” during my last big holiday (Christmas 2021)? In my hand, I had my Switch, various purchases of irresistible offers of great games from the eShop, an hour of Zelda Link’s Awakening, and an hour of Lumines Remastered. Two hours of video game time and much more life with a family with two children.
Did I miss playing? Yes, the expectations were high, but also games and other media have patience and can wait, unlike the moments with children. The urge to be on the latest hype, which has definitely weakened, or if it happens ( Cyberpunk 2077), I was caught up in the parental reality anyway.