My parents didn’t really play video games, so I shouldn’t either once I become a parent, right?
Yeah, quitting something you love makes you a real adult, a real stupid adult. Your parents didn’t watch much Netflix or post on Instagram either. Your grandparents watched less television and listened to less rock ‘n’ roll than your parents. Gaming is simply a young medium, and if your grandparents had the opportunity to stomp Goombas when they weren’t playing stickball, they would have. Giving up gaming because you feel like that’s what society expects will only make you a bitter adult, and that’s what society really wants. Don’t let them win!
The bad news however is that you will most definitely have FAR LESS time to play games, especially right after the youngling hatches. The little meat sacks are pretty helpless, so for the first few months, you’ll be doing more diapering than XP grinding. Thankfully, there’s always precious, precious nap time. Eventually, your spawn will reach its next evolution, which includes, babbling, crawling, and most importantly, controller-holding.
Everyone wants their children to like what they like. Sharing interests is an important part of bonding, which is something I wish I’d known when my daughter began showing interest in things other than eating and sleeping. I naively thought that parents who slap sports jerseys on their toddlers were just narcissistically imprinting their own interests onto empty baby-brain hard drives. Stupidly, my punk-rock style overreaction was to do the polar opposite and keep all my geeky interests away from her and let her discover them on her own. Man, that was a stupid idea.
It didn’t dawn on me then, but babies aren’t exactly told to check out TMNT by fellow babies around the baby water cooler. They don’t see baby retweets on Baby Twitter about how great Batman is. In addition to feeder, clothier, and guardian, you are your kid’s media gatekeeper. If you don’t show something to them, it essentially doesn’t exist in their world. Being the less intuitive and more neurotic of the parenting duo, this didn’t click for me until after hearing my daughter request “Awiel” and “Fwozen” music in the car. We’d watched several different Disney flicks together, but these ones stuck. That’s when I realized that variety was not only the spice of life, but also the cheat code to unlocking gaming with my kid.
Like I said before, gaming is a medium now, not just a niche hobby. There’s something for all tastes, you just need to find what your kiddo is into. The animated style of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD mesmerized my daughter at 5 months and she’s been a big “Tendo” fan ever since. Now 2 years old, she’s expanded her palette to include Rocket League, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, DuckTales: Remastered, and all things Mario. However, a friend of mine’s kid would rather watch his dad “fight the big monsters” in Dark Souls and Bloodborne, all the while actually rooting for the monsters. The key is knowing your kid, which isn’t as hard as you think as they’re not very subtle when they dig something.
Interactivity is what sets video games apart from other mediums, making it—in my obviously biased opinion—superior to music, film and TV, especially when it comes to bonding. Long before she could even try to control a game, I slapped a dead controller in my daughter’s hands so she could “help Dada.” Even if she’s just watching, “we” always beat the bad guys and “we” always find the flag at the end of every Mario level.
People who claim to dislike music, TV or film altogether are robots and should be reported to the proper authorities, so the same goes for video games. Show your kid EVERYTHING and something will stick, especially if they see that they can enjoy it with you. Once you do, have fun, nurture that interest, and you’ll be sure to have a Player 2 for life.