With three weeks to go before the arrival of my second child, I thought I would pen a few thoughts about being a gamer dad and also use this as an introduction to Joypad and Me. I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first article written in this vein, but as someone who has a passion for gaming, I thought it would help me cope with the situation. If I was commenting on twitter, I feel I would be forced to hashtag this sort of thing as #firstworldproblems, but as that is a fairly tired meme, I appreciate the opportunity to talk about it on here.
I have been a gamer, off and on, since the days of the Sinclair Spectrum, and only really missed out on the Playstation 2 era, due to the whole ‘getting an education and job’ sort of thing. I am old enough to have been a gamer back when it was fashionable in the 80′s. Now that I approach my 40s (yes I know, I look MUCH younger) I find I have that classic scenario of having enough cash to afford gaming but am too time-starved to enjoy playing. Strangely, being a new parent, gaming has proved to be a great value for money leisure activity, as I very rarely get out into the real world, and I’m pretty sure this is why my wife tolerates it.
Let me set the scene in our household. We have a communal lounge with the standard flat screen set up and attached consoles (PS3 and XBox). Next door we have a small office with another flat screen TV, with a Mac, second PS3 and Onlive console attached. I am recently the proud owner of a PS Vita too. I do consider myself very lucky to own all these devices, but I do work my nuts off to afford such trinkets. When I look back at how much I used to spend on fast cars and loose women, it doesn’t seem such a concern. My life now revolves around work, work I bring home, childcare and gaming. In the daytime, when I’m not at work, our television is pretty much used as a remote-control parent for our 3 year old; the PS3 becomes a kiddy-TV jukebox via the wonders of Netflix (my PSN buddies probably wonder why I spend so much time using this service). In the evening after the all the parenting chores are finished, we have two precious hours slumped in front of the big screen before we throw ourselves, exhausted into bed.
This is my quandary. Come ten pm, during the week, I have what I like to call, ‘my golden hour’ of gaming before I, too, hit the sack. My job demands that I get up very early in the morning, and that I come back late in the evening, with extra work to do when I’m home. My life is at odds with my passion. I find it hard to commit to online gaming, which I do love. I recently joined a BattleField 3 platoon, with some great, committed like-minded individuals who took their gaming seriously, not the clichéd, shouty 12 year olds who obviously never leave their bedrooms and who must feed themselves by an IV drip. It was great working as a team, and also, I admit it, earning lots of XP by being in a team of much more experienced players. However this was short-lived as life took over. Now these newfound friends linger on my buddies list, their game status glaring at me like angry children in the playground. I do tend to find the majority of my gaming time being single-player based short spats.
Becoming part of a community at Big Red Barrel and here at Joypad and Me, has worked wonders for this conundrum. Both communities have a range of players of all ages and sexes who all have their own life-challenges and it has made gaming such a pleasurable experience, as everyone just understands. Being able to chat on social networks, website forums and listening to the podcasts has allowed me to drench my life in gaming, even when I am not near a console. In fact online gaming has led me to be involved with Joypad and me. I do see myself playing games right into retirement when, I imagine ironically, I’ll be too old to dash around the holo-decks of the future. See you on the other side of the screen.
Darth Nutclench (Jon Evans)