Being a Parent and a Gamer.

How to be a tightwad with your (little) free time. Part 1!

Photo Credit: Mrs. Tightwad Gamer.

It has been a great while since my last article, but this week’s article will open up as to why there’s not been a lot of content posted on the site. It’s my goal to get back to a regular posting schedule and publish an article every other Wednesday. I have a lot of hopefully cool content that readers will enjoy.

We welcomed our first child in October, and that brought a world of changes. It has been a truly life-changing moment for us. We love our little one so much and it’s been challenging, heartwarming, and full of awesome memories already. One emerging thought I had during the months prior to our son’s birth was if/how I’ll still enjoy gaming as a parent. Our site is really about being frugally minded while enjoying video games — frequently focusing on the financial side of things. Now several months into being a parent to a wonderful kiddo I’ve come to understand my free time is my most scarce resource.

I am writing this article in conjunction with a snapshot survey of the Racketboy Community — I wanted to capture the responses of fellow gaming compatriots who have children and continue to find time to enjoy video games. Our interview questions focused on the intersections of being a parent and enjoying video games as a hobby. Outside of time spent gaming, have the types of games they’ve played changed? Do they see their children taking an interest in gaming? Their insights I really appreciated as a new parent, and I hope either they are relatable or provide some take-away wisdom. Today, I’ll be sharing the responses of three people: Racketboy Nick, Tanooki, and BoneSnapDeez. Additionally, I’ll share three additional member’s responses and my own reflections in two separate follow-up articles.

Amount of Time Spent:

As a parent, has there been a change in how frequently you are able to play games?

Racketboy: “My little guy turned five this week — we’ve been playing games together here and there for a couple years. We probably play a little bit even other day together.”

Tanooki writes: “Yes, once she was old enough to start wanting to do things and not just play alone, and earlier when she was a baby or toddler. A lot more basic things were needed and lots of sleep at that age so time was more available than now.”

BoneSnapDeez: “Slightly. I actually never sank a ton of time into gaming in the first place, to be honest. I will say this: the potential to have an all-day lazy gaming day on a Sunday or whatever has been destroyed since having kids. That’s the only “big” difference I’ve noticed.”

How many hours a week on average did you play before your kid(s) were born? Did this change when your kid(s) were just born or very young.

RB: “Right before he was born, I actually wasn’t playing a bunch as I was in the middle of a lot of work/business stuff. I’ve picked up more in the last few years as work stuff has changed and I also share with him. I honestly don’t think it changed too much — sometimes you stay up late with the baby and play games or watch Netflix”

T: “I really don’t remember, it kind of depends on what game(s) I was into at the time. I had a best friend at work then though too so in the evening I’d put an hour or a few into the Guild Wars games until he died suddenly on Christmas a few years back. But during the day 1-2 hours, sometimes more if the game demanded it. I got lucky I had a baby/toddler that didn’t need to be fed, changed, and handled every hour of the day and night, good eater and sleeper so there was minimal impact.”

BSD: “Maybe 12-15 before. Dropped down to 7-10 after. Maybe less. When my daughters were newborns I don’t think I played anything for the first month or so of their lives.”

How did this change as your children have gotten older?

Racketboy: “As they have gotten older, I team up with them on games more. We just got a Wii U, so we are loving Nintendo Land together.”

T: “I’m mostly the go-to to take her to her activities after school and I do pick up so I’m up at 6 to work, off at 2 and head over that way at that point. Mostly I can game on a mobile device (Gameboy to 3DS or likely iPhone) unless it’s after 7 or so when it’s bedtime. I do play games with her though so there are times.”

BSD: “Gradually risen. Back to 12 weekly hours or so.“

Types of Games:

Before you were a parent, what were the most common genres you enjoyed?

RB: “Fighting games, strategy, platforms.”

T: “I don’t have a set taste, so nothing has changed about my choice, just when and where I can get away with it.”

BSD: “RPGs, platformers, simplistic old arcade and Atari type games. This is simply what I’ve always enjoyed.”

Did you have a preferred platform for gaming?

RB: “Mostly Sega stuff.”

T: “Primarily handheld, has been since N64 had issues 20 years ago. So right now it’s Switch, other mobile devices, my PC, then retro consoles.”

BSD: “Mainly 2nd-4th gen. Atari 2600, NES, SNES, PCE, and Genesis seem to get the most use.”

Did becoming a parent change the types of games you enjoy or the types of platforms you play them on?

RB: “I still enjoy the same [genres], but I play more platforms and party type games now.”

T: “Not at all. If I were a console gamer more than handheld it would have, it’s easier when you’re on the go, but since I wasn’t it hasn’t changed.”

BSD: “Platforms remain relatively consistent. I now play a lot more two-player stuff with my eldest daughter. Or, I should say, the two-player mode of games I previously always played solo — Contra, Mario Bros., Bubble Bobble, and so on.”

Enjoying Games with your Kids:

Have your children become interested in video games as a free-time activity?

RB: “Yup!”

T: “Yes. Funny little story I would play them when she was old enough to sit up after age one in my lap, and one day I was playing River City Ransom EX on my GB Micro and she grabbed it out of my hand. She mashed on the button a bunch and took a dude out, and it did the classic BARF! I never really got her into it, but she saw my stuff and got curious.”

BSD: “My oldest wants to do it most every day, yes.”

Was there an age that you started enjoying video games together?

RB: “Probably like 3 years old. But he would chime in on Guitar Hero when he was 2.”

T: “Aside from the story above, two years ago I got her her first device, a really sweet deal on a clean girl owned Gameboy Color berry colored handheld with a pokemon pikachu pouch and a stash of games on Labor Day. She enjoyed it a lot so it grew from there as my mom gave her her barely used pink DS Lite, and as they came out I got her both the NES and SNES Classic Edition which she does the Mario and Kirby games on. I now have a Neo-Geo arcade cabinet, a modern cocktail 60in1 iCade, and Pin-Bot and she loves that stuff. Really on the MVS she loves the Bust-A-Move games, various games like Pac-Man to Burgertime on the iCade, and Pin-Bot would be obvious as it’s real pinball. She can do tablet gaming as well, likes both.”

BSD: “Probably when she was 3 (almost 4?) or so.”

Are there specific games that your kids enjoy that you now enjoy (perhaps even begrudgingly)?

RB: “My son likes Guitar Hero/Rock Band more frequently than I would play. We like similar games (although he’s not old enough for all the stuff I like). It’s more about the convenient timing of the day (especially when you work from home)”

T: “She loves the 8bit and 16bit Super Mario and Kirby games console and handheld. As I pointed out already too Bust-A-Move games on the Neo-Geo and I got her a GBC version as well. A typical kid she loves the childrens games on GBA and DS usually licensed but thankfully some of the better items around Hello Kitty, Ponies, Nick stuff, and definitely those pet/horse care type games. She even likes those decent Famicom based Hello Kitty games too so I’ll pull those out as she likes to use my import games/kits on my consoles too.”

BSD: “I play certain puzzle games with my daughter now that I previously didn’t have much interest in — Bust-a-Move comes to mind, along with that Hello Kitty game on PSX.”

Are there any restrictions as a parent you place on the games your kids play, content specific or amount of time?

RB: “We are trying to work in a time system, but he gets to play maybe 30 min to an hour a day but then gets to watch if me or my wife play.”

T: “She has attention issues with focus, is exceptionally smart and gets stuff done, but a talker. So besides punishments for behavior slip ups at home or school, she’s allowed time to play and even has a kids fire tablet which on there it has a set cut off time for non-reading type fun stuff. The other it’s monitored, kind of just depends how it goes but she doesn’t waste hours on it so there’s currently no need to say you get 30 minutes and it’s over or you lose it. Content, we buy the stuff, so obviously it’s the K rated level stuff, nothing E10/T/M with the ESRB.”

BSD: “Content isn’t an issue with the older stuff, generally, though my wife got ticked when she saw us playing Streets of Rage, haha. Generally when I play a game with my daughter we won’t go beyond 30 minutes or so.”

Racketboy Honorable Mentions: Any favorite classics that you enjoyed as a younger version of yourself that you’ve gently nudged them into trying? How were the results?

RB: “Sonic and Mario were great successes! He’s enjoyed a lot of 16-bit stuff, but he’s also enjoyed NES and certain Atari 2600 stuff!”

T: “Well yeah, why do you think I got her the NES and SNES Classic Edition? The NES was a surprise got it the day they canceled the original run, and the SNES I smuggled into a closet as a just from me Christmas gift last year. I know her current limits so I got her more focused on the various Mario and Kirby games listed, and I’ll have her do others as she loves Kirby’s Dream Land 3 on my console. As I see her skills go I’ll throw her something on her system like Balloon Fight, Mario Kart, Dr Mario and see how it works out as a test and to spread it out. The results are mixed, just depends what she’s capable of. I got the NES in 1985 (dating myself) when I was 7 almost 8, so I can’t quite expect the same proficiency from a 5 and 6 year old around those things but she’s improving.”

BSD: “Actually, my daughter has recently been getting into RPGs. She’s made it through the first hour or so of Final Fantasy. Since I don’t want to torture her I’m having her play the GBA port rather than the NES original.”

I want to personally thank Racketboy, Tanooki, and BoneSnapDeez for sharing their stories and experiences. I’m signing off now to go give my kiddo a bottle, then perhaps when we’re done playing and reading I’ll fire up my PS4 and play through some Spiderman. Let’s hope he cooperates with naptime! If you’re a parent, going to become a parent, or if you have some thoughts, I’d love to hear you sound off in the comment section below.

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