The Life of a Gamer Dad


Just a Little Background

It’s not easy to find a balance between hobbies and responsibilities when you’re a “gamer dad”. In my case, I’ve been a gamer since before I can remember. Playing, watching, and talking about video games seemed like a hobby in itself, and confirmed by today’s gaming culture that it is. It was all fun and…games…until I begun working full time. My extra time was funneled into a few hours between eating, sleeping and working. Finding enjoyment and trying to immerse myself into a game became fairly tough. Most of the time I would be looking back and forth at the clock to see how much time I had left to complete a level, or achieve a goal.

It’s interesting when you look back and see how much gaming rules my social life.I had a small group friends and very little social skills unless I was behind a mic or keyboard. I would be shy and introverted unless pushed into a situation where I had to, dare I say it, talk to people.

From that moment I reached a fork in the road, so to speak. I could remain in solitary confinement for the rest of my foreseeable life, or I could actually start working on forming myself into a social creature again. This is how I met Liz, my now fiance, and the mother of my 9 month old child, Jasper. I’ll skip the lovey-dovey details and get right to the chase.

At first I thought that it was going to be a breeze, being a working dad while mom stayed at home to take care of the child (my trade is  plumbing, by the way). I had to forgo that type of mentality though, as when I got home from my job it was my turn to take care of the little bundle of loud, poopy rage (I say this with love).

I could brag and say that I could’ve taken this challenge head-on and come out unscathed, but to be realistic, I was exhausted everyday, and became irritable if I didn’t have the opportunity to play 15 minutes of whatever game held my interest at the time. Now keep this in mind. I am not a terrible father. I’m not shunning my responsibilities or ignoring my family. The way that I mentally recharge is by sitting by myself in a quiet room and beating the living hell out of whatever virtual antagonist decides to walk past my cross-hairs. Unfortunately, having a newborn son makes this kind of relaxation VERY difficult. So I started to play after people had gone to bed. It worked. I wasn’t inconveniencing anyone and I got to have my alone time.

This continued for a while until I became very irritable with my line of work (plumbing). It pays well, but I had been doing it for 4 years prior with no education; signing up as an apprentice month after month to have the board respond to me “We don’t have a record of you, sorry”. I began to question whether I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I looked at multiple different career paths and came out with one: Journalism. I’ve always been able to write, and I’ve been part of the gaming community since I could push a button and understand the consequences. From that point on, my foray into the game-journalism industry started off proper.

I originally began writing for another gaming site (sorry lads, it’s true) but we had a falling out as I could not prioritize between being a dad, work, leisure and writing. I was eventually relieved of my position on that site. “Ok.” I told myself. “Get back on the horse.”
With that, I sent an email to Karam, the site Founder and Editor-in-Chief (Hello!) (Editor’s note: back ‘atcha!) He gave me a shot, and I’m working to keep up the pace and write when I can. So, now we’re up to date. Jasper is 9 months old, close to 10. I’m still working as a plumber and writing for SpawnFirst whenever possible.

The Balance

Playing well into the night after everyone had gone to bed quickly became completely exhausting. I had to find another way to balance responsibility and pleasure. Thus began my journey of “oh my god I’m gonna go crazy! I need to make this work!” Finding the right balance between being a good father, and still being involved with my love of gaming sounds like the pursuit of someone fairly selfish. But hey, as long as I can find a good balance, right?

I tried playing as soon as I got home, putting in an hour of game time then getting back to my family. That worked for a while until little Jasper began teething. His temper would rival that of The Hulk, so that idea didn’t pan out too well. Then I tried getting in some game time after dinner, after jasper had gone to bed. Nope. Now I was getting carried away and playing well into the night again. Not to mention not spending enough time with “Baby Mama”.

SO. The balance that I found works…is actually something along the lines of flying by the seat of your pants. Whenever I get enough time to play a game, I would need to have spent enough quality time with my son, finish the day’s household chores, worked my full day at my job, of course, spend time with Liz, and do what I can around the house to make it more livable….then I can spend some time relaxing and playing.

“The Balance” is always dynamically changing, and so I need to always be in step with it. I have to be available to stop what I’m doing at the drop of a hat, help out, and then maybe get back into it. Thank god for save files, eh?

In Conclusion

Being a good gamer dad comes down to being available when you need to be, but always being able to adjust on the fly. It’s amazing what this has done for my social life as well. I now host a weekly Dungeons & Dragons session on Monday, Magic the Gathering on Tuesday, and I work the rest of the week (on call on the weekends). I honestly love being a Gamer Dad, and finding the right balance between my responsibilities as a father, significant other, and pursuing my love of gaming is one of the better accomplishments of my life. And hey, when Jasper is older, we’ll probably have some common ground, and an excuse to curb-stomp some deserving zombies. Bwahahahaha!

*The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of SpawnFirst as a whole.