For those who may like to know, on top of being a blogger, I’m also a father. Over the course of last year, my wife and I had to reevaluate our gaming habits, and give up some of the games that we knew we weren’t going to get around to playing, or would not feel comfortable playing, at least not with a little one in the house.
Somethings you just can’t help, though, so there are still games in the house that aren’t totally child friendly that we simply keep locked away until after the baby has gone to bed. These are more or less restricted to after the baby is asleep, if we play them at all. My gaming isn’t completely hurt by this however, so I will be listing what I play instead to contrast, and maybe help someone who also has this struggle also.
So, then, this is my list of 5 Games I Can’t Play, and what games I play in their stead.
Guild Wars 2
Originally bought to help us scratch the MMO itch after being off WoW for over a year, Guild Wars 2 has great environments, interesting character classes and an awesome take on the party system. The graphics, actions, and dialog in this game isn’t terribly offensive, and I wouldn’t have much problem letting the tike try it out. The problem is the format really. Guild Wars 2, like most MMO’s, is a time sink. Getting levels or gear takes little else other than time, but time is a precious commodity right now. Add to that, a particularly tough fight will inevitably be when my daughter will decide to get into the desk drawer full of pointy things. Guild Wars 2 is still installed on the computer, but I haven’t booted it up since shortly after purchase.
— I play instead: Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3
Fighting games, though intense, take far less of an attention span. Since rounds last 99 seconds or less, I can hop in, go a few rounds, and hop out when the family needs me. It is true that I will likely never be a fighting game guru anytime soon at this rate, but it is refreshing to just get in and go. The only caveat is that I have to turn the voices to Japanese, so the little one doesn’t hear Wesker saying the ‘d-word’.
Batman Arkham City
This is a game I really wanted to play to 100% completion. I still got to the end, so I still feel like I accomplished something. The combat system feels great, and navigating the city and finding enemies and other puzzles organically is exhilarating. Unfortunately, the dark atmosphere and character designs are definitely potential nightmare fuel for a little girl. While this one will probably come out once the kids are old enough to handle scary movies, it has to get shelved for a little while.
— I play instead: Super Smash Brothers Brawl
For the satisfaction of beating people down with your fists with none of the mess, there’s nothing better than Smash Brothers. This game has simple controls, much like Arkham City, but has a great deal of depth. Matches by default are only a couple of minutes, and even a stock 3 match doesn’t take very long. More whimsy and a similar fun-factor makes this a win for me.
Mass Effect (series)
We still have the entirety of the Mass Effect series stored away for a rainy day. The action in the second and third installments really gets me going, and the subtle changes to the story in how you play makes me want to play through over and over to see the different ways things can play out. For an M-rated title, Mass Effect is actually pretty tame for the most part too. Still, with the sexual undertones, subtle blood splatters, and occasional coarse language, it’s safer to keep it hidden away than risk pulling it back out.
— I play instead: Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires
While the Dynasty Warriors’ approach to women may be questionable at times, there is nothing downright offensive in the games. Empires is mostly turn based, which requires little active attention. Actual fighting sections last 10 minutes at a time (and most of the time less than that), giving plenty of time to set down the controller to change a diaper or two. The only downside is it’s additive and difficult to put down. This more actively covers for Mass Effect, as you get the adrenaline of defeating hordes of enemies, and the enjoyment of romancing your favorite Chinese hero/heroine (for a more matrimonial reward).
This may seem like an odd choice, if not because I can’t actually put this on a shelf. This downloadable title actually seems like it should be just right; after all, the characters and enemies are colorful, they tell a simple story and individual stages are not that big of a distraction. Where’s the issue? Well, while the game’s humor is certainly childish, that doesn’t make it ‘child-friendly.’ The game is constantly making poo, fart, and other potty-humor jokes, but in addition does feature some blood and gore. While this falls well under the ‘fantasy violence’ category, there’s enough of it to keep it from getting played, and may have to be deleted when my daughter is old enough to navigate the menus.
— I play instead: Scott Pilgrim VS the World
One of the only movie licensed games I can actually stand, Scott Pilgrim VS the World is the perfect beat ’em replacement for Castle Crashers. There’s plenty of leveling and exploring that can and needs to be done. The manga-styled characters range from cool to adorable, and boss fights range from awesome to awesomer. The game-play hits that mark of old-school coin-op machines that feels challenging without complete frustration. While I will likely not be putting on the movie anytime soon, the game is perfectly fine for curious little eyes to stare at for awhile.
I don’t like that this keeps getting into my top lists; however, I can’t help it! It’s still in the house! Fallout 3 is not only the first first-person shooter that I felt strongly about, but is the first that really drew me in like no other game had up to that point. Those who know of this game know the charges against it — the setting is way over a child’s comprehension, and the violence in the series is fairly high as well. Needless to say, my daughter may never know this game was in the house until close to her adulthood.
–I play instead: Kirby’s Return to Dreamland
The only thing that can satiate the violence of Fallout is the tale of a pink puff-ball returning with his friends to consume, devour, and otherwise decimate the inhabitants of Dreamland. Honestly, however, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland is easily the best 2-D platformer on the Wii (take that Mario), and presents a colorful and whimsical atmosphere that I hope will encourage my child’s healthy imagination. What’s more, the game is so co-op friendly that I really can’t wait til we can play this one together. I’ll gladly trade the immersion of Fallout, for the hope of future play-dates any day.
So that’s my list. It was refreshing to talk about gaming and parenting in one go. Let me know in the comments below what challenges you have as a gamer, as a parent, as both, or in general. Be sure to like, and let me know what you would like to see as this channel progresses.
Tagged: batman: arkham city, castle crashers, dynasty warriors 7 empires, Fallout 3, gaming, guild wars 2, kirby's return to dreamland, Mass Effect, parenting, pc gaming, Playstation 3, scott pilgrim vs the world, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, ultimate marvel vs capcom 3, video games, Wii, Xbox 360