Gaming With Children

Well, Henry is 3months old now and Maggie is 3 years. Maternity leave just ended and my wife has gone back to her full-time career. Now I’m at home 50 hours a week with two kids, and still trying to review games and pursue other work-related interests. Wheee! It’s a tough transition. I’m curious, how many Quarter to Three forum regulars are either:

A. In a similar boat.
B. Have kids.
C. Play games with their kids?

I could never hold down a career and stay at home full time with my two 5 year-olds. Occasionally I have stayed home with them and tried to get work done and I can’t make it work. I find that if I let them watch too much TV, they are good for a bit, but then they get very cranky with one another. Usually I can count on an hour for myself every so often, but no guarantees. Henry’s birthday falling where it does, school for both those guys is at least 6 years down the road, right? You should consider day care options, even if it’s not a full week and only half days.

As for playing games, I taught my kids how to use a mouse playing games. They enjoy games with branding from their favorite TV shows, like Sesame Street or Blues Clues. We have been experimenting with Tony Hawk 3 lately, but neither of them have very fast reflexes so we mostly just Ollie a lot. We also like NASCAR, as long as options are set to easy and we’re racing at Daytona. Interestingly, the games they seem to enjoy the most are simple Web-based Flash games.

Just remember if you teach them how to use a computer, you may have to eventually share it with them.

Of course, you could always give them a hand-me-down. I have a 12-year old cousin who has an Apple II in her room.

I did that for about 6 months when I was transitioning between jobs. I imagine it must be very difficult to get any actual work done in that situation. That being said I was able to distract my kids with early playstation games. If you try something like spyro or crash they are very simple, have bright colors, and will setup a gamer for life.

They might be a little young yet, but my 4 year old loves toontown.

B and C, but you already knew that, Bub. :)


My daughter’s in second grade now, so I have from 9 AM to 3 PM to game and write in peace. But in the earlier years, I just played with her and did errands and housework “with her” during the hours she was awake, waiting to game until she was napping or tucked in for the night. Nap times might be impossible for you, though, if they both don’t go down for naps together.

So Andrew, all you have to do is go completely without sleep for the next however-many years until they’re both in grade school! Problem solved!

I only have one child, which is easier in some ways because I don’t have sibling bickering to deal with, but harder in some ways because I’m the only playmate available (unless we invite another child over)…

My wife and I run a daycare. We can have up to eight children in our home at once. (7 daycare kids plus my 3 year old son) Been doing this for almost 10 year. Some things that help…

  1. Rooms dedicated to kids. We have 3 1/2 rooms filled with toys and play activities for the kids.

  2. More kids actually equal less work. They play with each other as a rolling mob from room to room. When there are only 1 one 2 they get bored and expect you to entertain them or they start getting into trouble or fight with each other.

  3. Computers. I have 3 computers just for the kids. Each of either a low end pentium II or high end pentium. Each system has a caddy drive so the kids can go to the big bin of games and load games themselves. When they are about 2 and 1/2, they need no assitance and infact perfer to do this activity on their own. We have about 60 educational games

  4. Schedules. Breakfast/snack at 9, 3 hours of them running around and playing, lunch at 12, nap for 1 to 3-4, Snack at 4, 3 hours of running around and playing, dinner at 7, clean up and quiet time (TV, books, puzzles) till bed at 9:00. From this there is about 6+ hours of computer time. Having stick schedules will save you. I’ve worked at home at times (IT, programming, and drafting) and played lots of games.

  5. out door playground and a laptop (and a pocketpc and gameboy). We have a large commerical grade playground in our back yard. We just sit on the porch swing, with bottles water for the kids when they get thirsty and let them play.

This isn’t perfect. I find my personal TV movie viewing is rather low since there isn’t time till they go to be and then you can’t crank up the TV.

My wife worked at home while taking care of our daughter for about 17 months then we put her in preschool. Her situation was a little different as she usually only had to work 4-5 part-time hours a day. Many times though she had to do her more intense projects after I got home. It’s doable, but two kids will be tough. Good Luck, Mr. Mom.


You… only have three months of maternity leave??

D - All of the above

I’m right there with you. I was a telecommunications engineer here in Columbus, Ohio. I was laid off 4 days before my wife had twins. She had only two months of maternity leave and I’ve been Mr. Mom for the last 15 months taking care of the twins, our now 5 year old daughter, the house and looking for a job, and working at night once the unemployment ran out.

I’m home too 50 hours a week with the kids and working 20 hours a week at night on top of that. I’ve been doing that for the last 8 months. Let me tell you what - I’m exhuasted buddy.

My five year old and I like playing some games together. She helps me dispatch zee germans in Combat Mission, moves my ships for me in GalCiv and helps for any of the other games I play (she likes to see the ‘monsters’ in Galciv and the short lived MOO3). We also play all her PC games and that pokemon stadium nintendo game. Nothing cuter than a small daughter flailing away at bad guys on her own little pc…

Congratulations on your new son. :)

May 8 year old daughter has my old PSX, and an old PC on which she plays stuff like Rugrats, 10x Dalmations, Pajama Sam and the like. The only game I play WITH her is Pokemon on the GBC (her) and GBA (me).

She doesn’t learn strategy very well, and she’s still at the “Do it for me” stage instead of the “figure it out myself” stage, which I find irritating because she’s smart but lazy.

Hey, smart but lazy can lead to a lucrative career in game journalism someday! :-)

Hey, smart but lazy can lead to a lucrative career in game journalism someday! :-)

It worked for me!

Well my daughter is 11 months old now. So far I’ve tended to play games when she’s asleep, although she also likes to play quietly by herself in her playpen, so I do sometimes play when she’s awake and amusing herself.

I tried playing “Winnie the Pooh Baby” with her yesterday. She seemed to like it a little bit, but I get the feeling maybe she just enjoyed pounding the hell out of the keyboard.

Carter is 7.5 months old now, and is very much in the “I’m awake, play with me” stage. So when I’m playing Mr. Mom, the only time I can slip in a game is when he’s sleeping.

The majority of my gaming, thus, is between 10:30 and 1 am, after the rest of the house has crashed. :) And on weekends.

I think there may be a gamer or writer hiding in there, though. He absolutely loves to bash on my keyboard. Letting him bash on my Logitech wireless on the floor is good for about 15 minutes of baby entertainment, between making noise and picking it up and turning it over to look at it. (Alas, this isn’t “time for a quick game,” as keys can pop off and be stuck in the mouth, so it’s a supervised activity.)

(Hey Experienced Dads, at what age do these little critters stop putting everything in their mouths?)

My daughter is 3 now. For the last year and a half we have been “playing” games at,, etc. She doesn’t have a lot of interest in manipulating the mouse yet… she’s more into telling me what to do. ;-)

She also has a Playstation I, and the same thing applies – she wants me or her mother to manipulate Spyro, etc., rather than do it herself. I’m sure coordination is an issue, but it also guarantees she has someone to talk to.

Hopefully I’ll raise her right and she’ll grow up liking games…

Career-wise, my wife works half-time but I work full-time. It isn’t easy to find stay-at-home programming gigs.

at what age do these little critters stop putting everything in their mouths?

We’ve stopped? This is news to me.

Wumpus: heh. :)

Denny: mine stopped around 1.5-2, about the time we said good-bye to the binkys. But I bet there is a lot of room for variance.

I do, all the time. My two daughters are 9 and 12.

My older daughter is more into the web games, but we’ve played
Age of Wonders 2 together. My younger daughter is playing
AoM, and had almost finished Diablo2 co-op with a friend on
the LAN in my basement.

I work out of my house four days a week; it’s definitely easier to
get work done now that the kids are in school. :)


Loyd Case

My 2 yr old, Xavier, and I “play” lots of games together. Which is to say, he absolutely loves to watch me play. Mostly platformers, especially Mario or Ratchet & Clank.

He knew how to hold a controller way, way before he could hold a sippie cup. :-) If we sneak out of the room and leave him with the controller he’ll even run the guys around the screen, though whenever we’re in sight he insists that we play instead. :-)