Have a Baby, Become a Gamer

Please enjoy the first post from our contributing mom, Laura!

When I was a kid, I played the hell out of old Atari games like Air Sea Battle and Qbert. Here’s a confession: I totally loved the E.T. game. Sometimes I’d get a little nerdy and play games on the ol’ Texas Instruments home computer like Parsec, Alpiner, or Tunnels of Doom (my fave). Somewhere right about the time Nintendo took over and the Mario Bros came about, I abandoned all video gaming.

There was no time for video games when a girl got as obsessed with music (and musicians) as I did after all. One time as a teenager on a strange pseudo-date (that’s a different story), I was taken to the movie theater and talked into playing the Mortal Kombat machine in the lobby. I could handle the repetitive button smashing, but that was probably the only time I ever gave a thought to a video game in my entire teen years.

Somewhere along the line when I was in college in the mid to late 90s, I saw the new video game consoles with their new controllers and was immediately scared away by the ridiculous number of buttons. I was an Atari girl at heart after all, so what more did you need than one button to smash and one stick to lean the way you want to go? Perhaps once in a while you got fancy and had to use the paddle control to knock square pixelated balloons down in Circus Atari.

All of a sudden it’s 2007 and I find myself staying up or attempting to nap in little bursts all day and night and limited to sitting in one chair in my house because my newborn daughter refuses to sleep or stop crying unless she’s laying on me. TV options at 4 a.m. get terrible after a while. The Xbox controller still bothered me with its seemingly endless knobs, buttons, and I-don’t’-know-whats. I also had a giant Boppy pillow permanently glued around my waist with a 12 pound infant laying across it kind of getting in the way of holding anything. However, our household had acquired a Wii the Christmas before and there was something about the controller that looked a little less intimidating. Less buttons. Smaller. Also, the 4 foot long wire to attach the secondary nunchuck controller (with a bonus tinier amount of knobs and things) did something amazing that no other controller could do: It allowed me to keep my arms 2 feet apart, carefully cradling a sleeping baby between, and still play. Now what game to play?

Obviously not Wii Sports with that set up. The first thing that got my attention was My Sims. I know it wasn’t popular and Animal Crossing has the crown for what this game was trying to do, but it came out at the right time and did the right thing. It kept my sanity during all those days of being so tired and so stuck in the house. I played the hell out of it until I would literally get sad when I realized that I had unlocked the last area or discovered the last new tree or essence to mine. Luckily Nintendo put out a couple more titles for this series before abandoning it, so I played the hell out of them too. My Sims will forever be one of my absolute favorites (even if one bad review said it was something only people of a single-digit age would enjoy- gee, thanks), and it directly led me to my love of Animal Crossing.

Once I had conquered the slightly less buttons Wiimote, the Xbox controller seemed a little less intimidating to take on. Besides, while I was getting used to the Wii in late 2007, I was watching my husband play Bioshock and realized that if I loved watching it that much, I could be even more into it if I could play it (I was). It didn’t take long before I was playing Bioshock myself, Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, and Oblivion and obsessing over all of them. Now that my babies are not babies anymore, I actually have a lot less time at night to play all of these games, and I wish I had the time to. The positive trade off is that now at 4 a.m. you will find me sleeping.

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