A reader explains how he’s managed to be both a parent and a gamer, and how video games can bring the whole family together.
Last year I celebrated an important anniversary: 30 years since I started playing video games. I started when I was only six years old, on none other than the Sega Master System. Since then I have retained all my games and consoles and become known as quite an avid collector and enthusiast. Being born in the 1980s meant that I was able to experience the golden age of gaming, the legends of the 1970s, and all the powerhouse systems that followed from Sony and Microsoft.
Nearly seven years ago was the birth of my first child – a glorious moment in my life. When you become a parent you soon realise that certain things must start taking a back-seat. Leisure activities are obviously one of these, and gaming is often the most leisurely of all.
Gaming for me started to change from the youthful excitement of buying a new game and having to play it immediately, to buying new games that merely look nice on your shelves. Time management was an issue for me as my family had to come first.
In recent years things stepped up slightly. The birth of my second child happened and during the last three years my firstborn has started to dabble in the gaming world himself. I built a mancave outside and until this year I never truly used it. However, the coronavirus lockdown, and subsequent furlough from work, gave me so much more time back that I once again reignited my passion for video games.
After a month arranging my collection, like some sort of internal decorator for Nintendo, I now have a fully operational set-up. I was able to start appreciating the artwork, music, nostalgia, and lore around my games once more.
78 home consoles, a gaming PC, a triple-monitor setup with a 50” HDTV, two gaming chairs, and a library of approximately 3,500 physical games alone, the mancave is now like a museum of childhood nostalgia – filled to the brim with merchandise, oddities, and excitement (especially for my children).
From my first console I owned (the Nintendo Entertainment System) to the Xbox One X and PlayStation VR, everything I have ever purchased is still with me. The ‘Fallout Shelter’ as it has now been dubbed is now a refuge for my family, where video game culture can be fully appreciated.
We can have a cold drink in a Pac-Man glass or enjoy some Amiga-inspired synthwave music while the disco lights are on. If we want to play an Atari 2600 then I have a CRT TV at the ready, or perhaps some VR is more our liking of the day – ultimately, we have the choice.
I have come to realise that being a parent does not mean that you cannot enjoy a hobby. Making time for it, no matter how little, makes it more enjoyable. Sharing the experience of a new game with the family helps bonding and can teach the little ones motor skills, reading, teamwork, and concepts.
Now I use my time to make gaming videos and streams via my alias Fing’rs & Thu’ums.
By reader Jim Cullinane
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