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Gaming with kids - how to YOU do it!?


Colonel Panic
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Before having a kid, I used to see gamers with children lumped into two groups. 

 

1) No more gaming

2) Gaming at the expense of sleep

 

I've found I'm fitting in between both of those. Our child sleeps through the night, mostly, so technically I have the evenings back but obviously there's all sorts of other things to do and also, I'm fucking WRECKED from being up at 6am, working and taking care of him at the weekends.

 

I can't complain too much, handheld and retro gaming are both my friends. I finished Metroid Dread, I went back to Samus Returns, Played through all the other Metroid games I could handle and have even started playing Returnal again!

 

But things like Elden Ring... I made a lot of progress early on, at the expense of sleep, and not as I come back to it I'm bouncing off as it's just too big and overwhelming.

 

Not really looking for solutions, just curious how other people handle it.

 

And for bonus points... are your kids into gaming? When did you start introducing them?

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I’m in between. I still game, but never at the expense of sleep. The Switch has been my saviour, and I usually play it in bed for a bit, and since buying a Razer Kishi I can use my iPhone to play some PS5 Remote Play in bed too. Some nights I’ll only manage 10 minutes before I’m sleepy, some nights a bit longer.

 

My gaming tastes have definitely changed though. I now actively avoid anything that looks too stressful, and prefer cute and colourful platformers, puzzle games, and JRPGs these days :lol:

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My 12 year old regularly games with me and has done since she could hold a controller. My 7 month old seems to enjoy watching me play Monster Train, so often she is sitting in on my knee while I play. Obviously Monster Train doesn't require hours at a time so that generally works for me to grab a game or 2 here and there. 

 

I would never sacrifice sleep nowadays. I used to game till 3am when the eldest was a baby but I can't function without a full night's sleep now that I'm in my 40's. 

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I've found a few games that I can play with the kids - Tony Hawks and Minecraft Dungeons for example, which scratches some of the itch. Other than that, it's predominantly once they're in bed. I don't tend to play a lot that requires extended sessions, and don't really do online gaming, so I can have a quick go or just pause / save and switch off if something requires my attention. 

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Yeah don't sacrifice sleep. My habits have changed so much, I just go for bitesize quick lift games nowadays so no more 12 hr shifts on Zelda etc!

 

Playing quite a lot of Fortnite with my 7 year old, he has a remarkable skillset! :lol:

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My taste have definitely changed, I am too tired for competitive shooters for example.  However the thing with kids is the situation changes as they get older.  Its hard when they are young, waking up in the night and/or getting up early.  However that changes as they get old so you may be able to make more time in your routine.

 

Also you can play games with you kids when they get older and seeing the wonder as they experience things for the first time is brilliant!

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I've just had my second and to be honest the past few weeks I've had very little time to game. Typically prior to that it was when the little one went to bed about half 7 I could then sit down and play some games.

 

Now with a newborn baby I spend that time looking after the young un and doing housework while my wife catches up on sleep.

 

The Switch has seen more use though as it's easy to carry round the house, pick up and put down and i'm playing Triangle Strategy so I can normally get through a cutscene or 2, undertake a battle or 2 and then put it down so I guess it might affect the sort of games I play.

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I've played 85ish hours of Elden Ring since release with a newborn on my chest. He seems to like the dualsense buzzing against his butt. He's only a few weeks old so he doesn't need much besides warmth and feeding/changing every 3 hours or so. He's starting to become more interactive and fussy this past week though. I should be doing more, we recently bought and moved into a new house and it needs loads of work. But most of that is impossible or ill-advised while there's a newborn in the house so it's all on pause for now. I'm basically switching between working from home, doing housework, walking the dog, and looking after the wean on the sofa.

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I try not to play things which get me stressed out as I don’t want any negative emotions to be felt by my kids, but other than that my habits have not changed too much. Something like Elden Ring, I’m just resigned to the fact I’m going to be taking it slow and I only play at weekends so I can stay up late. I’ve naturally drifted away from ‘big’ games and prefer skill based or arcade style things, so not a lot of time commitment needed for those sort of things.

 

They both loved watching me play Valkyria Chronicles recently, and even gave up some of their screen time so they could watch. I used to watch my dad playing Chuckie Egg, same thing I suppose.

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I definitely game less, as it's pretty much restricted to the evenings once my daughter is in bed, and has to compete for time with a myriad of other priorities. I also tend to focus on the Switch as I find it easier to pick up and play using the handheld mode, so much so that I sold my Series X as it just wasn't being used...

 

I enjoy games a lot more now though. I'm not sure if my tastes have changed, but now I only play stuff I'm enjoying. If a game is boring or frustrating me I'll just let it go or look up a walkthrough. 

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On a typical week night, I'll play games from about 8.30, once my son is asleep, until 10.30 before I go to bed to read. That two hour slot is the only focused leisure time I get at home each day, and I'll often have to decide whether I spend it doing exercise, spending time with my wife, watching TV or films, or anything else just for me. I try to keep it as sacred as possible and massively resent when it gets taken away from me. At the weekends and holidays I'll stay up until 12-12.30 each night because my son sleeps in until about 7 most mornings.

 

The time when I most miss gaming is usually at the weekends in the daytime. Time was I could sit down for an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon and play for a bit, but not anymore! My son is getting older now, however, and even though he isn't old enough to play with me properly, he still enjoys watching me gad about in Mario, for example. I'm thinking of picking up the new Kirby so we can play that together.

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Main problem I have now is I can't play "adult" games (like Yakuza or GTA) in front of my daughter so they have to wait until she's gone to bed. By which time I'm generally too tired to play anything so don't.

 

Fist of the North Star has been waiting for me to continue playing since August :(

 

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There’s no such thing as “staying up late to do some gaming” on any day when you have a bio alarm clock who wakes up at 6am no matter what. 
 

Have recently gone to bed at like 7:30pm for the first time since I was about 5 years old, just to cope with the sleep sitch.
 

On the flip, I have managed to recently complete DaS but I think that’s thanks to wfh and playing on my “lunch break”…

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My son's 26 and has been gaming himself since he was 4. 

 

I was 21 when he was born and gaming on N64 and PS1 and Dreamcast.  I gave up sleep tbh but it was really easier to do that when I was young.  

 

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1 hour ago, Moz said:

I've played 85ish hours of Elden Ring since release with a newborn on my chest. He seems to like the dualsense buzzing against his butt. He's only a few weeks old so he doesn't need much besides warmth and feeding/changing every 3 hours or so. He's starting to become more interactive and fussy this past week though. I should be doing more, we recently bought and moved into a new house and it needs loads of work. But most of that is impossible or ill-advised while there's a newborn in the house so it's all on pause for now. I'm basically switching between working from home, doing housework, walking the dog, and looking after the wean on the sofa.

 

I got more gaming in when my son was immobile! It's impossible now.

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I'll usually play of an evening after my 4yo has gone to bed. I had a chance to play Elden Ring for an hour while she was playing some educational games on the ipad but i didn't feel comfortable playing it in front of her. Not sure if i'm being daft or not but it is quite violent especially to someone who doesn't yet have the concept of death/violence*

 

 

 

 

*my daughter, not me

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I play co-op games every Tuesday night with my brother on Xbox live. 
 

Personally I’ve imposed device screen time restrictions on myself between 20:00 and 07:30, and this has resulted in more time playing games instead of idly scrolling. I think since I turned on screen time, I have got another 70 shrines in BoTW. 
 

For the kids, we have written screen time rules, these allow my nine year old 2 x 45 minutes a week. He has recently finished Mario Odyssey and is currently playing Sneaky Sasquatch on Apple TV. My six year old isn’t as motivated by games, but she enjoys Mario Kart and Fruit Ninja. 

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18 minutes ago, timgp said:

Personally I’ve imposed device screen time restrictions on myself between 20:00 and 07:30, and this has resulted in more time playing games instead of idly scrolling.


This is interesting, how much time have you given yourself in the timeframe?

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I stop playing WoW and anything multiplayer.  It's partly due to limits on time/tiredness but also quality of free time.  While the kids are up I can't really do anything that can't be interrupted. 

 

For the last few years I've relied on steaming to laptops or a tables quite a lot.  Either from my desktop or these days xCloud and Gforce Now.  It lets me grab a bit of game time on between tea and bedtime etc, where I can still keep an eye on them.*

 

Gamepass and free Epic stuff has been absolutely brilliant for finding things to play.

 

I'd like to do a bit more evening couch coop with Mrs Cheapchips. We struggle to find stuff though.  It's rubbish when a game that absolutely should have it, like Diablo 2 Rescalped, lack such an obvious feature.

 

* Prevent pre bedtime raids into the kitchen.

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8 minutes ago, Paulando said:


This is interesting, how much time have you given yourself in the timeframe?

 I would say it has probably given me 2 x 45 mins gaming a week on average, along with more reading and other activities. 
 

I tend to put my phone by the coffee machine at 8pm now and then pick it up again when I come down in the morning. 
 

Ymmv, but it’s working well for me. I’m just using the iOS built in stuff, so I can always override if I want but it’s enough of a deterrent for me to have formed some habits I prefer. 

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I’m a divorcee with three kids, so that doesn’t leave me a lot of time to game but I bought a PS5 primarily for me (under the pretence of it being for my middley - boy 8 - who is gaming crazy). I tend to play for an hour or so most nights after the kids are in bed so don’t make great progress and don’t bother trying to be at the bleeding edge (I’ve just started playing Ghost of Tsushima).

 

My eldest - girl 10 - has only just started showing interest in games really, stuff like It Takes Two and Overcooked and iOS rubbish floats her boat. Probably my fault because when she was little and the only child I still played adult content and kept it till she was asleep and chores were done.
 

When the aforementioned middley came along I had settled into fatherhood and quite happily played at all hours with him sat in my lap watching. All sorts of games. Overtime it became something I could do with him, he showed interest and developed his own interests. He’s played games he probably shouldn’t have (both TLoU games and loved them) but he’s quite mature for 8 and (I think, or hope) understands these are just games. He’s a good lad. My stance with adult content is that if we can talk about it together and I can get a sense of what he’s feeling or thinking about the subject I’ll let him dip his toe in the water and see how it pans out. He takes a ‘no’ or ‘enough now’ with good grace. The only game I’m still holding out on with him is GTA V. Not because of the game play really, more the language that is everywhere. That’s suddenly become more difficult because I just paid up for the PS5 enhanced version.

 

My youngest - boy 5 - looks up to his big brother and took a lead from him and very early on connected up with the Take Two lego games. He loves the marvel avengers lego and has pretty much figured it all out and unlocked all the minifigs by himself, it’s also really solidified his reading skills. Dead chuffed. 
 

So now I have the PS5 downstairs (generally used by whomever gets there first whether it’s to watch stuff or game). A switch that’s somewhere in the house with whichever kid picked it up. My old PS3 upstairs on a tv in the boys room. And my PC and steam catalogue on another tv in another room. When there is down time and no stuff to do you can generally find my kids playing somewhere. They do get fresh air though when the weather is fine. It’s all worked out to be quite balanced (now were out of the initial trauma of the divorce). And then when they’re all finally asleep I either catch an hour myself, or continue bashing away at Clash Royale with the rest of the muk

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I’ve changed the kind of games I play. No more big, sprawling, confusing-systems which you forget when you come back to it type games. Replaced those with more shmups, run n guns and arcade style or retro games.

Haven’t looked back tbh :) 

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18 minutes ago, timgp said:

 I would say it has probably given me 2 x 45 mins gaming a week on average, along with more reading and other activities. 
 

I tend to put my phone by the coffee machine at 8pm now and then pick it up again when I come down in the morning. 
 

Ymmv, but it’s working well for me. I’m just using the iOS built in stuff, so I can always override if I want but it’s enough of a deterrent for me to have formed some habits I prefer. 


Sorry, I meant how much screen time have you allowed on your phone between those times? Or does it just block everything?

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Same as a lot of people, I get about an hour or two in a night once everyone has gone to bed and then maybe a couple hours during weekends if my partner takes the kids somewhere without me (pretty rare though). Also with wfh I’ve been getting some good gaming lunch breaks in when it’s a rainy day.

 

I do kind of resent that our hobby isn’t as sacrosanct as something like football. Which for some households seems to be ringfenced time at the weekend that people can either go to watch a match or watch at home no questions asked. I got no chance of using the TV before anyone else has gone to bed in my house.

 

 

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My gaming time has evaporated since becoming a dad. Less so at first, because my step daughter was a little older and self sufficient, so I still got through a lot of 360 titles (everyone basically watched me play out the Mass Effect trilogy). As the family grew, this just ground to a halt and, honestly, I just stopped console gaming for a long time. I briefly dabbled with as many mobile games as I could tolerate (way, way less F2P bullshit back then) and did actually put a lot of hours into EA's Real Racing 3 on my Nexus 7 tablet, before that died (~13 months from new - Asus are such cheapskates). 

 

I think things have improved a lot since the kiddos are getting older. Definitely, them being able to participate and play coop is a huge help. These days, we quite often all play Minecraft together (splitscreen, or multiple consoles and my PC, etc.) and there are loads and loads of awesome coop titles about.

 

Obviously, me time is more limited, and I tend to keep my historic stabbing simulators to play at night when they're all in bed. My son, for example, has a strong moral compass and "was that quite necessary?" at me when I took out a guard, minding his own business, from behind. I think I'm in a good groove now, on a good night I might get about 45-60 minutes in. But that does mean I play fewer games these days, I'm 67 hours into Odyssey, and am enjoying it so much I still have about half the map to do. This has taken me about 3 months, I think.

 

Having said that, they're playing way less now. To be expected as they get older and are interested in different things. Son is getting into Scratch so I may have to dig out a guide to help him get into Minecraft java ed, see what coding we can do there, having discovered my new laptop can actually run it at an acceptable framerate (it sucks, compared to bedrock edition).

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6 minutes ago, Sarlaccfood said:

I do kind of resent that our hobby isn’t as sacrosanct as something like football.

Think it probably varies, my wife is always suggesting I play something. But I'm weird and have developed this parental need to keep cleaning and other guff around the house instead of thinking about me, during quiet moments on the weekend etc.

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I stuck a controller in his hand as soon as he could hold one.

 

mind you I sticking on Cars LongPlay YouTube videos on for him to play along to.

 

too young to know any different.

 

now we argue over his fifa/F1/rocket league playtime.

 

he gets REALLY angry about the idea of me playing games after he’s gone to bed, but honestly I’m too tired…

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I used to play anything that came out at least for a little bit. I am super careful these days of just sticking to things I am enjoying. I play about 3 games a year these days. But I play the shit out of each one. I abandon games very easily. When I really get into something I will do one or two hours a night between 9-11. If things are going well I end up taking a break for a few weeks and spending a bit more time with my wife. If things are going bad I end up jumping from one game to the other and my personal life suffers. I sometimes loose the plot and end up staying up until 1 or 2. That’s really bad.

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