I’ve been a gamer my entire life, starting off with the awesome that was Super Nintendo. I spent the good times and the bad behind a screen as I worked my little brown booty off in order to get to a level where I could one-hit kill bosses or find every single hidden object in my favorite games. I’ve made a lot of cherished friends from World of Warcraft as I played every single day for multiple hours to help defeat a boss with strategy and skill.
However, my life took a sudden turn as I fell head over heels for my girlfriend and we moved in together. She has a four-year-old son who is pretty rad and loves all of the geeky things I show him from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings. Living with them has been nothing but a blessing but has also severely limited my time to play video games. It has gotten to the point where I had to drop out of my WoW Guild Raids because I couldn’t make the six hours a week that was split up into two nights. Dinner, teeth brushing, putting on jammies, reading bedtime stories, and then being a warden to ensure they go to sleep takes a lot more energy than I ever anticipated.
I’ve fallen back to playing faster games like Apex Legends since it is a swift in and out gameplay but even then I feel slighted because I know I could be a better player had I that extra bit of time to really practice. After a few months of being moved in, I couldn’t fight the itch anymore and got Xbox Game Pass where it gives you hundreds of games for a $10/Month subscription fee. While I was excited to have access to newer games like Gears of War 5, The Outer Worlds, and more. The task of finishing any of these games seemed daunting to the point where I simply started game hopping, playing each game for about 40 minutes and then going to another one. Just a taste to see what the hype was about.
Even then I got frustrated since everything I played felt shallow. One day my girlfriend and her son went to the grocery store and I got home from work before they did. I sat in front of Gears of War 4 and I played it on Normal mode. I always have a bit of rust in between game times and thus I died multiple times because I just couldn’t figure out the controls or recall what gun did what.
Upset that I spent a good bit of precious free time dying to basic foes, I dropped from Normal to Easy. Easy is a game mode that I always considered beneath me because I wanted the challenge that the creators intended for players. I felt dirty but sure enough, the forgiveness of Easy mode allowed me to re-learn the game without restarting the level every five minutes and I could make immense progress with such a small bit of time.
It felt incredible to earn a cut scene after so many failed attempts between weeks of small pockets of time. I then realized that in order to adapt to this new culture of helping raise a small child, you need to make the game as easy as possible so you can knock out games.
I applied the same thought process to Destiny 2 where you have to grind for certain items or attend intense raids with groups of skilled players. Instead of focusing on the absolute best build, I looked for easily obtainable builds that would give me enough power to play with friends. The same goes for Apex Legends, choosing easy characters and using strategies known to be effective.
I read a few articles online where folks preach about having a Dad/Mom Mode setting in their games that helps re-explain the current objectives and controls and that would be so amazing. It is interesting to know that I wasn’t the only gamer going through this where we get a small amount of playtime and have to rush to recall what we were doing and where to go.
It is nice to find a good mid-ground for gaming in this time where folks who are parents can still get through games by setting aside their pride and focus on the quick and easy builds. One day we might be able to get back to grinding for gear and staying up all night to binge a game but for now we’ve gotta do what we can to survive.
Also every single day I feel myself becoming more and more like Randy Marsh.