Occasionally, when the stars align properly, I have days when I work from home. I actually should put it this way…I “Work” from home. On these special days, there is a myriad of tasks I could get done. Today, I could have mowed the lawn. I could have cleaned out the garage(again), or cleaned the house, or written an article for my page on powerupsnotincluded.com…but I played Borderlands 2 instead. You’re damn right I took the rare opportunity to play a video game for six straight hours without interruption from spouse or spawn! Such an occasion is rare for a married father of two who doesn’t want his kids to grow up useless to society. As much as I love my wife and kids, my all-day affair with my oldest mistress was exactly what I needed to invigorate me for the normal home life again.
Hell, I even made dinner tonight. Pork roast with a peach chutney. Suck it, Emeril Lagasse.
For a gamer with obsessive/addictive personality traits, there is nothing more relaxing than pretending that nothing else matters for a while, giving in fully to the urges I have to just play games all day. It is impossible for me to forget completely my responsibilities, but this day offered to me as much of a reprieve as was possible. With a friend who just so happened to be home at the time, I blazed through the levels in Borderlands 2 and probably respecced my character three times trying to find out the best build for a Siren. Without distraction, I was able to fully enjoy the game’s charm (Tiny Tina is now a permanent member of the “Random voices in my head” club) and fully engage in the action.
If you haven't met Tiny Tina, you haven't truly lived.
Like any dream, however, it had to end. As I powered off my Xbox and picked up my scraps of snack food before the family started coming in from work and school, I remembered an old co-worker I lived in the same neighborhood with who complained about his kids and wife disturbing his gaming sessions. The dude would literally send his kids outside to play “until the street lights came on” under the guise of being an old-school father figure, but then he would play Everquest all day. And all night Friday night. And then sleep away a perfectly good Saturday, waking up in time for the raid Saturday night and growling angrily at anyone who disturbed him beforehand. Did I mention the town we lived in was a mere 30 minutes from the beach? I don’t think he ever went, though he did complain at work that his wife always wanted to go. He explained that there wasn’t really anything special about the beach, exhibiting a standpoint of supposed practicality and shrewdness to cover for the fact that he really just wanted to play Everquest. His kids practically lived at the neighborhood playground during their daily exile, and I occasionally would catch them doing all sorts of shady things with all sorts of shady people. What outcome was expected? They were being raised by their ‘friends’ at the playground. I felt sorry for the kids, and I often considered scolding the co-worker for forcing his family into such a life. I only said something to him about the issue once, trying to be as reasonable and comforting as I could possibly muster, and realized that the man was truly afflicted with an addiction to gaming when he snapped back at me with hate and nonsense.
I guess the thing I liked least about working with this person was the fact that he talked about Everquest ALL THE TIME. Did I ever get an informal, thought-provoking review from this gentleman? Nope, I got story after prideful story of how he would grief people and cheat. He was the poster child for why I don’t play MMO’s anymore. Well, that and the fact that I can’t guarantee my playtimes due to family obligations. Unlike my co-worker I have been describing, family comes first. It has to, regardless of what game comes out or who wants you to come to join in on some multiplayer action. If I was a single guy you would have to peel me from my couch with a giant spatula to get me to go anywhere, and I would probably just pause the game and turn off the TV so it was ready the second I came back. Married guys like to say things like “At least I’m not going out to the bar like whats-his-face does, would you rather me do that and spend $80 a week or stay home?” C’mon, Son! If you were doing that, you’d have a lot more problems than explaining away your gaming addiction and why it has to affect your relationships with your immediate family.
Ed Lover does NOT approve of your gaming addiction excuses, and wants you to pay attention to yo' damn kids!
Reader, if you take away anything from this article let it be this: Everquest sucks, and with great gaming comes great responsibility. As someone who grew up getting yelled at for bothering a Dad who was totally enamored with strategy games on the NES (Look up Shingen the Ruler; I still hum the tune without realizing it sometimes) and completely addicted to the original Starcraft, I knew that the most important thing about being a Gamer Dad was that the wife and kids will always come first. I try and set the example for my little zerglings, limiting my gaming during their waking hours but demonstrating during those sessions that the video game is not my true priority.
I am a gamer and a father. Only by prioritizing those roles can I have the best of both worlds. When it comes down to it I intend to create intelligent kids, who will themselves learn to balance their efforts and never have to be told by life to “Spawn More Overlords”.
And, as a responsible father, I will never let them read my articles. I mean, seriously, have you read Charlie’s Game Ideas? In one of them I fantasize about Batman injuring children…totally unrelated to the fact that I have some living with me. I mean, Batman saves people from Scarecrows and Jokers and Killer Crocs, why can’t he save me sometimes from my freakin’ kids? With a batarang? Explosive Batarang. No, seriously, I’m kidding. Seriously. Kidding. I’m seriously kidding about being serious. All serious kidding aside, seriously, I love my family. Everything else comes second. Nothing else matters.