Justin Fletcher

New dad diaries: the birth of gaming

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“What are you doing?”

As I turn around to face my wife, I hit the small button on the bridge of my guitar. The lightshow on the television screen freezes, and my avatar halts in mid-sneer. The music that had been blasting from the speakers goes silent. The cooing of my son in the bouncy chair next to me becomes the most prominent sound in the room.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“I thought it was no TV until they’re two?” she replies with a pointed but amused expression.

She’s referring to one of the baby books we had read while she was pregnant. In it, the author makes a case for no television before the age of two based on studies that show a worrisome impact on babies’ attention spans later in life.

“This isn’t TV,” I say.

“That’s not a TV?”

“Yes, that’s a TV, but this isn’t TV. It’s Rock Band.”

“I can see that,” she says. “What’s the difference?”

After the jump, the worst possible answer. Continue reading →

New dad diaries: time in a bottleneck

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One of the main themes that has run through this series is that time is precious. Therefore, it’s fitting that the most precious thing in my life — my family — takes up almost all of my time. But as the earlier entries have shown, there are still fleeting moments when I can play a game or two.

But for how much longer? Much to my dismay, I’ve discovered three adversaries that are conspiring to take all of my remaining time and consign me to a game-free life.

After the jump, the villains revealed. Continue reading →

New dad diaries: altered states

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When I first learned that my wife was pregnant, I knew that my life was going to change. And it has, even in the most mundane ways. Going to the grocery store now requires D-Day level planning and preparation. Buying a taco sets off an internal fiscal debate. A slight temperature deviation in our apartment means frantically dialing down radiators or cranking up space heaters.

I was less prepared for the personal changes. Sure, there are the usual things like a sense of responsibility more potent than ever and an ineffable love that swells each time I look at the twins. But the surprises come from the smaller stuff. Like the fact that my burning hatred of scatological humor has mellowed after months of my kids’ boisterous and unrestrained flatulence. Or that my rock solid faith in the medical profession has crumbled thanks to the parade of obstetric and pediatric bozos we’ve dealt with since the births.

And then there are two recent revelations that came to me through games.

After the jump, friend becomes foe and man becomes mental. Continue reading →

New dad diaries: protips for new parents

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It’s amazing how much you can learn about caring for twins in four months. You can go from a complete novice afraid of breaking his children and hopeless at diaper changes to a complete novice afraid of breaking his children who changes diapers like a champ.

If you’re also a gamer, you can pick up a few tips along the way to help you squeeze in a little more screen time and maximize your enjoyment. Consider these best practices for the baby set, whether you’ve got multiples or a singleton on the way.

After the jump, three tips for choosing the best games for your new circumstances. Continue reading →

New dad diaries: the death of gaming

, | Game diaries

The irony is that the death of gaming came immediately after one of the biggest gaming booms ever.

My wife’s pregnancy was, not to put too fine a point on it, hell on earth. We had just recovered from the shock and awe of finding out that we were having twins when she was hit with an unrelenting wave of nausea that lasted four months.

Four. Months.

Think about that for a second. Take your worst hangover, multiply it by 120, and then imagine choking down meals for the benefit of your unborn children even though the thought of food makes you violently ill. Whoever coined the phrase “morning sickness” should be shot. Or, at least, sued for false advertising.

No sooner had the nausea started to wane than the searing, roiling heartburn kicked in, making her next four months an absolute treat. Add in the other trials of pregnancy — joint pain, back pain, constant bathroom breaks, lugging the babies on board up to our third-floor apartment — and you can understand why all she wanted to do was sleep. Each evening, she would wait until I got home and stay up just long enough to ensure that she didn’t wake up bright-eyed and bushy tailed in the middle of the night. She would crawl off to bed around 7 p.m. and try to escape the horror her life had become in the arms of a restless, fitful slumber. On the weekends, she would try to stay unconscious for as long as possible, only rising when she could no longer stand feeling like an invalid.

All of which left me with a lot of alone time. So what’s a gamer to do?

After the jump, feast, famine, life, and death. Continue reading →