Posted December 6, 2012 by Amy in Features



Oh, it. is. on.


It was a typical evening in the household. Everyone was home, dinner was finished, homework was done, and things were quiet (ish). But little did they know what chaos would erupt when all eyes suddenly alighted on a single goal: the television set. You see, there are many consoles in this household, but all are hooked to a single, glorious television set that holds a place of honor in the living room. What will happen when seven gamers, with seven very different styles, all want to play at the same time? Oh, it. is. on.

It wasn’t always this way, the fight for the television. There was a time when one adult gamer could take them all. But the teen has just gone through a growth spurt, and the odds are no longer stacked in my favor. And he has backup – those siblings of his are sure to join in the fight, with cries of “I’ve got first player!” and “Why don’t we all do multiplayer on Save the Puppies MAX?” Et tu, daughters?

There was also a time when one simply had to wait for that magical moment parents like to call “bedtime”, when children are all nestled snug in their beds, and parents need only fight it out with each other for screen dominance. I can respect that – it’s a fair fight, and playing dirty is half the fun. But now, there are children seeping their way into that precious, precious time zone, and the teen has even gone so far as to suggest that “14 year olds shouldn’t have to go to bed at 8:00.” What is up with that? And the tween is right there behind him, whispering, “I’m coming for you, grownup time,” in that creepy voice kids have when they plan to take away all that is dear to you. What is a gaming parent to do? (No, really….I’m open to suggestions. I’m dying here!)

Perhaps parents *should* just learn to share. After all, isn’t it more fun if we all just play together? HAHAHAHAHA! Almost had you there, didn’t I? It’s the non-parent gamers (or the ones with 2 year olds) who say things like that. Sure, I love to spend time with my kids, and sharing a love of gaming with them is something I treasure. But does this mean I want to spend all my gaming time working my way through the first level of Feeding Frenzy twenty-seven consecutive time? Heck, no. Gaming with your kids is awesome, but it’s also……not.

Gaming with your kids, in fact, almost exclusively falls into these two categories: they are hopelessly slow/needy, or they completely trounce you. Either way, you’re getting your butt handed to you. With the little ones, it sure is fun to show them how to play a fun new game…..for about a level or so. After that, it’s all “Come over here to this place that is completely unrelated to what we actually need to do to advance in the game” (said in a sweet voice that you know there is no contradicting) and “No, Mommy. *I* want to pick up every single coin/weapon/item in the entire game” (said in an eerie voice with eyes glowing an oddly demonic red). Even the very best of parent gamers just eventually caves in with the standard, “How about if I just watch you for a while?” And then…..they’ve won.

Oh, but in those cute and inexplicably frustrating times, all a young parent has to do is dream of a time when their offspring have gained enough skill to play as an equal (or bedtime, bedtime’s good too). I am so sorry, my friends, but I have older gamers, and the rumble is most definitely still on. You see, those fine kids of yours are well-cared for tikes with little more than a few chores and some pesky homework to tackle before the consoles are all theirs. Even if you throw in some screen time restrictions, they have a heck of a lot more time to game than you do. And they are totally going to use that time to get better than you.

If you are familiar with teenagers, you already know they think they are better than you anyway. At everything. And they don’t go to bed (they like to save their sleeping for more reasonable times…like noon). Gaming with a teenager in the house is laughable. For them, that is. They just love handing your butt to you in a game. Now, I’m as good a sport as any, but you’ve played online with teenagers (hellooooo, XboxLive), and you ought to know that losing to them is not pretty. Gaming with them generally falls into the categories “How about if you just sit over there and watch how it’s done?” (said with a derisive smirk that is so far looking down at you it needs its own zip code) or “HAHA! I can’t believe you died *again*” repeated over and over for emphasis (oh, looks like the burning eyes have made a comeback). Either way, your game time has just been owned.

I kid a lot about the idea of kids stealing the controllers, the television, or both, but it really is a challenge to be a gaming parent. Sure, you can give the kids their own tvs, and a lot of people do, but that’s mostly a recipe for zero family time and zero oversight into what and how much they are playing. Seven gamers plus one television may equal a recipe for disaster, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Stealing my game time or not, those are *my* gamers…..and I’ll be sending them out into the world to steal your tvs in the next three to fourteen years. Brace yourselves!


U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)