Sunday 3 August 2014

Gaming Parenting Tip

When gaming always keep a spare controller or keyboard handy! My daughter always wants to copy what I'm doing - and when I'm gaming that usually means reaching out and hitting as many keys on the keyboard as hard as she can. Nothing is worse than playing Command and Conquer: Red Alert on your Windows 98 machine, only to have the game constantly paused by an 8 month old relentlessly hitting the space bar with every once of strength she has! Or having your Age of Kings economy destroyed by stray hits of the delete key...

But watching her develop and learn has been one of the really rewarding things about being a parent. It's really interesting to see her try and figure things out, and trying her best to mimic what I'm doing. She desperately wants to do what her mum and I are doing, and just wants to be a part of our world.

If I'm drinking a coffee she will clamber and reach to try and get my mug - and if she manages to get to an empty mug she will pretend to drink from it. And you can trick her into eating when she is being fussy by offering her baby food out of an adult bowl with a table spoon rather than using her plastic bowls and cutlery - making her think that she is eating what I am eating. If I get my laptop out she will do her best to reach over to it and hit keys on the keyboard as if she was typing. And at 9 months old she has already figured out how to flick between the home screens on my Android tablet, and can (sort off) play the simple baby-orientated touch screen games. She understands how the device is used - even if she hasn't quite worked out what it is actually for...

Abby playing Red Alert!
But this does mean that when I'm playing computer games with her on my lap she will do everything she can to try and get to the keyboard. So I ended up buying her a cheap $10 keyboard that sits in front of my keyboard while I'm playing. She loves it - she gets to smash the keys as much as she wants and be part of the gaming, while I still get to play my game with no fuss. Works awesomely!

The next trick will be getting her to ignore the mouse...

Another Tip - Always Snip the USB Cord

Abby enjoys the keyboard so much that it ended up becoming one of her regular toys. And here is a second tip - if you are going to give a baby a keyboard to play with always snip off the USB cable. With teething she really likes the stick things in her mouth - and a USB cable is the perfect size for her to chew on. But it's also really easy for it to wrap around her neck, especially as she is rolling around on the floor with the cable in her mouth.

She was also starting to take a real interest in power cables. We were able to hide the all the AC adapters and extension cords in the living room, but it seemed like encouraging her interest in playing with cords by leaving the USB cord on the keyboard would be a stupid idea.

If she's going to play with a controller or keyboard unsupervised play it safe and remove the power cords!

Final Tip - Always use Broken Controllers as Toys 

If you're playing console games and give a baby a controller it will always end up going into her mouth where is will get soaked. It pays to give them dead controllers that you don't mind getting wrecked. No point loosing an expensive Sega Master System controller as a chew toy!