Had kind of a humorous conversation with my wife (who is 8 months pregnant) the other day while driving home from the store with our 4 year old and 2 year old being annoyingly noisy in the back seat of our minivan. The conversation started with “So, why did we have kids again?”
I jokingly say that we had our first kid because we were bored, our second kid because we didn’t want to have an only child, and we aren’t exactly sure why we are having a 3rd kid. There is some truth to all this, though; we were sort of bored 1 1/2 years into marriage when we decided to have Sienna, and we definitely didn’t want to have an only child so we were always going to try to have at least 2. It’s hard to say why exactly we are having a 3rd kid other than we love family and the richness of relationships between children within healthy families.
Certainly I believe children are a blessing, but I also believe children (like marriage) help to keep selfishness in check. Nothing against people who choose to remain unmarried, or couples who choose not to have children, but I have definitely noticed that people who lack these sort of family commitments can easily trend toward selfishness. When no one is competing for your time or money it’s natural to spend it all on yourself and your own interests, which over time can become a lifestyle pattern that is difficult to depart. Not that there aren’t plenty of exceptions to this but it’s certainly something I’ve seen in a lot of people and something I can easily see happening in myself had I chosen a life that didn’t include marriage and family. So the wife and kids help constantly give me a reason to look beyond myself and my own needs and desires in order to sacrifice my time and resources to help meet their needs and desires. It’s a costly cycle but one that I have no doubt is making me into a better person than I otherwise might be. As a quote from one of my favorite pastors goes, “guys are like pickup trucks; they run better with a load”.
So how does this apply to gaming? (Because this is, after all, a gaming blog…) It means the amount of time I have to sink into games is pretty low right now, and with a 3rd kid on the way it is about to become even more limited than it has been. This in turn means that the focus of gaming for me will continue to revolve around games that can be played in small groups or solitaire in short sessions and still provide a rewarding experience. When I do get a chance to game the time window is usually quite small. It also means that I will continue to have a minimal presence in computer gaming, particularly MMOs of which EVE is central. Though this isn’t completely a bad thing as I am frightened at how much EVE Online I would play if I had more time for it.
Of course, in a sense having children is a sort of long-term gaming investment. The idea is that eventually if my kids end up growing up to be gamers (to my wife’s horror) I will have a few new very accessible gaming buddies. Family gaming is something I have very fond memories of growing up, particularly playing wargames with my dad, so I see this as something to hope that my kids can someday enjoy. With boardgaming going through something of a renaissance right now I think there is a strong possibility for boardgaming to become a more substantial sub-culture than it already is by the time my kids get older, something that I think would in general be good for society.
In the meantime I am gearing up to change dirty diapers and spoon babyfood at the expense of time spent gaming, but I recognize this is just a season of life to be appreciated for what it is and that future seasons may include family boardgame nights where I can enjoy teaching my children some my favorite games from my collection.
Sorry to wax all philosophical on you guys there.