Nothing changes your perspective on life more so than becoming a parent. Used to love staying up late? Well, now your baby could be up any minute needing a diaper change and a feeding. You used to wonder why would anyone drive under 80 MPH to now, why would anyone go over the posted speed limit? I would never use TV as a babysitter to I need to really use the bathroom and so on. So it’s a safe bet that becoming a parent can affect the way you play and experience video games as well. I’ve already written about how The Last of Us wrecked my feels permanently, but not all games play with your parental emotions in the same way. It goes beyond finding free time to enjoy some game time, but the in game choices you make, or the way you perceive some characters or quests.
What really got me thinking about this was The Witcher 3. The Witcher 3 is a massive game with branching story lines and multiple conclusions to quests. While the main story deals with the character Geralt searching for his adopted daughter, it isn’t the main the theme of the game. Everyone in the world has their own motivations for doing what they do and nothing is ever black and white. So when a quest came along to find information on Geralt’s adopted daughter in exchange for help in finding a character’s missing family I thought nothing of it. Come to find out, and get ready for SPOILERS******************His family ran away because he was a drunken A-Hole who drunkenly caused his pregnant wife to have a miscarriage. After the miscarriage, the child was buried alone in an unmarked grave causing it to become a restless spirit known as a botchling. At this point my conversation choices turned from begrudging errand boy to full on judging dick hell bent on making this character feel like moral garbage. The next portion of this quest is to either quickly kill the botchling for it’s blood or perform a burial ritual that will ascend the spirit out of it’s misery, but take some time to complete. This being a huge AAA game I’m able to talk about it with friends and co-workers, some parents, some not. Can you guess what some of the non-parent players did? If you guessed kill it quickly to get the blood because it was quicker and easier, then congrats. When I asked Scott what he did, he performed the burial ritual because “of course, I’m a parent.”
That’s just one example. Who has played Telltales The Walking Dead and couldn’t sympathize with Kenny just trying to protect his family? Sure it was a pretty heavy handed way to give him motivation, but if you had kids, it worked. As the average age of gamers gets older and older, more developers are having kids themselves. It seems one of the easiest ways to drive a point home or get players to empathize with a character is to throw a kid in the mix. And it works! Maybe I should go back and play Heavy Rain to see how far I’d be willing to go this time around to save my son. Maybe I would have spent less time skinning horses in Red Dead had I played it when I had kids but hey, fast forward a few years and Rockstar’s next game makes me not want to be Michael from GTA5. I’m not saying if you’re childless that your more inclined to blow up Megaton, but there is a basic need to want to connect to people you can identify with and nothing changes your identity more than being responsible for a tiny human life. So what say you? Have you noticed a change in the way you play and perceive video games since having kids? Let us know in the comments below!