How To Use Video Games To Build Quality Time With The Kids

The best thing about a home office is the worst thing- you work from home. You might not have a long commute or wear a suit a tie but you also find yourself working around the clock.

It is not always because you have to, but because there is always one more thing to do. Even when you take advantage of the flexibility to go to an early morning activity at the kids’ school you find that you are checking your email. You can’t hide it because the children know that when your eyes float downwards you aren’t checking out your shoes.

I try hard to make a point to disconnect from my electronic devices so that I can give my full attention to the kids. It would be false to say that I turn everything off or that I never find this to be challenging, but I have come up with a few tricks that help.

Video Games & The Silent Phone

One of the smartest things I ever did was turn off the sound on my telephone. When it is on I have this crazy Pavlovian response to the beeps, bells and whistles. If I hear it I find myself compelled to look and see who it is, or that is how it used to be.

After many months of using it the majority of the time without the sound turned on I have found that the compulsion to always check it just isn’t there anymore. During business hours I still check it frequently but now I rely upon the flashing green light.

I don’t know if the children have noticed the difference but I feel like it has made a positive change.

So what do video games have to do with quality time? Well the answer is that I play them with my children. It is not the only thing we do by a long shot.  One of the reasons I like coaching soccer and basketball is because it provides a built in excuse to stop working and go play with them.

But video games are also part of the mix. The children and I have had a lot of fun playing on our 3DS and the Wii.


This week we were among a group of Nintendo Brand Ambassadors who were greeted with some cool Nintendo blankets and Mario Party 9.  Look, I am not going to give you a long review of why I like the game because that isn’t what this post is about.

Per FTC requirements I will disclose that I received it as compensation but like I said I am not really writing this solely to promote Nintendo either. I am of an age where I grew up playing Pong, Space Invader, Asteroids and Atari.

I begged my parents to get one of those cool Intellivision units so we could have the baseball game that talked, but we never did get it.

The point of all that is that I still enjoy playing video games but without the kids I probably wouldn’t spend a ton of time playing them. But it would be false to say that I don’t enjoy it because it is fun and it is pretty damn cool to listen to my son talk about my Nintendo connection. Kid makes me sound like a video game dealer.

Anyhoo, this week we have spent a chunk of time checking out Mario Party 9 and had a lot of fun doing it. One of the related benefits is that my son tends to be more willing to provide more specific details about what he is doing in school while he is playing then when he isn’t.

I don’t know if it is because he is distracted but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I appreciate him giving me the skinny.

Reggie, Help a Brother Out

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Reggie Fils-Aime, president and COO of Nintendo of America

For those of you not wearing your reading glasses, that caption says Reggie Fils-Aime. Reggie is the big dog at Nintendo America. I have met him twice now, once at the Brand Ambassador trip to Nintendo Corporate in 2011 and once at the LA Auto Show.

That is where that picture was taken. He is sitting in one of the real life models of the cars used in Mario Kart 7. I was there and I can tell you that those cars are pretty damn cool. I can also tell you that my son is dying for me to get one of those cars.

So on the off chance that Reggie reads this I’ll say that if you could hook me up with one of those I would be the coolest dad at the school. I like to think that I am cool without it, but hell that would definitely raise my coolness factor a notch wouldn’t it.

What do you think?