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

English: Reggie Fils-Aime at the Game Develope...

English: Reggie Fils-Aime at the Game Developers Conference in 2011 (third day), during the session “Video Games Turn 25: A Historical Perspective and Vision for the Future”. Français : Reggie Fils-Aime à la Game Developers Conference en 2011 (troisième jour). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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?

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  1. Scott Craighead August 20, 2013 at 4:22 am

    Well my children watch me play video games. I walk in and they step back and let daddy play. Because I’m better than them and know more. I’m way smarter than they are in almost everyway..I don’t like children. 🙂 Just kidding! Yeah, my son never stops talking about video games to me and I never stop talking about video games. I mean just take a look at my website name..yeah! – Scott Craighead

  2. Patrick August 17, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Nice read..

    My kids always want to play games like grand theft auto (which is not the right game for my children)

  3. Chuck Frankee June 19, 2013 at 2:49 am

    Yes keeping balance in your life and remembering the family around you is very important. Our kids loved MarioKart and the whole family joined in this game many times for loads of fun.

  4. Bill Dorman March 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    I think ‘make it happen’; get the damn car……….

    I too have resorted to turning the phone noise off and leave it in my pocket throughout a meeting or lunch…………unless it’s just going on too long and I need a distraction.

    I’ve actually started reading more again which is good that I am not so tethered to the computer. I’m currently reading the 2nd book in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, it’s pretty interesting I suppose.

    Cool beans on being the Nintendo guy; maybe I can be the Bud guy or Grey Goose guy or something like that…………

    Have a good weekend.

    • Jack March 30, 2012 at 9:23 pm

      Billy Defense,

      I bet you could be the Grey Goose guy or maybe The Jack Daniels man.

      I read all three of the books in that series. I really like them, but I think that I liked the first one best. Sometimes it is hard for me to read certain stories because I start to try to pick them apart on a technical level. but a good book is really a pleasure.

      Good seeing you.

  5. Harleena Singh March 30, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Your blog’s looking wonderful Jack!

    I had to refresh it 1-2 times and then realized the change 🙂 Looking nice and spacious indeed.

    Yes, kids love to play those video games or perhaps just love spending time with people who have time to spend with them- isn’t it? I never really got down to playing such games with my kids, though they had different kinds of games they could play on the television those days. But nevertheless, the time spent together was what mattered most to us.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Jack March 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      Hello Harleena,

      Thank you! I have spent a lot of time trying to get it to look just so. That is really why I am so late responding to your comment.

      The games with the children are fun. It is a bonus that I like playing most of them, but I admit that they are always better when the kids are involved. We have a lot of fun with them.

      Hope you have a great weekend.

  6. Patarimai Vestuvems March 30, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Well I also like to play video games with my son. Our favorite game is tennis. That’s our favorite time pass activities on weekends. He enjoys it thoroughly.. So worth spending time on that.

  7. bryan March 30, 2012 at 6:33 am

    wow! youve definately earned the name of “coolest dad in the school” well done mate, am really impressed!

  8. Canadian Dad March 29, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    I hear you on the vIdeo games! My son is in love with MarioKart and I can barely drag him off of it! It’s rad that you get to work with Nintendo! Yep, I said rad.

    • Jack March 30, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      Hi CD,

      MarioKart is a lot of fun. We really enjoy that here. I am grateful for the time that I have been able to spend with Nintendo. It has been a lot of fun.

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