As gamers reach adulthood, an interesting and unusual thing happens – they become parents themselves. Just like anything to do with parenting, it can be a challenging and confusing adventure as these geek parents begin to incorporate gaming into the lives of their young children.
It was Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East last weekend, and gamers showed up in droves to the Boston, Massachusetts convention. Over the March 11 – 13 period, an estimated 70,000 were in attendance. The revered festival’s schedule included gaming tournaments, “nerdcore” concerts, and around 150 panel discussions, which featured big names in the video game industry tackling relevant issues and topics. The variation in topics is what makes it such a memorable and special event; the panels ranged from how women feel about female characters in games to another panel that explored the nostalgia-inducing history of chiptune music.
While the topics ranged from hilarious to philosophical, one that really got people thinking was a Saturday event entitled “Geek Parenting.” John Booth, Matt Blum, Dave Banks, and Doug Cornelius from GeekDad were joined by Natania Barron and Corrina Lawson from sister website GeekMom to lead the panel discussion. The interest in the talk was so great that over 300 people had to be turned away due to lack of seating.
Parenting topics for those of a geeky disposition can be serious, as in a lengthy discussion of how to teach children logic and reason, or more comedic, such as the “Ten Signs You’re a GeekDad” feature on their website, highlighted by “You named your children any of the following: Luke, Leia, Han, Lando, Aragorn, Arwen, Bilbo, Frodo, Starbuck, Ash, Buckaroo, or Dent, Arthur Dent.” Another sign in that same list appealed to the more computer-addicted geeks, “Your babies’ names are already secured as both domain names and Twitter handles.”
A Boston Herald article reported on the “Geek Parenting” panel, and interviewed a family in the process of teaching the imaginative tabletop game of Dungeons & Dragons to their young, 5-month-old son named, you guessed it, Luke. Barron, the senior editor of GeekMom, also spoke about teaching the classic game to their son. “We’re introducing him to the interactive story elements of ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ and figure that by the age of six he should be able to do a campaign on his own,” she said. The article also touched on the way some game addicts are forced to ban gaming during week days for their children, after they begin struggling with school.
Whether speculating about whether playing with the Wii, PlayStation Move, and Xbox Kinect count as legitimate physical exercise, or wondering what the right age is to start reading your child The Hobbit, geek parents are banding together on the internet to consider their niche concerns. Geek mothers discuss using the Wii balance board to get back into pre-pregnancy shape, or share tips on how to create the best Lego-shaped cookies.
Kari Byron, star of MythBusters and geek fantasies around the globe, has a regular column on GeekMom, and has covered topics from fun experiments to teach children, to keeping up with quick adoption of gaming and technology of your kids. Unsurprisingly, the site now records 100,000 visits a month – turns out geekery and parenthood go well together afterall!
The upcoming PAX Prime, in Seattle, promises to be an even larger affair this August 26-28. Next to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) PAX is by far the largest gaming convention in North America.