Being a dad that loves video games

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Possibly the most important issue facing fathers today.

Okay, okay, it is already time to backtrack a little bit. I am aware that this is a very minor issue, especially in the important scheme of fatherhood – don’t get your Wranglers in a wad. The important issues of fatherhood revolve around growing your child into a respectful, helpful, hardworking, loving adult. See? I get it.

Being a Dad that plays games is just an interesting aside to fatherhood that I would like to take a moment to think about. I have already been playing games less and less as life has gone on. Will that desire just evaporate completely once all the new responsibilities arise? Will I just play one night a week once the kids is asleep, or will exhaustion take precedence?

In the early going, sleep will likely be deemed more important. Let’s be realistic.

I love video games and will probably never stop playing completely. There will need to be balance though as I also want to set correct examples for my son and any other future kids. There is nothing wrong with spending free time doing something fun and relaxing like playing a video game. Knowing when those times are appropriate will be important lessons.

These gloves seem cumbersome, but I love where their heads are. Photo from Atchuup.com

Also, it isn’t like a three year old is going to see you playing a fun-looking game and just continue on his merry way. How early should games be introduced? I got a Game Boy at 6 and got a console (GameCube) probably around 10 or so. Those ages seem reasonable, but our son will grow up with game systems already in the house.

I think that many video games are excellent for critical thinking, problem solving, vocabulary growth, and competition. I also understand that reading, exercise, and imaginative play are more important, especially in the early stages. Finding a balance will be an interesting challenge. Maybe the little fella will not even like video games; who knows.

Not everyone gets it, but it is more than possible to create great memories playing games. My Dad and I played NBA Live against each other for multiple hours each week. Those were great memories, but so were playing Frisbee, walking in the woods, and hitting off the baseball tee and playing catch. Balance is possible.


My own desire for gaming, my son’s, and the progression of how my son will choose to consume media and entertainment will all be very interesting going forward. Just one very small aspect in the very large future I will share with my son. I just cannot be more excited as every aspect of our family’s new life unfolds.

Grown Gaming – Single Player Vs. Multiplayer

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As you may know – When I write a video game thing, I send that thing over to Grown Gaming.

Growngaming.com is just what it sounds like. It is a website dedicated to providing video game content to the “grown” gamer. I identify with this group of individuals who are at the stage in which video games do not come first.

The site has reviews, news, and opinions about everything related to gaming. My most recent article is about the player preference between single player or multiplayer gaming (solo vs. playing with friends). Being grown gamers, there is not always time to play everything you want. Would you rather use that time to immerse yourself in a single player adventure like Skyrim? Or hop online to play Call of Duty with friends/internet folk?

I had a little trouble formatting on the site and adjusting some headers, but hey I’m human. Forgive me? Good. I break down the options in this article and give a touch of my own personal preference towards the end. Check it out…. HERE.

The struggle of the adult gamer

Finding time for anything can seem like a chore when you’re adulting.

Work, relationships, social relevance in general – these are things that are very important and contribute to the lessening of hobby time. Plenty of people find time for their favorite TV shows, but what about movies? Reading? Video games??

Being a grown gamer can be tough, but it’s worth it to do what you love. I wrote my thoughts about it here: Check it out!

Pokémon: Forever Fan

As children, you can let just about anything anything fly; toilet humor, streaking, you name it, it’s all fair game to kids. The real world eventually beats us down though and as adults, we learn to keep some things to ourselves. Most people have guilty pleasures, but some are worse than others. Sometimes you smoke? That’s gross! I suppose it’s your choice though. You have a foot fetish? Super weird! But everyone has their thing. You still think Pokemon are cool? Immature! You’re just like me though. Pocket monsters never stopped being entertaining, so I have chosen to just keep rolling with it.

Pokémon is definitely my guilty pleasure. It is a global phenomenon that made its rise while I was still in grade school. I bought a Pokédex book at a book fair and studied the original 151 monsters in that book like crazy. From there, I started collecting the cards and accumulating the handheld games, both new and old. Yes, I also put in my fair share of time into Pokémon Go on my phone when it was at its peak popularity. I never got too into the TV series, but Pokémon Silver on the Gameboy Color was one of my earliest video games and it hooked me. Apparently for life.


The adventure aspect of being a young trainer set out to explore the world with just one little Pokémon at your side was exciting and engrossing, especially to a kid. On the virtual adventure, your partner becomes stronger and evolves into a more fierce competitor all while adding new Pokémon to your team also. Balancing your team with different types (fire, water, electric, etc.) makes for a surprisingly deep strategy element. You could choose a diverse team, use the strongest, or just be sure to incorporate your favorites. The games are what continue to keep me invested in the Pokémon world. While the games do appeal to kids with brightly colored and worlds and creatures with a young protagonist, the strategy elements deepen with every new entry in the series. Of course, nostalgia is also a driving factor. The feels wouldn’t mean much without solid gameplay and a steady stream of new content, however.

Another big aspect of the Pokémon universe is the card game. I was wild for Pokémon cards in grade school. My friends and I never actually played the card game as it was meant to be played, we just loved them for the collection aspect. Kids from earlier generations collected stamps and rocks, so I guess I shouldn’t be too ashamed of this aspect. Hey, I had a healthy collection of baseball cards too. Anyway, I still have my collection stored at the house. I have looked into the worth of some of them, but it is tough to balance out the price of memories of a simple, ridiculously fun time in life. I still buy some a couple times a year just to relive the sensation of ripping open a new pack and seeing how lucky you were in what you drew.

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Recently, Pokémon was all the rage because it finally came to mobile devices in the form of Pokémon Go. The game originally only included those original 151 monsters that I grew up with (there are over 800 now), which appealed to older fans, which I thought was pretty cool. The game makes you move around in real life, using your phone to track down those familiar little blasts from the past, collecting them all over again.

The staying power demonstrated by Pokémon is crazy. To be this big for this long not only shows how dedicated old fans like myself are, but also its ability to bring in new customers year after year. The games are a blast to play, so I don’t anticipate stopping anytime soon. I have not missed a major installment on the Gameboy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, or Nintendo 3DS. The series appears to have wrapped up its time on the 3DS, now looking towards the Switch. If anything can convince me to take the plunge on a new console, it’s this series. That’s a conversation with the wife for another day though. Pokémon is not going anywhere and I hope that more (formerly) closeted fans like me get to unabashedly enjoy them for years and years to come.

A Case for Xbox

Photo from Xbox.com

I’ve had Nintendo consoles, PC games, PlayStations, handheld consoles, mobile games, and of course, each generation of Xbox (aside from the new Xbox One X iteration – donations will be accepted via cash or PayPal). I’ve had some many of my best gaming experiences on Xbox and most of my gaming friends have one.

The console has taken a lot of heat recently for not having many console-exclusive titles to steer people away from PlayStation. I believe that the Xbox still holds down an important space in the gaming world and then some. Read my thoughts in my opinion piece for GrownGaming.com at http://www.growngaming.com/feature/in-support-of-xbox/

Metroid: Samus Returns Review (3DS)

It will shock you to learn that I have reviewed a video game. If you are a Nintendo or handheld gaming fan, check out my new review of Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS at http://www.growngaming.com/review/metroid-samus-returns-review-3ds. You can also check it out if you’re a Wil Harrington fan that just wants to see what I’m up to. I’ll love you either way.

I am excited about the prospect of contributing material for http://www.growngaming.com/ and will be posting my video game related articles there moving forward. Thank you everybody for your support! Game on!

Why I Love Lord of the Rings

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I should begin by pointing out that I have a huge heart. I am essentially the Grinch after he gave all of the toys back and his heart grew three sizes… or whatever unhealthy amount it was. I have previously discussed my love for Star Wars and how it all started. Now that you have a little more insight into how startlingly large my heart is, let us discuss how I still have room for the Lord of the Rings.

The story actually starts out much like how the Star Wars one did. My uncle gifted me the original Star Wars trilogy on VHS, then several years later, he gifted me the Lord of the Rings books when I was about 12 or so. Was he really such a gift-giving savant that he was intentionally shaping my life in such a fantastic way? Was he trying to get me beat up by my peers? Unfortunately, we will never know.

I read The Hobbit in 6th grade and was engrossed by J.R.R. Tolkien’s storytelling and the vast world that he created in Middle-earth. I am admittedly not the quickest reader, so the book took me a very long time to finish. I slowly read through the Lord of the Rings trilogy in Jr. High School, distracted by other things like sports and video games. The three movies were released in 2001, 2002, and 2013. I tried to wait until I was done with the books to watch them, I really did, but temptation got me before I started the final book in the series. I can’t really say that I regretted my decision, however.

The movies were instantly some of my favorites of all-time, just behind the Star Wars movies and right in the mix with cinema classic Dumb and Dumber. For The Hobbit, I had to come up with how all of the characters looked in my head. For the LOTR trilogy however, I was familiar enough with what the movie characters looked like that I was able to picture them as I read along. The films were CGI-heavy, which stands out more to me today than it did back then. The landscapes and battles were even more grand in the movies than I had pictured while reading the books though, and I believe they could even engross viewers that aren’t familiar with the fantasy genre.

Aside from the spectacular mood and feel of the series, the memorable characters also help the books and movies to stand out. The hilarious friendship of a Gimli the dwarf and Legolas the elf, the unlikely heroes in the half-sized Hobbits, and the unrivaled wisdom of the wizard Gandalf are just a few notable standouts. The LOTR series has spawned some solid video games such as the Return of the King game, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, and now Middle-earth: Shadow of War.

I’m not quite the Lord of the Rings fanboy that I am for my beloved Star Wars, but the movies have a “re-watchability” that is nearly unmatched and I plan to restart the book series again soon. One final shout-out here to my late uncle for introducing me to these fantastic fantasy worlds and continuing to shape who I am even though he is now gone. I recommend not only the movies, but the books to anybody, as they are all unquestioned classics.

My Top 10 Handheld Games

My Top 10 Handheld Games

I have already listed my top 10 console games of all time and this list wasn’t much easier to make. It is tough to narrow down my favorites to 10, but you will also see a few honorable mentions along the way.

My first video game system was a Game Boy Color. I had played a little original Game Boy before that, which is what hooked me in the first place. I then got a Game Boy Advance followed by the Nintendo DS, and finally the Nintendo 3DS. So clearly this is a Nintendo-heavy list. You won’t see any phone games. Here we go:

Honorable mention: Moon – DS

A surprising, tension-filled shooter. Definitely a standout for a Nintendo system.

#10 Super Mario 64 – DS

Yes, this is a remake of a Nintendo 64 title, but it’s still a DS game! I didn’t get to experience the original, so this was a fantastic way to dive in on some video game history. This one previously revolutionized 3D gaming and has certainly stood the test of time, playing excellently still today.

#9 New Super Mario Bros. – DS

Released in 2006, this game revitalized the Super Mario Bros. series of fantastic side-scrolling platformers. With crisp graphics, new features, and the genius level design we’ve come to expect from Nintendo, this one was an easy pick to make the list.

Photo from emuparadise.me

#8 Mario Kart DS – DS

Clearly Mario titles on the DS were rocking back in the mid-2000s. Mario Kart is a great series and there hasn’t been a bad one. This one brought three dimensional racing the the DS in a big way, sporting a bunch of beautiful courses, many racers to choose from, and the ability to race against your friends on the go.

Honorable mention: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 and 3 – GBA

You didn’t have to be a skater to appreciate these fun ones on the Game Boy Advance. Trying to do new tricks to beat your high scores didn’t get old.

#7 Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards – GBA

I collected Yu-Gi-Oh! cards as a kid, even though I wasn’t big into the show. I tried three games, two of which weren’t very good, but this one was a gem. There were a ton of cards to collect to strengthen your deck, many duelists to fight, and a good learning curve from start to finish. The nerdiness is strong with this one.

#6 Metroid Fusion – GBA

Metroid: Zero Mission certainly needs a nod here as well, but Fusion is undeniably my favorite. The exploration, level design, all-around gameplay, and feeling of isolation make this one a memorable, nearly flawless experience. (I am currently playing Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS and it is great as well)

Photo from metroid.wikia.com

Honorable Mention: Final Fantasy IV – DS

I’ve given a few FF games a try and this one stood out with the most memorable characters. One of the deeper handheld experiences out there.

#5 Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland – GBA

One of the first video games I played was Kirby’s Dreamland for the original Game Boy. Playing on a friend’s handheld, it started my affection for the pink puffball. Nightmare in Dreamland was the first Kirby game I owned. The bright colors, fast-paced action, and fun gameplay make it stand out as a personal favorite – especially the second to last boss battle with Meta Knight.

#4 Wario Land 3 – GBC

I put a lot of time in on Wario Land 4 as well, but that wouldn’t have happened if not for this jewel on the Game Boy Color. Essentially Mario with toilet humor, Wario is one of my favorite characters from the Mario Universe. This unique platformer was funny as well as fun, delivering memorable worlds and one of my favorite video game anti-heroes in Wario.

Photo from gamestop.com

Honorable Mention: Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap – GBA

My favorite Zelda game made exclusively for handheld gaming. Unlike my next pick…

#3 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D – 3DS

Much Like Super Mario 64, I missed the original Nintendo 64 version of this one. I played it a little later on, but it didn’t hold my attention from my newer console games. I gave it another shot on the 3DS and was sold. This is one of the most expansive and engaging worlds you can dive into in a handheld game.

#2 Super Smash Brothers – 3DS

Much like my list of top console games in which Super Smash Brothers Melee took number two, the 3DS entry will be runner-up here. The fighting game translates well to the small screens of the 3DS. You still get to play as your Nintendo favorites pitted against each other in familiar locations. The formula remains as fun as always!

Honorable Mention: The Pokemon series: Game Boy – 3DS

Again, much like my console favorites, this list could have easily been dominated by just one series; the main reason for me having handheld systems. From favorites such as Pokemon Yellow to the newest Pokemon Sun entry. But especially…

#1 Pokemon Silver – GBC

As I mentioned previously, the Game Boy Color was my first video game system. Pokemon Silver was among my first video games and remains a personal favorite. The feeling of adventure made me play this game long after I had completed it. I nerded out on this game RPG-style like no other. My original copy doesn’t work any more, but I still keep the cartridge as a momento to an incredibly fond childhood memory.

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Book Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I don’t necessarily plan on doing a bunch of book reviews on here or anything. I just finished Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I had a reaction to the book contrary to popular opinion, so I thought it might be worth a write-up.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is lauded as being one of the best science fiction novels out there. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and turns classic sci-fi cliches into unique humor. It’s that humor that has made many consider it to be one of the top reads in the genre. Maybe knowing this going in made my expectations a bit too high. Perhaps it just didn’t appeal to my personal preferences when it comes to what I consider funny. There is a lot to like here, but there was also a lot that let me down.

The book was first published in 1979, which makes the technology discussed in the book that much more impressive. The touchscreen devices and hyperdrive tech that Adams describes are very impressive considering that was largely technology that he created in his own mind, before the genre was flooded with similar ideas. The book is of course well-written structurally, though the story itself feels short.

The character development is difficult to describe. The goofy-ness of the book translates into almost an improv quality in the characters in that they barely stop to question the strange things happening around them. This didn’t make any of the characters very relatable, even Arthur, the Earthling thrust into the wacky space adventure. Even if the characters weren’t overly relatable, they were still memorable, though I didn’t feel very attached to them until the very end of the book. I see a lot of influence from the down-trodden robot Marvin in many modern science fiction stories today.

The humor is definitely more British than I am used to, which is of course no fault of the book or author. It could however be part of my issue appreciating the humor. I did find myself chuckling late in my read as Douglas Adams went on a few funny tangents such as the thought process of a whale that had a minor impact to the story. It was a long wait to get to those funny moments though, and then the book was over shortly after. The wit was better applied in insightful quotes such as those listed below:

“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons.”

The abrupt end lead to a clear plug to read the next book, which I might read eventually. I can’t say feel inclined right away. Perhaps first I need to re-read this one, just to make sure I’m not being too harsh relative to the success the story has enjoyed since its release. Overall, I would recommend it to sci-fi fans only because it is such a short read, but I would advise anyone else to pass and find something else.

 

The Appeal of Nintendo

The word Nintendo carries a lot of weight for most people that have played video games at some point in their life. It is a word dripping with nostalgia, but may also still be very relevant if you have children or have stuck with the company from console to console over the years. Nintendo is what drew me into video gaming many years ago. Now, it continues to beckon with its dedication to what made it great in the first place: memorable characters and games that never stopped being fun.

Even non-gamers can recognize Nintendo’s iconic front-man Mario and his brother Luigi. Mario first made his appearance in the Donkey Kong arcade game in 1981. Mario has been the protagonist in a ridiculous number of games since then, from the original Mario Bros. platformer to spin-offs such as

Mario Tennis. I believe we are up to Mario Kart 8, which shows how much staying power a Nintendo series has. It may never stop being fun to play a Mario Kart game with your friends – dropping banana peels for them to slip on, tossing bombs at each other, or lapping somebody as they threaten (emptily) to never play again.

Unfortunately, I haven’t purchased a home Nintendo console since the original Wii. I’m just not sure that I can justify the purchase when I can’t even find the time to play my Xbox One as much as I would like. However, the constant draw of my favorite Nintendo series’ make it really tough to not dive in. I have been able to quench my Nintenthirst to an extent though with my 3DS handheld console. I love the Super Smash Brothers series which pits all of the flagship characters of Nintendo against each other in all out brawls. The latest iteration came out on the 3DS, which was a huge selling point to me. The 3DS has also allowed me to play some Zelda, Pokémon, Kirby, and soon, Metroid.

Nintendo is deeply rooted in my past and I am confident that it will play a part in my future. Any parent can be confident buying a game with Mario on the cover that it will provide wholesome fun for their child. Nintendo is always able to expertly navigate the line that appeals to both young gamers and seasoned ones alike. Kirby games might be colorful and relatively easy, but they tug at my feelings of nostalgia like few other game series can. Legend of Zelda games are easy to pick up and play for all, but provide a level of complexity and difficulty that can appeal to the hardcore gamer.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a clearly a mantra for the popular video game company. At the same time, innovation can be seen at the forefront of Nintendo’s business direction with the motion controls of the Wii, 3D feature of the handheld 3DS, and the go-anywhere quality of the newer Nintendo Switch. It’s always a good time to be a Nintendo fan due to the growing library of quality games featuring familiar friends and foes. I may not keep up with the products as well as I would like, but the constant allure of Nintendo will likely linger for me for a long time.