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How did your parents handle your gaming addiction?

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I'm assuming most of us spent a lot of our formative years shut in our rooms waggling our Kempstons. Also, lots of us are now raising the next generation of gamers and probably couldn't resist showing our kids the tractors or cows in GTAV or something the moment they were able to focus on the screen.

 

My parents were pretty laissez faire about the whole thing. They bought me a Spectrum when I was eight and as far as I can remember never limited my time on it, confiscated it or even really said "shouldn't you be doing something more productive?" My best mate regularly had his Amiga shut in the loft during exam time.

 

I think I was pretty good at self regulating. Apart from the time I sealed myself in my bedroom for a long weekend while I found all 96 exits on Super Mario World, I never let it take over my life or get in the way of school work. Clearly, some kids do let it go too far, and modern game design practices can be quite cynical in exploiting young people's impulses.

 

I was obsessed with arcades and arcade machines, and my parents were always happy to indulge me on any family holiday when I'd want to stop off and have a go on Ghouls n Ghosts in some random cafe in Menorca, or disappear into a dark Newquay arcade on a sunny day for an hour or four.

 

We do tend to let our six year old spend quite a lot of time playing games. I've tried setting automated limits on his Kindle and Xbox profile but it always ends up being more hassle than its worth, for instance popping up with "15 minutes left!!!" during a critical moment of online father and son Rocket League or some shit. When he's at home and we're busy doing boring house stuff, his default tends to be to stick a game on. Is that bad? I dunno. It inherently feels quite bad and maybe we should make him play with some wholesome wooden toys but then I think back on my childhood and have fond memories of the Super Mario World weekend and the spending entire days in dark arcades.

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My dad would get very frustrated when the Spectrum used to be set-up in the kitchen.  Telling me to go outside and play all the time.  When we got a TV in the bedroom it didn't seem to bother him so much.

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I was never limited at all in terms of what and for how long I was allowed to play as a kid. I kinda self regulated and had a pretty normal split between sport and social stuff. I was never a complete shut in.

 

My gaming addiction only surged in adulthood as the pressures of life increased and compounded my need to escape lol.

 

I will never encourage my kid to game. If he shows an interest and wants me involved then great, but it's his life.

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Had an Amstrad CPC 464 in my room since before I could even remember anything. 

 

Then parents used to work nights, so I spent most nights keeping myself out of trouble on either said Amstrad which was eventually joined by a SNES on the Christmas that SF2 came out!

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Pretty much the same experience as you, @Pob.  My dad bought a VCS when I was young and used it approximately twice himself, so it became mine - although I was too young for it really - and later they were happy to buy me an Amstrad "to do my homework on".  Tee hee.  After that I bought and traded my own gaming systems and they never interfered and they were happy for me to have it all in my room. They were always quick to give me stacks of big old 10p pieces for the arcades at Pontins too.  Probably because it was a good way of getting rid of me for a few hours.

 

I think it helps that my dad was always interested in the latest technology. We had the first video player in the village don't you know, and everyone would come round to look at it.  Crazy when you look at tech now.  He did tend to hedge his bets on the failures though.  That was a Betamax player, and he also bought a Sinclair QL and some shitty all-in-one Schneider TV/hi-fi thing that seemed incredible at the time :lol:

 

My time was never limited, but like now (horrible PUBG addiction aside), I was never really able to sit down for too long in one sitting without wanting to do something else anyway, a couple of hours before a break has always been enough really.  They expressed mild concern when I went through a phase of playing a bit much in my late teens (Goldeneye) but it never got in the way of education or my part-time jobs so I don't think they were all that bothered. 

 

Joke's on them now I've grown up to be a mass-murderer.

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I have memories of summer days where my mum would insist we go out and play, which looking back seems reasonable but felt like some sort of existential torture at the time. There are no sockets outside, Mum, how can I finish Ghouls 'n' Ghosts out there?

 

But that's about it. It was only in my mid teens that I'd start to spend more and more time indoors, which is as much a product of growing up in a country village with limited options. Suddenly the ability to climb trees and go trekking through fields loses its lustre and those new fangled PlayStations sure are pretty, aren't they? 

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I remember my parents having really intense competition on Frogger on an Atari 400. I used to write programs on it, the ones you used to copy out of books and hardly ever worked.

 

They later got me an Amstrad 464. 

 

So I guess it's their fault in many ways that I'm a Game addict.

 

I think they did wonder what they had done at some points, but as I always did loads of outdoor stuff (also thanks to them) it all balanced out I reckon.

 

Plus I ended up as a games coder so alls well that ends well :) 

 

 

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I had a mixed experience of all this really. My first console was a Mega Drive, and while I remember absolutely rinsing the few games I had for it I must have spent an equal amount of time with my Lego obsession. I also loved playing outside with friends, so I guess there was no need for my parents to regulate anything.

 

My parents split up when I was still fairly young, and this led to some slightly different approaches going forward. My dad bought me a PS1 for a birthday present, and I certainly used that a lot. I blame Final Fantasy VII for really sucking me in, and I think it was around then that my mum started imposing a time limit. I remember having to negotiate a little to increase the limit for weekends, and of course there were several days where I needed a little extra time to "get to the next save point". Sometimes I meant it. :ph34r:

 

The thing is, by this time I had a TV in my room and a decent pair of headphones, so I'd often just jump back on after my parents had gone to bed and play into the early hours. I had plenty of tired mornings at school after this, but it felt worth it. I still did rather well at school, and it's not like I didn't have other hobbies still. I was a voracious reader for a start, and I like to think I would have been reading into the early hours instead had I been allowed more gaming time in the day.

 

I used to visit my dad every other weekend for a while, and he didn't have any limits whatsoever. He played a few PC games himself, and his new wife's kids had a PS1 of their own we could use. I have fond memories of playing Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem 3D and, err, Riven on his PC. I used to enjoy just mucking about in the worlds of the last two, clearing DN3D's levels of enemies and just mucking about with the interactive stuff. There was also the time I spent an entire day playing Final Fantasy VIII and finishing the first disc. 

 

My dad stopped seeing my brother and I after a time, and mum got married again after a few years. New dad was pretty awesome, but didn't really understand games and clearly saw them as a bit of a waste of time. He used to remind me rather too often to "make sure you do other things too" or "don't play too long" whenever he saw me playing something, even if I'd literally just started. So that wasn't annoying at all.  <_< The time limits disappeared at some point though, probably around sixth-form time I guess.

 

I want to have kids at some point, and I've been wondering a little about how I'd handle gaming time. I genuinely think that games were the most stimulating form of entertainment I had as a kid, so I'd like to think limits wouldn't be necessary unless it was actually becoming a problem. Besides, I know from experience that this would be completely futile after the point they had a TV in their room anyway.

 

I feel that my parents never really understood games, biological dad aside, so must have seen the time I spent as no different from playing the equivalent of space invaders over and over again for years on end instead of the varied, wonderful experiences I was actually having. I think I'd be more concerned about encouraging my kids to play a good variety of games rather than simply restricting their time. Of course this will probably all go out the window if I do end up with kids of my own.

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My folks had no interest in games and were quite strict about TV limits when I was young. So my experiences with gaming was only through my friends, a treat which I'm sure fuelled my gaming obsession in later life. That finally changed when my folks got a PC for educational purposes (a new fangled Pentium!). Back then few people had PCs like we know them today. I loved games so much that I kept playing the shitty inbuilt Encarta Encylopedia game. 

 

Then I made a new friend who's dad was in IT. They introduced me to the world of PC gaming. I discovered that PC magazines came with demo disks and I borrowed a load from my friend. Without my parents knowing I installed craploads of stuff like the Doom demo. Whilst they thought I was spending a lot of time on Encarta and other educational things, in reality I was gunning down demons on Mars or playing some crap shareware game!

 

My first full game was when Myst magically appeared one day in the computer room. I couldn't understand where it came from and knew nothing about the game, which along with the game's very weird immersive setting made it even more mysterious. I let my parents see that game as I thought they might be more accepting of it than gore-filled Doom, and they didn't object. Months later I found out a family friend had accidentally left Myst in the house after having just been into town to buy it. Lucky me!

 

I kept my gaming hidden except for the odd puzzle game, as I was afraid of a backlash if my folks realised what kind of mature games I was playing and how much time I was spending on them. Then one year to my huge surprise they bought me a wee TV for my bedroom. I got a part time job at WH Smith and saved up. I got 20 percent discount in store, and the first thing I bought was a PlayStation with Final Fantasy 7 and Metal Gear Solid. My parents didn't mind, I guess by this point they'd eased up on gaming and accepted it was something I was going to do no matter what. And so over the rest of highschool began an epic foray into catching up on as many consoles and videogame I'd missed out on over mychildhood. I bought an N64 and borrowed a Mega Drive and SNES from friends and thus my descent into gaming obsession began!

 

My folks did complain that I played a lot of games but I was quite active. I got in the most trouble for getting caught playing games at silly times like 2am or 4am during school days and during exam time they wanted me to stop altogether, but I talked them out of it. Mogster mentioned save points but for me it was a real problem. My mum would get angry with me for refusing to turn off a game when she wanted me for something (often when dinner was ready). I'd tell her I just needed to get to the next save point but she had no patience for it. Sometimes she'd turn off the console or PC immediately and I could lose hours of play. This is back in the days of stuff like FF7, Doom or Resident Evil where saves were manual and few and far between - so it made me furious when she did that!

 

When I finally got my mum into games decades later, she apologised for her behaviour about the save games. "Now I know why you got so angry when I turned off the console". She understands now that she plays games and has lost the odd save point herself!

 

So yeah, I turned my parents around on games thanks to the Nintendo DS, a nice accessible console. I started off with puzzle games for mum leading into Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright. I eventually got dad Advance Wars and he loved it. Later I gave them my Wii. These days they still play on the DS when they go out in their camper van and mum plays PC games. I'm happy that they can now enjoy gaming and I think they understand what it was that drew it to me during my youth. For anyone who would like to get their older parents into gaming, the DS is a great entry point (especially the big screen versions), start out with puzzles/brainteasers/visual novels and work your way up from there.

 

It's a natural instinct for parents to be wary of things that their kids do which they don't understand. 20-30 years ago gaming was relivately new. I'm sure these days most parents accept gaming more, although I know the issue of regulating gaming time is still a big problem. If I was a kid today I'm sure I'd be having the same arguments about gaming time and begging to just give me 5 more minutes to get to the next save point!

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Gaming addiction wasn't as much of an issue; not only were they fewer games to waste your time with, the bastards often took absolutely ages to load anyway, and that's assuming you didn't disturb the chuntey otherwise it'd be multiple loads. 

 

Nowadays, it's there and it's instant and it just about always works first time, and if you're out and about you don't need to find anywhere to play or scrabble for a few 10p's in order for a few minutes of joy. It's just on tap, and many games are explicitly designed to let you know that. Anything we went through won't apply, the kids are totally fucked.

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I forgot about those PC Gamer demo disks! They kept me going between the Mega Drive and the PS1, along with Age of Empires, Starcraft, Total Annihilation and the original C&C. I'd half forgotten about that entire era of my gaming life, so thanks @Alan Stock. :)

 

I remember convincing my mum that strategy games were somehow different to "normal" games, so they were exempt from the time limit for a while. She finally twigged when I mentioned a particular strategic decision involving a nuclear missile.

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Dad brought home Doom 2 Shareware on floppy disk, I was 8, loved it obviously. It's weird now as I have ~that age nieces and nephews and the thought of them shooting stuff in the face seems so odd... but it didn't do me any harm? Or did it? It's a minefield as a parent i'd imagine.

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4 hours ago, Alan Stock said:

My folks had no interest in games and were quite strict about TV limits when I was young. So my experiences with gaming was only through my friends, a treat which I'm sure fuelled my gaming obsession in later life. That finally changed when my folks got a PC for educational purposes (a new fangled Pentium!). Back then few people had PCs like we know them today. I loved games so much that I kept playing the shitty inbuilt Encarta Encylopedia game. 

 

Then I made a new friend who's dad was in IT. They introduced me to the world of PC gaming. I discovered that PC magazines came with demo disks and I borrowed a load from my friend. Without my parents knowing I installed craploads of stuff like the Doom demo. Whilst they thought I was spending a lot of time on Encarta and other educational things, in reality I was gunning down demons on Mars or playing some crap shareware game!

 

My first full game was when Myst magically appeared one day in the computer room. I couldn't understand where it came from and knew nothing about the game, which along with the game's very weird immersive setting made it even more mysterious. I let my parents see that game as I thought they might be more accepting of it than gore-filled Doom, and they didn't object. Months later I found out a family friend had accidentally left Myst in the house after having just been into town to buy it. Lucky me!

 

I kept my gaming hidden except for the odd puzzle game, as I was afraid of a backlash if my folks realised what kind of mature games I was playing and how much time I was spending on them. Then one year to my huge surprise they bought me a wee TV for my bedroom. I got a part time job at WH Smith and saved up. I got 20 percent discount in store, and the first thing I bought was a PlayStation with Final Fantasy 7 and Metal Gear Solid. My parents didn't mind, I guess by this point they'd eased up on gaming and accepted it was something I was going to do no matter what. And so over the rest of highschool began an epic foray into catching up on as many consoles and videogame I'd missed out on over mychildhood. I bought an N64 and borrowed a Mega Drive and SNES from friends and thus my descent into gaming obsession began!

 

My folks did complain that I played a lot of games but I was quite active. I got in the most trouble for getting caught playing games at silly times like 2am or 4am during school days and during exam time they wanted me to stop altogether, but I talked them out of it. Mogster mentioned save points but for me it was a real problem. My mum would get angry with me for refusing to turn off a game when she wanted me for something (often when dinner was ready). I'd tell her I just needed to get to the next save point but she had no patience for it. Sometimes she'd turn off the console or PC immediately and I could lose hours of play. This is back in the days of stuff like FF7, Doom or Resident Evil where saves were manual and few and far between - so it made me furious when she did that!

 

When I finally got my mum into games decades later, she apologised for her behaviour about the save games. "Now I know why you got so angry when I turned off the console". She understands now that she plays games and has lost the odd save point herself!

 

So yeah, I turned my parents around on games thanks to the Nintendo DS, a nice accessible console. I started off with puzzle games for mum leading into Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright. I eventually got dad Advance Wars and he loved it. Later I gave them my Wii. These days they still play on the DS when they go out in their camper van and mum plays PC games. I'm happy that they can now enjoy gaming and I think they understand what it was that drew it to me during my youth. For anyone who would like to get their older parents into gaming, the DS is a great entry point (especially the big screen versions), start out with puzzles/brainteasers/visual novels and work your way up from there.

 

It's a natural instinct for parents to be wary of things that their kids do which they don't understand. 20-30 years ago gaming was relivately new. I'm sure these days most parents accept gaming more, although I know the issue of regulating gaming time is still a big problem. If I was a kid today I'm sure I'd be having the same arguments about gaming time and begging to just give me 5 more minutes to get to the next save point!

 

Amazing. What did they think when you ended up in game design? Any apologies?

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The short version is I've never really forgiven my Mum for turning the electricity off at the mains when me and my brother were at level 96 on Bubble Bobble on the Spectrum with plenty of lives each.

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1 hour ago, Pob said:

 

Amazing. What did they think when you ended up in game design? Any apologies?

 

Despite their strictness with media when I was young, fortunately they were very supportive later on. When they saw how passionate I was about games in my mid-high school years and I said I wanted to become a games designer, they just wanted me to pursue my dreams. I proved I was committed to it through all my uni applications and getting good grades, and ending up landing a games degree at the end of it all, eventually followed up with a game design job in the industry. I think I'm lucky though, a lot of old skool parents would balk at their son wanting to be a game designer especially if they knew very little about games themselves. 

 

I think their media restrictions on us was due to the usual fears parents have about too much exposure. Spending time inside instead of socialising, playing outside etc. But during school I still had an active social life, did outdoor activites and so on, so over time I guess they realised their limits weren't as necessary. If I'd been a shut-in recluse only playing games maybe it would be a different story.

 

Funnily enough even though I don't have kids I do think I would place some restrictions on gaming time if I had them. At least in the early years. I know some kids these days spend their lives outside of school holed up in front of their PC/TV. But I'd definitely be more relaxed than my parents were about it. Especially as games are so social today, take Fortnite - yes it's addictive but at least it does foster group activities. It's just a shame that now it's mostly online - whereas when we were at school it was invite all your mates over to play split-screen Goldeneye or go to a LAN cafe to play Quake. 

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The internet ethernet cord was cut for a while once a £400 bill came in from BT. Something none of us could know could happen from online gaming.

 

That was the sweetest month of all nighters playing PSO, that was. Turn down killing fat wobbly chickens for loot? Who could resist such temptation?

 

Rappy.jpg

 

No regrets.

 

 

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No restrictions that I can remember.  Although it was more programming games than playing them for me.  I don't place any limits on my kids either - they are both more into books than games nowadays. Should I limit their page times?

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9 hours ago, Pob said:

I was obsessed with arcades and arcade machines, and my parents were always happy to indulge me on any family holiday when I'd want to stop off and have a go on Ghouls n Ghosts in some random cafe in Menorca, or disappear into a dark Newquay arcade on a sunny day for an hour or four.

 

I remember once I fell out with my Dad over some arcades.

 

We were never a close pair, so as a treat one summer he decided to take me camping in a field near Bognor Regis, for some quality father / son bonding time. During the trip he took me down to the beach, and there I begged him to let me play on the arcades. He gave me a pound and I played a few games, but after I ran out of money I just stood there like a zombie watching other people play and watching the rolling demos on Street Fighter 2 CE. My Dad was pissed!

 

It was a shame that he never asked about my passion for video games, or tried to game with me, but I recognise that it was just not part of his world. I am taking a different approach with my sons, but that's easy for me to say because I already have that passion. I do have to feign a lot of interest in Minecraft... but it's worth it!

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My mum hid my copy of  Ghosts n Goblins for a while as I was getting so frustrated with it I was punching my poor Spectrum. Great game though!

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52 minutes ago, X_2_0 said:

My mum hid my copy of  Ghosts n Goblins for a while as I was getting so frustrated with it I was punching my poor Spectrum. Great game though!

Ah yes, that reminds me of one time my mum did tell me off, when Green Beret on the Speccy was driving me bonkers and I bit down HARD on my rubber Atari joystick and growled like a lunatic to vent my frustration. She wasn’t impressed with that.

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My parents bollocked me when I came home jabbing dropped probably £40 on desert strike then my dad played it every evening when he got home until he competed it.  I have only completed two games since - thats how scarred I am.  

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I remember one night some documentary came on the telly all about how gaming was knocking our kids daft and stifling their social growth.

 

"Fucking hell, they might have a point" I remember thinking, and I could sense my mam and dad were finding it convincing too, "I'm gonna have to do one hell of a job talking my way out of this one"


I can't remember what I said. The thought of never again playing my favourite speccy games must have churned up such a primal survival instinct that I just channelled the gods, opened my mouth and listened as the most eloquent, convincing bullshit speech about the merits of computer games came farting out of it.

 

Thing is, gaming was a social activity back then, you might have spent some time playing alone but it was mostly with friends, either together or taking turns and we were always talking about games. It was always a social experience.

 

That's what I've always tried to do with my nephew, make it a social thing, I make sure he's not just locked into the screen, we're laughing and joking and reacting to each other rather than just being inside the telly.

 

Probably not good for you, too much gaming, I mean look how we all turned out, absolute ragbag of demented, misshapen pricks, but it's fun as fuck and it's here to stay, all things in moderation, as they say.

 

TL;DR They didn't, and it ne'er did me any 'aaarm (twitch)

 

 

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Dad bought us a Phillips Videopac back in about 1980, in Qatar, which was fantastic.  There were no limits on how much I could play it.  We also got a Spectrum a few years later, and there were again no limits on using it, until we moved to Kuwait, and I no longer had a TV in the bedroom - we just had one in the living room.

 

After that I didn't really have home consoles - just handhelds until I bought a SNES at university.  My mother, for some reason, didn't want me to use it in case "the TV got a virus".

 

We've got two nephews living with us, now, and my sister-in-law (their mother) is determined that they don't grow up addicted to games.  They have a Switch and Mario Kart only.  They're dying to play more games.  They know I play, but they have no idea that there are about 3,000 games in the house.  On the day I move out, I'll bring them in and show them what was under their noses all the time.

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mine bought me a commodore vic 20  when i was 5 - so they are kinda to blame for my gaming addiction!  as a kid they where quite laid back about, we lived in the country so i had a good balance of playing outside etc... and then playing inside on the computer when the weather was bad. 

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We were really left to it, which was nice. I guess the kids we played games with, we also played outside with, so to my mum it must have seemed a good balance.  We must’ve self regulated to an extent, I have a lot of memories of both being glued to games all day and being outside climbing trees and exploring and stuff.

 

I really think playing games gave me an awful lot as a kid that I took into my life as a grown up.  It’s not a coincidence I’m in a very technical job, or use good spatial awareness, problem solving etc.  The ability to see the big picture...  I was playing Final Fantasy 7 when I was 12 years old, the intricacy of the systems in that with materia etc all counts for something.

 

I guess that’s the thing really - if kids aren’t playing games, what would they do instead?  This is why some of my work colleagues baffle me - they act like video games are the work of the devil but happily let kids watch as much TV as they want.  To my mind, at least games are interactive and are involving more brain power than just watching moving pictures.

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My parents got so fed up of me and my brother fighting over the zx spectrum that they bought another one. So i guess they didn't handle it very well! Then we had one colour tv and one black and white so we used to argue over whose turn it was to play in colour instead :lol:

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