E3 for 5-Year-Olds

It’s that magical time of year again: E3, when I sit, forlorn, in front of a computer screen, wishing I was there again. I have been to the Electronic Entertainment Expo twice in the past, and it was a lot of work but a LOT of fun. I like to tell myself it sucks now. You know, whatever helps me sleep at night. I need all the sleep aides I can get.

Anyway, it’s a lot harder to observe E3 at a distance when you always have small children around. Aside from needing a fair amount of attention, there are a lot of things that they shouldn’t be seeing on the screen. It’s all well and good to be a parent and play your Halos and CoDs on your own time, but maybe not so much in front of the kids, huh (although, the Halo stuff shown at the Microsoft press conference was fairly kid safe. Lot of other stuff wasn’t, though, at least in my opinion)? So yeah, that first day of conferences I only glimpsed sporadically, as I had kids to take care of (and also, because I care less about the Halos and CoD, anyways). The Sony conference was at least after bedtime, but that also meant that I was falling asleep myself through it. Whoops.

Well, Day 2 had the Nintendo event, and we all know Ninty is more kid friendly, so I openly invited Charmander to watch the event with me. You can imagine my dismay when the feed starts up with an “M” rating warning. What could they possibly be showing? I figured it would be for Bayonetta or something. Then, a Robot Chicken-esque sequence begins, and I really start panicking, but it’s also mostly benign. I mean, Reggie may have burned someone alive, but who doesn’t do that? Then there’s Reggie and Iwata having an epic Dragon Ball Z type battle. I guess the kid’s already seen that show at his cousin’s place, so whatever? Truth be told, the whole thing actually was fine for him to watch. I’ll just drop at link to the stuff here instead of nabbing and posting random pics. Without further ado, here’s my 5-year-old’s impressions of Nintendo’s event:

1. While Reggie’s exposition about stuff I forget already: “Why aren’t they showing any games?

2.Miis join the fight in Super Smash Bros: “Whaaaaaat?” Also, he always likes to point out the fire and water thing going on in the game’s logo. He’s actually the one that pointed it out to me, and made me notice that the Wii U version by itself has just the blue, and the 3DS version has just the red. I really did not see this until my preschooler mentioned it.

3. Amiibo: “Where’s the Kirby one?” You may recall that he really loves Kirby.

4. Yoshi’s Wooly World: “What is this game?” (Me: shush! I’m trying to hug this game from afar! Like, I really want to hug the game. So much)

5. Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker: “What? That guy?”

6. Zelda Wii U: He had a lot of questions about the monster, but I had no answers, soooo yeah.

7. Bayonetta: I told him to go check if Squirtle was destroying his Hexbugs. He wasn’t, and the presentation of the game was perfectly kid-safe. Am I the only one who thinks the Peach costume is hideous? Like, she looks more like Dee-Dee from Dexter’s Laboratory than the princess…

8. Pokemans: It was a lot of “Look at that one! Which one is that?” Once he can read, he will be allowed to play Pokemon. Who knows; these remakes could be his first pokegames.

9. Hyrule Warriors: When they said you can play as your favorite character, he informed me, “My favorite character is Link.” So if you think it’s ok to mix up Zelda and Link, kids, remember that there are 5-year-olds out there that are smarter than you. Mommy’s favorite character is Midna. Mommy is happy.

10. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse: He was confused by this game, because it clearly has such different mechanics from standard Kirby games. I should go dig up my copy of Canvas Curse for him.

11. Xenoblade Chronicles X: I did not pay attention to my child during this segment.

12. Mario Maker: He thought everything they were doing was funny. There was much giggling.

13. Splatoon: Charmander is VERY interested in this one. I caught him watching the trailer again on his own later on when I left the computer unguarded. He doesn’t have anything to say about it other than he likes it. He was kind of spell-bound.

14. Palutena’s entrance: He really had nothing to say. I think he was done at that point.

15. I, personally, did not realize that Miyamoto was playing Star Fox in that last shot, and feel really dumb.

Aside from this event, I let him check out some other stuff I figured he’d be interested in. We watched the trailers for the Sonic Boom games as well as the trailer for the upcoming TV show. I think we’re both looking forward to the show the most. He laughed a lot at Eggman. Also, there’s exciting Plants Vs Zombies news: first look at the Dark Ages. Charmander watched this video on my phone and kept trying to actually play the game. He was miffed by all the pausing caused by this, but he is very excited, and he won’t stop asking me when it comes out. I don’t know!!

Also, last night, Husbachu and I kind of let him stay up and watch the SSB Invitational tournament. He was sooo excited to see Kirby in it, and was cheering for him the whole time. When the pink puff ball lost in the Sudden Death at the very end, Charmander CRIED. That’s how you know it’s waaaaaaaay past bedtime.

So there you have it: preschoolers have very little to say about video game conferences.  You’re welcome.

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Screen Time

Ah, Screen Time. That is a Thing where I live, and probably where most of you live, too, although it wasn’t when I was a kid. I remember, as a child, hearing somewhere that in Japan, people watched TV for an average of 8 hours a day, and thought to myself, “Is that all?”

Every day's great at your Junes~

All of our childhoods

There was important stuff to watch at all hours of the day, and when there wasn’t, there were video games to play. My mom would occasionally kick my outside to play with some rocks by myself or something, but overall, she wasn’t terribly concerned that I was melding with the couch. Well, she didn’t like me playing “that damn Nintendo”, but mindless TV was generally OK. I know that Husbachu’s parents actively encouraged their son to be absorbed into the Midnight Channel, because it kept him quiet, and they’d gladly do the same to my kids, but they know I feel Screen Time is a Thing, and I make a Fuss about, and they also live in Fear of me. Maybe.

Is it weird that I limit something that I enjoyed endlessly in my own youth? It does feel fairly hypocritical. Becoming a parent changes you. The same person that reminisces about playing Skies of Arcadia for 13 hours straight back in the day is the person who now reads articles like this and decides that her own kids need to be raised without these binges. “But it was fun!” “But it isn’t healthy!” And that’s really it. I look at myself, and, while I’m happy with whom I have become, I could certainly be healthier, physically and socially, and too much Screen Time, I feel, are at least a part of why I am the way I am today.

Anyways, I was just thinking about this because yesterday, I bent the rules and let Charmander play Kirby about an hour longer than I normally would let him do his thing, and at an earlier part of the day, because we were all having a day off, and he was super excited that our friend was lending him the game. (Yup, he’s playing Kirby Triple Deluxe like he wanted to). He had soccer in the morning, and a party at the park later in the afternoon, so I figured he was having plenty of physical activity and socialization that day, and it wouldn’t be a big deal. Wrooooooooooooooooooooooooongo! He went crazy with frustration at a level eventually, and began crying and raving and carrying on like some teenage CoD player or something. It was pretty awful, and it lasted for a while after he stopped playing. In comparison, today he died 5 times against a boss, but kept his cool, persevered, and beat it. The difference? He was having his normal block of Screen Time for his usual amount of time.

What is he used to? Well, we normally operate with bout 45 minutes after lunch, and then another half an hour to an hour before bedtime. That’s for the 5 year old; the 3 year old usually ends up not getting that second block (and honestly, he usually doesn’t care). Back when I first started trying to enforce Screen Time rules, there was a LOT of resistance, and a lot of grief when the time was over, similar to the break down we just had. However, having the screen time at set times of day REALLY HELPED. It became scheduled, so my kids stopped trying to sneak it in because they knew they would get it. The afternoon time slot is pretty much guaranteed (unless they try to sneak in earlier Screen Time, although going to preschool usually helps avoid this), otherwise Mommy would never get a break and would possibly start breaking things instead. I said earlier that the time slot lasted for “about” 45 minutes. This is how it works if they play a video game, since I have them stop after completing x amount of stages, seeing how it’s just rude and frustrating to make someone stop playing when they’re in the middle of trying to accomplish something. It used to be they’d watch Caillou at this point, so that was more of a set time, but whatevs. Sometimes Squirtle will still watch that, or maybe like, Daniel Tiger (who he once told me he loves more than his brother), because he doesn’t really play much in the way of video games yet. The evening time slot is earned by the following:

  • Stopping Screen Time promptly in the afternoon
  • Cleaning up all the toys that cut holes into my feet at least by the 5th time I’ve demanded it
  • Attempting to eat dinner
  • Not being a horrible person in general
  • Accomplishing all this before 8 o’clock

Squirtle goes to bed at 7:30, hence one of the reasons he usually doesn’t get the second block of Screen Time. Also, he never cleans up the toys, so there’s that, too. Getting that extra Screen Time is an amazing motivator for Charmander, though. In some ways, it probably helps him behave better, provided I keep it under control, unlike yesterday where it went unchecked too long and he tried to destroy the world with his screams. But yeah. In all things, moderation.

Are you an avid gamer that enforces Screen Time on your kids, or possibly doesn’t? Or a non-gamer parent with thoughts on this? Or a kid with parents that enforce this stuff? Sound off in the comments below; we should share!

On Nonexistent Fictional Babies.

Having kids, especially very small ones, tends to make your mind completely full of them all the time, even when you’re doing non-kid related things.  You think about your own relationship with them, and when you’re engaged in various media, you tend to think more about the implications of what the characters’ own parent/child relationships have been to bring them to that point.  At least, I do.  Maybe it’s the lack of sleep or something.

Well, this past Sunday night, the kids were all asleep in bed by 8(!), so I managed to sneak in some extra video game time before passing out for the night.  As mentioned last post, I’ve been veeeeeeeeery sloooooooowly making my way through .  I played the first two XII games, and enjoyed them well enough.  I particularly like this entry because it has the highest potential for goofiness, and that’s all my brain can handle after having night after night of segmented 5 hours of sleep.  I’m not going to explain all the mechanics here, but basically you have a bunch of outfits that change your stats and powers, and you can customize the looks of these outfits further by changing the colors and adding little extra “adornments”, like hats, and glasses, and tails and other cutesy stuff that belittles the seriousness of our stoic heroine.  So, I’m running around in Cloud from FFVII’s garb that I’ve altered to be entirely pink, with a horrible little Tonberry on my shoulder, as I tell grown women dressed as the iconic Chocobo birds, “Meow-meow choco-chow” so that they give me fireworks. 

Sorry, I don't have a pic with the outfit I'm describing in the post.

Totally qualified to hand out free explosives.

This is all in front of a darker backdrop of immortal (but not invulnerable) people existing in a world set to end in a few days. And as a parent, that setting got me to thinking: what about the babies?

So, it is established early on that no one has been having babies since the event that caused all the chaos to come out and stop people from aging. But, surely, at the moment this happened, and obviously before it happened, people were having babies. There were probably women giving birth the very moment that time was distorted, and shortly before. There were women who were pregnant when this event occurred, even though we never see any. Then again, in a previous FF game, FFX-2, a character was said to be close to having a baby, and she looked exactly as she had when she was not pregnant, which was not fat. But I digress. The point is, we encounter an array of adults stuck at various ages, and we also encounter young children running around this world, still doing kid things… but no very young children. No babies. Maybe I haven’t searched the datalogs, which flesh out extraneous game details, properly, or maybe I haven’t gotten far enough for an explanation yet, but did the babies magically grow to a certain point in childhood while everyone else was stagnant, or…

Having a newborn is tough. Having an immortal newborn has to be nigh impossible. How long did it take for the people to realize that they weren’t aging? How long until they realized their newborn would never sleep through the night, never reach any milestones, and never learn to smile at them? Never feed themselves, never walk on their own, never say “Mama”? How long until they gave up loving the child they had been hoping for and nurturing and caring for before their world was torn asunder? And then live with themselves for centuries and centuries after giving up… or not?

I’m on my final kid; we’re stopping at three. Part of me has been melancholy about little Bulbasaur outgrowing clothes that won’t be passed down anymore, learning to sit, moving on to solid foods, etc. Squirtle is maybe possibly not eating every toy and art supply anymore? Charmander has decided to give up taking a bath in favor of a shower, all on his own. I’ve always been proud of my kids’ achievements, but I’ve been increasingly aware of how they’re eventually not going to be as cuddly as they once were. Thankupo, Final Fantasy, for the refresher on how horrible it would be if they didn’t grow up. And thank you, children, for making me think of the horrible things that happened to the fictional babies, instead of contemplating how Sahz and his son are the only black people in the entire FFXIII universe, and no one has anything to say about it. Meow-meow, choco-chow.