Sunday, December 6, 2015

What is on your gamer's holiday wish list? My son is currently obsessed with "Undertale", which is available as a downloadable game from STEAM.

He has also requested t-shirts and character plush's. Here are a few websites I've found that may help with shopping for your gamer*:

"Ugly Christmas Sweatshirt" from

and a great resource for all things geeky:

*I have no affiliation with these sites, nor do I receive anything by mentioning them here. Just a few places I've gotten some excellent gifts or gift ideas for my gamer. Happy Holidays!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Thoughts on color . . .

When you look at this picture, what do you think?

 Perhaps, “What beautiful fall colors!”  Or, “Look at the variety of colors in nature.”  Maybe, “Isn’t it amazing how all those different trees can produce so many different colors living together in the same forest?” 

Now, when you look at this picture, what do you think?

Perhaps, “What a wonderful representation of citizenship!”  Or, “Look at all those beautiful colors!”  Maybe, “Isn’t it amazing how all those different people can live together on the same planet?”

Why can we admire the beauty and differences in the colors of trees but not in people?  We appreciate the variations in each tree.  Even a tree where the leaves all turn red, they are different shades of red all produced by the same tree.  In people, we must admire the variation in each.  How skin, eye, and hair color can be so varied throughout the same family.  How different color combinations can mix together to create something entirely new and beautiful.

Do you remember elementary school when you learned about primary and secondary colors? Red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors and it is mixtures of these colors that make all other colors. And what about black and white? The color white is “due to the reflection of most wavelengths of visible light”.  While black is “Of the very darkest color owing to the absence of or complete absorption of light”.  Yet we must mix the two together in different proportions to make gray. We must add white and black to purple, already a combination of red and blue, to make all the beautiful shades of lilac, violet, mauve, plum and more.

Ignoring color and all its variations is not an option! We must embrace all the colors, of flowers, trees, leaves, paint but most importantly people! All people, in all different colors, contribute to the beauty of this vast world in which we live. We must teach our children, not to be color blind, but to appreciate and understand all the unique colors on the spectrum.

Yellow is my least favorite color, yet yellow and blue combine to make green – my favorite color. So when we teach children about colors they need to know that even if they dislike yellow, it plays an important role in their favorite color of green and so they must appreciate yellows contribution. You don’t have to love yellow, you just have to learn to value its role in the color spectrum.

The same is true of people. You don’t have to love everyone (not everyone is loveable), but you do have to accept their contribution to the world. My response to #blacklivesmatter, is yes, they do, but really #ALLLIVESMATTER - black, white, red, pink, brown, tan, albino and so on.

So take a lesson from this rainbow Yoshi family who live together in peace and harmony under my very roof and are all equally loved.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Defining Addiction

When I started this blog, I gave it the subtitle “The rewards and pitfalls of raising a child who is addicted to video games.”  Since then, a couple of people have sent me messages asking how to “cure” their child’s addiction.  It occurs to me that maybe addiction or even obsession isn’t quite the right term. We do not seek to “cure” the child who focuses on a single sport.  The kid whose wall is covered in team banners, attends sports camps, and dreams of someday playing professionally.  We do not seek to cure the child who focuses on academics.  The kid who spends their time conducting experiments, or building, or studying in their room, head buried in a book.  These kids may join academic teams, participate in science fairs, spelling bees, etc.

We cheer for those kids, admire their dedication and commitment.  So why is it any different for a gamer?  I have come to learn that gaming is a culture, a way of life.  Gaming takes real skill and dedication to practice the craft.

I am reminded of this every time I try to play anything more advanced than Mario Party.  I recently tried to play the much hyped game “Splatoon” with my son and it was just embarrassing!  I couldn’t figure out the controls or how to aim and kept pushing the wrong buttons.  Where J immediately and innately controls his character, moves around the playing field, and generally kicked my ass.

So if you are the parent of a gamer, take a moment to consider what it really means to your kid and how you want to deal with their “addiction”.  Think about what is important to you.  What do you “obsess” over?  Is there something that you are fanatical about?  The real truth is that we all have something . . . it’s just that some addictions are more socially acceptable and easier to blend in with the world at large.

So what to do with your avid child gamer?  My answer is not a damn thing!  Accept your child for who he/she is; encourage diverse interests and activities with the knowledge that in the end, they will want nothing more than to get home and check their Minecraft build.  Appreciate your child’s talent and commitment to the art of game play.

And so I will change the subtitle description of this blog to, "The rewards and pitfalls of parenting an avid gamer."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Post-PAX Reflections

It's only been a few weeks and the kid is already talking about what cosplay to do next year! This was actually the first time I've attended for 2 days in a row.  I don't know about the teen, but I was sore and exhausted after all that walking.  Also, none of the grown up stuff that I usually do on weekends (laundry, grocery shopping) got done. So now that I've had some time to catch up, I will share with you my post-PAX thoughts:

OMG, but was it ever crowded!  Not just the convention floor, but the panels, the handheld lounge, and the console freeplay rooms.  I think the shortest wait we had all weekend was in the classic console room where my son joined some young men playing WarioWare Mega Party Game$.  We arrived an hour in advance for the Runaway Guys: Thrown Controllers panel and the line was already full so we were placed in an offshoot room to wait.  Fortunately we still got in and had pretty decent seats.  If you aren't familiar with these very popular youtuber's you can check out their channel here:  This is the only panel we attend each year; and it's not so much a panel as a game show for, well, gamers.

After the panel, the Runaway Guys had an impromptu autograph session.  Even that was crowded, but the kid wanted to wait and get autographs (for the 3rd time, mind you).  I found a corner in which to hide and charge my phone while the boy held court doing his Hatty Hattington routines.  Couldn't get a decent video, but I think this photo says it all:

You will note that he is surrounded by gamers of all ages, enjoying and appreciating his performance.

And that my friends, is my final takeaway from PAX East 2015.  It is quite possibly the most accepting environment I have ever experienced.  People of all ages, genders, and game preferences interacting without prejudice.  Despite being the tag-along mother, everyone I met, from teen gamer to indie developer was friendly, kind, and patient.  As a parent, I appreciate how easily and willingly my son was accepted by everyone he approached.  The group of 20-somethings playing WarioWare could have easily dismissed him, but instead passed him a controller and welcomed him to their group.  I am proud to say that my son did the same if others wanted to join a game he was playing.

Really, it is a shame that the world doesn't work this way.  Accepting everyone for exactly who they are and what they can contribute to your "game".  Everyone has something to teach and something to learn.  Who knows, maybe gaming is really the way to achieve world peace?  At least for one weekend a year, I can believe it is possible.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


Revelation . . . as I sit here dreading spending the next two days at PAX East I have come to the sudden realization that the reason I am dreading it is because I feel like a complete outsider.  My son is now almost 14 years old, an intelligent, independent young man who is completely into gaming culture.  These days he spends all his free time playing Minecraft, Battle Block Theater, Team Fortress 2 and watching videos on You Tube about these games. I am realizing that these people who make and post these videos have celebrity status among fellow gamers.  While I have heard some of the names tossed around by my son, many are unfamiliar.  So while my son gets dressed in his Hattie Hattington costume and prepares for the most exciting weekend of his year; I feel completely old and obsolete because I wouldn’t know Markiplier if I tripped over him.  I will suck it up and deal and spend this weekend feeling like an outsider because I love my kid. 

Revelation part II . . . maybe my son, and other gamers, feel like outsiders for the other 362 days of the year?  When you have such specific and intense passion for a culture, it is hard to find others who share this interest level. My son is fortunate to have a few friends who understand and share this interest with him, but I think overall, most people, most kids, do not relate to the level of gaming culture into which my son is involved.  I see him going to school, boy scouts, orchestra rehearsal, participating in the “real world”, but struggling to connect with people who understand him.  I’ve said it before, attending PAX East is like he is visiting his home planet where everyone understands him.  It never occurred to me before how alien he may feel the whole rest of the year.

IMHO, my son is not yet old enough to attend this type of event without some adult supervision.   So today, and tomorrow, I will be the alien.  I will be the dorky, non-cosplaying mom (side note – I did offer to wear a costume but the teen wanted to be a solo cosplayer) getting a tour of this strange gamer planet called PAX East.  

I come in peace!