Today’s Guest Letter comes from Christopher Rakowsky. Chris an AI programmer in the video game industry who has worked on titles like Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto V. He’s an avid gamer, comic and non-comic book reader, movie and music lover as well. At home he’s a husband to his wife of five years and a father to Quinn, his 23 month old daughter.
You might have noticed by now, but in case you haven’t, you should know that your Daddy plays videogames. As we approach your second birthday (wow…almost two years already) you’re at that stage where you want to do everything that Mommy and Daddy do, and playing videogames has not been an exception. If anything it seems that when I have a controller in my hand you forget everything else in the world exists and you just want to play with me. This makes me pretty happy, but at the same time I have to be cautious about what you see and play. After all, videogames are not what they were when I was growing up.
Back in the 1980s your Daddy and Uncle got a Nintendo Entertainment System. As I write this, you’ve actually had exposure to some of these games. You seem to enjoy pressing the A button that makes Mario or Scrooge McDuck jump. You’re almost getting the hang of moving a character left and right on the screen. Yet, it’s your interest in what I’m doing over actually playing yourself that makes it hard to play games when you’re awake– with the other major factor being the type of games I play. While I play and love games like Geometry Wars, I also play and love games like Dead Space. While you might still be too young to play things like Street Fighter you’re definitely showing interest. (Actually you loved Street Fighter III: Third Strike, but I stopped letting you play it. Unfortunately Street Fighter is a game focused on hitting and kicking and Daddy didn’t want you to start replicating what you were seeing). As you’ve gotten older and more aware of your surroundings I’ve had to make adjustments to how and when I play videogames. Mommy taking you up for a bath? Perfect time to get 15 minutes of a game in. Mommy taking you for a walk? I wonder what game I can play for a few minutes. But of course the largest amount of time I have is after you’re in bed. You don’t yet know how this works because, well, you’re asleep, but when you go to bed and I spend some time with your Mommy I can sit down and get some videogame time in. This means usually no more than 1 ½ hours a night. This isn’t much for somebody like me, and it’s why nowadays I have a backlog of more than a dozen videogames I have yet to play. It’s also one of the reasons I no longer buy the majority of my games when they come out, as it just makes more sense to wait until I will be able to get them cheaper! And on top of videogames I have a number of other hobbies like comics and movies. Eventually when you’re not so demanding about wanting to play I’ll be able to play some of those videogames while you’re awake, but it’ll be a long time before I can play all types of games before the late hours.
Any sacrifice of my love for gaming is OK by me, because you’re around, but hopefully in a couple of years we’ll be playing Mario Kart, Geometry Wars and Portal together! You’ve also seen Daddy play StarCraft. My goal is that one day you’ll let me teach you how to play, and I have no doubt that you can be better than me. If you don’t want to play video games, then that’s OK. I’m more than happy to sit and play with whatever you want. Whether it be Legos, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or continuing to play with plastic Easter eggs months after Easter (seriously, when will you get tired of those plastic eggs?). I’ll do whatever it takes, because in the end what matters to me is that I get to spend time with you, and make you happy.
And remember that story about how I had an NES as a child? Well, ever since then I wanted to MAKE videogames, not just play them. And at some point you’ll figure out that your Daddy’s job is indeed making videogames. One day I’ll let you play those videogames that I helped create, but for the time being they’ll remain in those late hours, after you fall asleep.