We’re thrilled to welcome writer/gamer/mom Nicole Nymh as a regular contributor to Pixelkin. She’s going to be sending us tales from her gaming life twice a month. Don’t forget to tune in! –Linda Breneman, managing editor.
I figured I would start my time on Pixelkin with an introduction. I am mom to a fantastic (if a little rough around the edges) four-year-old, pink boy with his own iPad and a killer train obsession. I am divorced. I work hard on a daily basis to provide my son with every single thing I believe he deserves. Sometimes, though, I have to remember that I deserve things too: namely books, food that isn’t good for either of us, and games. My son and I play some games together, but once he goes to bed the gloves come off and I dive in to new and old games alike.
I am a mom who had a passionate love affair with Super Mario Sunshine while still being secretly, deeply committed to Dark Age of Camelot. Nowadays I prioritize space in our entertainment center for picture books, early readers, Disney movies, and stack upon stack of games and gaming accessories. To give you a little insight into my love of gaming, I’d like to share with you a story from when my son was two years old.
From the time my energetic boy joined our small family, I was going stir crazy on bed rest, followed immediately by going stir crazy on maternity leave with a newborn. Nursing especially was both a blessing and a challenge, while I struggled to keep my hyper-productive mind focused on the bonding and serenity of my mother-son time. Mobile games became one of the only options—cheap, available, sometimes mind-numbing options. Then one chilly February day, everything started to look up.
I was about to get gussied up, put on something sexy, and go on a date. It was early February 2012, and by gussied up I mean that I cleaned my glasses with lens spray and a microfiber wipe. I pulled my slinkiest slightly-too-large-for-me polyester pajama pants out of the closet and grabbed a Threadless shirt out of a pile of clean laundry.
After a bit of anxiety—the anticipation of my fingers pressing buttons I hadn’t touched in oh so long—I gave in and prepared myself for what was going to potentially going to be a rough ride. I had longed for the experience for months. I had been deprived of this sort of release for far too long. Because, folks, by “date,” I mean that I opened up a new game. I played Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning on my Xbox 360 for six straight hours.
You heard me. At the time I was working a full-time job at a world-renowned electronics retailer. I had a clean house, a marginally clean minivan, and a kid who would just as gladly run around outside as watch Tangled on repeat all day. After PAX East 11, where I watched the game’s first public preview in awe, I waited almost a full year to metaphorically playgasm my way through the worlds of Amalur, and it felt amazing.
Over the course of a year I logged 89 hours in Amalur, maxed almost every skill set and pursued every quest I could (not my best idea). When the game came up on a Steam sale for $5.99 a few months ago, I bought it and started all over again. No regrets.
My life isn’t always accepting of my desire to work 13-hour days, enjoy every one of my son’s waking moments, and have marathon gaming sessions. But once I had a chance to remember the rush of good character design, story, environment and combat, I was damned if I would give that up to go back to Castleville and the lonely mobile games I had gotten used to since my son’s birth.
Here’s hoping later in life my son will be able to find the same kind of balance in life without losing his passion.