I’m not saying moms don’t play with their kids. Because they do. How many LEGO robots have I built? How many stuffed animals have I given a squeaky little voice? But there’s a new study out that says that even now, today, moms are doing more of the chores and dads are having more of the fun. This needs to change, because moms are tired.

But even when it does, I hope dads continue to play with kids. Because dads can be really good at playing. And gamer dads can be the best. These six dads take it a step further and make gaming with kids one of the coolest things ever.

1. The Brainy Gamer, Michael Abbott

Once in a while blogger and podcaster Michael Abbott writes about playing video games with his young daughter Zoe. He’s curated an M-rated game, Skyrim, so he could play it with her. And he’s played a lot of Animal Crossing with her. In this post he talks about an ill-fated real-life train ride. The train he was on with Zoe collided with a farmer who was trying to beat the train. The farmer was riding a tractor and carrying a load of anhydrous ammonia. Pretty traumatic. But Abbott explains how gaming with Zoe has helped her look at life as an adventure. Even the scary parts.

Pauline rescues mario donkey kong

Pauline rescues Mario in this tweaked version of the 1981 classic Donkey Kong.

2. The Modder, Mike Mika

Mike Mika is a game developer. When his daughter wanted to play as Princess Peach in Donkey Kong, he fixed Donkey Kong for her. Mika hacked the 2010 Nintendo read-only memory and reversed the roles. He called the new game the Pauline Edition. Mario gets rescued by Pauline, which handily reverses the media trope known as Damsels in Distress. In Damsels in Distress, the female always needs rescuing. Hooray for the dads who help their kids (of all sexes) get past that tired old stuff.

3. & 4. The Super League Gaming Founders, John Miller and Brett Morris

Brett Morris and John Miller are Los Angeles dads who love video gaming but long for the arcade days, when gaming was more of a joyful, public, social experience. “We were just a group of dads who…thought this would be a great way to bring gaming to life.” Their Super League Gaming organization is bringing Minecraft and other games to movie theaters. Kids and their dads and moms can come together with other gaming families to enjoy the benefits of having fun in a group. Morris is thrilled about how much fun people are having playing video games in movie theaters across the country this summer. “We wanted to go from city to city—we’re in 25 cities and 87 theaters this summer—and just show people.”

5. The Wise One, Chad Sapieha

Chad Sapieha is a writer, a gamer, and a dad. He wrote an article for the Financial Post about why he wants his daughter to play more video games, in which explains that video games have more to offer the brain than television does. We interviewed Chad  about his gamer-dad ways, and he explained more about the thoughtful process he goes through to select games for his daughter. He checks ratings and makes sure games make up an appropriate portion of a “healthy media diet.”

6. My Dad, Richard Breneman

My dad turned 85 on Sunday. He worked in the nuclear industry, keeping all the highly technical and crucial equipment safe and working. I may have gotten some of my love of tech from him. He loves to fly small planes, and he was one of the early players of flight simulator games.

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are of playing with my dad. When my siblings and I were really little, we’d tear around the house and play pig-pile-on-Dad almost every night after dinner. We played a lot of wiffle ball in the yard. And when I got older, he taught me to play cribbage. Next month, I’ll be visiting my parents in Arizona. I look forward to playing a round of golf outside and a little Rory Mcilroy PGA Tour on the Xbox.

gamer dad

My mom and dad.

This article was written by

Linda learned to play video games as a way to connect with her teenaged kids, and then she learned to love video games for their own sake. At Pixelkin she wrangles the business & management side of things, writes posts as often as she can, reaches out on the social media, and does the occasional panel or talk. She lives in Seattle, where she writes, studies, plays video games, spends time with her family, consumes vast quantities of science fiction, and looks after her small cockapoo. She loves to hear from people out there. You can read more about her at her website, Linda Breneman.com or her family foundation's website, ludusproject.org.