Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Killing aliens by my daughter’s crib

Posted by Rampant Coyote on May 1, 2015

Xcom2When my daughter was an infant, I played X-Com.

That’s a weird way to phrase it. I’d graduated from college around six months earlier, and had just started my career as a game developer. My wife and I had worked out a schedule that unfortunately didn’t leave us much time to see each other during the work-week. We slept in shifts, kind of. She’d go to bed around eight, I’d go to bed around midnight (usually a little after). From eight until midnight, if the baby woke up (and she did), she was my responsibility. After that, my wife took care of her while I slept.

I had to wake up around six AM and get ready for work. We had only one car, so my wife would drive me to the bus stop to catch the “express” bus to Salt Lake City in the morning. The bus took about an hour and a half to get there (it wasn’t very “express”).

On a good morning, I’d catch about an extra hour of light, snoozy sleep on the way to work. I’d joke that I slept  more on the bus than I did at home with the baby. I had a little inflatable pillow I took with me, and if I was able to grab a window seat, I was in business.

If I could leave work on time, I’d get home around six at night. My wife and I would have dinner and talk. We’d spend time with the baby together. It wasn’t ideal, but having kids is never easy. Then my wife would go to bed, and I’d be on baby duty. We tried to get her on a schedule as early as possible, though it meant some rough evenings getting there. A lot of that was my job, on the first “shift” of baby duty. We’d let her cry for a while, and then I’d go comfort her, sometimes check her if she had a different cry to see if she needed food or to be changed, but try to get her on a schedule.

(Note: It worked, both our kids were on decent sleep schedules pretty young).

So during that 4+ block of time, I was “on call.” Whatever I was doing had to be easily interruptable. Fortunately, this was before the era of massively multiplayer games, so hitting the “pause” button on a movie or game wasn’t a big deal. X-Com wasn’t a new game by then, but it was turn-based and easy to interrupt when the baby required it.

I don’t remember too much about what I did during those evenings – what movies I watched, what books I read. But I do remember playing X-Com. I had to play with the volume turned way down so it wouldn’t wake the baby with sudden, scary noises. I remember the quiet, pulsing soundtrack playing in the background. I killed aliens a few feet away from my daughter’s crib.

Although it is less true nowadays, but I look over my life and I mark eras by the games I was playing at the time. How’s that for a geek thing? Now, when I look at screenshots of the original X-Com, that’s what I think of. That tiny old rental in Provo, the challenges of being fresh out of school and in the “workforce” with a new career, the fears and stress of being a parent for the first time, and my baby daughter sleeping peacefully (well, sometimes…) near me.

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