The gamer I’ve become after becoming a mom
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Me, Ella, And and an iPhone. Photo credit: Ilil ben-shalom

Me, Ella, And and an iPhone. Photo credit: Ilil ben-shalom

For me, the change is nothing short of monumental

Since becoming a mom, my life has changed in nearly every aspect. This of course is to be expected, but when it happens to you at the age of 36, it forces you to make changes to parts of your life that have come to be set in stone. For me, the most astonishing revelation was that I can no longer play real-time games, can forget about anything involving MMO.

I’ve been playing long enough to remember floppy discs and cheating on your DOS to be able to launch games. I’ve always had my own computer and have fed myself an endless amount of games. It has been like this since I was 13, through high school, military service, university life, career life, roommates and marriage. But it was driven to a complete halt with the birth of my amazing daughter, Ella. Complete. Halt.

The reality was simple: I was only able to commit to 2 minutes of gaming at a time. A tiny, insignificant number. I could commit to much more if I was allowed to play intermittently, but that defied most of my favorite games’ main concept of immersion in a vast world. It was especially depressing as I had just renewed my WOW yearly subscription, and there I was, unable to make it through even a single battle.

The second thing that happened to me was even worse: I was forced to completely abandon all desktop gaming. No way was I able to sit and have both hands on a keyboard and a mouse, while managing a baby. It was goodbye to all the amazing games I loved, and to my favorite platform ever. Heart: broken.

The only valid gaming platform left for me was the mobile one. I’d started investigating the iPad, a platform that I liked, but never really clicked with. I have always loved playing on my iPhone, but I have never expected the level of complexity that I loved in gaming to manifest itself in mobile form.

While the iPad and iPhone solved the platform issue, single player gameplay and intermittent gaming were putting some serious limitations on my choice of games. All games requiring group raids were out of the question. Even Clash of Clans suffered from this cut as I was unable to fully commit to clan wars. Just try scheduling a raid while nursing. Getting pigs to fly has better chances of succeeding. Intermittent gaming became the key criteria: no pause button, no download.

My favorite genre, however, stayed the same. I am and always will be an RPG and strategy geek down to my elven bones. I needed the sense of accomplishment you get from solving a strategic puzzle or evolving a character through quest. Arcade and board games did not hold my attention for long, sports and shooters were never my thing. Luckily, strategy and RPG hold today some of the most innovative games available, and I’ve found myself immersed in a world of new and exciting applications. My favorite of the subcategories? Tower defense. I’ve probably played every Tower defense game there is out there. Yes, there are hundreds. I KNOW.

In the App Store I’ve discovered a flourishing world of small game studios. On a mobile device you don’t need to have as big a team to build a very good product. Just look at New World Colony, a game that had stayed on my phone for over 4 years, and that I still play (!). It is the work of one truly masterful developer, just one. I’ve started following the game studios that I loved and have come to trust. The App Store editors’ choice is always a nice way to begin, but searching manually through the amazing game catalog has won me fascinating gems.

Instead of playing one, maybe two games simultaneously as I did when I PC gamed, I now usually flip between 3–5 games at a time. Most games limit play time with different stamina/turns limitations, so when I deplete one game’s stamina’s deposit, I simply hop to the next game I have in line. I have a monthly app budget for new games and in-app purchases: It’s one of the great perks of being an adult. There are usually over 20 games installed on my iPad, and I download about 8 games a week. Yes, motherhood has turned me into a mobile gaming mogul.

But the most astonishing thing I’ve learned about gaming from motherhood   is that most mothers I know are also avid gamers. They may not be catalogued as such, not by the gaming industry, and certainly not by themselves, but I have never met a community more dedicated to casual games than mothers. It’s almost as if casual games were invented for them, especially during the mental and physical hallucination that is the first year. You find yourself REALLY stretching your ability to stay awake, so many moms (and yes, yes, dads, but I’m writing about moms now) turn to their mobile phones to pass the time. Casual games offer a fun past time, they don’t make you think too hard  —  the rules are as simple as your ABCs, and they are fun to play and yes, they keep you awake.

But not only young moms have been revealed as gaming enthusiasts, the grandmas have too. Both my mother and my mother-in-law spend long hours playing bubble games. If I ask them about it, they say it clears their minds, and if I mention that spending at least two hours a day gaming makes you a gamer they laugh at my silly talk. But they are. they are amazing, loyal gamers. My mother-in-law can easily explain to me why she likes a specific bubble game and not another, but no one has ever asked her.

As my baby is now a toddler, and especially as she now has daycare, I can again spare the time and required technology to reactivate my steam account. But I find that I don’t always want too anymore. Some women say that they have turned vegetarian after having a baby, while others started wearing different perfumes. Having a baby has caused me to change my gaming play form. For me, that is nothing short of monumental.

This post was originally published on Medium

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Ilil Ben-Shalom

About Ilil Ben-Shalom


Ilil Ben Shalom Is a gamer who loves to get into the belly of the gaming experience and write about it. She’s a product / UX / UI professional, but her greatest passion is her Gamer-To-Be daughter.

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