Off Campus: Light, Darkness, and Skylanders

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Skylanders

In the realm of Skylands, the powers of light and darkness eternally warred with one another. The Darkness, an unknown evil represented by ominous clouds, was held at bay by a great machine known as the Core of Light. Protecting the Core of Light, the good Portal Master Eon and his faithful guardians, the Skylanders, stood watch. One day, an evil Portal Master known as Kaos returned and set in motion hell in Skyland form. Launching an assault that destroyed the Core of Light, diminished Eon to a spirit form, and sent the Skylanders packing to Earth, Kaos’s power grew. Defeated, the Skylanders were torn away from their magical Skylands. As they traveled further and further away from home, they grew smaller. Arriving on Earth, they now appear to humans as mere toys. The Darkness grows, a new Portal Master is needed, that Portal Master is you.
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What I’m Learning: As A Dad

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Since my son was old enough to hold a controller, I have shared my love of videogames with him.

We started with Super Mario Bros. on the family NES. Since then, we have progressed from him passively watching to now actively participating in playing games such as  Skylanders and Kirby’s Epic Yarn. At four years old, my son loves videogames and is quite good at them–humble dad brag–.

Screen time, which encompasses the iPad, TV shows, and videogames, has become a hot commodity in our house. If my son had his way, he would never unplug and instead become a digital potato. Not just any potato mind you, a stinky potato.

My struggle as a parent is to balance “screen time” with all of the imaginative play that awaits in my son’s toy box. Hot Wheels, super hero masks, and Legos are but simple gateways to pretend worlds of adventure. Sharing my love of videogames, with my son, has caused him to associate “daddy time” with “time to play videogames”. On the deepest, nerdiest level, I should be proud of this but I’m not. I want more for my son than just virtual worlds. On a selfish level, I want more for myself than to have to spend “precious” game time playing in some sort of G-rated world.

Here is what I am learning though: Videogame time with dad has nothing to do with what videogame is being played or whether or not my son has a controller in his hands. All that matters, ALL THAT MATTERS, is that the two of us are spending time together. If that means that he sits on my lap and watches me play, he is fine with that. He just wants to spend some time with his dad.

Even from the beginning, he has always wanted to spend time with me.

Even from the beginning, he has always wanted to spend time with me. I should be honored.

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure

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I have a 3 year old. He likes to play video games with his daddy. Anytime the PlayStation 3 chirps to life, he comes running into the room asking what we are going to play. We? Yes, we.

In the haze of Thanksgiving evening, my stomach stuffed with Mexican food, my wife and I headed out to Walmart. Walmart was having some early sales and we wanted in. Walking into the store, my wife and I separated. She went to wrestle for a bike for our son; I went to buy an Xbox 360 bundled with Skylanders for myself. Sounds fair, right?

Skylanders

Skylanders

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure is the game I wish I had growing up. Developed by Toys For Bob, Skylanders integrates action figures, NFC technology, and good old fashioned RPG mechanics. My son and I have spent hours playing the game. In fact, we have one more level to complete as of this writing.

Being 3 years old, my son has a hard time controlling games that use a 3D plane. So, we have worked out a system where he sits on my lap, I control the character, and he controls the fire button. Perfect solution. I will note that this solution crumbles any time Skylanders decides to become difficult (ANY boss fight). During those times, I take over and kick the crap out of Kaos.

Overall, I have enjoyed the game. Playing with my son has given us an activity for “Boy’s Club” and has certainly improved his video gaming skills. Skylanders represents the first game we will have beaten together. How cool is that? There is nothing better than sharing your hobby with your kids.