The most violent video game just got a dad button

Get ready to be brutally eviscerated right in the feels. Just in time for Father’s Day, Sony debuted a gameplay trailer for the new God of War on PlayStation 4. It’s a must-watch for every parent.

As you’re watching, keep a close eye on the kid. Soak up his innocence and indecision. Watch how he skips and jumps through the snow like a real boy. And at the end, watch the harshness melt from the father’s face as he guides his son’s hand.

The dad here is Kratos, star of the franchise. He’s been a dad since the first God of War hit PlayStation 2 eleven years ago. Back then he stunk at it. Tricked by Ares, He murdered his wife and daughter. Their ashes are what make his skin white. Kratos got so mad he spent three games murdering all the Greek gods.

Now Kratos has moved north to the land of Norse gods and bushy beards. He has a new lease on life, a new axe, a new son, new monsters to fight and an amazing new gameplay feature: THE DAD BUTTON. Continue reading The most violent video game just got a dad button

How the Xbox One saved Game of Thrones

Things aren’t going well in season 5 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. With the exception of Qyburn, the weirdo with the ever-expanding collection of twitching corpses and severed dwarf heads, all the characters are having a rough time.

In my living room, however, things are going great. I can hear every whispered line of dialogue without worrying that a loud sword clang or dragon screech or sex moan will wake the kids. What’s my secret? An Xbox One.

The most annoying character in every dramatic series used to be our TV’s volume bar. It would wiggle through every scene of Walking Dead or Gotham as my wife clenched the remote, twitchy thumb on the volume rocker, struggling to keep the voices audible while suppressing every gunshot, explosion or loud commercial. With unwavering vigilance, she persevered.

For me, it was a minor annoyance in what was otherwise the most relaxing part of my day. For her, though, it was work. She’s definitely the kind of working-mom lawyer who DOES NOT NEED MORE WORK. Continue reading How the Xbox One saved Game of Thrones

Destroy all technology and your parents will love you again

We babies of the ’80s didn’t have much competition for our parents’ undivided attention. Soap operas. Phil Donahue. Sometimes we had to cry a little louder so adults could hear us over their shoulder pads and through their perms. No problemo, as we used to say.

If my 11-month-old daughter could talk in sentences, she’d tell you kids today have it worse. Parents pull shiny toys out of their pockets and can spend an unlimited amount of time staring and tapping at the glowy part. The big TV plays whatever they tell it to. Sometimes it’s Umizoomi, which is great, but a lot of the time it’s grownups droning on in muted-trombone sounds. Like, gag me with a spoon.

So baby has a plan to win the attention war. She’s methodically testing our tech for weaknesses she can exploit. And she’s finding them.

Clever girl.
Clever girl.

Continue reading Destroy all technology and your parents will love you again

Bowser Jr. and the dangers of ‘grup’ parenting

At my 20-month-old son’s insistence, I’ve been playing a lot of New Super Mario Bros. U (hard life, I know). Champy knows all the characters because their decals adorn his Mario-themed bedroom, and he makes me name them one by one before he will go in his crib (always worth it). I was excited, and he was a little terrified when we reached the game’s final boss, Bowser.

But the Koopa King seemed a little flat. He was lollygagging, puffing a few fireballs and occasionally jumping, but he clearly had no interest in killing Mario. He didn’t even roar until his son, Bowser Jr., supersized him with Magikoopa dust, dragged him out of the pit I put him in and forced him to fight me again.

Son, we're going home.
Son, we’re going home.

My gut reaction was that Bowser is a lousy dad, halfheartedly raging in Peach’s castle while his underage son acts as Mario’s primary antagonist across eight worlds. But a New York Magazine article on ‘grups’ — 30-somethings who shun traditional adulthood and live like 20-somethings  — has me thinking maybe Bowser is just dealing with the consequences of shared-passion parenting.

And it could happen to me! Continue reading Bowser Jr. and the dangers of ‘grup’ parenting

Best baby names: A simple formula

I’m about to double my cash value as a stay-at-home dad. My wife and I are expecting our second child — a girl — this August. In the month since we found out the sex of the baby, we hear the same thing every day:

Do you have a name? How about _________ ?

Aryll is Link's little sister from "The Windwaker." You already know the DeLorean.

I’ll answer the second question first. No. Your name suggestion is stupid. As for the first question, we don’t have a name. We have something even better: A formula for coming up with the best possible baby name. Continue reading Best baby names: A simple formula

What new parents want in the iPhone 5

Apple is set to unveil the new iPhone today, and smartphone geeks are champing at the bit to hear more about what many are calling the “iPhone 5.” Rumors of a larger screen, 4G/LTE connectivity and redesigned earbuds may stoke the fanboys, but being full-time dad to a one-year-old has given me some different concerns.

First baby photo taken with iPhone 3GS camera.
This iPhone 3GS shot is the first photo anyone ever took of Champ with his eyes open. It would have looked much better on the iPhone 4S.

When our son was born, my wife and I had iPhone 3GSes we got on launch day more than two years earlier. I had to take his first pictures with that phone’s aging camera because Apple wouldn’t release the 4S for another 24 days.

We had packed a new DSLR camera that we bought just for photographing the baby, but nothing tops a smartphone camera for quickness and convenience. The fact is, the iPhone has become an indispensable tool for documenting and sharing the story of this new person’s life.

Here’s how to make it better. Continue reading What new parents want in the iPhone 5

Skyrim for new parents

Some guards nearly cut my head off, but a dragon attacks the town. I escape, get some armor, kill some zombies and listen to people go on about places like Morrowind and Oblivion. I feel a little lost. I walk around a lot. I get frustrated that I can’t climb all the mountains.

And then some other guy writes a review for my website. I get bogged down helping care for a one-month-old. I put my review copy of Skyrim on the shelf. I quit being a professional journalist.

But Skyrim won’t give up on me. A buddy, who exclusively plays terrible Super Nintendo fighting games, asks me at a bar if I’ve heard of this new game where you traverse a world the size of Minnesota. I hear hipsters explaining it to less in-the-know hipsters at Phoenix food trucks. My brother plays a Youtube video of a girl singing the Dragonborn song. On repeat.

A week or so into stay-at-home fatherhood, I run out of Breaking Bad episodes. I desperately need something to do during long babynaps. Skyrim has been waiting for me. Continue reading Skyrim for new parents

Words with spouses

I drop a bomb. NUKE for 28 points.

It’s after 11 p.m. I’m playing Words With Friends against my wife. She’s already in bed. She’s on her iPad, continuing a game we started days earlier when we first downloaded the app. She might be nursing the baby.

I’m in the dining room, checking my iPhone while hunched over my laptop, joking about Mass Effect with my buddy and writing a complaint to Monster Energy. Costco stopped carrying my flavor. Bastards.

Continue reading Words with spouses

Baby bottles: You’re doing it wrong

A word of advice for new dads: NEVER blog about how well your babyperson is sleeping. It’s the oldest and harshest jinx. Last week, the Champ got a surly cold, and not even the formidable Nap Nanny® Chill™ could keep him asleep more than a few hours.

Today’s post is about bottles. I long considered myself an expert on the subject because I’m a master of the adult ones. If a container has booze in it, I will get us to the booze.

My 4½-month-old son, despite his fascination with grown-up drinks, isn’t quite old enough to hold his own bottle. Here’s one of his best efforts so far:

Continue reading Baby bottles: You’re doing it wrong