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December 18, 2006

The GameFam 2006 "D'oh!-There's-Only-1-Week-Left" Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

If you've been keeping up with my recent posts, you know that there's no way that I can duplicate last year's GameFam Holiday Gift Guide. This one ain't gonna be nearly as comprehensive, well-organized, or visually delicious as the 2005 version.

So here are the games I recommend for your young kids this year. I'll link to the ones I've already reviewed, and I'll try to add some detail as the week goes on, but no promises.

December 17, 2006

Thanks, geoGreeting!

Because of the demanding hours of my job at EA Chicago, I'm not always at home when my kids go to bed. :(

For the first couple of months, I called and wished them a good night before my wife tucked 'em in, but that wonderfully quiet (usually) parent-child intimacy - that feeling of connection, love and protection, was understandably missing.

For the last week and a half or so, I saw a cool-looking app when browsing through digg, and it's changed this dynamic completely.

As I listen on the phone, my kids click on the link from the geoGreeting I e-mailed them, and I can hear them reading the letters and trying to decipher my message in real-time. I have a lot of fun thinking up fun messages to send, whether from books, games, movies, songs, inside jokes, etc., and they love discovering the new surprise message from Daddy - so much so that they miss getting their e-mail on the nights when I'm home.

It ain't the same as being there, but it definitely restored some of the connection that had been missing.

It's pretty cool, and I highly recommend it for parents who can't always be there at bedtime. In the meantime, give it a try, why dontcha?

December 13, 2006

You're Doing It Wrong!

Remember the movie "Mr. Mom" from the mid- '80s?

At one point in the film, Michael Keaton's recently laid-off character tries to drive carpool for the first time, and as he drives into the school driveway in the opposite direction, swimming upstream against a raging torrent of veteran carpool-driving moms, one of them rolls down her window and shouts, "You're doing it wrong!"

In my case, it's actually a new job (as opposed to the lack of one) that has caused me to get wrong what once was so right. Clearly, for any regular readers (i.e. regular commenter WizarDru and some other delightful folks out there - you know who you are), I haven't been posting with anywhere near the regularity or depth of the preceding 16 months.

Basically, I've had to make choices about how to budget my time. Before I started working at EA Chicago, my two biggest chunks of time were spent 1) hanging out with my wife and kids and 2) writing about video games. Now I've had to add in a huge new chunk to the mix - work. And with the greatly reduced remainder, deciding between writing and family time is as close to a no-brainer as it gets. I love being a game developer, but my family will always come first, which is, ironically, why I enjoyed writing this blog and my GameDaily/AOL column in the first place.

Now I'm not saying that I'm going to stop writing. Not by a longshot. I just have to find a way to fit it into the rotation with greater regularity. Hey, if other insanely busy gamey-type folks like Robin, Kim, Clint, David, and many others can find the time to write interesting, intelligent, insightful posts fairly often, how can I not get my ass in gear and do the same?

So for the past 2 and a half months, I've been doing it wrong, but from now on, I'll do my best to get it right.