Today is Father’s Day, so here’s to all the dads out there. But today on Nintendo News, it’s also a special day. For the first time, we’re featuring a guest writer who has volunteered his memories and experiences as a Nintendo Dad. We hope you enjoy what he has to share.
My name is Zac Erickson, and I’m the co-creator of the Nintendo Dads podcast. We discuss Nintendo news from a parenting perspective on a weekly basis. I’m guest writing this post because, well, it’s Father’s Day! Interestingly, when I started this post, I thought it would be a post about cool stories, but it became a lot more mushy and editorial. You’ve been warned, but I hope you’ll enjoy the ride.
Some of the very first memories I have as a child include going on family road trips. To pass the time, I remember playing Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins on my original Game Boy. Those days led into a lifelong love of gaming; I remember the day we opened up a Sega Genesis for Christmas one year, and how I spent that holiday break glued to the TV playing Aladdin, Sonic 2, and Jurassic Park. Years later, I have memories of my siblings and I huddled around the TV playing multiplayer Donkey Kong 64 and Star Fox 64.
As my wife and I started a family of our own, it was only natural that I wanted video games to be a part of our family. When we first married, my wife and I bought a pair of DS Lites and we would play puzzle games together during our downtime. Shortly after my first son turned two, Nintendo launched a strange new console known as Wii U. I was intrigued, and I knew that I could rely on Nintendo to provide my family with some fun gaming opportunities in the coming years. My son was already showing some interest in Nintendo characters (we had bought him a stuffed Luigi for Christmas), so in June 2013 we drove three hours (each way) to attend the very first Best Buy E3 Nintendo showcase. We landed some sweet Nintendo swag (I still have the Mario Kart 8 lanyard from that year) and planted the seed for future gaming excitement.
For me, having kids was an excuse to let my own inner child loose. Very young children often like whatever their parents put in front of them, and I’ll admit now that I was probably more excited for Disney Infinity than my son was when it was released. Yet, he was excited enough about it to ask for it for his third birthday. We ended up with a lot of those figures, and usually I would play and he would watch.
It wasn’t about the games we were playing, either: it was about having something to bring us together.
In 2014, Justin Masson, Jesse Waldack and I started the Nintendo Dads podcast. At the time, we knew that we wanted to start a podcast, and that video games felt right. However, the cross-section of parenting and Nintendo specifically wasn’t really being served. There’s something very unique about Nintendo games in their family-friendly nature. Our first episode aired November 2014, and this past week we released our 100th episode. The thing that has surprised me more than anything is how much the name “Nintendo Dads” has resonated with our audience. So often, we hear from our listeners “Nintendo Dads?! That’s me!” We soon discovered there is an army of Nintendo Dads (and moms) out there who are sharing their love for Nintendo with a new generation, which really just gets me thinking.
What is it about Nintendo that makes me want to share them with my children? The answer, at least in part, came to me recently when my son — now almost six years old — and I went to the Calgary Expo where we met Charles Martinet, also known as the voice of Mario. I don’t think I’ve ever met a happier, more genuine person. While speaking with him, it became clear that he was interested in one thing: spreading joy. All too often, becoming an adult, husband, and father tries to push us down the path of “maturity.” I’ve met a lot of people my age who think growing up means that life needs to become boring, matter-of-fact, and productive, yet Charles Martinet sat in front of us switching his voice between Mario, Luigi, Wario, and more. You could tell the man was constantly just … playing, and that’s what Nintendo really does to us and our children. It reminds us the importance of play. It helps me play with me children. It provides me opportunities to sit down with my children, have some friendly competition, and to get invested in something that they’re invested in. If you really get down to it, play is at the very core of Nintendo’s DNA.
One of the most common questions we get sent to us on Nintendo Dads is something like, “What kinds of games should I play with my kids?” While it’s easy to say Mario Kart, Splatoon, or Nintendo Land, I’ve come around to the idea that the real game you should be playing is the one your child is interested in. That should be the most exciting game to you as a parent. Recently, my son started playing Kirby: Planet Robobot. He loves it. I played it a bit, and it’s alright, but I don’t enjoy it nearly as much as he does. And yet, when he gets home from kindergarten, he’s super pumped to play some local multiplayer. We sit down together on the couch, he grabs his 2DS, I grab my New 3DS XL, and we fight bad guys together. I don’t think he’ll remember the specific game, but I hope he’ll remember that we had fun playing together. That’s why I’m a Nintendo Dad, and thanks to the wonderful people behind franchises like Mario, Splatoon, and Zelda, I hope to be one for a long, long time.