Speedrunning Games – Definitions and Guides for Parents

“Did you see?”
“I’m gonna need more than that. Like, anything about anything.”
“Super Mario Brothers. There’s a new world record for beating it. It’s down to 4:56”
“You can beat Super Mario Brothers in less than five minutes?”
“I can’t… But people can. They found a flagpole glitch that let’em shave off time.”
“A flag what now?”
“A glitch. They shaved off like 3 tenths of a second.”
“Wait. Wait wait wait. 3 tenths of a second. That’s a thing. That’s a thing people do. Run games to shave off fractions of a second.”
“Um… Yea-ah. It’s speedrunning. Three tenths of a second is a big deal.”
“I’m sure it is.”
“Seriously. It’s HUGE”
“Mm-hmm”
“Ugh… You just. Don’t. Get it.”

Yup. Speedrunning. It’s a thing. And it’s a big deal for a subset of gamers. There’s even a biannual charity event for it: Games Done Quick. Where the dedicated get together and stream out playing games as fast as humanly possible.

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Roguelike – A Quick and Simple Guide for Parents

If you have an older kiddo – particularly one that loves more “indie” games or plays mostly on the computer, rather than on a gaming console, there’s a pretty good chance they’ve played – or at least talked about – Roguelike games.

They may not use that term — But there’s a pretty large volume of games that fall in this category. So, while you may not have heard them use this term Roguelike, they probably have talked about the games. Though, as I touched on above, the chances of this are greater if you’ve got a teenager rather than a youngling. Not that there’s anything particularly teenagery about them, they just tend to skew a little older cause… well… permadeath. We’ll get to that in a second.

With all that in mind, let’s jump to it.

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About This Site

I was at an after school function for my daughter the other day, picking her up from a theater class.  As I was waiting for her to hop off the stage, gather up her stuff, and do… whatever it is that makes her turn a 20 second task into a 5 minute one… I was listening to exchange with another kiddo and his Mom.  The kiddo was waxing on in minute detail on some new things he wanted to try in Minecraft – talking in excruciating detail about how he planned to hook up redstone to power a construction he had in his head.  His passion and excitement was palpable, and to her credit, the Mother was encouraging but clearly lost, the glass-eyed thousand yard stare as her son rambled on about the specific rules on his favorite server got me thinking… That poor woman was trying to connect with her son about something he was clearly enthused about, but she didn’t have the background or knowledge to make that connection meaningful.  She knew what Minecraft was, and was clearly conversant about some the gameplay in it, but she had now way to connect and communicate any deeper than that, and she lacked the foundational knowledge to even know what to ask about.  

I wanted to help.  That mother, and the thousands of other parents out there in the same situation.

So I started this site.

As for me, I’m a Gamer, I’m a Dad, and I’ve been a Game Developer for almost 20 years.

I’ve noticed over the last few years that gaming, as a whole, has expanded and expanded – hitting not just “mainstream” status, but being somewhat ubiquitous in children.  The younglings are able to manipulate ipads and touchscreens as if they were born to it.  Games of all types, from the hardest of the hardcore console games to the most casual of casual mobile games – they’re everywhere in our kiddo’s lives.

I’ve also learned, talking to many parents outside the game industry, that there’s a certain passing familiarity with the medium.  Most parents are generally knowledgeable enough to identify different consoles and different game types, as opposed to when we were growing up, and every gaming device under the sun was simply referred to as “an Intendo”

What I find though, is while there’s a passing familiarity with the medium, the broader gaming culture as a whole is still inscrutable and every changing.  

That’s what makes this blog different.  There’s a thousand places you can go online to find out if the content of a particular game is appropriate for your child.  I may talk about the content in games, and I may give advisories if something is particularly adult oriented, but I’m not about to be so presumptuous as to tell you what you should or should not let your kids play.

What I want to do, though, is provide parents with a larger and better understanding of gaming culture.  Not just what games your kids are playing, but why – and how – and how those elements impact their experiences.  This, hopefully, will allow you, as a parent, to better understand and communicate with your children about the hobby.