I used to be quite a hardcore gamer during my uni years. I was traditionally a PC gamer, but still enjoyed some console gaming every now and then. I mostly played role-playing games (RPG’s) like Elder Scrolls, Fallout and even Runescape (pretty excited they have released an app!), real time strategy (RTS) games like Starcraft, Warcraft and Age of Empires and turn based strategy games like Heroes of Might and Magic and Civilization. When I was with mates, generally we would play some fighting games like Tekken or Smash Bro’s.
Even when I started working full time, I still made sure to fit in some gaming, even if it wasn’t as frequent as before. But once I became a dad, my free time dropped significantly and my gaming along with it. However, with some adjustment to the way I play games, and the type of games I play, I have been able to keep up the gaming to some extent. Which had led me to ask the question – what is the best gaming console for new dads?
In this post I compare all consoles and devices that I tried using to game, including:
- Playstation 4
- Gaming PC
- Gaming Laptop
- Nintendo Switch
- Mini SNES
So pretty much all consoles except the Xbox! (because I don’t own one). I do own a Nintendo 3DS also, but I haven’t played this yet as I only have Pokemon Sun and Moon, which I have completed already. I also haven’t included mobile gaming in this list, only because I stopped playing mobile gaming a few years ago and can’t really comment on how well mobile gaming suits new dads. Anyways, onto my review!
This review contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases through their affiliate links. Please see my Disclaimer Page for more information. This review is in no way sponsored by Nintendo, Playstation or any PC/Laptop brand.
My main platform of gaming has always been my PC. I used to custom build gaming rigs back at Uni, and prior to baby being born I was playing on a PC that I had built when I just finished Uni (it was about 6years old at the time). It didn’t have the latest specs, but it was still advanced enough to play the latest Fallout 4 on high graphics (after I upgraded the graphics card).
Now, I found it really hard to do any substantial gaming on my PC. Since I was a heavy RPG player, I simply didn’t have the time needed to really get into the game and go on a quest. Quite often, I would get started, walk around randomly just exploring, and then baby would be awake before I had actually done anything substantial, which was really frustrating.
So I thought playing Starcraft might be a bit different, and it was if there wasn’t an update to download or install! Generally a skirmish or two doesn’t take too long to play, but the set up for each game is what took up most of the time. This was still OK, unless there was an update, which often meant baby was awake before I could get started (or worse yet, part way through a game!).
The main game I found playable was Civilization VI. Being a turn based strategy game, I could stop and start the game as needed, and it didn’t seem to need as many updates as Starcraft. Although play time was still short, it was less of a pain being interrupted part way through.
Other than the frustration with only being able to play a particular type of game, with my PC being in our study room, it didn’t really suit if I needed to keep an eye on my daughter. The only times I was able to play properly was if I scheduled aside a few hours, let my wife know that this was my self care time, and then I could get a solid 2-4 hours of gaming in.
I also had to ditch using the keyboard and mouse, if I wanted to hold my newborn and play at the same time. This wasn’t so bad for RPG and racing games (and I imagine first person shooters would be OK), but controllers weren’t suitable for real time strategy and turn based strategy games.
Verdict: Not a good gaming platform for new dads.
- Not portable
- Games and PC sometimes need updating depending on how frequently you can play the game
- Restricted to games that allow you to use a controller (hard to play Starcraft using a mouse and keyboard while holding a baby!) or are turn based games.
I bought a gaming laptop in the hopes it would be more versatile compared to a PC (not the one in the picture, I bought a custom build). However, I had a very similar experience to the PC, except it is obviously portable so I can take wherever in the house to keep an eye on my daughter. However unless I’m playing a turn based game, I’m pretty limited in what I can actually play.
Verdict: Not a good gaming platform for new dads.
- Portable, but otherwise similar constraints as a PC.
Although I am a huge Nintendo fan, and have been since the original NES days, I admittedly wasn’t a huge fan of the Wii U, and so I skipped buying that console and purchased a PS4, which became my main gaming machine other than my PC. Prior to my daughter being born, I was mostly playing GTA and Elder Scrolls Online, or I was racing in Need For Speed.
Once my daughter was born, I found that I was able to play games when she was a newborn even when I was holding her, which gave me a bit of extra time to complete quests and explore the game. But once she got older and required more attention and play time, I was limited to gaming during her naps, and once again could only play for short periods of time.
The biggest issue I found with the PlayStation, was that either my games needed constant updating, or the console did, and I found on more than 1 occasion that I would turn the PlayStation on during nap time, only for the update to be completed well and truly by the end of her nap. And when time is limited and you set aside time to play games, you don’t get many other opportunities to play them again during the day.
The other issue is saving the game. When baby is needing you to attend to them, you need to stop and go. This is hard if you are online questing (back to the start of the dungeon for me!) or playing a game that has save points. So often I would start a dungeon, get part way through and then need to stop and sacrifice my progress. I also avoided playing online with others because of this.
Verdict: Good for the newborn phase only.
- Somewhat portable, with the wireless controller.
- Needs frequent updates to play games, particularly if you don’t get the chance to play them regularly.
- Depending on the game you play, saving and exiting the game may not be flexible to your needs.
- You can get some good hours of gaming in though during the newborn phase when they just want cuddles.
My wife bought me the switch after my daughter was born, only because I really wanted to play Smash Bro’s. Actually, if it wasn’t for the release of Smash Bro’s, I probably wouldn’t have wanted one because I thought (based on my experience with my other consoles) that I wouldn’t get a chance to game. But when I saw Smash Bro’s released I thought that given the fights are quick, I could probably get some nostalgic gaming in during nap times and be finished with the fights in time.
Once I started playing the Switch, I realised the flexibility of the console allowed so many more options for game play. The portability between TV screen and handheld screen is awesome, and particularly useful when I want to game in bed rather than sit in the main lounge room (which is also really amazing when my wife wants to watch something I don’t!). Having the games installed onto the Switch also makes it much easier when I want to swap games and play something else.
But the best function for new parents that want to game is definitely the ‘sleep’ function. Nintendo have really hit the nail on the head with this simple yet effective function. The fact that you can press the power button to put the console into sleep mode, pausing the game where you are, and then when you pick it up to play again, you start exactly where you left off, is nothing short of genius.
I was playing the final boss of Smash Bro’s, Samus was mid jump charging her cannon when my daughter startled and needed some attention. I pressed the power button, console went to sleep and I attended to my daughter. I didn’t get a chance to game for a few days, but once I came back, powered the console back on, and then was able to finish the charge shot and keep battling the boss.
I’ve been playing Starlink, and while it’s taken me much longer than it would have before my daughter came along, the fact that I am playing an RPG again is honestly amazing, because I had all but given up on that prospect until my daughter turns three or four.
Now admittedly, I am still a bit sad that I can’t play games like Fallout and GTA and Starcraft, but I had all but given up on gaming. The Switch has given me some hope, while playing nostalgic titles from my childhood.
Verdict: An awesome console for new dads.
- Sleep function allows you to pause a game at ANY point and pick up right where you left off
- Can play a variety of game types, as available on the switch
- Some of your more ‘serious’ games like Call of Duty, Starcraft and GTA aren’t available on the Switch, which can feel limiting
I bought the Mini Snes, despite already owning a Super Nintendo, because it would be easier to set up on my TV and it had some games that I didn’t already own. And while I would consider it a ‘fun’ gaming console, it obviously is not for playing any modern games.
In saying that, if you are feeling nostalgic (which you probably will be once you have a baby and you remember your fun gaming moments), then the Mini Snes is amazing. And not just because of the nostalgia, but because of the save function. While you can save using the traditional saving method in each individual game, you can also save at any point in the game you are playing. Mid race in F-Zero, saved. Just before the boss in MegaMan, saved. Rainbow road in Mario kart, saved. Like with the Switch, this function is great when you need to attend to baby but you are part way through the game.
Verdict: A fun console for new dads.
- Not portable and has corded controllers, so not safe when baby is up and about
- Flexible save functions
- Nostalgic fun with some classic SNES games
- Not suitable if you want to play modern games
Now although we are missing some noticeable consoles (i.e Xbox) and I didn’t get a chance to review some handheld gaming devices, the Xbox would have some similar issues to the PS4, and the biggest issue with handheld gaming would come down to what game you are playing and it’s ability to be put down at a moments notice. Admittedly, I think a handheld gaming device would probably sit somewhere in the top 3, but out of this list, there is a standout console above the rest for new dads…
The Nintendo Switch has definitely been a standout gaming console in my experience as a new father. Sure it’s portability and flexibility with where, when and how you can game with it is great, but the best function that makes it suitable for new fathers is definitely the sleep function that allows you to pause your game at any point, turn the console off, and then pick it up again right where you left off – hours, days or even weeks later. This, plus a growing list of games that are both nostalgic and fun, makes it suitable for any gamer dad! And for the dads who are missing playing CoD or WoW, you will have to use my strategy and schedule in time to get your fix of these style of games.
Interested in purchasing the Nintendo Switch? Or the new Nintendo Switch Lite? Check it out at Amazon through the links below.
What are your thoughts? Do you own a Nintendo Switch? Or maybe you play handheld or Xbox? Feel free to leave your comments below!