Whenever I post a story about a parent neglecting his or her children while playing a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, I can’t hide my disgust for that sort of person, so you can imagine how I felt about myself this weekend when my two 10-month-old children left the house in the middle of a boss fight.
I thought I had the situation in hand. We’ve cordoned off a safe area in the living room where my twin boys, Archer and Seamus, can roam freely, playing with toys, eating crunchy things and watching Yo Gabba Gabba to their tiny hearts’ contents. They seemed occupied, so while my wife-creature had just left for work, I figured I could sneak in an instance in the open beta for En Masse Entertainment’s new MMO Tera.
Completely engrossed by the game’s dynamic combat and lost in my first real taste of group fighting, I managed to keep one eye on the boys at all times, even pausing once or twice to run over and break up the odd baby fight. It wasn’t until the final boss fight that I turned my full attention to the game. Just five minutes, what could go wrong?
As the gigantic creature fell to the ground, I turned slightly to my right and discovered the living room door had blown open in the wind, and the babies had left the building.
I nearly had a heart attack. Utter panic gripped me as I bolted up out of the chair and ran to the door. Archer, the larger, less devious one was sitting on the doorstep, looking around. Seamus had nearly made it to the grass, some 3m away from the entrance. I quickly gathered them up, brought them inside and made sure the door was shut and locked, something their mother forgot on the way to work.
The babies were perfectly fine, if a little upset that their adventure was cut short. At least they were perfectly fine this time.
Anything could have happened in the five minutes my attention was pulled away. Young children and animals (sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference) roam freely about the area. People are moving furniture along the footpath. All it would have taken was one choking-sized object on the ground, and this slightly humorous moment might have turned tragic.
Now I’m not saying I’m in the same league as someone who leaves his baby in the car to go raid or forgets to feed her children because they’re busy playing, but for a brief, startling moment, I felt like that. I don’t want to feel like that ever again.
So I won’t. New rule: When watching the children I shall not play any game I cannot a) play with them in view and b) pause if I need to attend their whims. I care about these little bastards too much to let a game get between us.