No, not Peekaboo or “how quickly can you steal glasses off my face”, but grownup digital games. In the early days (weeks) (months) (years?) of your bundle arriving on the planet, you won’t be able to see anything beyond the constant grind of babycare, but if you like to play games, at some point you’re going to yearn for a controller or mouse or screen in your hand once more.
I hit that stage when the baby was two months old and have been playing games since. He’s now eight months and teeteringly close to crawling, which will bring a whole other set of challenges. Here are some things I wish I’d known when I started out.
Disclaimer: all babies and parental experiences are different, mileage may vary, etc etc.
The other day I wrote Enough for the very informal and unofficial TinyUtopias IF Jam. True to the theme, Enough is very small, just over 100 words long, and took a couple of hours to put together.
It’s about comfort and encouragement, and the world being exciting rather than overwhelming or frightening, and resting being something to luxuriate in. I found it rather calming to write, thinking about what I’d like to have enough of.
With an eight month old baby, energy and rest are at the forefront of my utopian visions. It’s notable that several of the jam games have that theme: TinyHillside by Emily Short ends with sleep, while Tiny Utopia by Astrid Dalmady describes a gently energised morning wakeup. I’d love to see a TinySleep Jam sometime in the future.
It was really enjoyable to write for a prompt in such an unpressured way, and the rest of the TinyUtopias games are lovely – a varied batch of moments, situations, or wordplay. They’re all very small, so do take a few minutes to check them out!
Heretic Dreams was entirely unexpected. I had other projects on the go, there were various baby-shaped demands on my time and brain, and I didn’t need anything else on my plate. But then I read The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson and couldn’t get it out of my head.
Elements of the novella kept racing through my mind: a protagonist touched by the power of a god, a romantic bond between the protagonist and their captain, a disastrous journey. So I wrote Heretic Dreams: a very different setup, setting and story, but still strongly inspired by Wilson’s work. This is the first fantasy interactive fiction I wrote, the one with the most lethal stakes, and the first that I wrote with the intention of submitting for publication.
Spoilers below, but first take a look at this gorgeous fanart by Irina Goodwin!