Five unique ways families are using video games

Feb 5, 2014, 7:18 PM | Updated: May 7, 2014, 11:31 am

Parents who love video games may find it difficult to balance today’s high-tech world with family life. However, several articles published by Yahoo Games show how some parents have gone out of their way to make video games a family affair.

Ben Stirling, a developer for Guru Studios in Toronto, Canada, gave his 1-year-old son a unique birthday present last month. “My wife or I made a joke about how he was about to ‘level up’ when his birthday came around,” Sterling told Yahoo Games. To celebrate the young boy’s birthday, Stirling digitally inserted images of his son into some of their favorite video games. The series of nearly a dozen pictures includes baby Sam in famous games such as “Mario Kart,” “Portal,” “LittleBigPlanet” and even zombie-thriller “Left 4 Dead” (which happens to be rated M for mature).

“We thought it would be a fun laugh for our friends and family” Stirling said.

Another father, Travis Schwend of Jacksonville, Fla., made Yahoo headlines last June when he rented out an entire movie theater so his son could have a video game-themed birthday party.

And who says video games are only for boys? Oakland’s Mike Mika surprised his little girl last year with a reimagined version of the coin-operated classic “Donkey Kong.” In a Facebook post from March 2013, Mika explains how his daughter had incorrectly assumed that she could use a female protagonist to defeat the villainous Donkey Kong. Unfortunately, the classic game only allows players to use Mario, a male character. Mika stayed up late that night and, when his daughter awoke the next day, he had modified the original game to create a version where she could, indeed, play as a female heroine.

“I just wanted to keep that little grin lit up on my daughter’s face every time we sit down to play games together,” Mika posted in a blog on Wired.

Similarly, another parent, Mike Hoye, altered dialogue in the 2003 GameCube hit “The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker” to reassign the main character’s gender. Hoye changed any uses of “lad” or “master” in the game to “milady” to accommodate his daughter, Maya, as she played.

“I'm not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don't get to be the hero and rescue their little brothers,” Hoye told Yahoo Games.

Finally, an Arkansas couple found a creative way to take the next step in their relationship last December. Rob Tolleson, a web developer with a bright idea, used Popcap’s popular game “Peggle 2” to propose to his unsuspecting soon-to-be fiancée. Shireen Kelly, Tolleson’s girlfriend of six years, was tricked by Tolleson and Popcap’s San Francisco-based crew into thinking that she had won a contest and was going to be beta-testing some new levels at the company’s Bay Area headquarters. One of those levels was secretly designed to help Tolleson ask Kelly to marry him, reported Yahoo Games.

“I had no idea he was going to propose to me,” said a flustered Kelly in a video documenting the big moment. “I really did think it was some sort of competition.”

“We will always remember this, for sure,” Tolleson promised. They’ll undoubtedly never play “Peggle” the same way again.

Twitter: @atownmania

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Five unique ways families are using video games