That's not something unique to my family. Like my own father, Steven struggles to find things in common with his children. One of his daughters is a dancer. The other is in band. But as the girls have gotten older, playing video games has brought the family closer together.
"I've been an avid gamer since I was in college, and my daughters just started picking it up," he told me. "About six or seven years ago I got my oldest daughter a computer, and she and I started playing games with each other and against each other, and it just kind of progressed from there." I met Steven at QuakeCon in Dallas, TX, where he and his daughters Nicole and Maya were getting ready to hop into a game of Torchlight 2. "We used to have one room [at home] that all the computers were in," Steven told me when I asked if they played a lot of games as a family. "We'd just sit there and just play for hours and hours."
It's not just about the games. Theirs is also a house of technology. One Christmas, Nicole's relatives all coordinated to each get her a part for a new computer, which she and her father built together. They have learned how to install hardware the same way other kids learn to change a flat tire on a car. "I try to teach them, 'This is what you have to do when building a computer,' so that way they know how to do things themselves," Steven said. "I've tried to make them as self-dependent as possible."
Of course, having things you love to do together at home doesn't always guarantee quality family time. Sometimes life gets in the way and you need a vacation in order to spend time together. But where do you go when exploring magic kingdoms (albeit virtually) is already part of your regular family bonding?
"I don't know that it was the family sitting down at dinner saying, 'We should go!'" Sean, who is 17, told me. He was still up playing games in the Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) area of QuakeCon while his father, mother and little brother, 7-year-old Reid, were elsewhere. "It was more my dad and I saying, 'This is kick A, we need to go do this,' and the other two kind of got dragged along. Especially with [Steven's family] coming, we're close with them and we all game together anyway, so they said, 'You guys should come,' and it just kind of happened."
Steven's oldest daughter will be going to college close to home, but he hopes that QuakeCon, at least, can be an annual excuse for the family to get together and play games for the weekend, even as the girls grow up and move out. "I've got at least six or seven more years with my youngest," he said. "But yeah, we'll try to keep it going as long as possible."
What matters for now is they're enjoying the time together now. "The main thing we're here for is kind of a vacation. Just to sit and play video games and kind of hang out. Daddy daughter time."
Britton Peele is a freelance writer based out of Texas. His work has been featured on GameSpot, GamesRadar and The Dallas Morning News. You can follow him on Twitter at @BrittonPeele.