It's almost exactly a month old, but I finally queued up Wil Wheaton's keynote from PAX 2007 on the iPod for my morning commute. Wil kicks ass, and you should go listen now. A lot of the keynote is about how gaming is a social activity, something you do with your friends and kids; that politicians and special interest groups need to keep their opinions to themselves about who should play what games, and let parents take care of their own kids.

Wil is from the same generation of gamers that I am, those of us born in the early 70's, though we took different gaming paths. I was never big on arcade gaming, though obviously I went now and then, but we did have an Atari 2600. Shortly after that my Dad got into home computers, which led me naturally to the time-sucking vortex of PC gaming. For a while in the late 90's/early 00's I ran a public but unadvertised Quake server for friends, and spent many a Friday night blowing things up instead of doing something more useful with my time.

I didn't escape PC gaming until just before my daughter was born, when my wife and I started playing co-op games on the PS2. I turned to the console mostly because of time constraints - it's muuuch easier to pick up and put down for a quick game, no need to keep upgrading, it doesn't crash and require debugging, etc. My current laptop could probably play games, but getting back into PC gaming at this point seems unlikely. It's just too much of a pain, and without enough gain.

My wife got me a Wii for Father's Day this year (I love my wife!), and it's been fun to play with the whole family. My daughter will be 5yrs old in January, and she loves some games in each of Wii Sports and Wii Play. We bought Cooking Mama last week - she loves the concept and look of the game, but the Wiimote movements are a bit complex for her, so she gets frustrated. In a year she'll probably love it.

My daughter also has a pink Game Boy Advance. She has two games for it, both Disney Princess themed. One she's finished, so isn't interesting anymore, and the other is a bit tough for her. The one she finished was a "walk the character around and complete simple quests" game, a la original Final Fantasy or Zelda, but with no fighting. We helped her with reading, but she did everything else. The other has a bit of platformer/side-scroller feel, and needs quicker reflexes and practice than she has patience for right now. Again, another year and she'll probably have it mastered.

A couple of weeks go on a date with my wife (did I mention I love my wife?), we picked up Lego Star Wars for the PS2. It's old, so we got it for $20, and it's easily worth twice that. I love it because it's Star Wars and Lego, because I can play co-op with my wife, and because the game's fun but not that hard. And, bonus, my daughter loves playing it too, much more than the little kid games we had before on the PS2 (ie, "Pooh's Rumbly Tumbly Adventure"). She's never seen a Star Wars movie, but she knows Lego, and she knows we like playing it.

It's awesome to see her getting excited to play a game with us, and making her Lego Padme (her favourite, "The Girl!") run and jump around. We talk with her about the difference between games and real life, so she understands that it's useful to have a blaster in the game but guns in real life are not cool. She's pretty clear now that TV is different from real life (except the toys of all the shows!) so extending that to games isn't a big stretch.

We picked up Lego Star Wars II last week (also $20), but I doubt we'll get to it for a couple of months. We're not the kind of gamers who sit down for 15hrs and burn through a game in one sitting anymore, more along the lines of 2-3hrs a week, but I think we have a lot more fun. That being said, I'd love to go to PAX some year for an intensive gaming experience. It's not everyone's idea of a family vacation, but I think it'd be pretty darn cool.