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Father's Day Week: Hothead's Matheson, Obsidian's Jones

Gamasutra is posting mini-Q&As with developers leading up to this Sunday's Father's Day - this time, we talk to Hothead Games' Ash Matheson (Penny Arcade Adventures), and Obsidian Entertainment's Chris Jones (Neverwinter Nights 2) about how
Gamasutra is posting mini-Q&As with game developers who play games with their kids, leading up to this Sunday's Father's Day. In this second installment, we talk to Hothead Games' Ash Matheson (Penny Arcade Adventures), and Obsidian Entertainment's Chris Jones (Neverwinter Nights 2) about how being a father has changed the way they do business and make games. --- Ash Matheson Father to Brandon, 14, Haley, 12 and Lacey, 7 (Senior Programmer, Hothead Games) It's not so much changed how I've worked on games, but what games I work on. For example, when I was at Radical, I was asked to go work with the team making Scarface. I actually declined that offer because it wasn't a game that I'd want my kids playing. Having my kids be able to play the games that I make is a huge part of my decision process now as to what I'd work on for games. Currently Playing Guitar Hero II for the 360 and PS2. My son kicks my ass so hard it's not funny. Just this past long weekend we played co-operative GH II, and he used a plain old 360 controller, while I used the guitar controller. He still beat me on just about every song we played. Nowadays, it's my daughter that I can beat at Guitar Hero II (just barely). But she whups me good in DDR for the PS2. Halo co-op. We do this a lot, just because it's a great bonding experience. I've got a lot of good memories of him actually showing me some special moves with the original Halo. Actually, one of the things that we do together a lot is *watch* each other play games. I think that goes way back to when he was a lot younger, and he'd watch me play games he just didn't have the manual dexterity to play. Now, it's more like I'll watch him play games like Crackdown or S.T.A.L.K.E.R., and I'll give him suggestions on what to do, or catch things that he's missed. My daughters don't play a lot of games. My youngest just doesn't care about them at all. My eldest daughter is only into 'active' games like DDR and Guitar Hero. However, we will do more traditional games like Uno and Blitz every now and again. --- Chris Jones Father to Lauren, 9, Gavin, 7, Nathan, 3, and Ian, 1 (Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder, Obsidian Entertainment) I think having children has made me more open to playing games that I might not have ever considered playing in the past. Sometimes, I will just pick up one of the Game Boys lying around and play whatever happens to be plugged into it, and I'm often surprised at how much fun some of those games can be (or just how bad I think they are, yet my kids still seem to enjoy them). It's also really interesting to watch my kids play console games on our TV and see what is intuitive to them and what they get stuck on. There is a lot you can learn about accessibility and game design by watching kids play games and paying attention to which games they keep wanting to go back to and which ones they give up on quickly. It can sometimes be a little frustrating making games that are not appropriate for my kids to play. My oldest son is at the age where he is really getting into games and thinks that what his daddy does at work is cool, but unfortunately, the games I work on are inappropriate and often too complicated or text-heavy for him and his friends to play. I imagine it must be very satisfying for the parents out there that get to work on games that they can enjoy playing with their kids. Currently Playing Games have become a nice way to spend time together as a family, and my oldest son’s obsession with games has provided a common interest and created a bond that might not otherwise exist between us. Our family has been playing a lot of multiplayer Guitar Hero 2 lately. I recently taught my son how to play chess and backgammon, so we have been playing those together both on the Game Boy and with traditional sets. And it's been pretty common for us all to sit down for a couple of quick games of Pirates Dice (the Disney-fied 4-player liars dice) after dinner before reading a story and sending the kids off to bed. [Gamasutra would like to thank Brenda Brathwaite, game designer and professor at Savannah College of Art and Design, for arranging these series of Q&As to honor Father's Day. We'll be posting installments throughout the week, with a full feature, including many not-yet-printed tributes, on Friday.]

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