Ryan Trares: Game time intensifies

We may have created a monster born out of nostalgia.

One of the joys of being a parent is sharing the hobbies and interests that you love with your kids. Not that you have to force them to be hardcore about it, but kids are going to pick up on the things that you find interesting.

For example, my wife is about as big a Disney fan as you can imagine. Obviously, she’s seen all the movies; it’s not uncommon for her to pop in “Cinderella” or “The Lion King” on a random Sunday. She’s also visited Disney World more than a dozen times — she’s the one in a newest set of Mickey ears with tears in her eyes just walking around.

And now she’s getting the opportunity to show Anthony why those films mean so much to her.

For me, I’ve always been a huge sports fan. Baseball, basketball, football, soccer; I follow them all. But at the top of my list is spending fall Saturdays in front of the TV, cheering on Ohio State’s football team (spare me the boos — I realize I’m in enemy territory here). Since Anthony was born, I’ve included him in my Saturday tradition. And much to my Purdue-alumna wife’s disdain, he’s a diehard Buckeye.

But in recent years, we’ve had the chance to include our son in something we both love. I was 7 years old when our family first got the Nintendo Entertainment System. My brother and I had worked chores all summer long to earn enough to buy it, and once we did, we spent hours in front of the television playing “Super Mario Bros.” and “Duck Hunt.”

My wife also started playing video games as a child, and was even more obsessed over the years, carrying fond memories of playing with her father. She even saved her old game systems from over the years, and when we married, they also joined the family.

It made sense, then, that as Anthony grew older, he’d pick up on that interest.

We just didn’t realize how much he’d pick up on.

What started with a few clumsy attempts at “Mario Kart” has blossomed into a craze that would warm my 8-year-old self’s heart. Anthony has discovered the joys of old-school Nintendo, from “Donkey Kong” to “The Legend of Zelda” to “Double Dragon.”

As a football fan, he loves the original “Tecmo Super Bowl,” a very basic yet extremely playable game featuring actual NFL teams. I’ve already passed on the wisdom to always be the L.A. Raiders (this game is very old) who, as any Tecmo fan can tell you, is nearly unstoppable with Bo Jackson at running back.

We’ve had fun playing back-and-forth games together, even as I’ve taken it a little bit easier on him.

I’m not sure I’ll need to do that too much longer. Anthony’s getting better and better, at a rate that my 42-year-old reflexes can’t keep up with.

Now, as Anthony has gotten better, he’s wanted to play more. We didn’t think we’d have to impose limits on video games at this point as parents, but here we are.

The newfound enthusiasm has provided an opportunity to teach about limits and responsibility. Despite his complaints, Anthony has to finish his homework, pick up the toys in his room or straighten up the kitchen. Hopefully, this will be the foundation that before playtime, your work has to be done.

So far, the approach has worked. We’ve limited the time he’s spending on Nintendo, framing it as a reward for doing the things that will make him a good student and a good member of the family.

Plus, it has given me the chance to practice a little bit more on my own. I’m not quite ready to pass the mantle of Tecmo Bowl champ on quite yet.