Why the Steam Deck is the perfect console for parents like me

Why the Steam Deck is the perfect console for parents like me
Image via Valve

Written by 

Lloyd Coombes

Published 

11th Jan 2024 14:07

As a 34-year-old parent of a four-and-a-half-year-old, there's a lot I have to accept. My house will never truly be tidy, my eyesight isn't what it used to be, and all notion of disposable income has gone out of the window.

Yes, kids change lives, and I'm so grateful for it, but with buddies having their own little ones in recent months, I've been asked how it's possible to be a good parent and still find time for what they enjoy, too.

After all, the early weeks (and months) are a lot of sleeping in shifts, and watching TV when you find the energy. Still, when it comes to gaming it's tricky to find that balance between ripping demons apart in Diablo 4 when you get a minute to yourself to sitting down to watch Bluey.

And that, my friends, is where the Steam Deck comes in.

Note: Your child should be the focus of your attention at all times. I can't believe I have to say this but playing games is a secondary concern to their happiness, comfort, and safety. Also no shade at Bluey, Bluey is great.

Parents, treat yourselves to a Steam Deck

 

Steam Deck in reviewer's hand
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Image credit: Valve | GGRecon

A big part of the Steam Deck's appeal is that it packs a little more grunt than a Switch, but it's also a little less cumbersome than running a whole laptop setup (Football Manager players, the laptop still reigns supreme).

That makes it an ideal 'play while watching TV' device for just about anyone. But for those of us with kids? It's transformative. My son will play quite happily next to me, with kids' TV on in the background, while I dive into the likes of COCOON, Diablo, or even Elden Ring (although the latter is perhaps a little too stressful for those juggling a younger child!).

Cocoon gameplay
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Image credit: Annapurna Interactive

It's allowed me to make headway in games I otherwise may not have played. Even GGRecon's Game of the Year, Baldur's Gate 3, wasn't immune to me creating my fun scoundrel, playing for a few hours, and then being put back on the shelf. Now, though, I may actually finish it without having to play in my normal post-bedtime window of opportunity, all while avoiding paying attention to Peppa Pig.

When the inevitable 'no, don't put that in your mouth' or 'what's that smell' comes up, the way the Steam Deck can just go to sleep and resume where you were as well makes it ideal for playing in as many small chunks as you'd like. It doesn't work with online games, though, for obvious reasons, but for massive, meaty RPGs like Persona 5 Royal, there's really no better way to chip away at them.

Persona 5 Royal Combat
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Image credit: SEGA | Atlus

While the same applies between the Steam Deck and the Steam Deck OLED, I'd recommend the latter for the battery life alone. It's drastically better than the original version, and massive decreases the chances of picking up your console only to find there's no charge. For more, be sure to read my review.

What's old is new

Marvel's Midnight Suns screenshot showing Blade and Captain America
Click to enlarge
Image credit: Marvel | 2K

The Steam Deck's library of heavy hitters from the last couple of years is amazing, but it's also packing much more from years gone by, and that puts it ahead of the Switch for this weirdly specific scenario.

I'm a big stealth game fan, and being able to play Hitman: Blood Money or Splinter Cell: Blacklist on the go is a real treat. Add to that some absolute bangers I'd missed like Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Tactics Ogre: Reborn, and much, much more, and it's nigh-on impossible to find something that won't interest you to some degree.

Plus, remember what I said about disposable income? You'd be amazed at what you can find on Steam for literal pocket change. At the time of writing, I just saw Firewatch, a true indie classic, for less than £2. Spoilt for choice? We've got a list to help you find the best Steam Deck games.

Then there's emulation, which I wasn't fussed about until I turned 30 and all of a sudden my own mortality washed over me. Classic OG Xbox games? Yes, please. Some GBA titles? Go on, then. Def Jam Fight For NY? Stop digging, you struck gold.

Def Jam Fight For NY key art
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Image credit: EA

My point is that as much as it's nice to keep up with the latest releases, the Steam Deck also makes it a dream companion for reliving those simpler times. As my colleague told me, "The Steam Deck makes a perfect retirement plan."

So, if you're a parent looking to find something to pass the time between feeds, nappies, and (obviously) giving your child all the love and attention you can, I heartily recommend the Steam Deck. In fact, I wish I'd had mine back in 2019...

Lloyd is GGRecon's Editor-in-Chief, having previously worked at Dexerto and Gfinity, and occasionally appears in The Daily Star newspaper. A big fan of loot-based games including Destiny 2 and Diablo 4, when he's not working you'll find him at the gym or trying to play Magic The Gathering.