If you know this kid, or stalk me and my family via this blog, you know that he's into all things gaming, with a fondness for retro video games, so it's no surprise he chose to do something related. Initially, I was hesitant to support this, since I'm usually trying to get him to spend less time in front of a screen, not more; but after we worked out some of the designs, it seemed like a great art project, a way to learn more about programming, electronics, and woodworking. And in the end we'd have something that would fit with the current "bachelor pad" that is my life.
This project was an absolute success, we completed the main arcade-in-a-box center section in time for his project deadline nearly a year (!) ago (and got a much deserved A+). He certainly put in the time and effort on this one and was engaged well into the more challenging later phases. He was able to also showcase this project later in his computer programming class, and even at the state capitol for a young people and technology display. This was an excellent foray into woodworking, power tools and making things. We spent a lot of time together, just chatting and perhaps planting seeds for future projects when the desire takes shape.
Of course we had the shared experience of working together, but I've also found that the nature of these arcade cabinets is that they encourage socially playing together for "just one game" together that may stretch into a raucous competitive good hour. We've reconnected to classic games from my youth and some crazy "new" ones neither of us has played before. All these moments add up to a full relationship. Once again, I am reminded of just how important it is to actively do things WITH your kids and not just FOR them (big difference between playing alongside vs. delivering/watching them play with other kids.) Sometimes you do this for the practical value of things they will learn in the process and carry with them, sometimes to show them that they are capable of accomplishing great things, and sometimes because there will be shared memories and inside jokes that develop your relationship beyond "parental unit" and "offspring."