Many fathers in our 8BitDad generation grew up playing video games. We were lucky enough to experience the golden age of coin-op arcades, with giant-screened Street Fighter II and NBA Jam machines. We watched arcades fall in favor of home consoles and PCs. We huddled together in rooms late night to play the Super NES and N64, Sega Genesis, Saturn and Dreamcast and the Sony PlayStation. We improvised set-ups to play serial cable-linked games of Doom II and Quake before dial-up became cable and DSL (or university T1s) and allowed us to play games over the net like Unreal Tournament and Counter-Strike. You get the picture – our generation runs deep. And if all that reminiscing didn’t bring a tear to your eye, you’re not one of us.

Somewhere along the way, we got married and had kids. But just because we’ve taken on bigger responsibilities doesn’t mean that fathers don’t still want to slap on a pair of headphones, crack open a beverage and hunker down in front of an FPS for a couple of hours. With the wives and kids safely tucked-in, and the whole night ahead of them, the [DaDs] Army became a meeting place for fathers to blow off a little steam and enjoy some mature, parents-only online gaming.

Think of it as the YMCA for dudes like us.

 

The Clan’s Inception

When I first found out about the [DaDs] Army, I knew I had to profile them here. They were nice enough to e-mail back and forth with me and tell me a little bit about how they started and what they do. The [DaDs] Army was formed in 2002 by a couple dudes named Paul and Andre (who go by the names Papa Hemingway and Daddy War$, respectively). Both Paul and Andre played PC games, and the then-new Medal of Honor: Allied Assault became their first game. “The [DaDs] Army was founded,” says current admin Robbie, “on the premise of an Adult/Father PC gaming community that focused first and foremost on our families.” So the clan was born – soon after, Paul and Andre put up a website and got themselves listed in EA’s clan database. Other fathers flocked to the clan, and soon, dads from all four corners of the Earth were members.

 

The New HQ

Eventually, the site was handed over to the current “HQ” admins, Robbie (Robb the Bruce) and George (Burner). Robbie and George rebuilt the website and got new servers for the clan. They brought on a third HQ member eventually, Danny (Kebab). And with this set of HQ admins, they just celebrated their 10th anniversary with over 60 members and counting. Thinking about joining the [DaDs] Army? Here’s more you should know about the HQ:

Robbie (Robb the Bruce): Robbie is a 40 year old single father, living in Virginia with his twin high school girls. He’s a Systems Engineer for Canon Business Solutions, and has worked in IT for nearly 20 years. Recruited by Paul and Andre themselves, Robbie handles game server administration, specific game nights, DaDs events, DaDs Store, Tags and Anniversary projects.

George (Burner): George is a 39 year old husband and father of two boys, 4 and 5 years old. George and family live in Georgia, where George has been in IT work most of his life. He’s been a member of the clan for over 5 years and in the HQ for most of that time. He handles the website, server administration, marketing and recruiting. George is also back in school on his way to a degree in computer networking.

Danny (Kebab): Danny’s a 52 year old father and grandfather living in northern England. He has 3 kids – the oldest is 34 and the youngest 25. Danny’s also got 7 grandchildren! Danny traveled the world for 15 years as a member of the Household Cavalry, then worked on an oil rig and did some hauling. He does some volunteer teaching now, and has been a member of the [DaDs] Army for about 3 and a half years. Danny helped to manage the group and servers during the day, which is primetime gaming on his side of the world. Danny actually stepped down from the HQ as of this Tuesday. He’s still part of the clan, but time constraints and schedule conflicts won’t allow him to be as involved with the inner-workings of the clan.

SiThSpAwN: Lives in Vancouver, Canada, and was promoted to HQ on Tuesday, after four years in [DaDs] Army. 8BitDad didn’t have the necessary clearance level to get any more details.

 

The [DaDs] Difference

So what’s different about this all-father clan? For one, they keep it clean. “We frown upon cursing in-game, in Ventrilo, and in our forums,” says Robbie. “We try to respect our members and the people that are not members that visit our game servers too.” With an online gaming landscape usually packed with kids throwing out insults, slurs and f-bombs, the [DaDs] Army might be onto something. And communication is a must in the clan – your $20/6-month dues cover Ventrilo fees, as well as contribute to the site and server costs. It’s a small price to pay if you’re looking for guaranteed teammates that are looking for a good time gaming, won’t teamkill and teabag you, and won’t call you every vulgar name in the book when you kill them.

Since all of the [DaDs] Army have families, when someone disappears mid-game, you know they’re doing something that makes them a great teammate at home too. “Almost on a nightly basis you will hear, ‘Got to go guys, my kids are up’ or you are talking to someone and they disappear and then 10 minutes later you get an apology on comms because they had to run and tuck a little one back in bed,” says Robbie. You don’t find good folk like that on the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live.

Here’s a video that the [DaDs] Army made for a World of Tanks video contest – it won and now has 25,000 hits in less than a year. And if it doesn’t make you want to strap on whatever it is you strap on to drive a tank, then you…obviously don’t like tanks:

Coincidentally, the header image was taken from this video – obviously because of geographical distance, these guys don’t actually have any real pictures of them all hanging out, so the best I could do was a group shot of tanks.

The [DaDs] Army are still, believe it or not, playing Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. Besides that core group that plays on Wednesday nights, clan members play Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3, and Team Fortress. They even have a Minecraft server running.

But “the [DaDs] Army is not all about gaming,” says Robbie. “We have been involved in a number of fund raisers for charities like St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and The National Cancer Institute. We have held 24 hour game-a-thons where other clans were charged a fee to reserve hourly slots to play against The [DaDs] Army.” In the game-a-thons, prizes donated from companies like EA and NVIDIA and ATI were given out to lucky winners.

Soldiers, citizens and fathers. That’s the [DaDs] promise!

Want to join a clan of fathers who put family first and won’t scream racial slurs in your ear whenever you shoot them? The [DaDs] Army might be for you! If you think you got the chops – and the kids – check them out at TheDadsArmy.com

EDIT: I neglected to mention that the [DaDs] Army is also open to mothers – and does currently have one (check below in the comments!). So – gaming moms feel free to join as well!