From time to time I see gamers mention getting older. Many feel they'll no longer have time to game when they graduate school, get "real" jobs, get married or become parents. I've been married for 12 years. My daughter is almost 12. I've been gaming for a very long time. I figured I'd write something on the subject of gaming with your child to help other gamers who may becoming parents or have young children themselves.
One thing I do feel the need to point out, while gaming with your child can be fun, and sometimes we all need some alone time, never ignore your child's real needs for any reason. If you're in a multiplayer game, please put down the controller and take care of your child. Most gamers will understand that real life comes before the virtual world.
I remember the early days of gaming. I was younger than my daughter when I was first exposed to video games. Back then they were less sophisticated than the average flash game created by 13 year olds in Junior High for a class project. But they were fun. I think I was 6, maybe 7 when I was introduced to Pac-Man on the Atari 2600. At that age, I could spend a few hours every day competing with my siblings to see who could get the highest score in any game we played. We didn't care if the games had no end. It was fun.
Fast forward 22 years. 2002. Playstation was huge. I finally was able to get a Playstation 2. My daughter was almost 4. At the stage, I was still heavy into RPGs. My daughter would often watch me play as she went about her business. I had both systems that were out at the time. At 4 she wasn't that interested in gaming, but whenever I let her play Crash Bandicoot, she had fun.
As she got a bit older, she became more interested in playing games rather than just watching. I did buy a few games that were designed for her age bracket like Spongebob's Battle for Bikini Bottom (PS2). Here was a game that I myself would never have bought for myself, nor played (unless I was like 9 years old). Yet my daughter could play over and over (never really getting far without help) and she had fun. I would read while she played, often helping her when things got a bit tricky.
This is an area I think most parents fail in. Especially parents who did not grow up gaming. Even if a game doesn't appeal to you, ask yourself if you think your child would enjoy it. As you grow older you realize that licensed games don't often live up to your expectations. I remember playing XMen when I was a kid. In hindsight it was horrible, but at the time I loved it. Licensed games are a good way to introduce your child to video games and are often age appropriate. If you know your child's favorite TV persona, why not buy them a game with that character?
Sony also introduced a concept a few years ago called "Play. Create. Share." As it stands Little Big Planet and Mod Nation Racers fall into this category. Little Big Planet 2 will be here soon as well. Both games can be quite enjoyable, especially if you play 2 player with your child. My duaghter is getting to an age where she doesn't often want to play with Daddy, but when she does, it's always fun.
Here's a list of some games that I think make great games for children. (Under the age of 11)
*Author's Note* This list is not finished and I plan to add more in the near future*
Good thread PapaWarlock. I have not reached the age of paternity yet but when I do I plan to socialize my child into gaming. If they like it, fine. If not, fine as well. You make an interesting point about gaming for children. I view that there are many games on the market not just that of the Playstation 3 that they can play if they wish to game. I agree about Ratchet and Clank and Mod Nation racers. When I was younger, Ratchet and Clank slowly helped me to break into the shooter genre that would establish a majority of my playing time when I became older. I enjoyed a lot of the action/adventure and platforming elements of the early Ratchet games but also loved the third-person shooter aspect that was quite foreign to me at the time.
One choice I also agree with as well is Little Big Planet. That game is so much fun. Those types of games remind me about how my world was and still is full of colorful imaginary possiblities. Children will fall in love with the Sackboy characters and they will love to create as I view children have an innate desire to express themselves through their malleable physical world. That is one reason why Legos and Lincoln Logs were such a pull for me in my early days much rather than board games such as Monopoly and Checkers. The fact that I am an only child also explains why I liked these "single player games" because more often than not, I had to entertain myself on numerous occassions.
I really like Little Big Planet and other single player games because they can often prevent a child from becoming bored and ultimately lonely. I get lost all the time within the confines of that game. I can only imagine what it is like for a child 7 years younger than I am(who knows what they are doing) to play Little Big Planet. It's like Christmas come early.
I also have two more games you can add to the list if you don't mind old titles.
- Katamari Damacy - really fun mindless game
- Crash Bandicoot Playstation Series - The quintessential Playstation platformer
- Spyro the Dragon Playstation Series - The OTHER quintessential Playstation platformer
I have a soon to be 4 year old and as you might have guessed... loves him some video games. Seems I had a little influence on this I suppose
Some games we tend to play that he really enjoys..
And to even take it up another notch for actual learning.. we bought this Smart Cycle with a ton of games like Cars, Toy Story, Scooby Doo
When I was a kid, me and my older bro did most of our gaming at arcades. Our parents didn't want us wasting time on gaming but we did sneak in a couple of consoles here and there.
Personally, I don't feel like exposing my soon to be 4 year old to any games unless it's educational. When she and her brother are a bit older then maybe. For now I see a lot of potential in her as she shows interest in learning(not that I will yank her childhood fun away from her). Not judging you or anything but that's just my feeling.
That being said, the list you have there seems great. Little Big Planet is something that just draws kids in. Of course anything Lego as well as that EyePet is a good choice.
Great discussion topic, and so pertinent to current issues. There are certainly plenty of age appropriate video games out there for children, but more important than the appropriateness of the content is the interaction with your child. I have a seven-month-old, and am eager for the day when she will pick up a controller herself and join in on the fun, but it will be a group activity, not a solo one. Certainly, there will be no God of War, Killzone, or Uncharted in the disc tray, but I am reluctant to let her indoctrination (yeah, I said it...) into gaming be tainted by sub-par games. The only games I have to add to the list aren't allowed on this site, let's just say they involve overalls and blue blurs (you know which ones they are), but I think it's essential to our industry that we not forget these titles when raising the next generation of gamers.
We can't have gamers out there that have never held a rectangular controller... well, maybe that's pushing it, as the actual rectangular controllers are hard to come by, but you know what I mean.
But remember, play with your child. There will be plenty of opportunities for your children to play by themselves, but the opportunities to play with them will pass you by before you know it.