02.18.13 // Video Games for the Family and Beyond!
A recent Ask GeekGirlCon about what the games we played as children had me thinking about games I play with my children. As gamers prior to having kids, of course my husband and I were going to play lots of games with our children. Playing games with babies tend to be things like singing nursery rhymes and peek-a-boo – not exactly the pinnacle of gaming. When my children were that young, games on the computer and consoles were not under three friendly, but a quick Google search shows many options for that age now.
When the kids hit about age three, you can start getting both video games and board games robust enough for the younglings. My daughter was four when the oft-maligned Barbie Horse Adventures came out. She loved this game. The plot was basically to go collect horses and ponies that had left the stables and return them to the stables while making them happy by keeping them away from skunks and feeding them fruits and veggies. There was a whole beautifying aspect to the game, but it did not interest my daughter. She loved this game, which we had for Xbox or Playstation 2 (I don’t recall which) at the time. There have been several games in the series released since on several different consoles.
Nintendo GameCube and Wii have catered to younger users and the whole family more than other Next Gen gaming systems. The Kirby game series, especially on Nintendo systems, was popular with my kids and my nephlings. The Super Mario Parties are always a hit. They started in 1998 and the latest edition, 9, released in 2012. My husband and I have played hours of the various Mario Parties with our children as they have grown older. The kids always have their favorite characters that they want to play. These games have a mish-mash of cooperative and competitive play.
We also enjoyed Animal Crossing and Viva Pinata. On these games, the kids could have their own characters and towns/gardens, and we parents could also have them to interact with the kids. This led to a little less “parent plays and child watches” – as was the case in Super Mario Sunshine – and a little more child plays without a lot of competition. Rock Band, with its multiple difficulty levels, edited lyrics, and collaborative play, was also popular in our house for many, many years.
My kids are pre-teen and early teen now. They play a wide variety of games. However, we recently had a revisit of Kirby Air Ride and the latest Mario Party. Puyo Puyo has become quite popular in my house, too, which harkens back to my own childhood days of playing Tetris. Truth be known, a Wii U has just made an appearance in my house. The family is currently playing Nintendoland, which we find loads of fun with its recycling of familiar Nintendo characters and versions of mini-games. Nintendoland has both cooperative and competitive play, with 1 to 5 players.
I would not want to leave out games on the good ol’ desktop. Desktop games do not lend themselves well to family play, unfortunately. Nearly all the console games I mentioned have multiplayer modes or a method of collaborative play. As my pre-teen has grown older, he has enjoyed perusing some of the video RP games his dad has played. He’s spent much time watching Dad play his own characters and building some characters. (Unfortunately, my RP characters are gathering dust in the server.)
Of course, I haven’t even touched on tablet or smart phone games.
Games have rating systems. All the games mentioned are rated E for Everyone, ages 6 and over, except Rock Band, rated T for Teen. Ratings and manufacturers recommended ages are based on content and not play capability. I will admit to not strictly adhering to the suggested ages at all times. Our kids have done well at ages 6 and over playing Rock Band, we simply avoided more suggestive songs. In addition, game play is rather individual. My kids have been able to play Mario Party games since about age 3, but were not able to play Super Mario Sunshine with the same rating – they mostly enjoyed watching the adult play it. There is also lots of advice on how much screen time any person, especially children, should get in a week or a day. But for a little family fun time, a video game can be just the thing to share your own gaming enthusiasm with your kids.
Do you have video games you play with your kids? Tell us about them.