When child meets game...

Sunday, May 15, 2011
Games fill my house. They are very hard to avoid with two consoles, three computers, and so many board games that I have lost count of them all. Not to mention the various role playing books, dice, minis, and random accoutrements scattered through out the place.

Surrounded by all of this I don't know why I was surprised when my eldest daughter (5 years old) brought me a controller and asked me to teach her a game. She has played Rock Band with my husband and I before but she has never shown an interest in playing any of the other games in the house by herself. She knows that the 360 plays Dora and Sponge Bob whenever she likes, and I taught her how to use the Kinect voice commands (I caught her talking to the Kinect that day and I swear to God I heard her whisper "Xbox, I love you" at one point) but her interest seemed limited to those functions. Most games the hubby and I play are done 'after hours' when the kids are asleep so as to shield them from the blood and gore popular in most modern games.

Having just put the baby down for a nap I was caught a little off guard. I didn't know what to say, I tried to think of a child friendly game to set her up with. I settled on Flower and quickly set her up on the PS3. Of all the times I had thought about playing games with my children I had never thought about that first introductory moment and what I should give them to play. I will admit to a little bit of parental anxiety about letting my daughter play a game alone for the first time. This introduction opens up that wonderful parental hairy ol' can of worms that is virtual entertainment. I now have to work out how much to let her play and what games to let her play. I shouldn't worry too much. Being a gaming parent I think I have a good grasp of what is kid appropriate and I will certainly try my best to teach her proper game moderation, something I think a lot of parents unfamiliar with virtual entertainments know don't know how to do.

I am comforted by the knowledge that games are not new to her. We play together all the time and video games are just a new addition into her wide and varied collection of games, one of her current favorites being "Faye Wray and King Kong" inspired by her curiosity about the poster that hangs in our home. Children and adults alike are hard wired from the beginning to learn through games, play comes naturally to us all. Right now she is enjoying 'running' through the grass and 'catching' flowers. I think once she has a better handle on the controls I will set her up with What is Bothering Carl? a computer based story book that was part of the PAX 10 in 2009.

In the mean time I will do my best to not listen to the talking heads and their fanatical fear mongering bull that video games are corrupting our youth much in the same way they decried the use of pinball machines and comic books.

If you feel any trepidation yourself about introducing you children to video games think about the nay sayers while you watch this: