I play a lot of video games with my son Eli, (age 4). A lot of parents I know seem really against video games and they won’t let their kids have them. But, I do, and we have fun together. I think that most parents are ignorant of the positive apects of gaming. Video games excite the imagination, which is always good, and they teach critical thinking. Perhaps this can be illustrated most clearly by examining some of our other non-video game, but related, activities.
For instance, lately, we’ve started drawing our own game “levels” and then playing them like board games, using his toys as player-pieces.
Here’s one that Eli drew for me to play, and I’ve labeled everything to make it more clear what’s going on:
The object of this level is to pick up the three pieces of the TriForce. But if you try you will fall on the spikes. The only way to live through falling on the spikes is to first pick up the power star which makes you invulnerable. But the power star is protected by spikes as well. You’ve got to first grab the Master Sword, then break the spikes near the power star, grab it, then grab the pieces of the TriForce. I think it’s great exercise for his mind to dream up this series of actions and reactions and to draw it.
We also like to have “boss battle” wrestling matches. We each play the roll of an imaginary character of our own devising with certain strengths and weakness. (For instance, one of us might have a devastating electrical attack but be vulnerable to water, or one of us might have protective armor that makes us slow.) Then we wrestle, play-acting our imaginary abilities and trying to exploit the other’s weaknesses. (I can even use this game to teach math. For instance, we might each start with six “hit points”, and each attack does 1 or 2 points of damage, and after each attack we calculate how many hit points we have left and if one of us reaches zero it’s game over for him.)
So, don’t be afraid of gaming, parents. Just get involved, have fun with your kids, and turn it into a learning experience.