Age is a funny thing when considering the defining factors of maturity, intelligence, parental preference and the many, many unique aspects that make every child completely unique in how they react to everything they ever see, hear or do. I don’t claim to be an expert on children, I have 2 myself now; one a few months and another approaching 4 at the time or writing and this topic is the inspiration for this whole blog.. however I will make the bold claim to be an expert in gaming. I’m not just a guy who plays games, I grew up playing them, I’ve studied them as a part of education, written dissertations, essays and articles in the past on games and I have made a fair few both indie and in AAA game development… so I believe it’s fair to claim being an expert in this situation.
Despite my love of gaming however I struggled with how to introduce my first child into the world of gaming. For reference my partner isn’t a gamer and plays very few things, so the opportunities to see games from day to day aren’t high but we do share a ‘context is king’ approach to any media that is allowed to be seen by the children. This resulted in medical and vet like docu-tv shows and shows like Planet Earth being things seen earlier (as despite some times showing blood and gore it’s in a more informative and natural way) which has expanded over time into basic drama.
Games were different.. I was always a bit to paranoid about what I played even at a few days old.. Kingdom Hearts 2 was about a violent as it ever got but as my first became more away when I occasionally have a game on it’d be a simple thing, full of colour and violence and narrative would be kept to a minimum to make it s visual experience for the time it was seen (Max and the Curse of Brotherhood and Unravel come to memory as good examples)
I suppose there is an element of bias in my choice of games.. I’m not a ‘stereotypical’ gamer is such a thing exists. My games of choice tend to lean into the more cerebral and visual in terms of enjoyment; Role Play Games like Final Fantasy are favorites and visual artsy or experimental games, as opposed to Call of Duty are what’s more likely to be found on my game shelves. But I’m sure that with these will appear on my kid’s future playlists as no doubt other children will eventually bring them up or the popular game of the time when they are older and it won’t be something I’ll have an interest in but weather or not I choose to let them play it will not avoid their exposure to it.
Even now as my first attends preschool playing with pretend swords and good/bad guy games are starting to rear their head while and superheroes are a culture now that’s unavoidable.. and his introduction to that world was simply because you can’t go anywhere and not see them; toys, clothes and popular culture in general. Getting back onto games however it wasn’t until my first was 2 that they started to recognise the correlation that was happening onscreen between Daddy with a controller and the characters in the game, so I tried to keep games in line with we’d normally watch with them.
Select Disney and other animated films in general have always been a popular household choice so when it came to something to watch the recent Kingdom Hearts 3 was at the forefront of ideas due to to the shared love of Disney. But while it was still watching it paved the way into lots of ‘Daddy whats that’ and ‘Daddy go that way’ which is when we actually stated to explore gaming in a more collaborative experience.
I guess this is when gaming with a 3 year old actually started in truth, searching simple games that would hold a child’s attention or games that we could equally play in a collaborative capacity. These are the games and journey’s I want to explore with this blog as my oldest slowly works his way around a controller. Simple games he’s tried out like LocoRoco or games we’ve shared together like LostWinds.
Ultimately I don’t know if he’ll love games or it’s something that won’t be played around much as he gets older and the youngest grows up but right now it’s all about experimenting and hopefully lots of fun for all of us through the many games he’s wanted to try.. mostly failed at so far but loved trying and learning!