Gaming with A 3 Year Old: Beginnings

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.

One of the earlier games I let my first child watch for it’s visual and cutely nature and emphasis on puzzle solving

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.

The eldest loved Winnie the Pooh, Big Hero 6 and Frozen, so Kingdom Hearts 3 was a natural choice

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.

Lost winds, the first game we played together

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!

6 thoughts on “Gaming with A 3 Year Old: Beginnings

  1. I love Kingdom hearts! I love Disney and that was the closet I will ever get to being a mermaid! I haven’t actually played the new one as I don’t have a games console at the moment but I would love to play it. I can see it being a good choice for kids being able to play as characters the have watched on screen.

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    1. I’m unsure about some parts of Kingdom Hearts as a whole.. You can’t deny the disney appeal making it a great fit for kids.. However the plot of the games are nonsensical to the point of redicilous.. In that aspect the original is the only ‘wholy’ child friendly game.. However for min at least its only a case of ‘its baymax’ or ‘frozen and anna’ (I’m having the issue of title does not mean its the girls name syndrome.. Films like frozen and moana don’t help there 🙂

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      1. Regarding the name ‘issue’ that’s just about changing our way of thinking. This annoys me so much because it’s like we come auto programmed to think this way. Let’s face it hearts are for everyone, if you didn’t have one wouldn’t be living. Haha. I wear men’s and women’s clothes because clothes are for everyone, they make all the cool superhero tops for boys too! Just convincing children is a hard task. . .

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      2. Its kinda strange to think the we’ve grown and are fully programmed now to think and react in certain ways.. Kids are open to interpret things in so many ways.. some seem silly but to them it makes sense.. the growing mind is limitless and as a society we funnel it through a filter until it works the way deemed appropriate 😦

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