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Games for Children
Games for Teens & Preteens
Our 7 year old son really wants a video game player (Xbox, Wii). Many of his friends have one, and he is saving his money for one. My husband is very adamant against getting one; I, on the other hand, am open to the idea as long as we set strong LIMITS. My observation seems to be that boys, in particular, can get very addicted to the gadgets and video games. I see it with adult men too, for that matter! I see that my son has that obsessive potential too. He is allowed limited screen (TV/movies) time right now and we spend a lot of unstructured time playing and being outside, etc... I worry that if we don't get a player - maybe not now but when he is older? - and integrate it into our house with moderation that he will continue to want to go over only to his friends' houses that have game players so that he can get holed-up in their rooms wanting to do nothing else! What to do? video gaming moderation
You specifically mention console systems. I've put together a short list of E rated games that should be appropriate for children ages 7-9 and their parents to play together:
Kinect Party (X360)
Joy Ride Turbo (X360)
New Super Mario Bros (Wii U)
LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)
Harvest Moon: Animal Parade (Wii)
MLB Power Pros (Wii)
Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii)
NiGHTS into dreams (PS3)
Pikmin 3 (WiiU) -- released Q2 2013
Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language. (ratings and rating descriptions taken from www.esrb.org)
If you have a PC, MIT's Scratch tool is a great way to start building a foundation in interactive storytelling and programming for boys and girls at around ages 7-8: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/website-reviews/scratch
You might award your son with a little extra screen time for every meaningful Scratch project he creates. Think of it in terms of earning a small time allowance to encourage further self-motivated learning and exploration.
My parents bought our first family computer when I was seven. I was never allowed to have a video game console growing up. I'm now a video game developer with a three year old son of my own. Game Developer Dad
I would recommend to find out about each game your child plays, and play with him. Not all games are the same, some are just the ''shoot 'em up'' type which I believe do give video games a bad rap. But others are more like long puzzles that take focus, perseverance, and problem solving to play (these are the type I prefer). I don't know much about the newer consoles (I grew up with the original Nintendo) so hopefully other posters will advise. TetrisGirl
We thought we might get one when the oldest was in middle school... which is now and, while they would love one, we are just not going to rush out and get one.
Middle school aged boys spend so much time playing these games, it it good to let them have time to develop other skills. Plus, no matter where they are located, they tend to take over the whole house with the sound, etc. Unless both parents were on board and were willing to play the games with the kids, then I would say do not get one now.
If your son is only 7 wait a few years! Let him get into a good novel, paint a picture, draw a comic, make whistles with grass, learn guitar etc. Being bored is kind of good for kids. no video game family and happy!
We decided early on to be a TV/Video Game free zone. In this, as with all decisions (can they go places alone, go to parties without parents home, whatever), we always told our kids ''this is a benevolent dictatorship.'' We had some push back, but really not a lot. It was one of the smartest decisions we ever made in parenting. Now our kids are 21 and 17, and they still don't watch commercial TV or play video games. They are not luddites or ignorant. They love movies. Our high schooler has watched the entire West Wing series and is a Downton Abbey fan. Both boys occasionally play games on line or with friends who have consoles. But they don't ever turn on a television or a video game for entertainment, and they don't miss it. One plays competitive chess. The other reads The Economist and writes fiction. A good trade, if you ask me.
You worry that ''he will continue to want to go over only to his friends' houses that have game players so that he can get holed-up in their rooms wanting to do nothing else.'' He may want that. But you don't have to agree to that. And at least he only can do that in the houses of friends with game systems. Better that than in your house too.
If you decide to keep a console out of the house, don't let him complain and beg on this. And for goodness sake, don't let him buy it with his own money. That just invites battles about who gets to make the rules about things he buys with his own $$. You are the parents. You decide what devices and activities you want in your house. Then stick to your decisions. And certainly don't be upset by his reaction. It's not personal, and not a reflection on you or your parenting. He's just a kid wanting something you don't want him to have. (If you're hurt now, just wait until he's a teenager. :)) Your son may protest, but so what? Kids want all kinds of things that are not good for them, and our job is to say no. Like whether he eats candy instead of dinner, or holds your hand when crossing the street, or sleeps over at friends' houses. Mom of Big Guys
Even with their access limited, I find myself quite dismayed by how much the games colonize their imaginations. On the playground, they want every game to have the language and ideas of the video game (for instance, when playing handball I hear ''I did 20 damage to you!'') If my older son is drawing, he's drawing something related to the video game. If my younger son is playing with toy animals, they're acting out scenes from the video game. My older son is also starting to want to reject playdates with kids who don't do video games in favor of playdates with kids who do, so they can talk about it more. We have recently had to make a rule that each kid can only tell me three things per day about the video game, because otherwise my entire day would be an unending series of questions like ''Mama, what's your favorite Skylander that isn't a tech type?'' I don't see this kind of addictive quality with television.
If I were to do it again, I would hold firm and deny videogames for a few more years, especially until my five year old was older. Sick of Skylanders
I was also worried about the addictive potential so when he first got it, he was only allowed to play it on weekends, and even then only for limited amounts of time, and only if all his homework was done. Now we let him self-regulate more, but it's easy to lose track of time when engrossed in gaming, so I periodically ask him if he notices how long he's been playing, and that is usually enough to get him to quit. He plays varsity sports and keeps his grades up, so for him it is a way to unwind, and my fears of addiction were unfounded as well.
So yes, he enjoys them, but they are just one of the things in his recreational repertoire. --Limits are possible
A couple times a month our almost five year old is allowed to play games on our iPAD as a treat. We are looking for suggestions on some fun apps for games, preferably ones that are free. Thank you!
It's not designed as an educational game, so it's actually fun. However, as a side benefit, it does a great job in teaching kids words and spelling. The way it works is, each level is a puzzle, and you have to spell words to solve it. Anything you can spell, it appears. So a typical level would be 'give everyone what they want' and you'd have to give the policeman maybe handcuffs, the chef a cooking knife, etc.
The trick is, you have to be able to spell the words to make the objects appear, so at first the kid will ask you how to spell something, but eventually they will be able to spell it themselves. Alex H.
My 9 year old son wants to play games on the computer. So far, we have limited him to math games that his school recommended and Club Penguin. We limit screen time, don't have a Wii or iPad and don't watch TV (but occasionally rent movies). The current rage is Minecraft. It seems benign to me (except for the possibility for unmoderated text messages), but it reminds my husband of first-person shooter games and worries that it is a gateway to those types of games. Is he imposing his experience? Can you recommend any age-appropriate games that build creativity and expose kids to computers, but aren't violent/commercial/unmoderated? Low-tech mama
All of these games have fighting! Sorry. But they also have ''creative'' aspects - where he is creating worlds, creatures, characters. That is wonderful. To me, it's a cool step along the artistic path, similar to drawing, Lego building, clay, etc.
Spore is my favorite for creativity. You make these intricate life forms. We just got mine craft and he loves building things.
I used to worry about the violence. Now I don't. He's read and seen Harry potter, star wars, etc etc. He's killed aliens, ninjas, darth vader, etc. in video games. Yet he's quite clear that he doesn't want to join the army and be in a real war when he's an adult. Nor does he hit his friends to resolve conflicts (although they do in play).
Hope you can find the right balance for your family! Nonviolent mama too
I'm a game developer with a three year old son, and there certainly is a lot to think about in terms of games appropriate for your child. I believe that parents need to determine guidelines they feel are appropriate for their own children. You've taken a good first step by caring enough to post and research what's out there.
I would recommend the Common Sense Media website as a good place to start. They cover media issues for parents across games, websites, apps, film, television, and even books. They also have helpful reviews that break down products in terms of their positive impact: www.commonsensemedia.org
In addition, games have a rating system similar to what you see in film: http://www.esrb.org
I haven't played Minecraft myself, so I can't comment on it. I can tell you that the XBox 360 Edition of the game is rated Everyone 10+ for its fantasy violence (as someone else here mentioned). While the interface and some gameplay moments share similarities with adult-rated first-person shooter games, I know several parents of nine year olds who are fine with their kids playing Minecraft. You can get an impression of what the gameplay experience is like from the game's trailer video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmB9b5njVbA
Computer games can be used as a gateway to learning all kinds of useful real-world skills. They can foster creative expression through design, art, and music. There are free tools like Gamesalad (http://gamesalad.com/) out there that are accessible to a wide age group. Your son can use these tools to tell his own stories and create games that he can share with others.
I encourage moderation in terms of screen time. Again, you are the best one to determine what moderation means to you and your child. I love hearing from parents who play computer and video games with their children. I hope you are able to game together as a family. All the best to you, and thank you for putting this out there! GM
I purchased a DS for 5yo son, hoping for an incentive for good behavior and loss of privileges for bad behavior. He's totally fixated. He wakes up thinking about it, it's the first thing he asks about all the time. I'm worried and want him to not be so intense about it. Any thoughts on how I can wean him? I created a monster
The #1 item on my younger daughter's wish list this year is a DSi. Her sister got one about 2 years ago, and still loves it. The problem is that the new edition is a 3D version--the 3DS. But is it better? The screen is smaller and apparently the camera is not good. I looked at it in the store and the 3D screen made me dizzy. Do I go with the proven DSi, or will she be disappointed that I didn't get the newest version? mom of 3
Hello, My wife and I just got an iPad for the apartment and our son (now 6) loves it. However, we've been having trouble finding good educational games that he both enjoys and learns from. Can anyone recommend a few good educational iPad apps/games for kids around his age? Thanks, Michael
Does anyone have any recommendations for good starter software for kids? I'm thinking it's time to let my 6-year-old get more familiar with computers, but in a positive way. He is definitely the kind of kid who could be sucked into gaming, and I don't really want to go there at this point, but I want to him to start becoming familiar with something that will have to be a big part of his life someday. He has already had some exposure at school, but I thought I'd try something at home. I want it to be fun but still educational (no junior versions of grand theft auto). I have no idea how to choose.
Hi - I know most families who have a Wii are pretty wild about it. Does anyone know how much space is needed in front of the TV screen in order to be able to use a Wii? If the room is quite small and there's not much footage in front of the TV, is it even possible to use? Is there a minimum space you need? They're pretty expensive and we're having a hard time determining if the cost will be worth it, given our tiny abode. Thanks for any advice ~ Space-challenged, but excited about Wii
For the sports games you need a certain amount of space to do the movement (swing the ''golf club'', swing the ''baseball bat'', throw the ''bowling ball''). You could probably do it with a bit less space than we have, but not much. Try standing in your living room and miming those actions. If you whack the TV or the person sitting next to you on the sofa, you don't have enough room. Wii fan
I have 3 boys, ages 2,4 and 6. My mother-in-law wants to purchase a Wii for us for the holidays. I am concerned we will all get ''addicted'' to it and it will be just more time in front of the tv. Anyone there have one that has one that wants to weigh in? My husband is for it. Madeleine
My husbands parents have purchased a Nintendo Wii console for our family as a Christmas gift. We will be visiting them end of the year and hope to enjoy some entertainment for the entire family. Since I am new to the world of this kind of entertainment system and games ... what are your experiences with it? Can you recommend certain games for adults (including seniors) that are fun? I was thinking maybe sports games or some adventure games ... no shooting or war-based games please! What about games for children? My two sons are almost 3 and 6 and I am sure they want to try out Wii when they see the family playing with it. Are there simple-structured games - even for the younger one ... I saw Disney ones or car-racing and some pet-related games... any recommendations for that age group? Wii game beginner
We also have Wii Play (which I think my husband said comes as a package with an extra controller). It has a selection of games. None has really captured my daughters interest. It includes fishing, target shooting (not what you wanted), cow racing, an old fashioned arcade-type game with tanks shooting at each other (also not what you wanted), a ''find the two that match'' type game, a game where you manipulate a shape to fit in a hole, etc. They're all designed to help you master the controller.
I don't really recommend the driving games for young kids. We have the Cars (based on the movie) game, and even us grown-ups had a lot of trouble steering. Really frustrating for a 4-year old. Wii Fan
Hi, I'm trying to figure out what the best game system is for my son's b-day and am so baffled! We're considering Xbox or Playstation but don't know enough and frankly don't trust the guys in the shops to know what's appropriate for his age. He's 100% non-violent, into puzzles, driving and motorcycle race games, strategy and logic games. I could see him playing one of the Lego games or Japanese cute character community-type games. Wii is out because he's got some physical special needs, so none of that throw your arm around stuff. Any good advice? Clearly Clueless Mama
My kids (6.75 & 9.5) love all the Mario Bros. racing games (Mario Kart, Mario Party, etc. -- these do have some cartoonish violence w/car crashes), & Need for Speed (traditional racing game). WarioWare Smooth Moves is hilarious (I bought it used for myself, but my kids and godkids use it more than I do). Wii Sports for some movement (though it does have boxing). World Of Goo where you have to build bridges (physics-based game).Boom-Blox (where you knock towers down). Cranium Kabookii. Wii Play. Even a Dance Dance Revolution type game w/mat for Wii. Hope this gives you lots of ideas! Stephanie
Having said that, we also have an Xbox 360. My son loves it (he is 13), but it has a bunch more violent games and fewer of the brain-activity games. From my understanding the Sony Playstation is marketed to older teens and young adults, and the titles reflect that. I believe the Playstation to be the most expensive of all the platforms, with Xbox being in the middle, and Wii being the least expensive. Nintendo Fan
I am the mother of 2 daughters, ages 7 and 9. I consider my husband and I to be pretty conservative when it comes to what my children watch on television (rarely watch) and movies. I cannot help but feel a little in over my head when it comes to these online games that many of their classmates are playing, so I insist on sitting with them when they ask to play. Truthfully, with a younger toddler in the house, I rarely have the time, but I try to allow them some time on the computer despite my feelings as I realize that this generation is inundated with computers in so many ways. This evening, my older daughter asked if she could play something called ''Penguin Club'' or something similar. While the players never put in their names or any identifying info., once they got into this ''generically'' interactive site, I was floored by the savvy of so many of these kids (or posing to be?) on the site. Thinking I was being a bit overprotective sitting in on this ''kids'' site, it only took a moment for me to see that one cute,tiny penguin was following my daughter's penguin around, asking her to ''adopt'' him/her. My daughter said, ''Oh, how cute!'' and instantly typed in ''Sure!'' The penguin instantly called her ''Mommy'', then asked her to meet him/her in a pizza place on the site. She went, and suddenly, then penguin began referring to her as ''Daddy''. As my daughter typed, ''I'm not your daddy, I'm your mommy'', I pointed out to her that even though she might be being careful not to tell any ''personal'' info., she had just told that penguin that she was a girl. She didn't get it, but as we spoke, she understood.
My question ... are there any sites that anyone can recommend that appear to the kids to be ''interactive'', but are not truly so? While I understand the importance of being with my children when they are online and our computer is in our kitchen where I usuall am, it seems, I also have a toddler. Logistically, I cannot always be there every second with them, but am very watchful overall. I do not want to make my daughters so fearful of using computers that they do not want to learn the positive aspects of the internet. Mama Penguin
My 7.5 year old son has started to have computer time at home. He's not had any until this year and only gets an hour a week. So far this time has been spent playing Age of the Empires which was introduced by my partner. Both father and son enjoy this game, but the shooting at other empires makes me uncomfortable even though there's more to the game. Everyone has agreed to let me introduce some other games so long as they are engaging. Can some folks please recommend some non violent, interesting, fun, engaging computer games? I checked the web site and there are just a few old entries on computer game systems. Thanks. minimal media mama
Common Sense Media is the leading non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to improving the media lives of children and families. As you know, media and entertainment profoundly impacts the social, emotional, and physical development of our children. Common Sense provides trustworthy information and tools so families can have a choice and voice about the media they consume. Their website is a one-stop resource for expert ratings, reviews, and recommended lists on thousands of TV shows, video games, movies, websites, music and books. All of the content is based on child development criteria. In the reviews you'll find straightforward, factual information, and then you can decide for YOUR family, and YOUR child what is right for you. Oftentimes the review has questions about the content of a show, movie etc., so you can dialogue with your kids about what they see, view, hear and play. One of their motto's is ''we can't cover their eyes but we can teach them to see''. I really like that because no matter what the rules might be in our own house, the reality is kids are bombarded by media constantly--there is no escaping it--so let's help develop our kids to be critical thinkers of the media and raise them to be ''media savvy''!
They also provide an interactive forum where adults and kids can offer their own views and reviews. In addition, you can sign up to receive their weekly on-line newsletter, which comes every Friday with the most recent media releases as well as news and research updates. The site also has parenting tips and tools about managing a healthy media diet, media violence and kids, selling to kids, and more-- it's terrific.
As you can tell, I'm a total fan of Common Sense, and as a parent with 2 young children I've found their website and newsletter a wealth of information and a terrific resource. Hope this is useful. Take care, Dana
Hi, My 12 year old has bought the ''call of duty game'' on XBOX with his savings knowing how much I was against this violent game. As I found out about it, I took away the Xbox. He keeps asking about the game and XBOX to the point that is driving me crazy. He crys and begs me to give it back to him constantly. Most of his friends have this game, and the parents are fine with it. I like to know if anyone has been through this with his or her child. How can I get his mind out of this game? Is it true that they become more aggressive and violent when they play this game? I have an 8 year old too and don't want him to watch his brother playing a game of killing people on TV. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks, Anon
First - don't reward the whining. One point my husband & I stress is that if our son wants to play any video games or even have a game system, it's under our jurisdiction. We decide & we don't give in to whining. Really important --he's got to act responsibly before even playing a game where he'll be letting loose.
We often talk with him about the games -- everything from ''Little Big Planet'' to ''COD, (no GTA or anything like that allowed here); what is it he likes about the game? What's creepy? And we're nearby to hear him or his friends playing to say ''that doesn't sound appropriate''. We'll let our son know during the course of a conversation --if it seems like he's influenced by something in the game -- same thing -- ''that's not appropriate, is it?, why not?''
We don't leave him completely isolated and use the game as a babysitter. It is a game he plays with friends and believe it or not - my husband plays with him, too. There is a zombie mode where players go after zombies. They do this together pretty regularly. Which is to say, we've made our son's gaming part of our acceptance of him. How could he ''become violent'' if we are including him? We check him when he sounds like he's getting a little snarky or insensitive, so there is a time and place for the boy anger, but we don't let it seep into every aspect of our day because of the gaming.
Our son was never violent to begin with, just very curious and a lot of his friends play this and other games. They happen to not be violent either. It's our house, so our rules. We have to be okay with the game first, and that means looking into it, via the gaming store or on-line reviews. There are games his friend's parents are ok with and we aren't but that doesn't make any difference to us and at this point our son knows that.
Be consistent, don't give in to bad behavior. If something arises in his behavior because he's started playing COD, you have the right to sat ''we're taking this away for --- (x days) until you understand that this behavior isn't acceptable to us.
Hope that helps a little! anon
I think putting up a complete roadblock to your son playing these games by taking his Xbox is only going to lead him to play them somewhere else. I also think if he saved his money to buy the game, you taking it away is going to create a lot of frustration and resentment.
A few things I recommend, create a meaningful dialogue about the games. Sit with him and talk about the game while he's playing it. What is his strategy, why does he find it challenging, how does the violent aspects make him feel. Also, purchase games that you approve of, I recommend Minecraft, if he doesn't already have it. Building worlds with cubes, builds on mathematical strategies, really challenging and fascinating. Finally, limit time playing games, no exceptions.
Hope this helps. East Bay Mom
Here's common sense media's review of the game. http://www.commonsensemedia.org/game-reviews/call-of-duty-modern-warfare-3
These kind of games were developed to train soldiers to kill people, and we don't need to provide them to our children. You are the parent and get to say what happens in your house.
You might want to try to get him involved in some more activities -- busy kids are less likely to get obsessed with games, and he'll meet friends who want to do a sport or maker club or whatever. anon
Listen, the video game ratings use different letters, but that's the equivalent of an R movie. If there's really a store out there that sold a 12yo the equivalent of an R-rated movie, you should call and complain to the manager. That's the whole point of a rating system: to keep kids from buying games that were made for adults. I'm going to guess though that an adult was with him who wasn't paying attention to what was being purchased or it was bought online.
So the question here is, if the other parents let their kids watch R-rated movies, does that mean your kid should get to as well? Of course it doesn't. You decide what's appropriate, and if he's not mature enough for a specific R-rated movie (or M-rated game) then don't let him have it. Do you believe that watching R-rated movies makes people violent? That's your answer on the game too. Personally, I do not believe that M-rated games, when played by the people they were intended for (adults and mature teens!) have any effect on the player.
And since you're (understandably!)opposed to your 12yo having access to games rated for adults, might want to have a talk with him and/or his friends' parents about it. Perhaps they don't understand how a rating system works, or perhaps they feel their child is mature enough for it. And watch his purchases. just because it's a video game, doesn't mean it was made for kids
''Wreck-It Ralph'' is a funny 2012 animated Disney kid's movie about the secret lives of video game characters after the arcade closes. It's similar to ''Toy Story'' in the sense that the toys have their own lives and adventures when people are not around.
It's got plenty of references to older arcade games when parents were kids, like Mario Brothers and Q-bert. It's also got a hilarious take-off on a Metroid/Call of Duty:Black Ops mash-up called ''Hero's Duty''.
Watch it with him (it's fun and *not* scary). Talk to him about it. Get his feedback, views, opinions and, yes, even his preferences about which characters he prefers in his video games and why. Let him talk about it. You may be surprised what he's thought about.
This is a good first step to communicating with him about some of the things he feels are important and interesting in his life. And it would give you the opportunity to learn a bit about the world of video games. It may even give both of you some common ground for negotiating playing video games, and when and what is acceptable. Good Luck
For reasons not really relevant, our family now has an xbox gaming system. However, we're at an impasse over games. I have two sons, 7 and 12. It seems that the most popular games, the ones all of my older son's friends play (halo, call of duty, assassin's creed) involve assault weapons and lots of gore - which i just don't want in our house. He insists that there's 'nothing else worth playing' and gets bummed out when he has a friend over because he doesn't have any of those games to share. Are there games that your preteens/early teens like to play - strategy, sports, other types? - that are challenging and fun, but don't involve all the intensely dark and bloody graphics? can't stomach it
Okay, major ignoramous here! My son started a new middle school last year, and all his friends have gaming systems (Xbox seems to be the most popular). I have not been a supporter of video games, preferring reading, imaginary play and bike riding for my son. However, these are not the interests of his new school friends, and after a year he still doesn't want to invite kids over because ''there's nothing to do.'' I have spent some time soul-searching and have decided to surprise him with a gaming system for his birthday (with some help from extended family). HOWEVER, I don't know what to get! I read some reviews of Xbox, and all the games seem to be very violent. Then there's Nintendo, Wii and Playstation! He did buy his own iPad and plays some video games once in a while (mostly he watches NetFlix during his screen time), so the point is to get something that allows people to play, in-person, together. We have a small flat screen TV and an older old-style TV, wifi, but no cable TV service. What system do your kids like? What kind of set up do I need (e.g., flat-screen TV, controllers, extra memory...)? What games are fun and would not be too offensive to a pacifist and feminist mom? Where's the best place to shop for new and used stuff? Any online resources for newbies? Any other tips? Thanks! Want the boys to come over
Xbox 360 sounds like what you want for a boy to fit in with his friends. If you're not dead-set on surprising him, you might ask if he;s okay with a Wii. Wiis have less ''cool'' video games, but have more games that you might like. You don't need a new TV. Bigger TVs are nice, but this is already a big investment! You will need to buy controllers; a new Xbox 360 usually only comes with one and used Xbox 360s may come with none. (Though your boy's friends could bring their controllers over - that's what my friends and I do.) You'll need more than 4GB of memory. He will probably end up using 20-40GB.
Many of the multiplayer games teenagers want to play are violent, though not all involve shooting guns at humans. For instance, you fight zombies in Resident Evil 5 & 6 and Left 4 Dead 1 & 2.
Fable 2 & 3 are both fantasy action RPGs. The LEGO games (Batman, Harry Potter, Star Wars) are fun. There is fighting, but as everything in the games are made of LEGOs, they burst apart into pieces when you ''kill'' them. Portal 2 has physics-based puzzles.
Rhythm/music games like Guitar Hero or Rock Band may be good choices, but are rather expensive due to the special equipment they come with. Many sports and racing games are multiplayer and generally should not be violent. Lastly, there are arcade games downloadable from the Xbox Live store, such as Castle Crashers or Dungeon Defenders.
If I had to recommend one game that you would be happy for him to play (and maybe even play with him) and that is also ''cool,'' it would be Portal 2. Make sure to pick up the first Portal, too.
A warning: get games with local multiplayer so that your boy and his friends can sit on the couch together to play. Many multiplayer games, especially competitive ones, only support online multiplayer and that's not what you want.
Unfortunately, there aren't many 4-player local multiplayer games, especially if you're avoiding games that involve shooting people. Most of the ones I mentioned above are only for two people.
As for where to shop, I'd recommend staying away from GameStop if you plan on buying things used. Better to buy new to support the developers (Amazon sometimes has good prices) or buy from a person on eBay, etc.
Good luck! You're going to have one happy boy on your hands. Jessica
I imagine that your son has played video games at his friend's houses, right? So he probably already has some ideas about games he likes. You are correct, a majority of the Xbox games are first-person shooter games or first person combat games. You should see the eye-rolling when I ask my oldest about his impressions of the games in discussions about incidents like the shootings in Aurora, CO. I personally think that individuals who are already struggling socially, can become emboldened by playing games like Black Ops day after day. But what I get is ''Mommmmm,I am not going to go out and shoot anybody!!!'' Again, so many issues here to parent on.
As to your questions: Xbox is the best for game play physics and graphics. I am sure there are people who can better speak to the technical aspects, and I find that the young people who work at Game Stop are well informed and helpful. They like to play games and know them all.
The TV needs to have the correct plugs for the gaming system, if it is within 10
years old, you are probably fine. Controllers and the like depend on the games to be
Games: Minecraft - world building game, all in blocks. No violence to speak of, totally creative, builds math skills (geometry!!); problem solving; animal husbandry. Not easy but engaging.
Music games - Rock Band or Guitar Hero - here's where more equipment/space is needed. ''Barbie'' body-style female characters, but they are playing in the band.
Sports games - Fifa Soccer is pretty cool.
Portal - future distopia, puzzles and problem solving.
Batman Arkham - this does have fighting, in a good vs. evil sense. Somewhat dark, like the movie franchise. Comic book style.
We have purchased new and used equipment (refurbished) with no problems. Games all from Ebay. As I said, GameStop employees are good resource if they are not too busy. They also have a magazine called Game Informer that give extensive details about game releases. Common Sense Media also has detailed reviews of games. Good Luck! East Bay Mom
They could have a game system but they had to buy it â€“ they pooled their money, shopped craigslist and got a Playstation 3 which they use on our newish flat screen tv.
We still monitor how much they playâ€“ but are more vigilant with the 13 year old. (As they get older, I think you just have to let them start to exercise their own judgment. The 19 year old never plays and hasnâ€™t for a couple of years.) And I draw the line at first person shooter games â€“ Call of Duty, etc. I personally donâ€™t consider hunting people down to kill them â€“ even virtually- an appropriate source of entertainment. So they play sports games â€“ NCAA football, MLB, and other games where they find targets and in some cases shoot them down â€“ like nazi war planes. This may be a fine distinction but one I have chosen to make. Their friends do occasionally come over to play but we are not video game central as some houses are. Good luck! 3 boy mom
We have a Wii too which my son has no interest in anymore, though some of his friends who don't have a Wii still do like to play when they come over. But I can't recommend buying a Wii. We have not been asked yet for an xbox or playstation. I have two older boys and a nephew who played and still play a lot of the violent games at this age and honestly I don't have a problem with it for middle school age and above. The data just isn't there to say they are harmful. Some of them are a whole lot of fun.
You might read up on Minecraft and try it out at home on your computer. Also you should find out which game system your son wants. There's nothing worse for a middle school boy than having something his mom picked out that nobody else is interested in! gamer mom
My advise-- set up the rules before setting it up!!!!! For instance, if a friend is over during the week or only on weekends, the timer is helpfuI to keep it limited. I would suggest buying the system new, buy used games and accessories at GameStop. They have a great return policy if he doesn't like the game within 7 days and they do have warranties on all the stuff you buy from there. Buy a membership FIRST to GameStop, you get a great magazine and extra discounts when buying used which will help since you are starting fresh. And I know this may sound crazy-- but play a game with him every once in a while. We play soccer, Lego games, and I even try to the shooting games. Some of best conversations have been during a Halo game. Anon
My pre-teen son has become very enamored of an online game called World of Warcraft. We have friends whose child is somewhat obsessed with this game. I am getting a lot of pressure from my children to say okay and let them play at home, buy the cd, let them have an account, etc. I think the name of it bothers me the most - however, as my son pointed out, that is pretty much judging a book by its cover! Does anyone have any experience with this game? Is it as awful as it sounds, or is it pretty benign? Pros, cons, any thoughts would be welcome. Thank you. Melissa
My teenaged son and his friends have discovered a game called World of Warcraft. Is anyone familiar with this game? I was told this morning by another parent that it is considered such an addictive game that she won't let her son buy it. It does seem to be pretty consuming. I'm also interested in what limitations other parents put on computer/TV use. We don't allow computer/TV use during the school week, unless it's homework. On the weekends we limit ''screen time'' to two hours per day. Our son says we are the most restrictive parents he knows. Any thoughts? Nontech Mom
Here's what our rules are: no gaming at all during the week, limited to 4 hours a day on weekends (that may seem like a lot but it can take that long to do a group mission.) He must stay on top of homework and his sports and music commitments, and his grades must stay up or his account gets cancelled. We had to cut him off once to help him get clear on the concept. But now he understands what he needs to do to keep gaming and has been doing a good job with prioritizing. As long as you're clear on how you want it to fit into your son's life, I think it will be fine. WOW Mom
The upside of that is that access to the game becomes a powerful incentive. Letting our son play anything on the computer as much as he wants to has obvious ill effects; making him do something worthwhile first and imposing a time limit causes some grousing but it's worth it.
The Warcraft genre is violent, but in a cartoonish way -- the player's perspective is not from behind a weapon, as in "first-person shooter" games, but from above the field of play. For what it's worth, unrestrained violence is not a winning strategy; a player must consider his resources, make allies, and so forth. Playing Warcraft hasn't made our kid violent. --John
But I have one concern I'd like to ask those of you whose kids use it about: earlier, when my son wanted to sign up for XBox live, I did some online research and came across many adult users complaining about the level of foul and abusive chat happening during games with others on the system. That made me say no. Does this happen with Wow? Are there any system filters that would help prevent that kind of thing? Has it been a problem for anyone? Thanks! anne
Before I go on, let me say that I take the issue seriously, and I don't think it is susceptible of simple, easy answers one way or the other. As those who know me or have read others of my posts will attest, I'm a rather conservative parent and not one who believes that whatever kids want or do is ok. I also want to say that I dont intend any disrespect or sarcasm towards other views. If Ive trodden upon anyones toes, please forgive me: it was inadvertent and I apologize sincerely.
I've got two sons (20 and 14) who play World of Warcraft (WOW) and other computer games. My older son was a (volunteer) beta tester for WOW. I have struggled with the issue of my childrens' involvement with these games for a number of years. For what it's worth, here's the view I've come to.
First, let's not debase the meaning of ''addictive.'' Its base meaning is ''Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance: e.g., 'heroin addiction.''' No computer game remotely fits that definition.
A secondary meaning of ''addiction'' loosely refers to ''The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or or involved in something, e.g., 'an addiction for fast cars.''' At most, that subordinate meaning is appropriate in the case of individuals who have a pre-existing disposition to extremes of compulsive behavior. It is by no means appropriate as a description of computer/video gaming in general, nor of the relationship to such games of the vast majority of children and, increasingly, of adults. To label computer gaming ''addictive'' merely forestalls its thoughtful examination.
Kids are habitual and compulsive about play. That's not news, it's the state of nature. The question is, are video games different from other forms of play in ways that compel us as parents to approach them as we would approach truly addictive substances such as drugs or alcohol?
Plainly not. Video games do not kill brain cells -- in fact, the scientific evidence is that they improve and develop certain valuable brain functions. Nor do they carry the terrible physical consequences of addiction: they do not destroy livers or lungs; they do not carry the risks of HIV or hepatitis. They do not create zombies living from one hit to the next. They do not cause the impairment of judgment and physical coordination that leads to life-threatening behaviors like drunken driving. They do not depress heart and brain function to the point of death from sedation. They do not kill their users.
Because of generational differences, we parents inevitably view the gaming phenomenon from a position of limited knowledge. Would we say that our children were 'addicted' or 'compulsive' if they played chess or read books four or more hours a day? Probably not, because we are familiar with those activities and value them. Computer games are different because our generation(s) have little or no direct experience with them. In consequence, we don't know what they are like from the players perspective, nor do we have direct experience of their positive or negative effects. That's worth bearing in mind.
It's a struggle for parents (myself especially) to create order in their childrens' lives, especially the lives of teens. Computer games, WOW included, are one of many specific challenges we face in leading our children to a mature, balanced and healthy adulthood.
What parenting challenge does the video game phenomenon create? To me it comes down to one thing: balance. Given the choice, children will play rather than ''work.'' Yet they must work at things that we believe will be of long-term benefit -- studies, physical fitness, responsibility in family life and other areas reflecting our individual values. As parents we must find ways to bring balance to our children's lives, and to teach them the value of balance so that they become self-regulating.
There's nothing peculiar to WOW or other computer games that alters the nature of these challenges -- they exist no matter what our childrens' interests. I can't tell anyone else where to strike the balance; that is hard enough to discover in dealing with my own children. But I can tell you that what I've suggested above asks the right questions: is my child's life balanced, is he getting enough physical activity, is he keeping up with his schoolwork? And so on. Getting into a slanging match over whether he or she is ''addicted'' to a game is just foolish.
Now to World of Warcraft itself. One should not fear its content. Or, given that judgments about content involve personal values and taste, I should say that to me this game's content is not seriously violent or at all disturbing; in fact, it is rather mild. Movies such as ''Alien,'' The Exorcist and any horror film are far, far more disturbing. In fact I find them unendurable. Not so this or most other video games.
Most parents, I think, can safely trust most kids to draw the appropriate distinctions between gaming fantasy and lifes reality. There are exceptions of course, and youll know them when you see them. My trust in kids usual good sense doesnt stop me from banning an offensively violent piece of trash ( Gran Turismo: San Andreas springs to mind.) But I find that most children and teens are reasonably sensible about such things. If they arent, any fault may lie elsewhere than in the game.
Warcraft's content is comparable to The Lord of the Rings. It is not a ''violent'' game any more than a mystery or suspense novel is ''violent.'' Unlike some games that I detest and (mostly successfully) ban, the combat (and thus violence) that occurs is sensorily mild, for lack of a better term. While combat is fundamental to WOW's ''warcraft'' theme and gameplay, neither it nor violence is the essence of its content or its appeal.
World of Warcrafts true essence is fantasy, the quest, guilds of fellow creatures, imaginative role-playing. Unexpectedly, it instills the work ethic by requiring the player to work steadily and persistently over weeks and months towards a goal. It teaches TANSTAAFL: There aint no such thing as a free lunch. (Thanks to Robert Heinlein for that wonderful invention.)
In visual detail, richness and imagination World of Warcraft is a stunning expression of a new art form. The open-minded may find it, as I have come to do, a formidable expression of creative genius. Or they may think Im an idiot reasonable minds can differ. Take a look at a copy of a book called ''The Art of Warcraft'' for a pale taste of the game's visual scope.
As I grow older I find, to my dismay, that I can fall into intellectual laziness and become fixed in my views. Yet for a thinking person this is a habit of mind devoutly to be avoided. To that end I suggest this line of thought: The creation of the personal computer is comparable to the invention of the printing press. Both created the conditions necessary for the emergence of a new creative form. This observation may horrify some, but from my vantage point that horror flows from a failure of vision and historical perspective. Just as the printing press was the precondition to development of the novel as an art form, so also the personal computer has been the wellspring of a new art form, one still in its infancy but redolent of future magnificence.
The video game is one expression of an emerging creative form in which multi-sensory participation directs the story line. Video games, and perhaps a broader art of story-playing they portend, are interactive, three-dimensional, engaging of the imagination, richly graphic and cinematically creative. From a critical perspective one may believe that none of these qualities is as fully developed or well executed as it might be, but that does not alter the essential point: this is a fundamentally new art form. If Im right in that notion, we might be wise not to stifle our childrens experience of something that will grow to be a part of their world in ways that we can only dimly imagine.
Finally (and I know I do go on), interested readers might want to look at the first chapter (''Games'') of a recent book, ''Everything Bad Is Good For You,'' by Steven Johnson. I don't endorse or reject his arguments, but they are thoughtful and thought-provoking in the same way as Malcolm Gladwell's in ''The Tipping Point.'' Johnson concludes with this observation: ''What you actually do in playing a game -- the way your mind has to work -- is radically different [from what is commonly assumed to be the case.] [Game playing is] about finding order and meaning in the world, and making decisions that help create that order.''
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