As a parent, I genuinely hate television shows for toddlers. I have very deeply rooted opinions on them and believe they are utter garbage for children to be watching. It’s nonsense background noise for a child. That’s right, I don’t think Paw Patrol actually teaches my child to be “caring” or “honest”. My son is a nightmare. Those talking animals do me no favors in teaching him to follow the life lessons they teach. What helps him to be less combative and independent is when I engage his mind with complex ideas.
I’ve come to favor playing video games with my son rather than watching TV, and this is something that has made me very unpopular in the eyes of my family and in-laws. They think video games are bad and that they teach the player to be lazy among many other terrible traits. The list is quite lengthy as to why the majority of the older population considers video games to be the root of evil in society, which is an insane amount of generalization.
I encourage gameplay as a main source of entertainment in our household. As such, I often watch let’s play series like The Game Grumps, and when I’m playing games myself, I encourage him to play with the controller and figure out how to play.
My opinions are in no way backed up by any facts or research. I’m simply sharing what works for my family in hopes that perhaps it will work for yours as well.
Here is a list of games that I’ve noticed are huge successes for my child and what they have taught him:
Super Mario Maker
I personally don’t play this much. When my son wants to watch Mario Maker I put on Game Grumps, and in that time I accomplish something around the house. If you’re a parent whose child loves a particular game don’t be afraid to utilize let’s play series on YouTube. I can’t tell you how much Dan and Arin help me out in keeping my child happy and quiet so I can clean or make dinner. They are vulgar, yes, but the firm rule in the house is that what the Grumps say is not to be repeated or else we won’t watch them anymore.
Additionally, listening to the Grumps have conversations without directly seeing them talk has helped my son to enhance his communication skills insofar that he is better able to follow the flow of conversations. He knows that you have to pay attention to them speaking or else you’ll miss the funny things they have to say.
Super Mario Maker is available on the Nintendo Switch and the Wii U.
I’m sure this will extend to Detroit: Become Human, but I haven’t had a chance to get a hold of a copy for myself. I know it seems odd that I would include this in my list. It should be obvious by now that I don’t believe in censorship, so few games are off limits in my house.
With Heavy Rain I noticed that my son took an immediate liking to it despite my thinking he wouldn’t like it. No, in fact he would sit for a good long while and watch it while silently observing how the game works. I realized that he was actually learning and understanding the game in a way I wouldn’t have thought he would be able to do. From it, he learned that consequences come from all actions. He started learning this because I had the habit of repeating chapters in order to ensure that I picked the best options. He has an understanding that if you do something bad then it’ll make something bad in return happen to your character.
I say this because at one of the climaxes in the game my son said to me, “don’t kill him.” Even if it is empathy for pixels, it’s still an important trait that translates to real life.
Heavy Rain is a PlayStation exclusive game only. It’s been around for a while, so its price is relatively low.
This one goes without saying. Any child would love Kingdom Hearts–if you can stomach it that is. It’s bright, colorful, and silly while also being amusing enough that it’s fun to play. But the real reason I’ve added it to my list is due to the fact that I actually think it’s a better starter game for a child than something like the Mario series. I say this because my son is uncoordinated much to the point where he can’t press run and jump at the same time. He often spends his time dying in Mario and comes to me for assistance. He’d rather just watch that game be played because it’s challenging to time his movements in order to progress.
With Kingdom Hearts, however, I can give him the controller and allow him to teach himself coordination by moving the two joysticks simultaneously. Due to the auto target feature and simplicity of the button mashing styled combat, he can also handle fighting on his own. I was pleasantly surprised that he was able to pick up the game a lot easier than any of the other games I’ve tried with him.
Kingdom Hearts is a PlayStation exclusive and can be bought for cheap online or at a used gaming store.
Like Heavy Rain, Mass Effect has the capability of teaching consequences, but the consequences in this game are far more long term and children may not be able to comprehend everything. However, I’ve noticed that this game is great for sparking imagination. The alien races are unique; the aspect of traveling in space is fun and exciting; the action is suspenseful and entrancing all of which provides my son with some fun things to think about while he watches.
This game has encouraged him to get up and play along while watching the TV. Rather than wanting to play, he is content playing by using his imagination. He also loves the characters and talks about them endlessly, as kids often do. It’s fun to hear him talk about Mass Effect and to see him enjoying one of my favorite games. I am proud to say that we are a Bioware fan family.
Mass Effect is available on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC and is an older game, therefore cheaper in price.
I did say that we are a Bioware family, right?
This one is similar to Mass Effect. My son has more of a desire to play this one by himself, but I often hold it back considering it’s more complicated to play. The game, however, is simply mesmerizing to him. There’s something about the way you explore the lands of Ferelden and fight the monsters there that’s utterly entrancing to a child. Perhaps it’s the bright colors of the magic spells or the smooth interaction between player and enemies. I suspect that it’s most likely as easy as the fact that it has a horse which excites him. He’s a simple kid, sometimes he just likes to watch as you ride around on the horse. There’s something magical about horses and children.
If you have this game I encourage you to try it with your child and to ride around on your horse or Hart.
Dragon Age games are available on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. The latest game, Inquisition, is relatively new and may be higher in price unless you happen to find it at a used store.
Zelda Breath of the Wild
Like Dragon Age: Inquisition, Breath of the Wild has a magically entrancing effect on my son. He is content sitting and watching it be played for hours, which is wonderful because it helps him not only enjoy some quiet time, but it also allows for me to enjoy the quiet and zone out while disappearing into the fanciful, exciting world of Hyrule.
This is another game that I allow my child to play when I have other stuff to be doing. The controls of it are harder than in Kingdom Hearts due to the lack of the auto rotate for the camera, but in a way that’s good because it helps him to practice those coordination skills. Above all else, though, the best part for this game is the endless amount of areas one can explore. It tends to be pretty easy to avoid the enemy more so than in Kingdom Hearts and therefore he often doesn’t have to worry about engaging in the complexities of combat. He can explore and quest at his pace.
Simply put, I just give him the controller and let him go wild. He can walk and walk and walk for hours and be endlessly entertained. Bonus is that he loves to dress Link up in stupid outfits or take him to places. He’ll dress Link in his underwear and take him swimming because he thinks that’s his bathing suit. Ain’t that just the cutest?
Breath of the Wild is available on Nintendo Switch and the Wii U. However, the game was designed to perform its best on the Switch. It tends to be laggy on the Wii U, but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying it.
I’ve saved the best for last! This happens to be my son’s favorite game of all time and it’s not hard to understand why. The cartoon style of the game makes it friendly to watch despite the darker undertones of the content. Every aspect of the game is enjoyable and funny, from the silly creatures, to the actions and to the way the characters talk.
While this game hasn’t taught my son anything useful, it has been his all-time favorite for many years. Just like Breath of the Wild, if you just want to zone out and relax with your child I suggest playing this game to see if your toddler takes a liking to it.
Don’t Starve is available on Playstation, Xbox, and PC for a reasonable price.
I look forward to my generation using more interactive solutions as they start having children of their own, and I’m eager to hear if there are others who share the same opinions as me. Please feel free to comment below and share your children’s favorite games!