Op-Ed

Op-Ed
Press Released: Kiddie Games

Sean Sands | 22 Sep 2008 21:00
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What occurs to me is that by relying on Nickelodeon to provide gaming entertainment, in between marketing opportunities, I was putting as little faith in his sophistication as they were. So, I explored a broader range of games, and found fairly quickly that there is no shortage of kid-friendly gaming experiences that are appealing to both of us.

Among the games we've played over the past six months: Lego Indiana Jones, Lego Star Wars - The Original Trilogy, Pac-Man CE, Geometry Wars 2, Viva PiƱata, Spore, Peggle, Rock Band 2 and numerous others. In particular, Lego Indiana Jones stands out as an absolutely perfect balance between rewarding gameplay for both of us without becoming prohibitively difficult. More than once, it was my five year-old who was solving problems to move us forward, and with a very forgiving framework to the game, he was never inclined to become frustrated.

Even Rock Band 2, with its inclusion of a no-fail mode gives us new opportunities to have fun, and already I have a kid who is not even in kindergarten that can play some basic drum beats with occasional success. Is that valuable? Maybe. Is the time we spend rocking out to Jonathan Coulton's "Skullcrusher Mountain" valuable? Absolutely.

It should go without saying that our videogame playing is reward time, and comes with the necessary parenting that includes playing outside, coloring pictures, reading books and working to create a well-rounded person who understands that games are a part of life and not life itself. Taken in that context, where I'm not relying on the computer to educate but temporarily entertain, videogames, which had been for years a mature pastime to be enjoyed in isolation, have opened a new and unexpected door.

As we all had suspected, those who decry gaming as a corruptible and contemptible pastime were simply passing judgment based on poor information. To be fair, when I assumed that Dora and Diego were the foundation of entertainment options available to a kindergartener, I was making the same mistake. Fortunately, I realized that error, explored a little deeper and opened up time spent with my son that is frequently the best part of my day.

Sean Sands is the co-founder of the gaming website www.gamerswithjobs.com and can be found this week anxiously awaiting the release of Lego Batman.

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