Gamer Parenting 101 – Da List
As a gamer parent, I struggle regularly on what my household gaming policies are and will be as they get older. As a father of 4 (3 boys at the ages of soon to be 11, 9, and soon to be 9 as well as one girl at 21 months), I always wonder how I should regulate what games they play, when they play, and how long they play. Often times I listen to other podcasts with gamer parents like CheapAssGamer’s Podcast as well as just other friends of mine who have kids as well. Oddly enough, the method practiced between them all varies quite a bit.
As gamer parents, I’m certain we all struggle with the what, when, and how long questions as we balance the things we know they should be doing as well as the other things they could be doing. I’ve heard of simple things like earning their playing time during the week and then giving them a max of 2 hours a day during the weekends. Sounds good and reasonable for the early ages, right? Also, I’ve heard of parents just On one podcast for Nerdist.com’s Indoor Kids, a gaming couple spoke about how they actually
I’ve yet to allow my sons play or own a Xbox 360 or PS3. As it stands, I’ve bought for them a N64, the original Xbox, and a Wii. If I had the money for it, I probably would have broken down and bought them a PS2 but given the oldest’s affinity for Halo, I figure what they have now will do. As they’ve gotten older and watched me play various games, they’ve had opportunities to occasionally play WITH daddy on the 360 or PS3 but never by themselves in their own room.
“Why?” you ask? Well, first and foremost, I don’t want my sons playing online. I know there are a ton of kids that play Minecraft and create stuff with their friends online and jump in and out of each others games but I’ve decided that my sons aren’t mature or responsible enough to play online ANYTHING without my direct supervision.
Secondly, most online games don’t allow for that many players to play on the same screen since my younger sons don’t like waiting to play or taking turns. Often times this leaves me searching the retro games for titles that allow for 3+ players locally. Thankfully enough, there are a number of Wii games that specialize in just that. Oddly enough, there are a decent number of 360, PS3, AND N64 games that do the same as well.
For me, I felt it was time to lay down a few parental gamer laws to debate. As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed how gaming culture has gotten a bad rep from ill-tempered over-enthusiasts who treat this hobby of ours like a life threatening requirement. There’s no knowledge of where gaming has come from and little appreciation for the classics. The hard part about making this list is that EVERY retro game doesn’t quite hold up. I mean, Dig Dug to me is a classic but playing it nowadays may be a bit of a stretch. That brings me to the first law:
- Young kids should either start with a Nintendo console or they should be given a retro console.
Okay. There are going to be some young ones that are going to hate me for this one but it is true. There are a large number of simple, low tech retro games that the little ones should play just to have an appreciation for gaming in general. Pac-man, Super Mario Bros., Contra, Excitebike, Mega Man, Double Dragon, and more should all be gateway games that the younger ones should play. When it comes to the actual list, the choice will most certainly be different. Many gamer parents will try to share the games that they grew up with in order to have a special bond through enjoying certain games together.
Personally, I would always buy my sons different arcade collections from Midway, Capcom, and more just to get them used to classics like Gauntlet, Joust, Spy Hunter, and such. As I’ve bought various retro consoles, finding ones that have collections like this is difficult at times. The Nintendo 64 and the Wii are a few consoles that I have for my sons but collections are all but non-existent on these consoles. I eventually bought them the first Xbox (due to my son’s adoration of Halo) but even that is hard to find proper collections. A PC may be in order! Of course, regulating what retrogaming sites they can go to might be a bit difficult.
- The kid appropriate gaming library needs to ‘limit’ the violence and blood.
Let’s face it. Trying to exclude ANY game that has violence and doesn’t kill anything is a hard sell. Even Minecraft has a bit of 8-bit violence in it. Shoot, technically Pac Man is violent considering he eats his foes. Just depends on what the parent is comfortable with. Where I lose it is when the parent allows their 5-11 year old to play games like Call of Duty all of the time. Kids can and will play other kinds of games if you find some that they like. The gaming universe is so massive and diverse that you are bound to find SOMETHING that doesn’t require them to brag about headshots and K/D ratios all the time.
- Younger kids (probably less than 11) shouldn’t play more than about 2 -3 hours a day
I know. I pulled that time limit out of my… um … magic hat, but let’s face it. For the younger age kids, it is more important for them to either have their eyes practicing reading or having their quickly growing bodies rolling around in the grass outside. Video games are great for them to relax and have fun from time to time but it should by no means become the babysitter (as with other technology in the house). There are so many things that could potentially form their squishy little minds at this age that it is more important for them to flex their creativity in the physical realm than the virtual one… for now! MWAHAHHAHHA! *cough*…. MOVING ON!
Whelp. Now that I’ve completely warped your minds about parenting in general, I’ll boot it over to our resident gamer mom for the grand finale!
Now, I don’t know about the rest of all of you readers out there, but I started gaming at a fairly young age, about 6 years old, give or take. Being that I grew up gaming, of course when I had kids, I wanted to introduce them to that retrospect of entertainment.
I have two little girls, one soon to be 6 year old, and a 2 year old. Now, my two year old doesn’t game that much…she’s only two…though she does play around on my oldest’s old DSi (We recently upgraded my oldest to a 2DS). My oldest games maybe every other day, for just a little while at a time. And just like our Bunneh3000 that kicked off this gamer parent shindig, I have a strict say on what my babies play.
My kids aren’t allowed shooter games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield. There is a reason for game ratings on video games these days, I just wish more parents would adhere to those rules. There’s nothing worse than hearing about an 8 year old playing Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty. Kids are impressionable, they do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, need to be seeing that kind of violence. End of story. The only so-called ‘shooter’ I will probably let my girls play is the upcoming Splatoon, the cutesy Wii U game where you play as adorable little squid-people and blast ink at your opponents in a paint-ball style shooter.
I prefer my kids to start on Nintendo, just like Bunneh3000.
You want perfect kid-friendly, family-friendly games? Nintendo is the way to go. That, and old arcade games such as Pac-Man and Tetris. You want to be a gamer? Then pay your dues to the games that started it all. The only non-Nintendo and non-retro arcade game my oldest plays is Minecraft. But there are rules to her playing even that. No online play (She plays on her own account on the 360, and has no Live Gold subscription), the game is set on ‘Creative Mode’, and the difficulty is ‘Peaceful’, so that there are no baddies chasing her around during nighttime in the game.
So far, I’ve never had to ‘cut off’ my child’s gameplay time, as she is pretty good about only playing for about 30 minutes to an hour at most, and this is maybe two sessions a day, every other day. I really don’t think that is too bad. Honestly, I’d rather her play games than watch TV, but she loves her Disney Channel. I’m pretty sure as she gets older and adds more games to her line-up, I’ll be having to enforce the cut-off rules. Being she is only almost 6 years old, there really aren’t too many games that she can really play. Her reading is excelling, and I’m sure as she gets better, she’ll be playing more games that have a lot more reading. Heck, she’s already trying to play my many Legend of Zelda games, but her reading skills are only so far, so I’m stuck reading all of the cut scenes to her.
As time goes on, my gaming limits for my kids will change. And with mine and Bunneh3000’s new piece, which you are reading now, you will be able to follow along with us on our many gamer parent adventures. Expect fun stories, life lessons, and good ol’ gamer knowledge in the near future as we post more of our Gamer Parenting 101 right here on Gaming Precision! Nightingale out!