Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Playing video games as a family

How hard can it be to set aside two sixty-minute sessions for computer gaming with your children in a week?

Very, it proved to be for us.

As part of the PEGI Family Gaming Ambassador initiative we were set this simple enough challenge.

Afford yourself and your child two separate hour-long game playing sessions on an Xbox 360.

There were then several further challenges we could pick from, some from Just Dance 4 and Just Dance Disney, but they would have been far too easy for someone of my obvious ability and dancing prowess.  So, instead, we chose to attempt to complete the first three levels of Rayman Origins.

I’d not heard of the game before getting involved with this project, but was quickly fond of hurtling through its colourful jungle backdrop with a more than able sidekick AKA my son.

It’s a bit like Super Mario, but probably a little faster and with greater onscreen flexibility.  The screen zooms in and out the further your two onscreen characters are apart, allowing for a very good flow of game.  Unlike say Skylanders where the virtual rope between characters can get a smidge frustrating at times.

Since we’ve had a Nintendo Wii my son’s game playing has always been a bit of a social affair.  It’s one thing he’s not really a fan of playing on his own.  Whether that’s because he can’t get as far in the games on his own, or if he just enjoys playing them more with someone at his side.

I think the latter is probably a more accurate motive.

It is great fun playing computer games together.  Our favourite games still come from the Lego stable.  I like the problem solving aspect of their games, and I think Max likes the fact that you can collect more characters the further you get in the games.

In fact, when he managed to delete the save data we’d got on Lego Batman 2 he was upset for a good while.  But it did mean we got to play the game through again together, probably picking up more credits and characters on our second play.

Sitting and playing with my son is also an opportunity to gauge his development.  If he can work problems out for himself that he couldn’t do before, or if he’s improved his fine motor skills with a more agile use of his controller.

With Rayman Origins in particular it was a good stealth tool to see where my boy was with his reading, as their isn’t video interludes explaining your progress, you have to read the onscreen messages to know what to do.

You also have to collect things and only amassing over certain numbers gives you medals to progress in the game, so I was checking he could work out if we’d done enough before the game told us so.

So basically there’s plenty to be learnt from playing computer games with your kids.