Learn to Play – A guide to getting your little one involved in the game

How old should your child be when introducing them to video games? What is the best title to teach them how to use a controller? Is there a game that both children and adults find equally enjoyable?

As a father of a nine-year-old daughter, I am frequently asked these questions by people with stepchildren, and I always stumble across my answers when trying to recall the route I took to get her used to her. game. Most children want to play games from an early age, but there aren’t many resources out there that can help parents and guardians find a safe and rewarding way to play games for their kids. . I hope this new All Ages re-appearance helps people find solutions to their kids’ gaming needs.

This month’s section focuses on teaching kids how to use the controller first. These mission completion games also help them navigate 2D and 3D spaces.

I’ll be making recommendations for cooperative games, the best non-violent options, genre entry points, and more in the coming months. If you have questions or want to explore specific topics, mail me at [email protected] with your thoughts.

My efforts to bring my daughter into the console gaming space have not been easy. Her frustration when using a controller for the first time was made worse by the fact that some of the licensed children’s games were absolutely awful and didn’t seem to appeal to the target age group. their. That said, we did find some games to be great entry points. This is the place to start.

First game

I guess most of you have pictures of your kids playing one of your all-time favorite games like the first time they played. Just know that game won’t go well at three or four, but it will make for a great photo shoot you can cherish forever. Once you’ve got the picture, I recommend hooking up the Switch to your TV and letting your kid’s first game be Super Mario Maker 2. For years, I’ve been asking parents to try the original Super Mario Maker with children, bring results. Many of these children have developed the basic skills necessary to open the door to the entire world of play.

Why did I choose the Mario Maker series over other popular Mario games? Most video games are violent in nature, even games intended for children. Nintendo’s historic Mario franchise is considered one of the most family-friendly series out there, but it’s also violent. The plumber used his boots to strangle turtles and burn other creatures with fireballs. Mario is also knocked to death, and his battles against Bowser are always intense. With Super Mario Maker 2, you can erase all that violence and create the perfect starter experience for your child. It’s rubbing, though: You have to do it yourself. Using the game’s creation tools, you can create levels without violence and death. There is no enemy. There are no pitfalls. Just simple running and jumping exercises, from left to right. These stages teach your child how to run, jump, and use objects in safe and fun ways. With tons of creative options, you can essentially create countless stages to help your child learn to use the controller. With Mario’s simplicity, just use a few buttons and you have the choice of an analog stick or a directional pad. Your youngster will pick up the game reasonably quickly and will be ready to move on to other games in a few days or weeks.

Play together

Take control from your child to show them how to do something that could lead to disappointment in their end. A better approach is to be in the game world with them, where you can communicate and use your character to show them moves. 2013’s Ibb & Obb from developer Sparpweed is a great example of how this can work. It also serves as a nice continuation of Mario’s side-scrolling gameplay in puzzle-based levels that you and your child will have to solve together. The first 20% of Ibb & Obb puzzles are easy to solve and don’t require much dexterity. The game gets more and more difficult and complex, but by then your child will have mastered the necessary movements and thinking.

Ibb & Obb is currently playable on PC and Switch. It gives light violence in the form of an enemy barricade but is pretty safe in that respect. After spending time with this game, your child should be ready for more mature puzzles like Super Mario 3D World and Yoshi’s Crafted World.

Keeping the theme of the Switch – the best machine for kids and families – Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a great starting point for 3D exploration. This is another game that you can play together, but you don’t have to have a hand in guiding the child’s movements. Don’t worry, the game does that for you through options called Smart Steering and Auto Acceleration, which are enabled by default. The game basically plays itself. Your child can freely control the racer’s movement and speed, but if they get stuck, the game will automatically adjust for them when they stop pressing the button.

With a diverse roster of characters from other popular Nintendo franchises, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a fun conversation starter game that gives you time to chat with your kids about The Legend of Zelda games , Splatoon, Donkey Kong and Animal Crossing. Planting the seeds on these top-tier franchises is a good thing, as you’ll likely be playing them for a few years.

Minecraft is another great entry into the three-dimensional world, as it allows you to create a safe environment for you and your child to interact with. However, the controls are quite complex and the introduction can take time. With my daughter, our first month of playing Minecraft together included her limited input. We made a zoo together. I handled the construction of the facilities, and she figured out which animals would go into the habitat. I filled her inventory with eggs that spawned animals. We would run around the world, open doors and place animals where she felt they belonged. After a month, she tried her hand at construction, and within a few weeks she became a master of it, able to create complex houses and structures with ease. easy.

Do the kids like Where’s Waldo books? If you don’t mind fingerprinting on your TV, Hidden Through Time offers a similar interactive experience. You can hand the controller over to your kids to find their own secrets, or ask them to point to what they want you to interact with on the TV. The levels in Hidden Through Time grow in scale, change historical themes and have plenty to see, making for a fun time with the little ones.

One of the most relaxing cooperative games I’ve ever played is a simulator called Farm Together. Released on Switch, PC, and playable on Xbox and PlayStation consoles, Farm Together is a great choice for kids that can teach them a thing or two about counting and managing money, but don’t read it like A barrier. Children can freely grow crops, build houses and move freely without worrying about financial problems. Farm Together has no failure status and it’s all about having fun with family and friends. Up to 16 players can stay on the same farm, working on that farm together. During a pandemic, Farm Together is a great way to connect with other families for a while.

If they can’t read, don’t play these

Most of the “Best Video Games for Kids” lists that I see online recommend Pokémon and Animal Crossing. Both of these options require children to be fluent readers. I would avoid both until your child is about seven or eight years old. If you play them before they can be read, the experience can be terrible. When your child holds the controller, you will have to sit over their shoulder and read all the text that appears on the screen. I tried this with my daughter, and it didn’t go well. Her bored expression said it all, and the fact that she pressed the button to skip over the text I was trying to read made the game practically unplayable. Your best bet is to avoid having a bad taste in regards to these beloved franchises and wait a few years until your kid is old enough to read.

I will also pause Roblox for reading purposes, but also due to the uncertainty that comes from trying new games. There are thousands of choices – most of which are made by Roblox players themselves – and you never know what you’ll get. Yes, Roblox’s visuals are fun for kids, but it’s not a fully curated experience for kids and there are many pitfalls they can face, such as intentionally inappropriate content. adult issues, microtransactions and player abuse. For Roblox, I would wait until your child is six or seven years old and you will want to be around to watch game sessions until you are comfortable letting your child play unsupervised. .

If you don’t mind a little violence

One of the great challenges parents face is shielding their children from specific themes and violence. A Disney movie can suddenly become unsettling, or a birthday gift from a loved one can make for a Nerf blaster or Lego set filled with swords and guns. It’s hard to avoid all forms of violence, especially in video games. If you don’t mind cartoon variety, TT Games’ long-running Lego series is great for cooperative play. There is a steep learning curve for controller input – such as holding down or briefly pressing a specific button for a certain amount of time – but the experience is always enjoyable and rewarding. I want to avoid Lego Worlds, because the content is quite confusing. I highly recommend starting with Lego Marvel Superheroes, Lego Harry Potter and any Star Wars titles. Which reminds me, Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga launched just recently and could be a great starting point for your family.

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