Saturday, April 17, 2010

Brutally Stupid

The title inspired by my darling Debbie in reference to kids' games.  Why are they, as she so delicately put it, "brutally stupid"??

I know I have referred to my 2-year-old daughter Kiera's gaming in this before, so that is where this blog builds from.  I want to buy her some new games for the DS specifically, and it is impossible.  She is totally into My Little Pony but the DS game for it looks so mind-numbing.  It's got a simple storyline (not that she needs a novel, she can't even read) and then something like 8 mini-games.  The exact same mini-games that are on every single kids game from what I've seen.  A version of Memory, a simple puzzle, a match game...  How many different faces can go on the exact same game?  And we expect kids to remain interested in that?

And now that I say that, there are just so many games geared towards the kiddies that are all the exact same game with a different face.  How many pet games can there possibly be?  (Nintendogs, My Pet Shop, Littlest Pet Shop, Paws & Claws, My Pet XXX [variety of animal choices], Imagine Babyz [babies are pets, right?]...)  Nintendogs is one of Kiera's favorites, and it is a pretty well put together game.  I've enjoyed spending some time on it (although the daily repetitive nature of it would get old I would think.)  I do think simulation games are good for kids though, because they can imitate things they understand in real life, like feeding a dog or making a salad (Cooking Mama).

Simple puzzle games are best for her right now, I think.  She enjoys games like Chuzzle and Plants vs Zombies on the computer, and loves the mini-game section on her New Super Mario Brothers DS game.  She likes to try and play the main, platform game on Mario, but can't quite get it.. Something about hand-eye coordination and making her thumbs do what they should.  She loves to play Scribblenauts which makes absolutely no sense since you have to be able to read and write, but she gets a kick out if it anyways.  Today my husband hooked her up on the Wii with Super Mario Sunshine and she was totally digging that, even though she was just swimming around in circles.

But these games aren't geared towards kids as little as she is.  In fact, are any?  Once she can read the ability for her to game is just going to explode and I think we'll both love that.  But it might not hurt for game companies to make more simple, fun games.  I think that more and more parents are giving younger and younger kids the option to game, especially with the ease and portability of the DS.  If there were more fun and easy games, like the WarioWare series, that would be great for everyone.  We all want a little variety, even when we're 2-years-old and our attention span is 13 seconds long.  (Perfect for mini-games!  Just give me more than the same eight games under different guises.)

What I want to know is who buys all of these games?  The Imagine series comes to mind, as it has countless iterations: Design Fashion Designer, Singer, Pet Vet...  Are young people buying multiple versions of this game, or do so many options mean that everyone can get a game specifically tailored to their interests?  Is this the early version of the seemingly hundreds of versions of FPS that we have to choose from once our parents let us play rated M games?

My guess? Yes.  The game companies are training us from an early age to want more more more.  I just cracked the case.  And ended up in a completely different train of thought here at the end than I was on at the beginning of the blog!  Clever!  But really, in a nutshell, I think that gaming is awesome even for the little-ones.  I think that it does help with hand-eye coordination.  They can learn to have fun playing a game, it is a great distraction when you need them to be still for a little while, they can learn simple reading and math skills even in games not specifically geared towards teaching..  So quit hating and buy that kid a DS.  You'll be glad you did.


Debbie said...

i bought a Barbie game like this for a friend's 6 yo daughter. She played with it for like 20 minutes and was bored. Even for someone who is six, playing memory games and other stuff like that gets old fast.

Anna-Liisa said...

I think you should start your own company designing better games for kids!

Jordan said...

Buying them a DS is an exceedingly good idea but so is this, once a child can grasp the hand control of a games console buy them a simple game that they can just mess around on. This is exactly what i have done with my 7 year old nephew and my 4 year old niece and the last time i saw them the were both trying to play Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic and Need For Speed Underground. So hook 'em young and they will thank you forever.

Linz said...

Oh yeah I'm all about putting my daughter up on the console. She is big into a lot of the games we've gotten on Live - like RocketBowl & Feeding Frenzy.