If your child is beginning to show an interest in games, you may be starting to sweat. Gas prices are ,averaging over $5 a gallon and the average ,video game is coming in at $60. (Not to mention the price of the hardware.)
Beyond being an expensive pastime, games are often criticized for their perceived ,violence and ,lack of physical activity. But, let’s be honest, wasn’t ,Hunger Games pretty violent? The young-adult novel series, later adapted into a billion-dollar (yes, billion) earning movie franchise, was written for a teenage audience, however, had children as young as grade school interested in the sci-fi dystopian drama.
The reality is that all forms of media (books, television, and music) can have positive and negative impacts on young kids. Video games are no different. Video games captivate a child’s innate sense of play and wonder - but, more importantly - they let children participate in that imagination.
As a parent, providing non-violent video games that showcase light competition, world-building, and joy are the best ways to introduce young children to the medium. In this guide, we’ll cover three non-violent video games perfect for those young, imaginative gamers.
Nintendo’s ,Mario Kart is a mixture of comic mischief and racing simulation. It fosters children’s competitive drive - literally. A simple, easy-to-learn, and fun-to-play kart-based driving game,
Mario Kart asks young kids to focus on a goal - winning a race. It asks them to be competitive with power-ups, boosts, and more. But, it also lets you throw bananas on the road so your opponents slow down. It embraces childhood humor.
The game additionally rewards exploration and ingenuity by hiding secret paths and power-ups through the candy-colored race tracks.
Children as young as four or five can understand the objective in Mario Kart and begin learning the controls.
While the game can be online and played with people from around the world, it has privacy. Children can play by themselves with bots or with friends and family in the same room as them.
Untitled Goose Game
Source: The San Diego Union Tribune
Where Mario Kart encourages competition, Untitled Goose Game encourages critical thinking. But as a goose.
Sometimes you have to let your child be a goose. Pretending to be something allows children to experience empathy, problem-solving, and curiosity in novel ways – building their personal character at the same time.
,House House’s ,Untitled Goose Game teaches children to recognize patterns. In one of the game’s objectives, you must make it through a garden undetected. Empowering patience, the player must watch the gardener’s movements through the fields.
Eventually learning his walking pattern, players create their escape - completely on their own and unguided by the game. They have the freedom to sneak in tall grass, use barrels as a disguise, or be brave and run a straight line through the pumpkin patch.
It is this creative problem solving that makes games so important for young players. They get to practice their own thinking on the spot. Getting to the next level in the game rewards that ingenuity. Untitled Goose Game shines in it’s ability to embrace player autonomy while keeping the skill level attainable for young kids.
Source: The Verge
,Rocket League is not an easy game, but that is what makes it perfect for kids. Hear us out.
Here’s the game’s only objective: hit a large soccer ball into a net with a car. Oh, and the car can fly. That is not a difficult premise to understand. But it is absurd and unrealistic.
That absurdity is an exciting draw for children. It invites them to learn a new world and a new set of physics.
The game asks you to do a lot of spatial thinking. How will my speed impact the trajectory of the ball? Would the back or front of my car hit the ball further? How do I brake to land right in front of the ball before it hits my goal?
Children younger than seven years old may struggle with this type of thinking. However, kids older than seven will thrive on this type of decision-making and play.
Rocket League’s ,popularity amongst children likely comes from it’s high skill ceiling, too. This means the game can be as difficult as you are capable of playing. If you don’t want to fly your car, that is fine.
Play it on the ground. If you do want to fly, it becomes your responsibility to teach yourself.
The game is often full of more losses than wins, especially when you start playing. But, this may help students build a sense of resilience. When children start playing on teams in Rocket League, they also learn new social skills and group expectations. Thus, debunking the myth that games are entirely anti-social past times.
Nonviolent video games should prioritize fun
There are many games subtitle for children on the market. Picking non-violent games that engage young children helps them be better consumers in the industry, too. As they age, they can pick the games that make them feel better, not just the games everyone is playing.
Remember, non-violent games for children should be:
- Provide light competition
- World building spaces
- Foster diverse problem-solving skills
With a degree in English from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa (UHM), Tzana Saldania is passionate about science and communication. She is currently the Communications Coordinator for the Center for Advancing Education at Mid-Pacific Institute and has worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Hawaii’s Perception and Attention Psychology Laboratory, aiding in research related to Statistical Learning in video game players.