Thursday, July 05, 2007

Video games?

My son Buddy is going to be five years old at the end of the month. He is begging me for a Gameboy Advance. He found his older brother's old Gameboy from 10 or more years ago in a drawer and he has been playing Super Mario on it. I am pretty clueless about video games, as my oldest son is not really interested and I have pretty much ignored them all. I'd much rather have my kids messing around outside, riding bikes and playing ball.

Anyway I am thinking about getting Buddy a Gameboy for his birthday. Can anyone help me figure out what type to get? What games are good for a five year old? I know Pokemon is huge, but is it good? Do they learn anything from that (other than wanting to buy more games and stuff)? If he is going to be plugged in to a game machine I want it to be non-violent and not a big consumer-hook. I'm not crazy about movie tie-ins. I'd want it to be educational, challenging and creative. I teach computer to kids and I always try to choose creative, communicative, problem-solving, challenging and thoughtful games for my students so I know they are out there. I just don't know what's available for Gameboy. What do your kids play? What do you think of it?

4 comments:

katied said...

I have 4,6 and 8 year old boys. I too have felt the need for video play to be educational. The boys were content with the Leapsters for a while. This year the long bus ride to school changed everything. The boys came home wanting the Nintendo DS Lite. I gave in and invested in one for the older two. They enjoy games like Mariokart, Frogger's Adventures and Nintendo Dogs? I know there is a rating system and the the above fall in younger, kid-friendly games. I do find myself setting limits with the video games because they can easily get lost in them. The kids definitely know more about them than I do. Hope this helps.

Tricia said...

Hi Cloudscome,
William has been asking as well. He turned 6 in February and I just couldn't bring myself to buy a Gameboy, so we got him a Leapster. He loves the games and is learning at the same time. I'm still not that excited about it, but after the initial thrill wore off, he didn't play as much. He still asks to take it in the car on long rides and once in a while will ask to play it. I generally set the timer and tell him it must go off when the timer does. I also bought headphones for him so we didn't have to listen to the sounds. (Oh, my, I sound like such a mean Mom!)
I hope this helps!
Tricia

Katie said...

Video games can be great for kids. There are lots of reasons why they can be a really good thing and lots of hype about why they are bad. Unless your kids seriously refuse to do anything else or something, I wouldn't worry about them playing games. Video games actually improve vision, hand-eye coordination, problem solving, mapping, language skills and any number of other useful things. Game Boys, either Advanced or DS, are great for young kids and have lots and lots of good games. Any Mario title is good, Pokemon titles are great (they are actually really good games in their own right, even if you do get sick of the characters as an adult), puzzle games like Tetris (or any number of other ones that are available), racing games (Mario Kart is awesome for kids, especially if you have two Game Boys and can play together), things like Sim City (which I know is being re-released for the DS soon, but I don't know if it was ever out for the Advanced), things like Nintendogs where they have basically a virtual pet they can play with and take care of, Kirby games, Princess Peach games (yes, it's pink, it's still a good game), Zelda games, and any number of other Nintendo titles. The important thing in picking video games is to get things the kid is going to find interesting. If he likes Pokemon, he'll enjoy it more than something he's not as excited about (and it will be more worth buying for him). The ratings system is pretty good for kids games, so as long as it has an ESRB rating of "EC" or "E" you're pretty safe - those mean they're designed for kids and are more cartoony and/or non-violent games. There's a guide to the ratings system here: http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/parents/video_games/ratings_videogames.cfm
I know the impulse today is to worry about video games, given all the media about them, but they really can be great. They are good for your brain (at any age). When choosing a game, think about if you would buy your kid that game if it was a movie. Does it look and sound like a movie you would let them watch? If so, go for it. They're just like movies you interact with. I hope you find something fun! Oh, as as a note, Game Boy DS is the newer version and will play all the Advanced games, but GBAdvanced won't play DS games. A lot of people don't realize that.

cloudscome said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I got him a second hand GameBoy Advanced. The games I got are a Tony Hawks skateboard game and a Tonka truck game. He can play the Mario game from my older son's first Gameboy on it too. He mostly just loves the idea of playing the games at this point. He hasn't figured out much about the Tony Hawks game and I don't know how to play it either. I am amazed at how much he has figured out about the Mario game just from fooling around with it for the past month. He can get farther along in the game than I can at this point. It is fascinating to me to watch the concept development in his mind as he begins to understand the relationship of the buttons with game play and the abstract elements.