“I don’t want to play this anymore.” the Munchkin said about a browser based game she was given to play “I’m hurting him.” She was a little upset over this so I went to check on the game she was playing. Her objective was to get a robot through some obstacles by jumping. If the robot didn’t make it, he would break. Right after that, he would appear at start all fixed up. In a six year old’s mind, she was hurting someone and it didn’t matter if he was fixed or not.
The Little Dude is all about beat ’em up games. He’s alright with fighter style games or getting the bad guys.However, throw into the mix the good guy losing a battle or someone being sad in a cinematic and it’s all over for him. He’s made someone sad and that makes him sad. This has lead to yet another lesson in parenting and gaming when it comes to the wee ones – you have to understand their personalities and what they are able to handle.
This also determines what I let them play and how they play it. Any game I play, the kids can play in some fashion. But some parts of the game they are kept away from. This also helps Brad and I narrow down what games they can play on their own either in a browser or a console.
When each of the kids play a game, I keep an eye on them. I watch their reactions to certain things and use that to figure out what might upset them. If a game does upset them, I put it away for awhile and offer another game to try out. Usually, that’s not met with too much protest.
It’s very important for any parent to know what does and doesn’t bother your kids. For each one, it’s different because each child has their own personality. Of course, it’s up to us to protect them from certain things as long as we can ( like heavy violence etc.), but sometimes a game that’s as “harmless” as a jumping robot can really upset a child.
Kids can throw you for a loop too. Eventually their tastes and how they feel about things will change. Then, a brand new cycle of what they should and should not play will start again. It’s an on-going vigil for a parent until the kids are a bit older.
Then again, they know more than we give them credit for. The Munchkin demonstrated this when I allowed her to roll a toon in World of Warcraft. She chose a Worgen and started to play. After I showed her the right button to push, she said “Am I hurting them?” in response to the feral Worgen you have to fight. I answered she was and offered to go do something else like fly on one of my characters. She shook her head and said “No. It’s O.K. They’re hurting these people and they’re good people. It’s just something you gotta do.” …Out of the mouth of babes.