Tuesday 5 March 2013

Playstation for 2 year olds?

Yes, this is my own 2 year old on the Playstation.

If you watch the video, as he moves the characters around he moves his whole body, walking from side to side mirroring the characters on screen. This is because he has to, he can't make the action small enough to just move his fingers.
He uses both hands separately to do different jobs, but he hasn't developed the control to use both hands individually all the time, he usually has to stop moving one in order to move the other, so he can't control the 'aim' and grapple/fire/lasso at the same time.  
He can't read yet, so onscreen instructions are a loss to him and he does need rescuing - a lot.

But still he's getting very good and actually I'm quite proud of him.

We're a family of gamers, my partner and I were already gamers when we met, our teenagers all play games and we've insisted that the games consoles (but not necessarily the screens) are in the living room where we can have overriding control over who plays and what they're playing.

Gaming can be a brilliant thing. Using a games console develops hand-eye co-ordination and the concepts and physical skills necessary to use a mouse. It tells stories and encourages puzzle solving. Playing together helps a child learn patience, tolerance, co-operation and turn-taking, and it promotes language skills and expands vocabulary. It stops you watching so much mindless telly.

If it's all so good then, why do I feel a bit naughty and like I'm going to have people think worse of me? Why is it that if he asks to play I am reluctant?

Maybe because we never see that side of console games. What we see is the fact that so many males send themselves into a trance and enter another world when they play, wherein they cannot hear babies crying or squabbles breaking out, but need people to be quiet and for no-one to walk in front of the screen for the next 3 hours.
We see young women and Mummies wearing something they wouldn't answer the door in and leaping about their living rooms in a bid to look like Davina McCall or the previously unknown female member of One Direction.
Teenage boys and men who should know better especially are lost in their rooms every evening for weeks on end shouting into headsets and firing off a bazillion rounds into Nazi zombies and other enemies from countries and worlds previously unknown, or building increasingly intricate houses and forging their own armour to sell for Simoleons or something.
Grown men spending 2 hours driving a real time Formula 1 race in a car on which they spent a thankfully imaginary £14.2k for uprated suspension, blue neons and a magic tree.

Gaming has mainly been taken over by exercise routines and war games, with a side order of racing and a large dash of weird. It doesn't have to be like that.

I stand by my pride in my son for mastering the art of walking round and carrying a treasure chest. I shall continue to say 'well done' when he and his 4 year old brother solve a tricky puzzle and make a mermaid scream so that Jack Sparrow can collect a chalice. I won't however let him play anything other than Lego Playstation games for a long while yet, and it'll be 10 years before I let him play anything with 'War' in the title or shooting people in the gameplay. He'll always be limited to how much time he can spend playing, the consoles will always be in the living room, and I'll always be there to do the tricky bits for him.....

.......maybe in 2 or 3 years I'll introduce him to Portal....


  1. I don't have a problem with children playing age appropriate games in a supervised way. I think it can actually teach them quite a lot and do their fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination a lot of good. I like the LEGO games too, I tend to get a bit obsessed though, my OH should really limit my time on them!

    1. Hahaha.....I don't know how you find the time. I've played a terrifyingly small amount the last couple of years. Breastfeeding was definitely THE best for having a reason to sit there for hours every day :D


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