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I Spend 3 Hours Playing Video Games With My Kid On The Weekends

Vivienne Rush Jingkids 2021-10-19

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Now that video games are reserved strictly for the weekend, according to the Chinese government, we thought it timely to extol the virtues of gaming as a family, and even threw in some of our suggestions for family-friendly video games.



Video games are an indulgence that consumes time and attention – two things that responsible parents hardly have enough to spare. So it’s rare to find gamer moms and dads. But my husband and I had bonded over gaming in our early days of cohabitation, our relationship dating back to the PlayStation 3 (we’re on PlayStation 5 now). When our child was a wee baby, we maneuvered our gaming sessions around his naps and bedtime. But as he dropped his naps, we went so far as to hire a babysitter to bring him outside while we stayed home to game. All this is to say that my husband and I kept up our gaming habits, albeit pretty much hidden from our kid.


I can’t pinpoint the moment it started, but it was sometime this year that we began to game with him, rather than around him. It coincided with my reprisal of the Uncharted games, of which there are four, all of them starring Nathan Drake, who’s basically an updated male version of Lara Croft. The meticulously researched storylines that weave together bits of real-world history with mythology, impeccable voice acting, and stunning visuals transfixed my kid into hours of silence as he watched me drive Drake over rooftops and mountains to seek the treasure, which he invariably destroys or gives up. In terms of storytelling, the Uncharted series is beautifully concluded as Drake ends up starting his own family and raising a legitimate treasure hunter in his daughter, Cassie Drake.

Thus began weekly video gaming sessions with my 6-year-old son.


I loved involving him in the puzzle-solving and trying to guess what would happen next in the story. He’s even learned all about classic narrative tropes such as the exact moment when a bad guy would show up to take the treasure away from us. I consider it a small victory for “nerdom” that my child can read the game environment, picking up on lighting and music cues to correctly predict when there would be a boss fight around the corner. Plus, we both gleaned bits of fun trivia and history (which we followed up with more research to verify) ranging from Genghis Khan to the Tree of Life.


Now, I’m not going to preach that video gaming is educational, but I will whole-heartedly say that it offers teaching and learning moments, which are up to you to make the most of. More importantly, it can be another part of your life that you share, rather than compartmentalizing kid time and no-kid time. Your teenager doesn’t have to be holed up in their bedroom for hours on end playing Fortnite, unless you’re perfectly happy with that arrangement. You could log on, create an avatar and join them in the digital world, or just watch them play and take a sincere interest. After all, it’s good to know what they get up to, both offline and online. Just remember not to judge, simply observe and save the questions for later.


Below are some games that we have played, and would recommend playing, with kids. Plus, if you get them early enough, you can help shape their gaming habits to be healthier, and influence better gaming choices.


Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure:

Remember the Wii Fit craze from years ago that had kids and adults alike carrying a white Wii controller in hand while hitting imaginary tennis balls? Well, Ring Fit Adventure is the latest version of that, but with more of a story to it, so you can get invested in building a character with skills to battle the big bad boss. It’s also a pretty good resistance-training workout as you squeeze the ring between your hands, thighs, or swing it overhead. My kid was perspiring plenty after a 30-minute session. If you buy the Chinese version, your kid may pick up bits of Chinese too, as mine did! 太棒了 tài bàng le marvelous!


Zelda Breath of The Wild:

This visually stunning game will lull even your most active kid into temporary submission with its soothing soundtrack, while dads and moms can marvel at how far the technology has come to transform a 2D side-scrolling game into an immersive 3D tale of discovery and heroism. One of the most fun things was cooking ingredients to make new meals or potions, which my kid was endlessly fascinated by and spent almost a full hour doing.


Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order:

This fairly new game may seem quite mature, but our 6-year-old has taken to it extremely well. As with the Star Wars films, there isn’t any inappropriate language or violence, and the great graphics make it feel just like you’re in the movies themselves. This is a must-try if your kid is a Star Wars fan, or even if they just like space and astronomy.


These are just a few of the many family-friendly video games out there. If you already have a console at home, why not pick it up and suggest embarking on a digital adventure with the whole family?


Also, share your favorite family-friendly games with us in the comments!


KEEP READING: Play Time’s Over: China Bans Weekday Video Games for Minors


Images: Naughty Dog, Giphy, Pexels

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Click on the photos below to follow our visit to Universal Studios Beijing


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