Video and Online Gaming for Kids and Families
Why Video and Online Games?
Kids love games. Maybe adults love games, too. Personally, I have been enjoying a lot of online games with my friends and family during this time of "stay at home in your pajamas." I find it's a great way to keep in touch with family members who are not within my immediate household, or to escape from the normal and mundane routine of work and sleep. My sister lives in another state, and she and I love to hang out after she gets off work and slip into a reality that is colorful, beautiful, musical, or sometimes just full of mayhem and fun through online gaming.
But there are other reasons to enjoy online and video games besides just having a way to socialize or relax. Sometimes you can find games that are educational and fun. There are also games that are highly competitive and require a lot of planning, strategy, and communication. Sometimes you can find games that are not meant to be purely educational, but end up adding some lore and history within their story line.
All games teach skills that are vital for cognition. For instance, puzzle games help with memory, color recognition, strategy, and math. Certain games with historical references or in-depth story lines help with reading or word recognition (if there is a narrator) and often include choices that have consequences. Creative games encourage thinking outside of the box, and sometimes encourage collaboration on projects, allowing players to define the rules of the shared space in which they build.
Team skills are extremely beneficial and every role is important, from the leader to the organizer. Outside of these benefits, people who game on a more competitive or intense level learn how to make decisions very quickly, to remain calm under stress, and to absorb a lot of information at a fast pace. They can also type, talk, follow directions, and navigate a screen (or various screens) with a mouse and keyboard quickly and efficiently.
Lastly, no matter the type of device that is used, all online gamers learn how to operate their equipment. This may seem like simple task, depending on the device, but if you have ever tried to explain a technical process to someone who is used to working on their device, versus someone who has not used it, there is a definite difference in learning curve. Anything from downloading, refreshing a screen, right click, left click on a mouse, or just knowing what operating system your device uses is a step into keeping pace with the technology we use today. Want more information on the benefits of gaming? Check out the blog Online Gaming - The Benefits, from internetmatters.org.
Types of Games
There are so many different types of games available to enjoy. Some common styles are open world, or sandbox, which allows players to freely explore their environment. There are also first person shooters, very popular among younger gamers, especially the variety that allows for multiplayer interaction. There is rhythm gaming, these are the types of games that go along with music or beats, and can be a variety of singing, instrument integration, and/or dancing. Story games are a huge genre of their own, anywhere from extremely immersive with voice actors and cinematics, to text heavy, that allow a gamer to read along as they play. Some other common genres are: MMORPG, platformers, and real-time tactics. While this is not a complete list of all the games available, you can find a good list here at The Many Different Types of Video Games and Their Subgenres.
Where to Find Them
There are many places you can find online games for the family, and one place is your local library! We have a collection of console games that we loan out, and so do a lot of other libraries around Treasure Valley. Browse through our collection and check out a game for your console! You can also find a variety of games on the PBS Kids website, the Nickelodeon website, and the Cartoon Network website. For some indie games, you can explore itch.io. These games also have a good choice of free horror games, for those who love those genres. Lastly, Steam is a great place to find lots of games for every family member, and some of them are even free! A small note of advice: make sure that you plan for how you want to purchase the game, who has access to purchasing and downloading on your devices, and what type of game is appropriate. For more advice, this blog from The Federal Trade Commission is very useful.
What are Your Faves?
I like to play a variety of games, anything from Rock Band 4 to Minecraft to Slime Rancher, it just depends on my mood. Usually I play games with my friends or family. Sometimes I like to play games that are single player, though, and have an amazing story. What types of games do you like to play? Let us know!