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Opinion: Child's play

Opinion: Child's play

It's not violent games like GTA4 that we should be worrying about warping our children's minds but all those dead easy casual games that are popping up all over the place.

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Published by Elliot Curtis on 27th November 2010

Blimey, have you seen how rubbish Lego is these days? To make a spaceship you stick the cockpit piece onto the body piece and that's it. You can't go wrong and you can't make anything different.

Rubbish. Lego used to be so good when it had hundreds of bricks and you could make whatever you wanted with them. So why have they changed it? Obviously it sells well now and there was a point where it wasn't, hence the change. So it must be the kids that have changed. Are they stupid now? I find it hard to believe they are too stupid to make things out of Lego. Of course they aren't. I can only think that they just don't enjoy a hard challenge anymore.

Why is this? Well, competitiveness is frowned on in schools these days, with ridiculous sports days where there are no winners and everyone gets a medal for participation. I used to enjoy playing football at school. Most boys did. The things that I enjoyed best were scoring goals and winning. Taking away the concept of winning and losing a game just to make everyone happy is completely spoiling kids and sheltering them from the real world.

Bejeweled, Opinion Elliot Curtis, Casual Girl Gamer
Bejeweled

Casual games like Bejeweled are great fun and highly addictive but do they pose children the challenge that they need.

This brings me to what I want to talk about. Video games used to be really hard. Even the ones made for kids, like Sonic and Mario, were still difficult. As well as requiring ninja reflexes and a photographic memory, they wouldn't even let you save your game. Once your limited supply of lives were over you had to start again. It would take weeks of repeatedly playing the same levels, learning attack patterns and jumps, before you would finish. But finish you would. Then it would be Christmas before you got a new game.

Nowadays kids have thousands of games at their fingertips, on consoles, handhelds and browsers. Parents are worried that playing too many games will turn them into sociopaths. Now, I'm a parent and I admit I'm worried. But not for the same reasons. I'm not concerned about Grand Theft Auto.

Sonic, Opinion Elliot Curtis, Casual Girl Gamer
Sonic

Back when I was a lad, games used to be really hard.

If my kids showed the dexterity and patience to get far enough into GTA to see anything that might warp their fragile minds then I'd applaud them. No, I'm worried about the damage being caused by Bejewelled, Zuma, Peggle et al. Casual games are the ones we should worry about. Games with no lives, no failure and no edge. Games where every player gets medals for participation and everything is fair.

I'm falling victim myself to this aversion to hardness. Nowadays, if a game hasn't got a clear tutorial and I have to put some thought into reading the instructions, then sometimes I simply give up (this also probably explains why everything I put together from IKEA turns out so badly).

Casual games were originally developed for the "soccer mom". They were designed to be relaxing. A way to wind down after a busy day. That's all well and good, but that's not what kids need. Kids have developing minds that need to be stimulated and challenged. Games that require perseverance, mental agility, reflexes and at least a small amount of banging their little heads against metaphorical walls, that's what they need.

Hard Games, Opinion Elliot Curtis, Casual Girl Gamer
Hard Games

If you are really mean, you could make your kids play these games.

Life lessons through video games - why not? If everything else in life has to be dumbed down, then kids at least need video games to be challenging. Child play is supposed to prepare us for life. That's why we played sports at school in the first place. So, if you have a child and you don't want them to end up incapable of perseverance, you need to be keeping a close eye on the games they play. Make sure it's challenging and make sure it's stimulating. Encourage them to finish and reward them when they do - maybe with a new game.

My daughter has asked for the Babysitting Mama game for Christmas. I'm getting her Super Meat Boy and some proper Lego.



Elliot Curtis has worked as a games designer in the industry for over ten years. He currently runs London-based game studio Making Fun Games.


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Published by Annonymous on 17th September 2012
do you ever play minecraft
Published by Minna on 6th September 2011
I totally agree with you. When I was 6, I used to struggle through hours and hours of Super Mario Bros on the NES. I'm 15 now and I have a 6 year old cousin who cries every time he loses in Mario Kart. It makes me sad inside about how kids don't enjoy a difficult, yet rewarding game anymore.
Published by Rasmus Wriedt Larsen on 16th December 2010
Wow, That thing about LEGO is so wrong! maybe you're confusing it with LEGO DUBLO, which is for kids at 3-5 years.. for whom it's great to put two pieces together and have something to play with! But the old LEGO with lots of opportunities - it's still there! (even though you might be right that there are more LEGO packs as the one you described) Other than the LEGO part, I really liked your article.
Published by Paint on 2nd December 2010
Uh, is this supposed to be tongue-in-cheek? I'm confused that an article like this is on a website called CASUALgirlgamer.com.
Published by The_frickerman on 30th November 2010
I completely agree with you. Games like former Legos and Mecano helped improve kids thinking. Nowadays it seems like everybody suffered so much in the past that they want their children to suffer the least possible... And that's just wrong, you'll only create non-sympathetic, selfiss and sociopath adults.
Published by steve austen on 29th November 2010
hi its seems like you have done a hard work on it. I have got lots of information from your post. Really appreciate your work.!! It was describe very nicely keep us doing good work..
Published by Annonymous on 28th November 2010
I never understood the point of bejewelled. And the best bit about Lego was that you could make whatever you wanted. If there's only one thing the pieces could make, why bother having it in pieces in the first place? Why not just sell the fully-assembled toy?

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