Play Video Games With Your Kids or Don't Complain

by Rachel Baker on November 8, 2013

In an article I read recently, the author made a comment about her “video-game-obsessed children.” To go one step further, I have heard and read this same complaints from parents about how much time their children spend in front of the game console and and how they wish their child/ren would just pick up a book and read it.

I have written some about video games and how the story telling aspects of a game, particularly a roleplaying game are appealing to me as a bibliophile. I have a general observation that can and should be made –  If you haven’t picked up a controller and spent several hours playing a game WITH your children, then you aren’t equipped to discuss their obsession with them or anyone else for that matter…and your children know that.

In our household, we understand exactly what it is that the kids obsess about because both adults play video games – we play RPGs, shooters, and action adventures; we play open worlds and close worlds; and most importantly, we understand the story and reasons why a character exists in the world and how they move through the world is completely up to the person with the controller and the story said person creates for the character in his/her own mind. We also play with the kids; and I have to say, you learn so much about your children when you are engaging them in something that is important to them. You find out what they look for in a friend, what they think about moral questions and the answers that are available, and you find out you’ve done a pretty good job raising them – and no amount of video gaming is going to change that.  As odd as it sounds, both our kids had a real moral issue with becoming a vampire, because they had children at home; and they weren’t really sure how they could be good parents if they were also vampires – we were VERY excited about their values in this area!

If you don’t want to go that far in understanding your children than ask them to tell you the story about each of the characters and why they are important to what is going on in the world around them.  I think you will find that they have grasped the language and the words needed to tell the stories that are being created  as they move around the world.  You will probably also find that there are cultural and literary references in tons of games-  and you can use this to help steer your children to books that may actually interest them.

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