Playing What My Kid Loves (Even When It’s Video Games)

I’m not great at video games. It’s not for lack of trying. I played Super Mario Brothers and Zelda on Nintendo — heck, I even played The Black Caldron on my Compaq. I just don’t have the hand-eye coordination to not revert to key-mashing for the game’s special moves nor do I have the attention span to try again and again and again.

However, my 8-year-old son loves video games, and moreover, he loves to share his joy, which means I’ve had to find something I’m halfway decent at before I’m relegated to the hopeless or even worse, the opponent when he feels like an easy win.

The first one I’ve managed to pull off is Madden Football. We play on the same team (Go Giants!), which means I can hang out as player two and actually help without having to learn how to point and throw. Plus, the power move is basically shaking the remote (at least on the Wii/Wii U) and with the stress of trying to make a first down, I’m already doing that!

Clash of Clans
Clash of Clans screenshot. They’re currently raising money for AIDS through RED, which also prompted some great discussion.

The second game is Clash of Clans (for mobile devices). I initially joined because it is my son’s first online multiplayer game, which means he can connect, chat and team up with anyone, anywhere in the world, and I wanted to monitor with whom he interacted. But after a few days, I was all in — building my village, attacking other villages, and joining my son’s clan that eventually included five other family members (the family that plays together, stays together with giants and barbarians to defend them). I enjoy the game so much I surprised my son by accruing more trophies than him. I may have even surprised myself.

While I’d still rather watch a movie than play a video game (thank goodness for kid #2), I am glad I found some common video game ground. Now, when he says, “I upgraded my gold storage and got ten gems!” I can respond “Me, too!” rather than “What are you talking about?” I think that’s good for both of us.

PS. Do you play video games with your kids? What games do you play together?

PPS. With the holidays upon us, these also make great gifts. My son got an iTunes gift card towards Clash of Clans and loved it! (The game is free but there are some things you can buy in the game to make your village stronger.)