Tips for Making Video Games a Positive Influence for Your Kids

"Our girls - both of them play League of Legends. But we never play online with them, we always play with bots, and there's a lot of strategy to be learned there. Our eldest is the number one player on her chess team at school, and I have a feeling that all the strategy that we've let her learn from games has really made a difference."

Michael and Pang aren't just game developers with Frogdice, they're also parents to two young (10 and 7 years old) girls who are avid gamers themselves. We caught up with them to chat about how they manage gaming to reinforce it's positive benefits for their family.

Developing Reading and Writing Skills

Michael shared a story about how the game Spore helped his oldest daughter with her reading and writing development:

"Our older daughter - the game Spore really helped her learn to read. We gave her the strategy guide to Spore when we first bought it, and it was like her constant companion. The pages were all worn from her wanting to read and figure out what everything meant. And then also learning to write the biographies for all her little characters."

Teaching Strategy

Pang added an experience, stating that:

"Our girls - both of them play League of Legends with us. But we never play online with them, we always play with bots, and there's a lot of strategy to be learned there. Our eldest is the number one player on her chess team at school, and I have a feeling that all the strategy that we've let her learn from games has really made a difference."

They shared stories of their young LoL players expertly wielding some of the more challenging characters, and often doing so better than their parents. Once they're old enough to play online, look out for a talented team of League players from this family!

 

Tips from Pang and Michael:

1) Give kids new games to keep it challenging

"We also don't let them keep repeating the same game over and over, there's no challenge for them, they stop learning. We take those games away from them and introduce them to new ones."

 Once your child masters a game, introduce a new one that ups the difficulty or teaches a new skill. Pang explained how their family decides when it's time to trade up:

 2) Mix play time and game play time 

"On the weekends, I just say: 'go play' and after awhile, I'll be like 'let's go outside.'"

Pang tells us that weekends are a mix of outdoor time, play time, and computer time. 

3) Look out for YouTube

"People will make Pokemon strategies with tons of profanity."

Michael warns that the moment when you buy the game isn't the one you need to worry about as much as when your kids go online to look for strategies. You can pick a completely age-appropriate game and wind up with a very inappropriate walkthrough. 

4) Location is key

"All of our computers are really close to each other, so we can just peak over and see what's going on."

Michael suggests not putting your family's gaming consoles or computers far from where you'll be. 

5) Look deeper than the suggested age

"We pick age appropriate games, but sometimes you might be surprised by what we play."

Pang makes a very good point. While many parents may not immediately think League of Legends is appropriate for young children, Pang and Michael are careful to control their girls' game experience by using offline play and bots - thus eliminating exposure to the often harsh LoL community and focusing on the strategic learning opportunity the game presents. In other games where the non-age appropriate content is more integrated throughout, they simply don't allow their daughters to play them. Both Pang and Michael cite engagement as key to making games a positive influence. 

Many, many thanks to Michael and Pang for sharing their time and their tips with us! It was wonderful to hear how these to gamer parents are crafting a powerful learning and bonding experience for their family through the use of games. 

Questions? Advice to share?

 Comment! We're all in this together.

Games Family Games Genres FamilyKids Tags frogdice
Published Jun. 12th 2013
  • SometimesKate
    Excellent advice! And it's always marvelous to see parents gaming with their children, making it a family activity.
  • Abdalan
    I'd like to add: "Try and make it fun for the adult too", I definately remember playing a lot of Virtual Pool with my dad when I was a kid, it wasn't really my kind of game (not enough swords) but it was something that the two of us could do together and that was good times.
  • Andrevar
    Had the pleasure of knowing Michael and Pang for a very long time, having met both of them through Threshold RPG, Frogdice's long-running MUD.

    Seeing these interviews just reaffirms that these are wonderful people, and I'm proud to call them my friends.

    As always, I'm looking forward to the future of Frogdice and will continue to support all of Michael and Pang's endeavors. I suggest everyone reading this check out their website, and drop in on Threshold! I'll be waiting to say hello!
  • yrizaria
    Lots of really good tips and points to think about when children are learning to game. Great interview!
  • Frogdice Fangirl
    Hey, guys. Thanks for the great interview and for being interested in a part of something so vastly different from every other interview we've ever given. It's actually something we spend a lot of time discussing, and many of these discussions often influence our own game design. Yes, our daughters are not allowed to even play some of the games we make, so we're content conscious even with our own games.

    Anyway, brilliant interview questions and wonderful people at GameSkinny. It was a privilege and a pleasure to meet you all. Loved the booth and love the uniqueness of the site.
  • JediSange
    Featured Contributor
    Mono audio aside, this was a great interview. I remember these people coming by the booth. Great family and very interesting to listen to.

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