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Yee Family: Helping Children Play Games (Rather Than Just Watch Them on YouTube)

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As a gamer dad I love that my kids love watching me play video games and I’m even happier when they get to play with me; but there are still so many games they just can’t play for various reasons and nowhere is that more frustrating than with my youngest Jet.

As any young boy he loves his monster trucks and big explosions which makes him the perfect demographic for video games, the problem is that he hasn’t quite figured out this whole “fine motor control thing” yet.

The first obvious choice for a boy who asks for “Hot Wheel Toys” videos on YouTube every day is to try a hot wheels game on that very same iPad (a first generation iPad at that).  He has figured out that if he pushes buttons on the screen he can make things happen and select things just fine, it’s figuring out that analogue feeling of pushing and holding doing one thing, and letting go doing another.

In the case of Hot Wheels Race Off having the gas on one and and the breaks on the other worked great, but every time the car jumps (which he likes) he has a hard time grasping he has to let go of the gas other car flips and crashes.  At this stage he was quickly frustrated and gave up on it preferring to race with his real hot wheels or watch more videos.

Continuing with the car theme I decided to try out another car game I had in my Steam library called Dirt 3.  He loves watching me play it, and his older sister started her video game career with a similar arcade style racer (Burnout Paradise) at around the same age so I figured it might work.  Yet either it’s because the controller is too big (Xbox 360 controller) or he just wasn’t in the right mood he just got mad at the controls and gave up.

For now his video game playing is mostly no more than telling daddy or Bella what to do as he gets too frustrated to fully control anything on his own right now.

All this makes me more than a little hopeful about what the Switch will have to offer him. Not least the Switch’s small Joy-Cons and motion controls may be the gateway experience for him to proper video-games. I love sharing my gaming with my son and look froward to him experiencing the joy and fun first hand. For now, I'm still the one behind the controls for a bit longer.

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Andrew Robertson
Andy Robertson is the editor of AskAboutGames and has written for national press and broadcast about video games and families for over 15 years. He has just published the Taming Gaming book with its Family Video Game Database.