I think that every parent wants to be able to bond with their child over something. In our house, we have made strong bonds over movies, books, TV shows, and even video games. Video games make great family fun moments because when you play video games together you are often working towards the same goal. There may be games in which you compete with your kids, but you can also bond over that as well.
Encouragement is Key
With every video game, there is a learning curve. When playing with your kids, you sometimes forget that you have 35 years of gameplay experience. For me, I have to remain conscious that my kids have not had that much gameplay and they are not going to “get it” right out of the box. At least they aren’t right now, but give it time and they will be showing me all the secrets of every game that we play together. So, rather than getting frustrated that they can’t make a double jump or keep up, I have to make sure that I am encouraging them because they are still learning.
Video Games Allow One-on-One Time
My son loves getting a chance to play video games with me because he gets me one-on-one. He always jumps at the chance to be play games in my office. In the office, I have a Nintendo Switch and an XBox One S connected to a good sized screen. I bring in a second chair and the two of us play all sorts of games together. We can play head to head or co-op, it doesn’t matter as long as we are playing together. It is special time with Dad. When we do this, we develop our own in-jokes, shorthand and fun moments.
Video Games Also Allow for Full Family Play
One of the things that I love about the Nintendo Switch, and the games for it, is that many of them have party modes, in which everyone gets a Joy-Con controller and can play. We are big fans of Marvel comics in our house. We love the movies and cartoons and comic books. We also love the games. I am so excited for the upcoming release of MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE 3: The Black Order because it has party mode. It makes me think back to when I would play Gauntlet with friends at the arcade – each person being a part of the team.
Video Games Provide Common Ground for Conversation
When you play video games with your kids, then you have a common set of experiences that you can talk about together. These experiences are free from judgement or pretense. There is no family history or other weighty matters associated with a video game. Playing together sets up some common ground which can provide a foundation where you can talk about other more substantial things.
My Family History with Video Games
My parents do not play video games that often, but I remember those times when they did. I remember playing Ms. Pac-Man on the stand up machine at the Poor People’s Pub in New Hampshire with my Dad. He showed me how to move the joystick and what to do. He didn’t play often, but when he did, it was more fun. Then I got Atari and we’d play game on that once in a while. I mostly played by myself, but occasionally he’d play the games with me. As the games and systems got more complicated, he played less and less. That is until the Wii came out.
When the Nintendo Wii came out the whole family played Wii Bowling. We had a great time making our Mii characters and laughing at how closely they could resemble us. Then we laughed at how silly everyone looked trying to bowl with the Wii controllers. It was a fun time with the game system, and although we didn’t do it too often, the times when we played as a whole family were some of the best.
I hope that my kids have good memories of playing video games with me as well. Memories where they can see me as fun-loving and excited about the activity of play.