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The Aging Gamer: What My Son is Learning from Gaming


I will add this credit, as I love this image, and it deserves it: Credit to Bill Mudron of Life Meter Comics (minus the text of course)

I have a Samsung DLP TV that has a horrible lag issue. Given the fact that I am cheap and I wanted a quick fix, I got a composite to VGA converter box. I hooked it up and was testing things out. I popped in some Super Mario Bro's on the good old NES. I kept running through a bit of the first level seeing if there were any issues. Wasn't really keeping track of how I was doing, was more concerned about the look of things. Long story short (too late), I kept falling off and dieing. My son was watching me do all this.

After a bit of this repeated dieing my not quite 3 year old son suddenly said "Don't worry Mario will come back." Not thinking much of it, I said, "Yes he will." After that every time Mario died... he repeated "Don't worry Mario will come back." It seemed to have a pretty big effect on him, as far as the understanding of what is going on in the game. So I start to wonder how this is actually working inside his head.

He has a pretty good grasp on reality verse games/movies etc. So the Jack Thompson types can go stuff it.

At the same time all this was happening I was getting frustrated with the converter box. I think that he was interpreting my frustration as I was getting angry with the game or myself for sucking. I wondered if he was trying to say to me that it was ok that Mario is not succeeding because I would get another chance. So I stop messing with converter box, and focus on playing the game to see his reaction. After Mario starts to succeed a little bit, he says "Good job Baba(his name for me)." He's rooting me on! As I finish levels, and find warps, and get further into the game he is getting really into it.

I think this is a pretty big deal on a couple of levels:
1. He is so becoming a gamer. I got him hook line and sinker already.
2. He enjoy's watching others do good, cheers them on, and learns from their success's and mistakes.
3. Most importantly, he is learning that if people try hard enough and don't give up, you can reach your goals.

I think the last two will carry over into real life interactions. He has a problem of giving up on things rather easily, but after this and working with him a bit on it, he is trying harder, and wanting to do more on his own. This has a lot to do with me being aware, but still the foundation is there for me to build on. The more that he becomes aware of the keep trying mentality the larger that foundation will get.

I recently put this theory into practice when I got him "Go Diego Go: Safari Rescue" for his 3rd birthday. After reading this post by EternalDeathSlayer I thought it would make a good first game that is just for my son. The first time he played it I let him go, helping him a little here and there. He did pretty good. Of course you can't die or fail at the game really.

The next time he played, I asked him if I could play for a bit, he said "Sure" (I really need sound bites of him saying these things, cause they are so super cute). He again watched intently, and said "Good job" when I did something he hadn't realized. Even though the game walks you through every frickin thing, he doesn't have the patiences to watch a computer or some character on screen tell him how to play (and yes... I know where he gets that from). So after I handed him the controller back... it was amazing how much he had picked up. He started getting really good. Making sure he picked up all the items he could, going to all the different area's of the level.

I can't wait to see what else he learns from games. If its something cool, I will report back here to share the love. Oh, and I am soooooo enjoying being a gamer dad. Just AWESOME is all I got to say.

And just cause I can... here is a video of him playing.

He just loves to make Diego trip and fall... refuses to jump over those things.
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About craineumone of us since 8:42 AM on 05.28.2008

Name: Kevin
Age: 41
Location: New Hampshire
Kids: 2 (boys)
Wife: 1

I do things with costumes

While I have some favorite games:
Dragon Warrior
The Legend of Zelda
Final Fantasy
Kid Icarus
Warcraft II
Soul Caliber
Animal Crossing
Mario Kart

My passion is more table top now:
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
Glass Road

Xbox LIVE:craineak
Mii code:craineum


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