As Iâ€™ve said many times in my Family Gamer column, when you have kids it is immediately apparent that they need their own games. Everything from the size of their hands to the development of their motor skills to the sorts of stories they enjoy means that they take to a certain type of game.
But also, so I’m told, when you have parents it is just as obvious that they are not going to enjoy the same games as you. Everything from their available time, to their gaming history to their faltering senses means that they want something tailored to their needs.
Our families bring these varying expectations and desires together in the same pot. When these different people spend their free time together they can so easily pull in different directions and end up enjoying entertainment in different rooms of the house. But as I’ve discovered writing my regular Family Gaming article, there are some games that tend to unite rather than fragment the family unit. More interestingly for us pocket gamers, many of these games are played on handheld and mobile devices. Something about the low cost, simplicity of design and accessibility means that a wider variety of family members are happy to pick then up and play together.
I had a Eureka moment the other day when my four year old daughter wanted to have a go on my DS. Being a modern Dad, I handed her Mario Kart DS and sat back to see how she’d do. Needless to say about 15 minutes later the DS was flying across the room and Ellen was somewhat frustrated. Not the ideal introduction to my childhood hobby I had imagined.
Thinking the best thing to do would be to get back on the horse, I had a little chat with her about ‘not throwing Daddy’s toys across the room’ and thumbed through my games collection with her. ‘That one Dad, with the moon man’, she had picked out Pac N Roll. I’m not sure whether it was something familiar about the Pac Man or if she just liked the bright colours, either way the choice was inspired.
It turns out that while the D-Pad and buttons required for Mario Kart DS were beyond her, the simple stylus interface of Pac N Roll went down a treat. The direct mechanic of stroking the bottom screen to control Pac’s rolling, combined with the absence of other buttons, led to many hours of happy gameplay for Ellen. She had made the crossing into the weird and wonderful land of games.
But this got me thinking, why no-one had told me about this game’s suitability before. And what other games might I be missing out on that would be great to play with her, or the rest of the family. With this in mind I thought it was time to a column that collected together a little bunch of like minded family gamers to share these valuable stories.
‘Small Hands’ is a guest post from Paul Govan at Game People