Pressing Buttons: At last, I have discovered a game that I can genuinely enjoy playing with my child.
I am happy to share that after almost seven years of being a parent, I have finally completed a video game with one of my children. The game was Super Mario Wonder and my child had a great time playing it.
In 2018, I embarked on a journey with the hope of playing Let’s Go Pikachu! However, my toddler at the time strongly disliked the game and would often yell “No, no, Pikachu!” at the screen. Now, after persisting through the chaotic worlds of Wonder, we have finally experienced genuine moments of joy.
I played as Mario while my companion played as Yoshi, a character specifically designed for younger or less experienced players. Yoshi is impervious to enemies and has a helpful flutter-jump ability. Initially, this caused some difficulties because Yoshi is unable to transform into an elephant or shoot bubbles from his hands like Mario can with power-ups. However, my child soon realized that Yoshi could carry me on his back over chasms, finding great amusement in Yoshi’s expression of frustration at carrying the weight of an elephant. We successfully navigated through the levels by working together. While I took the lead on challenging jumps and platforming obstacles, my child often rescued me from Piranha Plants.
I observed him finally grasping the use of a controller with a joystick, gradually improving his ability to judge his jumps, and learning to cope with the frustration of inevitable mistakes. Initially hesitant towards the flashy and magical transformations triggered by finding each level’s wonder seed – “we don’t know what could happen!” – he eventually became excited when we were transformed into elephant-shaped balloons or hat-wearing Goombas, or when the lights turned off and we became blinking eyes on a cartoon silhouette. He discovered that Boos only approach when you’re facing away from them, and that Spinys cannot be jumped on, along with other rules that I have known for so long that I have forgotten they are not obvious.
After completing the game in less than a week, my child became emotional. He was not prepared for it to be over. I realized that this experience was not just about his love for Mario and his friends, but also about the quality time we spent together. He didn’t want that to come to an end either.
Frequently, video games can cause tension and disagreements between parents and children. These conflicts may arise from disagreements about screen time, refusing to let a 12-year-old play Grand Theft Auto Online despite their friends playing it, or denying constant requests for more Robux. Even parents who are knowledgeable about games can become infuriated when their teenager starts another Fortnite match just minutes before dinner, keeping them occupied for at least 20 minutes. Games can potentially create discord within a family, particularly if a parent does not understand why their 11-year-old may want to spend a significant amount of time playing Minecraft or Zelda.
For those who appreciate the captivating allure of games, it is important to also fulfill our parental duty in guiding children to balance their involvement and cultivate diverse interests. No one wants their child to solely indulge in gaming and neglect other aspects of life. Additionally, dilemmas may arise when our children are drawn to games that do not align with our own preferences.
I have prohibited the use of free-to-play mobile games in our household. These types of games are designed to consume as much of one’s time and focus as possible. This has resulted in numerous complaints from my son. I now guide him towards games that I deem worthwhile, rather than allowing him to play whatever his friends are playing on their iPads or their parents’ phones. On the other hand, my teenage stepson has always been drawn to playing multiplayer shooters, a genre that I personally do not find appealing. This has caused a significant difference in our gaming preferences.
Games can also create moments of familial bonding, whether it’s playing Wii Sports Bowling together or a mother and daughter teaming up in Portal. They can be shared experiences, rather than sources of conflict. As adults who grew up playing games, we yearn for this type of connection with our loved ones, imagining idyllic afternoons spent playing the same games we enjoyed as children. It’s a humorous twist of fate when I consider how my parents were puzzled by my obsession with video games as a child, but now as a parent myself, I eagerly offer video games to my children in hopes that they will also find joy in them.
Playing games with young children can be extremely frustrating for parents who are gamers. Even in a game like Mario Wonder, which is designed to be family-friendly with different characters and abilities, there can still be intense arguments between siblings over who gets to play as Peach or who performed better in the game. It’s important to recognize that children have different needs at different ages, as demonstrated when we attempted to involve my four-year-old in multiplayer mode, resulting in a chaotic disaster due to his inability to effectively play the game.
When everything falls into place and all the factors come together, it is truly amazing.
What to play
Due to a recent loss, I have been on leave since mid-September. During this time, I have not been able to engage in complex games due to my emotional state and exhaustion. However, I have found solace in Niantic’s Monster Hunter Now, a mobile version of a game I have enjoyed since my teenage years. Similar to their popular game Pokémon Go, this augmented-reality game allows players to battle fictional creatures and collect items in their real-world surroundings. Instead of throwing balls, players use weapons like longswords, hammers, and bows to defeat the monsters. With just a few taps and swipes, players can experience the excitement of taking down a dragon in their local park.
In the beginning, I believed this game relied mainly on skill, but even though it is not as complex or challenging as its console counterparts, it still offers some difficulty. Successfully completing the first part of the story requires precise timing and determination – a feat I have finally achieved after playing for a month and encountering many obstacles on my way home, such as battling poison-spitting lizards.
This is accessible on: Android and iPhone.
Estimated duration of play: Approximately 20 minutes per day, for as long as you are willing to continue.
What to read
I have been observing my stepson, who is a teenager, as he plays his highly-anticipated game, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. I have also been playing the game myself, but not with the same level of intensity. Interestingly enough, this game has one of the most impressive opening hours I have experienced in years, comparable to the quality of God of War. One of the voice actors, Krishna Kumar, directed me to a queer story within one of the side quests. In this story, Spidey assists a high school student in asking his boyfriend to homecoming. It is a heartwarming tale in a game where every detail feels deliberate and avoids the typical open-world tasks that often extend game length.
This week marked the 20th anniversary of Call of Duty, leading to numerous contemplations on its massive success and complete dominance of a specific segment of the gaming industry. Notably, during the legal battles surrounding Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, Sony asserted that there were approximately one million PlayStation users who solely played Call of Duty and no other games. Keith Stuart, a contributor for Pushing Buttons, reflected on the initial installment of the franchise, which laid the groundwork for its global domination.
The fanbase of Mortal Kombat 1 is upset about the game’s new Halloween-themed Fatality finishing move, which costs $12. The game was released less than a month ago and originally cost $60.
In good news for Xbox, Starfield has driven Microsoft to a record quarter, both for Game Pass signups and revenue.
What to click
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Ethan, a reader, reached out seeking particular suggestions.
“I would appreciate your suggestions for games that require a blind approach. I particularly enjoyed Inscryption, which reveals itself in unexpected ways, and Immortality. I was also pleasantly surprised when the modern day timeline was introduced in Assassin’s Creed.”
This question is excellent, but it is quite challenging to answer without giving away spoilers. That is why people often say, “You have to play this game, but I can’t tell you why.” After playing these games, it’s like being part of a secret group. I enjoy games that are not what they seem at first, and you have already mentioned two outstanding examples. I have limited my recommendations to games with significant mechanical twists rather than just plot twists because there are not many of them. In no particular order, I suggest trying out Frog Fractions, Nier Automata (if you have plenty of time to spare), Pony Island, Undertale, and Doki Doki Literature Club!