From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.
As a parent, this is a subject important to me. Computer games can be a wonderful source of creativity and adventure. Yet they remain at least somewhat stigmatised, and many parents seem to have …odd ideas as to what games can involve.
Mike Krahulik, the artist of Penny Arcade, recently took the time to answer questions from parents at his child’s school about computer games. I recommend the article.
Here’s an excerpt:
Q: My child plays a lot of games that he tells me are free but then asks for money. What are they paying for?
A: These are called Free to Play or Freemium games. Often times the game is free to download and many people can play these games and enjoy them without ever paying a dime. The problem is that these games tend to use systems involving timers. For example your kid might be building a castle and maybe it will take a a few hours or even a day to build the castle. They could wait but the game will tell them that the castle could be built right away if they just paid a dollar. (I saw a lot of parents eyes widen when I said this like they were surprised)
This kind of simply Q&A is incredibly helpful for parents, and helps them understand what their kids are doing (and what they shouldn’t be doing) when they are playing these games. Both my daughters play Minecraft, on more than one device. Like Mike, I will happily leave them alone to play as I would with Lego. But also as with Lego, I’m going to swing by, offer to help with any problems, and also let them show me what they have put together.
My youngest has recently developed an interest in playing Civilization V, and that’s a whole different matter. Not one minute is unsupervised there, as the game can throw a lot of problems her way, mainly mental. But she became agitated recently when the English stopped by to warn her the Inca were planning a sneak attack against her.
“But why would they do that?” she was quite worried. I showed her how to scout, and build a defensive line. So far, that has been enough to warn the Inca off, but her game of city building and exploration was suddenly changed without warning. Civilization may seem benign to an experienced gamer, but it’s the kind of game where a parent needs to be there.