There are some problems that many parents, who are not gamers, have with video games. Parents have many issues with games, such as being violent and offensive. However, I think that this is a misrepresentation of games and I think that there is a creative solution to the problems that parents have with video games: Indie Games. First, let’s talk about the issues. There are three main arguments, as I see it, that parents have for not letting kids play video games:
- They’re Addictive – Kids spend far too much time in front of screen watching movies, playing games, and all sorts of other media/entertainment related activities.
- They’re Violent – The majority if AAA titles, which get the most attention from the media, are games which are violent, i.e. Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, and Halo.
- They’re a Waste of Money – Often times parents complain about the cost of video games. AAA titles are $50 – $60, which is a big investment compared to movies and books.
These three issues are what I would consider the biggest issues for parents. There are others, but these are the three that I have heard most consistently from parents and that, I think, can be observed by the consumerist behaviors of parents.
There are a couple solutions to these problems outside of not letting kids play video games at all. One solution is to buy a video game that is cheap. Having worked at Toys R’ Us I can tell you that this is probably the most common solution. Parents will walk into the video game department, see a cheap third party game that looks non-violent, and then just buy it. The problem is that they end up with a cheap game that isn’t engaging and the game becomes a waste of money.
These games are a waste of an investment.
When parents look at a video game they should be looking at a game as an investment. When you purchase a game you’re purchasing something for it’s return power. After playing the game do you have any urge to replay the game? If you find that all the games you’re buying are games you never want to play again, you’re making the wrong investments (core gamers might disagree, but we’re talking about parents and kids, not core gamers).
Thus my solution – Indie Games. Independently developed games can solve all three issues – addiction (they are often much, much shorter than AAA titles), they come in all genres (from violent to non-violent), and they’re cheaper than AAA titles. Indie Games are special in that they’re often much more focused than AAA titles, and thus you can find the game that’s right for you.
However, there is one more glaring problem: How do you find Indie Games? As a core gamer I sometimes find that it’s hard enough to find an Indie Game that interests me, and I dedicate time to this every week. Parents who are more worried about their jobs, putting food on the table, and taking care of their children don’t really have time to sit down and sift through hundreds of titles on XBLA, PSN, or the Steam store.
So I guess it would be up to us as Core Gamers to help parents find games like Minecraft, Journey, and Flower that are fun, engaging, non-addictive (okay Minecraft might not have been the best example in terms of addictiveness), and are cheaper than AAA titles. We should be spending more time engaging non-gaming parents on the topic of suitable Indie Games for their children.
Doing this would greatly improve the image of gaming overall and we would be proactively creating gamers who have a positive outlook on what gaming is and what being a gamer is all about.
Do you think this is an appropriate solution? Let me know in the comments.
Your Resident Anthropologist