Your kids’ gaming behavior can either bring peace to the household, or a never-ending string of arguments, especially at the call for dinner. How do you keep the peace?
As avid gamers when we were younger, we have been on one side of this balancing act. Our parents were really good about letting us know the limits of game play and encouraging us to re-create our experiences online. And now as game developers, we have picked up on a few insights that will be helpful for parents as they find a way to set appropriate limits on games and game time in the home.
Here are the big five:
1. Focus on games with a clear ending.
There are different types of game designs that have different kinds of effects on your kids. Of course, your goal is to build your child’s self-discipline, but the goal of a game designer is to make a profit.
Over the last few years, a new trend has emerged: Free-To-Play games. These games are easy to get, because they are free. They start off fast-paced and fun. But slowly, once the gamer is fully invested, the game starts to slow down and the player needs to spend money to get the same thrill as in the beginning. In game-design circles, a lot of clues for these types of games are taken from the gambling-game industry in order to create mildly addicting tendencies, selling them on non-stop involvement.
For this reason, we recommend giving your kids games that have a clear ending. It could be a storyline, or a game they can play with friends that have short three- to five-minute sessions. This allows the game progress to be saved, or session to end at the call-to-dinner. These games are paid for up-front, and that’s why they aren’t made to be a constant addiction. We consider this as choosing a healthy snack over something not-so healthy that might be fine every once in awhile, but not on a regular basis. Junk food is often cheaper, but it comes at a different cost. It pays to be a bit weary of “free” and to invest in quality entertainment instead.
2. Use this formula: (entertainment time * grades) = playtime.
Infinities breed insecurity. Don’t give your kids an infinite time of entertainment. Provide a limit. Within that finite time, have them choose what kind of entertainment they want – movies, music, games – they can fill it in. This gives them ownership. Low grades should diminish that time, and high grades bring it to its maximum.
Also, instead of frantically chasing multiple kids, train them to tell you when their entertainment time is up. Now your workload is reduced to checking every now and then. And this new responsibility will make your kids active participators. As they get better, you’ll need to spend less and less energy.
Source: Crosswalk | Reuben and Efraim Meulenberg, The Game Bible