Crawl, Walk, Game: Playing Together

Written by on June 27, 2013 in [, ]

My daughter and I have been gaming together since she began jacking my iPad at 11 months of age. Some games she could manage just fine on her own. They were simple enough—and let’s face it, being an infant, SHE was simple enough—to be satisfied with colors, lights, and sound.

As she got a bit older, she became more determined to actually accomplish what the game asked her to do. If she couldn’t manage on something her own, she’d get frustrated and hand it over to Mommy. Oh how many times have I done the memory match in Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, with nary a sticker to show for it.

Now that Allison is four, she can play on her own most of the time. Once in a while I’ll have to pinch hit when the numbers get really high in Dora’s Cooking Club on the DS, but most of the time she’ll figure it out. And, truthfully I’m less willing to jump in and save the day. “You can do it,” I say. She pouts, but tries again.

What’s really interesting lately is that she’s now old enough to help me play MY games. Her visual acuity, dexterity and attention span are at the point where she’s not only interested in my games, but she actually helps. I’m a long-time fan of adventure and hidden object games. I enjoy that there is a story involved and no one shoots at me; my brain is the primary weapon. Allison calls them “finding games” (oddly, my son when he was little called them “looking games”).

Allison shows where to go in the witch’s castle while Team Umizoomi offers no help at all.

Lately Allison and I have been playing the Princess Isabella games from Canadian developer Gogii Games who also make the fantastically awesome Empress of the Deep series. The latest chapter in Princess Isabella’s adventures is Princess Isabella: Rise of an Heir ($19.99 on the developer’s website, but you may find it for less on Steam, Amazon, Big Fish, etc). Allison and I play as Princess Bella, who must rescue her mother Princess Isabella from the witch’s castle. We find hidden things, use our helper fairy and dragon to defeat evil, and free three fairy godmothers whose magic we can then use in our quest.

Allison sits beside me and helps me find stuff in the hidden object scenes. She can’t read yet, so I tell her what to look for. And she’s not bad at it. She likes when we play on the desktop PC because she can reach out and use the touchscreen to make her discoveries. But cuddling up on the sofa with the laptop is fun too.

Slicing vegetables was never more fun—and less messy!

I’m not really known for my cooking. Burning, yes. Cooking, no. I mean, I take edible things that are cold or room temperature and apply heat, if that counts. But slicing and measuring and stuff? Not unless it’s in a fun iPad game like Cooking Academy HD ($2.99 from Big Fish Games) Allison saw me playing this game one day and said “Can I try?” Having played Fruit Ninja, she got the concept of slicing food, but this game requires more precision. Eventually, she got the hang of it. So she does the slicing and peeling and I do the rest. Together we put together some pretty fine digital meals. Yesterday she told me that when she grows up she’s going to be a chef.

Ahhh Animal Crossing. At one point in time my two older kids and I were all playing Animal Crossing: Wild World. That’s three DS’s and three copies of the game. I dusted off a copy for Allison recently and let her move in to her big sister’s town. We quickly realized that though she could collect fruit and attempt to fish, this game is really impossible for a non-reader to play independently.

ACNL requires three hands. One for holding the 3DS, one for the stylus, and one for a peanut butter sandwich.

So when I got Animal Crossing: New Leaf ($34.99 for Nintendo 3DS) I didn’t expect to be able to play with Allison. But pretty soon there was a little blonde head peeping over my shoulder, watching me play. Soon after, she brought over the stylus from her DSXL and sat nearby, poised to go into action. So we came up with a compromise: Mommy drives, and Allison “helps sell.” Whenever I’m in Nookling Junction, Re-Tail, or the museum, she selects the pocket items for transaction. And this small task makes her feel very useful. When I dropped her off at pre-school this morning she told me “Don’t play Animal Crossing until I get home!”

In the next couple of years as she learns to read it will be cool to watch Allison move into bigger kid games. Pretty soon she’ll be playing on her own. And I’ll be peering over her shoulder, stylus at the ready.


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Author: Christa Charter View all posts by

3 Comments on "Crawl, Walk, Game: Playing Together"

  1. Samantha Olvera June 27, 2013 at 9:46 am - Reply

    Aww , great read. Ally (2 years old) enjoys watching me play Animal Crossing: New Leaf right now, I think the music and speech pattern intrigue her. Of course she doesn’t really grasp what to do, or how, she still likes to sit on my lap and her use head to block my line of sight lol. Love bonding through games ♥

  2. Christa Charter June 27, 2013 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Samantha! Have you tried Monkey Preschool Lunchbox? Lots of fun stuff for a 2 -year old :)

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