Editor's note: Getting a child interested in gaming sounds like a scary, touch-and-go process. Bearing that in mind, Alex may have finally found a use for Wii Music…sort of. -James
When a loyal video game enthusiast has a child, one of the first things they think about — apart from all of that important parenting stuff — is how they will go about introducing their kid to video games. It can be like a science project, and making a mistake that turns them off from gaming is probably the worst outcome a gamer could ever imagine.
I'm no different. I've been slowly and carefully introducing various video games to my daughter Emerson since the moment my wife said she was old enough that they wouldn't rot her brain, hurt her eyes, or whatever it was she said actually said — she's the one that researches those kind of things.
I started with a V.Smile
Baby console that my brother-in-law had passed down to us. The chief concern here was that its creators had designed it more for education and less for fun — not exactly an ideal genesis for a gamer. I would have considered extending her playtime with the games, but she was already learning better with us teaching her, and they didn't exactly entrance her, so I moved on.
What followed was a lot of brief experimenting. I kept sticking games in front of her just to see what would happen. I never really expected too much; most of the games I tried had controls that were well beyond the comprehension of a two-year old. Still, I was curious about how much she'd like them and how much she would be able to pick them up. Then, a light bulb went off in my head: Wii Music!
A lot of outlets panned the game, and it got middling reviews from the rest, but most of them talked about how simple a game it was. Maybe the controls were so basic that a two-year-old girl could pick up on them. Maybe Wii Music was actually the perfect gateway game for a toddler, and no one had tried it out on one. I ordered it with the intent of finding out for sure.
Every night for the last week or two, I've stuck a Wii remote in my daughter's hand and watched intently. Wii Music has a variety of different modes and once I got her started she did pretty well with most of them. I told her whether she had to wave the controller around or hold it and push the buttons, and she did OK…for awhile. With every single mode, she got bored before the end of the song and handed it off to me.
From there, she watched me play with fascination. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but here's the good part: Every single night when we get ready to go up to bed, she says she wants to play the music game. If she doesn't start brushing her teeth, I threaten her with a night of no music game and she immediately starts brushing. I think it's safe to say my daughter has accepted video games for now, but it's hard to say whether it Wii Music in particular or if any game would have sufficed.
Yeah, Wii Music is kind of boring, but I sort of like that she can play it pretty well. It makes me smile to watch her bang on imaginary drums and to see her make the connection that what she does has an effect on the game. I sort of wish more games with very basic controls would come out. Maybe if designers specifically crafted them for toddlers, they would be able to help teach them things as well. If the V.Smile Baby had grabbed my kid like Wii Music has, she might be able to actually get something out of it. Perhaps, somewhere in the middle, hides the perfect first game.
This article comes courtesy of From A to Z Family, a family-oriented blog with editorials and toy reviews from the husband and wife team of Alex R. Cronk-Young and Zoe L. Cronk-Young.