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Gaming on the road: Keeping kids entertained on long car trips

This post has been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.
Editor's Note from Stephanie Carmichael:
Paula shares the parent's perspective about gaming and how technology actually makes the long car trips with her family more ... peaceful.

When our kids were toddlers, my husband and I made sure to pack up the required viewing options that we’d pop in the built-in DVD player inside our Honda Odyssey minivan. They made the six-hour drive from Akron, Ohio, to our Chicago hometown more bearable for us all.

Sometimes, our son and daughter were both so enthralled with classic movies such as The Polar Express or Enchanted that we only required one or two pit stops for gas and potty breaks during the whole ride to or from the large metropolis.

As they grew older, however, our children’s preferred entertainment choices shifted as well. First-generation DS handhelds eventually gave way to the PlayStation 2 console that we’d load into our third-row seat, where it could be plugged into the AC outlet that blessedly came with the mom-mobile.That way, instead of seeing images of waiters dancing around a train’s car as Tom Hanks belted out the lyrics to “Hot Chocolate” on the audio, our kids would be privy to their own headphone-ensconced world of gameplay while Chris and I sang along to tunes from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s on XM radio, before Sirius.

Cut to years later, after we’ve added an Acura MDX to our garage, an SUV that Vehicle Mix rates highly on their list of cars that seat seven people or more. It took a visit to the Acura website to remind me of the technology package and rear entertainment system that comes with the lovely car — but I’m more delighted that my husband gets to play his hard-drive saved playlist for me on date nights than with the gaming accommodations it includes.

Gaming aficionados would be more impressed by the auxiliary input jack and 110-volt outlet designed for a game console, laptop computer, or other devices.

We’ve yet to attempt to haul the Xbox One or Xbox 360 into the MDX. What would be the point if our son couldn’t “beast out” or rage-quit during a heated multiplayer game of Call of Duty or Naruto?

No, most car trips these days involve our kids confiscating our smartphones and tablets to play Splashy Fish or Bouncing Slime, leaving so many gaming app windows open that I cluck away as I close them, bemoaning battery suck-age on my iPhone 5.

Ah, well. Road trips with kids over the years can be an interesting study in just how far technology has advanced in such a short time. I often joke with my kids about how old-fashioned all these devices will seem once they are grown and married with their own children. There will probably be no need for consoles or apps or all the things we consider so modern. And if time travel becomes a reality, perhaps there will be no need for tedious car rides at all.

 


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