So you want to introduce your parents to video games? Here are a few places to start!
Show, Don’t Tell
Conventional wisdom would have you believe that all gamers are antisocial, potentially violent young men who live in their parents’ basements. However, it is becoming abundantly clear that this stereotype is no longer true, if it ever was to begin with. Gaming is becoming as acceptable and universal a pastime as reading or film. As Joel said in his article on gamer myths, many people who play games are in their late twenties and thirties, and almost half of them are women.
Still, for every fifty of us who have families that appreciate our love of games or who play games themselves; there is at least one of us who has a parent, grandparent, or guardian that believes these myths and doesn’t “get” our favorite hobby. Maybe they think video games are too frivolous and we should read instead. Maybe they don’t like the way games depict women or minorities. Or maybe they even believe we’ll become violent if we play violent games.
My parents were a little shocked that I wanted to play Assassin’s Creed in 2008, since they assumed that a game with that title must be one of “those violent games” and thought I wasn’t a very violent person. Now, seven years later, they actually take an interest in my games and want to watch me play them. How did I change their minds? Simple: I showed them what games looked like.
So here are a few games that might change your parents’ minds about video games.
Note: I use the term “parents” for the sake of brevity, but this could just as easily apply to stepparents, grandparents, relatives or anyone else in your life who doesn’t understand gaming.
For the Parents Who Like Puzzles: Portal
Games that are based primarily around solving puzzles can be pretty addictive, and the first Portal game is about as basic as they come while still having a story. Everyone I know loved the game’s simple yet mind-bending central mechanic.
This is the game for the sort of parent who loves a challenge and won’t stop working on a puzzle until they’ve solved it. They’ll like a game that rewards wit, logic, and critical thinking. As a bonus, both Portal games are tame, and the sequel offers co-op for you so that you can play with your parents… or shoot portals above their head and below their feet so they fall endlessly. Your choice.
For the Artistic Parent: Journey
The idea that video games are not “art” is pervasive and one with which I vehemently disagree. But it’s hard to change someone’s mind about that when you show them the violence of GTA or Sleeping Dogs. Journey is another game that rewards wits and smarts, but has an additional perk in that it is beautiful and moving.
Journey is pacifistic and teamwork-based, but the art and music of the game are just as, if not more important than the actual mechanics of the game. If there’s any game that can change your parents mind on the aesthetic value of games, it’d be a game like this.
For the Competitive Parents: Super Smash Bros
I feel as though there is at least one person in every family who revels in competitive games. For some of us, that relative is the same person who sees games as violent. They’d be appalled if they were introduced to Mortal Kombat. But the bloodless, cartoonish fighting in a game like Smash Bros. is sort of above reproach.
It doesn’t matter that they will only recognize half of the characters. How many of us knew who Marth or Shulk were before we played SSB for the first time?
For the Creative Parents: Minecraft
Minecraft is the ultimate playground. If your parent is always building or creating something, Minecraft might be a revelation for them. It’s addictive and nearly infinite. It requires strategy and forethought. It even has the capacity to be a teaching tool. What’s not to love?
For the Parents with a Sense of Humor: Saints Row IV
When I asked my mother for input, she surprised me by giving me this suggestion. At first I wasn’t sure if I should include it. My mother shares my sense of humor, so it’s no surprise that she would also enjoy a game I find to be hilarious. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.
Games are meant to be fun, and there’s fun to be found even in violence. If you have a parent who has enough of a sense of humor to not take offense at some of the topical satire, you might find them amenable to this particular sandbox crime game. Though I do recommend that, even in the most fun, laid-back families, this game should be restricted to the teenagers-and-up crowd.
If you are facing the opposite problem, check out this article on games parents can play with their kids. If you are a parent and you want to understand more about your kids’ favorite pastime, check out this article on how you can do that.
What games turn your parents on to gaming? Let me know in the comments!
Image Credits: Father and his son playing Via Shutterstock
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