Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On your own

Elli plays lot of video games.  This goes all kinds of different ways, ranging from her finding things on her own and learning them without my influence to her wanting to play games I play and pushing me to play with her.  I am often surprised by how she ends up finding games and figuring them out - sometimes she asks for help and I am baffled because I have no idea how the game works at all.

That kind of thing is fun though.  It is neat to see her pick up skills I don't have and explore new worlds all on her own.

It isn't as good when she wants to follow me though.  Recently I have been playing World of Warcraft again with Wendy and Elli wants to join up.  The problem is that when she has me along she never bothers to learn or think at all.  She expects me to hold her hand all the time in all decisions.  She has no interest in figuring the game out.  She just wants to follow my character around.

Quite frankly that is boring as hell.

Obviously I don't expect her to be an instant expert on a game, especially one where I have played for years and know so much.  I expect her to start at the beginning and have to learn it all.  What I wish though is that she would put effort in to do so.

I think it is hard for her because she can see that no matter how hard she tries she will never know all the things I know.  In a game I have mastered there is little point in her trying as she can never compete.  I get that.

It just means that games that I am really involved in aren't good ones for her to play.  It is far better for her, and far more fun, to play a game that I know nothing about so she can sort it out for herself.

I remember this kind of thing from my youth.  I remember having to learn how to install games on our family computer so I could play DOOM.  It took some doing, but I eventually managed it, and the process of doing so was really rewarding.  If my parents had just done it all and then told me what to do and how to play at every point it would have really lacked something.  Reaching out and exploring without a teacher hovering is critical to having fun!

While I like the idea of playing games with her it seems like a tall order.  Either I know a game inside out and she won't much enjoy it, or I don't know a game and am not interested in playing it.  I don't do games casually very often so it is hard for us to have similar levels of mastery.

It is a dilemma I have no good answers for yet.


  1. Hmmm, an interesting dilemma. My kids surpassed me pretty quickly at stuff like Portal; I do quick puzzle and language games, not the strategy stuff you do). maybe some programming would e fun for Elli as a computer thing to puzzle over and play around with. (I'm not sure how much programming experience you have so this might be something you could do with her, as a refresher or a new skill, depending.) Julian ran a computer club at the school when our kids were about Elli's age. The kids found that building websites was like a game....they had a blast. I'd bet he still has the reference materials somewhere. Lmk if you like to check them out! :)

    1. I had a couple coding jobs in university and took a couple years of computer science. I am extremely rusty at this point but I would say I am familiar with coding. Elli doesn't seem to have any interest in that sort of thing so far though.

  2. Surely finding a game you're interested in but don't know inside out yet isn't an impossible task :P
    (I mean, I know the problem is more like, you're gonna want to get into it so deeply that you won't be playing the same game pretty much anyway. Just the way you framed it here felt self-defeating)

    My main thought is for sure trying to find co-op games. ^Portal actually seems like a good thought to me, though I don't know if you've already cracked that one or not? I was also thinking of Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, though (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOnZ9hYiArs) It's definitely got great kid visual appeal, and it's the kind of co-op that you probably can't totally micromanage her on (especially if you're learning things together) - I don't know that you'd love it as a game, but I think there's just enough stuff going on to hold your interest at least for a bit, and it might be something you'd be able to enjoy specifically for playing with Elli (which would probably be ideal anyway)?