How Do I Get My Child Away From the &^$!%@* Video Games?!

Claire from Wisconsin writes…

“Hello, Father Geek!

Thanks for all you do! I love reading your experiences with games and your “little geeks”!

I have a question I bet you can answer. I have a child who plays NOTHING but video games and I really don’t care for it. I want to get him (age 11) away from that *&^$! TV and computer as soon as possible and play games with the family! Do you have any game suggestions that would do the trick?”

Thanks for your question, Claire!

I have three boys who love video games. They play games on consoles, handhelds and PCs. When I wanted to show them an alternative to video games, I examined the games they were playing and tried to find equivalent tabletop games in theme or game style. For example, my middle son loved playing Pokemon video games and watching Pokemon cartoons. So I went out and bought two starter decks of the Pokemon Trading Card Game and we learned how to play. Soon, he was carrying his cards to his friend’s house and school which led to playing and trading with his friends. As he got older, he got into the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game and Magic: The Gathering.

If the child is into shooting games such as Gears of War or Halo, there are Gears of War and Halo board games. This gives the child a familiar setting and characters which might pique his interest in wanting to learn more about the game. Most video games have some sort of tabletop equivalent, so it’s just a matter of finding one that matches what he’s currently interested in.

If you have a tough time getting him to join you for a game at the table, then join him on the couch. There are also many digital and online versions of tabletop games that are available on the internet, Xbox Live Arcade, and the Playstation Network. This includes games like Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Magic: The Gathering, Ticket To Ride, Ascension, and many more. If you find one of those he likes, then get the physical game and he’ll be more likely to play since he already knows the rules from playing the digital version.

Another trick that worked in our house was taking the family to local gaming stores and gaming conventions. Local gaming stores are filled with children his age on Fridays and Saturdays playing Magic, Pokemon, and other games. Showing that there are many children his age playing games might make it more acceptable to him. To reinforce the gaming culture, I took my family to Gen Con, and once they were introduced to that environment and culture, they were hooked.

Tabletop games are no longer as seen as boring, but as alive, vibrant, and always changing with new genres and releases. There is just as much hype on the release of a new major tabletop game as there is on a new major video game. [Editor’s Note: more so, even.]

If is very tough to pull children away from the TV and computer screens. In our house, we managed to do it through tabletop games that compared to the video games our children were playing. Instead of trying to drag them away from the screen, entice them with something that is familiar to what they are already doing. Once they try it, they’ll be hooked and a whole new world will be open to them that they’ll enjoy the rest of their lives!

Good luck, Claire!

Agree? Disagree? You think you know better than us?!?!? I bet you do! Add your own thoughts below in the comments or send us your own question for us to ponder!

About Marty

Father of Three, and Husband of One, Marty has been a video and board gamer since the Atari 2600 and Uno (both from the 70's). As a child, he has fond memories of playing all sorts of games with his family and friends. As a parent, he now wants his three sons to have the same great memories of everyone sitting around the table captivated by cards/tokens/miniatures, feeling great about a win, learning how to deal with losses, but having fun regardless of the outcome. Marty didn't discover the sub-culture of "geek" gaming until 2000 through the Lord of the Rings TCG. From there, a whole new world of card games, board games, RPGs and miniature wargaming was opened up to him and he dived in head first. As his sons started taking interest in his hobby, Marty gladly cultivated their interest and supported whatever games they wanted play. Even his wife, a non-gamer just a few short years ago, now loves the gaming culture and gets "geeked up" as anyone for board game nights and trips to GenCon. Gaming is now a family event. Less time is spent watching TV and more time is spent sitting around the gaming table strategizing, laughing, learning, and building memories that will stay with them for a lifetime. At the same time, Marty is adding new memories of his own. Marty goes by the handle WolfpackEE on Board Game Geek.
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9 Responses to How Do I Get My Child Away From the &^$!%@* Video Games?!

  1. Chris Urinko says:

    Also, talk to them about designing a board/card game they would like to play. They may have a great idea, maybe not, maybe they have an idea that is a mashup of the video games they like to play. Maybe it won’t win any awards, or ever be published, but if they love to make it and play it, and they see you support them in creating it, that right there is worth something I think.

  2. Claire says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is exactly the kind of advice I needed! I will go forth and buy games that are like my son’s interests and start to ween him off that blasted video game console!

    You are the best, Father Geek! You should write an advice columns for mother and father geeks! LOL!

    • Cyrus says:

      We are most pleased you found Marty’s response helpful, Claire! Good luck! We know you can do it!

    • Marty says:

      You’re welcome, Claire. I’m sure you can find something he likes. And when you do, please share with us with what you found because if may be helpful to other parents.
      Good luck!!

  3. Frank says:

    Whoa! Those are much better than my ideas! (They included the use of a dryer cord and safety goggles.)

  4. DARLA KIDDER says:

    What’s wrong with video games ? Because of them my special needs son wants to learn how to make them or be a beta tester.He’s 20 now.

    • Marty says:

      I don’t think anyone here thinks anything is wrong with video games. I’m an avid video gamer myself and have been since the Atari 2600. But Claire said her son played nothing but video games and wanted to get him to try something else, so we tried to give her suggestions for that situation.

      I’m a firm believer in trying to get my children to be well rounded. If they only played board games, I’d see if they were interested in video games since there are many great games out that that stimulate thought and imagination (ie Minecraft is a great example). In addition, if they only played video and board games, I’d try to get them to go outside and play sports, bike, walk, etc. My wife and I encourage them to read, learn a musical instrument, participate in their church and community service activities. It’s all about balance.

      Back to video games, my sons and I spent all last night watching E3 coverage and checking out new games coming out in the future. Video games? You’ll get two thumbs up from this guy 🙂

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