Kids and gaming: life with a Wii

For Christmas we got a Nintendo Wii game system “for our kids”. Since living with the system for a few weeks, I have a few thoughts on gaming with little kids, and playability of games for a 3 and a 5 year old. Please note that these observations are strictly limited to my daughters, and so your results may vary.

1. Wii Sports by Nintendo: My oldest likes to play the Bowling and Golf games, and not the other ones so much. That said, she is REALLY good at bowling, routinely throwing spares and sometimes strikes. It must be the straight arm. Or is it the clear unfettered psyche, unburdened by performance anxiety and real-world bowling experience? 🙂 Whatever it is, her high score in bowling is 163. I only recently passed it (and after a lot of practice!) So for a 5 year old it’s great.

However, my youngest has difficulty with holding the “B” button underneath, so bowling is frustrating. The other sports don’t interest her at all, they’re too complicated at this stage.

Note: We didn’t let them play boxing, lest they try and box each other after the game is turned off!

2. Cosmic Life by Ubisoft: This game is targeted to 4-8 year olds, so my oldest loves it. It’s perfect for her. It’s a game about a family that lives on a spaceship, and you explore the different rooms of the ship with the Wiimote. There are minigames that pop up tailored to the young set, puzzles, matching games, and so on.

The younger one likes to watch big sister play it, getting particular enjoyment out of the funny cut scenes involving dancing, and she can do some of the puzzles with help. Mostly it’s help using the Wiimote, as her hands are still small.

3. Mario Party 8 by Nintendo: We just got this game and it’s a hit with the whole family. There are enough minigames that only involve simple motions with the Wiimote, like shaking a pop can, or turning a crank, that they youngest doesn’t have trouble playing them. Both my older and younger girls like playing this game. And it also brings out the competitive nature in both my DW and I.

We got a Wii (over any other gaming system) because of the ‘get up and move’ aspect of the games. While I was a big Playstation fan (Gran Turismo 2 was my favourite game EVAR) I didn’t see us getting a conventional gaming system for our kids at this age. I guess there is truth to the stereotype that “Nintendo is for kids”! It’s definitely the most kid-friendly. It’s also the most inter-generational gaming system ever, as grandparents discover they can bowl and have fun with their grandkids. It’s no wonder Nintendo can’t make enough units to stock store shelves!
4. Mii channel: I know this isn’t really a game, but I thought I’d mention it. The kids love it! They had almost as much fun doing this as playing the sports, initially. They enjoyed trying different eyes and noses, and different heights and body types. They get a laugh out of exaggerating the features, or by moving the eyebrows up and down. The oldest even went and made an edit to her Mii, giving herself blonde hair instead of black. And they enjoyed sharing their Mii’s with our friends that also have Wii consoles, and seeing our friends as Mii’s on our console.

One caveat: as with any kind of stimulating activity, things can get out of hand, so definitely keep an eye on your kids if they’re getting overstimulated and hyper. Setting time limits and clear end points for gaming is a good thing to start teaching and modeling for your kids, especially as systems like the Wii make their way into younger and younger players’ hands. So while we enjoy the gaming and movement aspect of the games, we also don’t want to create game addicts!

All in all, we’re very pleased with the Wii, and are looking forward to choosing games for the kids as they grow that will be enjoyable for them and fun for the grown ups too.

Rock Band, maybe? 🙂

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by amy on 2008/01/18 at 4:12 PM

    i really like rayman and the rabbid bunnies … or whatever it's called… i just call it the bunny game. but it's a little violent so i wouldn't get it for your 3-5 year olds. I haven't really come across many games for kids with the wii. it's so much fun though isn't it?? 😀


  2. Thanks for the comment! Rayman and the Ravin Rabbids… yeah, they played it
    at a friend's place, and you're right it's a little violent. I actually
    found the settings and the Gladiator theme kind of dark, especially for
    kids. Not to mention cruelty to cows. 🙂 From the looks of it, Rayman 2
    isn't so dark, but I think I'll stay away from that at home for now.

    Rentals are our friend, that way we can try it out and see if it's
    appropriate or not, and how high the repeat playability factor is.


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