Monday, July 30, 2012

Neat article on playing skyrim...with a 4 year old?

I try to avoid these sorts of plug posts, but this article was just too good to pass up.

While most of the time I write for parents who don't know much about games and have kids who do, it's always really encouraging to read about parents who not only game as well as their kids, but really share playing the games together, as both parent and friend.

It's especially encouraging when the parent not only takes the time to look over what the child will be playing, but also looks for positive things in a game universe most parents would simply write off as "too loose at telling them what's good and bad".

I'm not saying Skyrim is for everyone, I still stand by it's M rating for sure.

What I am saying is that, like this article shows, sometimes with a bit of effort there is a happy medium between "too violent and dark" and "fun", as well as a border that the kids can understand between what is in the game and what is in reality.

It's very healthy and good to see someone take the time to find all the fun stuff that younger kids could still understand.  It's a meaningful rarity that Skyrim manages to offer not only enough world and choice for a player this age to find stuff to do, but also that a parent takes the time to see it and show it to their child piece by piece instead of taking the easy way out of saying "You're not old enough, says so on the box, end of story".

In short, if all parents had the time, I think this is probably how every parent and child would game.  Together.


  1. I'd actually contend most adults would be more happy than your average 4 year old playing the "dora the explorer" game.

    What I mean is that as adults we've learned to look beyond the glitz, whereas for kids they remain very much the spoilt little consumer.

    The graphics of a game such as Skyrim are certainly very stimulating. Something I don't give a rats foot about. But most four year olds certainly would!

    1. I'd say that as an adult, Skyrim looks like garbage compared to other games, especially without mods. (remember that Demon Souls, another gameplay over graphics mentality game released around the same timeframe, has better PS3 graphics then Skyrim ever does on the same system.) Being on console is only part of the problem, the real problem lies in Bethesda still using the same old texture techniques they've used since Morrowind. Ever look at a wall or a rock up close in Skyrim? The texture turns really blurry and fuzzy, instead of other games where it would load up a better quality clear texture so it was still screenshot worthy.

      It's gameplay, or rather, the effort put into making it's world literally tick, is the main selling point for every player, adult or not, that I've had the time to talk to about Skyrim. At least it is for everyone that has stuck around to play it for longer then 20 hours and the "main quest", IE: actual Elder Scrolls fans who want a long experience instead of the next "Canned RPG 3". The graphics people end up returning it to the store because they "don't get how people can spend hundreds of hours playing this ----". I've seen it happen in person during a few trips to gamestop. The store employee and me kind of stared at each other oddly after the customer left(the employee knows I bought and play Skyrim).

      Personally, while I do kind of wish they at least added in fur shading since they have so many fuzzy animals this time around, I think the main point of Skyrim's graphics are to get the gameplay across.

      I honestly wish more companies would start thinking this way(Demon Souls on the PS3 comes to mind as another that is thinking gameplay first, graphics second. Graphics in Demon Souls are good, but the purpose of everything in the level is to challenge the player, not look shiny on screenshots, which is part of why all the screenshots promoting the game are of bosses, there are not any "vista points" or "poster card" areas in the game.)

      Cause at the end of the day, if I can play an old N64 game and enjoy it the same as the shiny graphic because the gameplay is exactly the same, it means the graphics are just making the game more expensive to produce, and in turn doing not much of anything other then making the developers poorer people. It also means the developers gameplay hasn't improved at all. This is partly true for most games out now, but every now and then you'll get one like Bioshock or Skyrim that manages to break through and still come up with new gameplay experiences or present them in a much better way(more then graphic improvements, we're talking interactions and better immersion).

      All that to say, yes, I also don't care for graphics if the game itself is good.

      Anyway, on the subject of 4 year olds, I'd argue that you're discrediting 4 year olds everywhere. Did you read how in the article the 4 year old actually thought up a "peaceful" solution to obtaining the item the parent hadn't thought to apply to the quest? They are a lot smarter and pick up a lot more then the school systems and educational designers think they do.

      Which is part of why I think as we design and share these games, we(the designers and older generation) really need to be careful about who can buy/play the game and what we are saying in them. Even in Dora the Explorer.


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