Every parent struggles with determining when to introduce different aspects of the world. Whether it is when to buy a cell phone, when to introduce solid foods into their diet, or when is the best age to begin gaming? This is not the most important decision that a parent will need to make, but it is worth exploring since those who grew up with gaming are now parents looking to share their passion.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I used the opportunity to introduce my son (then three years old) to The Legend of Zelda franchise. I used the time we all had, forced to be inside and away from many activities, to share my favorite gaming series with my buddy. He “played” the games with a controller that was not connected to the system, like many of us have experienced growing up with siblings. We played through many of the 3-D Zelda titles over the months, and his love of the characters spread out into collecting toys from the long running Nintendo franchise. Things couldn’t be better for me as a gamer dad, but these actions may have deterred his interest in games since those few months.
The ruse has run its course when he realized that the character we would be playing as would not perform the way he wanted. Since he had called my bluff, I was forced to handover the active controller. After thinking for months that he was defeating bosses such as Ganon and Bowser, he was struggling to perform simple actions like clearing a jump over a bottomless pit. I felt terrible. I thought that I may have ruined the chance to bond over a passion of mine, but it may not all be lost.
The introduction I made was too soon. My son did not have the motor skills or the spatial awareness to properly play the games I introduced him to. After a few months of not having an interest in games, my son was introduced to the PS5, in particular Astro’s Playroom. The new features on the dualsense controller were the perfect addition to spark his interest again. Tilting, shaking, and blowing were all actions that translated well with his young mind. Mastering those abilities gave him confidence to perform platforming and attacks well enough to complete the Astro’s Playroom–without the help from his old man. Watching him defeat numerous enemies, jump over floating icebergs, and masterfully control the camera at five years old has made me a very proud parent.
So many factors played into my scenario which could have scared my son away from gaming, due to my introduction at an early stage. Every child has different abilities and will develop those skills in a wide variety of ways. When it comes to having the timing and coordination needed for gaming successfully, I say the right age to hand over the controller is five years old.
What are your thoughts on children starting to play video games? Did I start my son too early? Did I introduce him to wrong types of games as an introduction to the medium? If you’d like to read a deep dive on this issue, check out this Boss Rush Network editorial. Let us know your thoughts below or join our Discord and share your opinions (also stay for the other discussions taking place).