Welcome to Cthulhu Mom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gamer family.
Like many gamers (or really, modern human) I spend some time on various forums and social media platforms. One of the things I like to read about is raising kids. Go figure. I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing and am hoping to glean some tips and tricks from others who have been there before me. I also read a bit about gaming. Again, I’m sure you’re shocked and surprised. And at times read about kids AND gaming. And am a little bit jealous when I hear about kids who game, since I don’t have one of those. Sometimes I even chime in with my opinion, as I obviously have little experience.
There is one conversation thread that I can’t stand and it seems to dominate the field when it comes to games and kids. It shows up in other forums, but not as often as it does with kids. I know why, but still. I don’t like the question for this group any more than I do for any other group.
The “Recommendation Thread” – What game should I play with X age that has Y theme and Z mechanic? Or even worse, only give part of that information. “What game should I play with a three year old?”
I was on a forum recently, saw another slew of posts in this vein and rolled my eyes.
Then I though “why do I dislike these posts so much?”. Because I totally understand that in this case I am the problem.
So now you get to read my thoughts.
First and foremost, I don’t know your kid, niece, friend, godson, whoever that kid in your life is. I don’t know what they like and don’t like beyond the two sentences you gave in the request. There is no way I’m going to know what kind of game they will like. I feel the same way about adults. If I get into a conversation and find out that you really like a certain game and I know another game that is in the same vein, I may suggest it to you, but that’s a rare event. There are a ton of reviews out there for pretty much any game ever made. Ok. Maybe not every game. But then go on the site and say “Hey I found this new game and can’t find any reviews. Does anyone know anything about it?”
Maybe that’s another reason those threads bother me. They seem lazy. Instead of putting your time into researching a game, you’re asking a bunch of strangers to tell you what to buy. Also, there are a ton of them. Take some time to scroll down and look at the list created for the last ten people who asked the same exact question you’re about to ask. Most forums are swimming in lists of games.
Which leads me to my next frustration. Whatever the most recent release, or most popular manufacturer is currently hot will dominate the list. If you go to where ever you like to buy games, I bet the top ten games on any recommendation list will be featured at that shop. There are more lists of games than games themselves (or so it seems) and so the same games get recommended over and over.
And goddess forbid you recommend a non-popular game or mention that you allow your child to play Candy Land. Trolls show up everywhere, even in discussions that are supposed to be about kids. Especially about discussions about raising kids. Whatever you are doing, it’s wrong. At least according to the internet.
For the love of creation, please stop asking “What kind of game will a girl like?”. You know what kind of games girls like? The same kind boys and non-binary people like. Because gender doesn’t create your preferences in life. Period.
There’s also the question of age. Anyone who has spent any amount of time with two or more children of like age can tell you that physical age is not the best indicator of a kid’s intellectual abilities. Sure, there are averages and expectations, but those averages and expectations have such a wide window that they are practically useless as guidelines. Back to my first point, I don’t know your kid. Saying that your kid is 5 gives me a wide window of possible intellectual levels. Maybe your five year old can read. Maybe they can’t. That could make a big difference. Is your 7 year old good at planning ahead, or do they need instant gratification? You get the point. There is a wide range of “normal” for any given age, so it’s hard to judge what a child might like based on that. In this case the readers you are trying to reach are just as useful as looking at the box and seeing that the game is rated for “Ages 3+”. And then we’re back at my second reason for not liking recommendation posts.
Then there is the fact that this is completely my problem, not the poster’s.
I wonder if I dislike suggestion threads because they dominate the field and mean nothing to me. I have a kid who won’t play any games with us. She’ll occasionally play with another kid, but rarely. We own a bunch of games that were designed for kids, in different themes, with different mechanics, some board games some card games, some manipulative or movement based. We have made our games as approachable to her as we can. It doesn’t matter, she won’t play a game. To the point when she went to a birthday party and wouldn’t play “Hot Potato” because the host said “Who wants to play games?”. So there is no point in my reading a list of really cool games that I’d like to share with her since she won’t play anyway. Is some of my dislike just the proverbial “sour grapes”? Possibly. Probably. Yeah.
Which is why I’m not saying “Stop writing those posts!”. They obviously hold value for others. And I have the ability to scroll past them, just as I change the station when a song comes on the radio that I don’t like. I’m simply taking my writing time (and your reading time if you’ve made it this far!) to state my feelings. Ah, the internet!
How do you feel about recommendation posts? Do you find them helpful?
Until next month – Happy Gaming!