Several years ago I noticed something different how my kids played games with me. When chasing them or involved in some other activity, instead of calling “time out” when I got to close or they got to tired, they’d hold up their hands vertically so they were parallel with each other and “pause” the game—just like a video game. Even though they don’t spend a lot of time playing games, I found it curious that video games had that much influence on their free play.
In the last couple of months, another video game influence has crept into our playtime—one that never would have crossed my mind when I was a kid. Now when, say I’m a monster and chasing them around the house, I have to tell them what level (read: difficulty) I’m playing at.
It started during Christmas break. The kids built a big fort out of the couch cushions. I saw it and decided to attack it. The kids thought this was lots of fun. However, after the kids beat me back a couple of times the oldest (a 10-year-old boy) said: “Dad, you’re not a very hard monster. Why don’t you level up.”
“What do you mean?” I said.
“You know, be a harder monster. Go up to a level or two. Right now you’re playing like a level one. You’re too easy to beat.”
It took me a second to realize what my oldest son was asking me to do. In many of the video games he likes to play, enemy combatants or monsters start out easy but get progressively harder as his character and skill level improves. He wants me to do the same thing.
Needless to say the other kids thought this was a great idea as they rebuilt the fort, they told me to come back with a higher level.
So I came back as a level three monster. I was harder to beat but the kids still managed to take me down. Then I came back as a level four monster. Then level five. Then level six. We played until I came back as a level 20 monster. It took them several minutes but they finally managed to take the monster down. By that time we were all sweaty and exhausted. I told the kids that level 20 was as high as this monster could go today and that they were awesome for beating such a strong monster.
I didn’t give the leveling up thing a second thought until two days later when they kids asked me to be the monster and chase them around the house. After I agreed to play, the six-year-old son asked what level I was starting out on and how high my levels went. Now before I play any kind of chase or monster game with them I have to let them know what level I’m starting at and how high my levels go.
Admittedly, this has made playing these kinds of games much more fun to play. With each level I come up with some new and exciting powers that the kids don’t know about and they in turn have to figure out how to deal with. Apparently this makes it more fun for the kids to play too because ever since we started doing this the requests to be a monster or chase them around the house has gone up dramatically.
Though I still restrict how much time my kids play video games, I have to tip my hat to them for pulling some game ideas over into the real world.
I can’t wait to see what video game themes they bring over into our next game.