Don’t impulse buy
In general I wouldn’t buy from a shop while your child is by your side. Also, when you buy a game think that you are buying it for the family. If your child thinks of the game as theirs then it will be harder to control when and how much they play i.e. “it’s my game so why can’t I play it?”, as they would with any of their other toys.
Before you buy the game always do some research first. Online is the most obvious place to start this but also ask around other parents and see what their kids are playing.
Just make sure you do your own research too. Here’s a few things I look for in a game I am going to buy:
Fun gameplay that is not overly repetitive
Some games are just a mindless grind that will, in the end, leave you or your child feeling empty inside…
What’s the game’s age rating
All games will be rated by ESRB or PEGI and they are a great first stop for whether or not you should be letting your kiddo play the game. I’ve expanded more on these here.
Is there a storyline for them to engage with? Do they have to make choices that affect the storyline? Is there a team element that their friends can join in to play?
Anything that I think might be distressing
This is very much dependent on your child. Are there entities that try to kill the player? Are there interactions with other players that your child doesn’t know?
A number of parents at school have mentioned their children having bad dreams from playing Minecraft after being chased by zombies, I recommended they switch to creative mode (where you are not attacked) and everything is fine again.
Are there any micro-transactions?
These are in-game purchases. I’ve gone into more detail about them here. I am not against micro-transactions, a game developer needs to make money, it’s just that I am aware that some developers might make them integral to keep playing the game. It’s good to know the type of micro-transaction so when your child says they need to buy something, I know why. If your child has enjoyed the game then think about rewarding the developer by buying the premium version or an in game purchase.
Is my child going to have to spend an inordinate amount of time on the game before they really start to enjoy it? Fortnite is a good example where when you get to a certain standard of play you will enjoy it a lot more. But that time before that is going to be pretty painful. Another example is World of Warcraft, any player has to spend a massive amount of time playing to level up their character.
Does the game have any adverse effects on your child
Above all else you want your child to have fun and enjoy themselves. When they do start playing the game you’ve bought pay heed to your child’s attitude and mood during and after. If anything is amiss don’t feel bad about taking the game away and finding an alternative. Just explain to your child why beforehand.
Play the game
Any game I buy for my son I spend a couple of hours playing before he knows I have got it for him so I can check it’s going to be okay. Also, it would be nice if I want to play it with him.