Kids have so many choices these days! There are so many games they can play, and there are many platforms they can use. These include a personal computer (PC) and the numerous devices designed especially for gaming. The game consoles include small portable devices, and larger ones suitable for home use.
There are many different kinds of games available. Some are educational, and others are pure entertainment. The technology has advanced so far that today’s games can be extremely realistic. Some of the content is not suitable for kids to view. Fortunately we are aided in the quest for appropriate games by a rating system that helps us choose wisely. Also, some of the modern game consoles include parental controls that let us regulate things like content and usage periods.
In the early days in the development of video game systems, we had the Atari video game system. It offered wholesome games such as Pac-Man or Space Invaders. At first the number of available games was not great, and these were only fun and wholesome games devoid of adult or inappropriate content.
Your personal computer (PC) may be able to play many of the thousands of PC games available. If you already have a PC, this may be the best platform. However, it’s also good to learn about the modern systems dedicated to game play, as they do provide an incredible gaming experience in some cases not available from a PC.
Now there is a large selection of video game systems that offer an incredibly wide selection of games. The systems include the Sony PlayStation 2 and 3, the Nintendo GameCube and DS (and variants), and the Microsoft Xbox and Xbox 360. These video game systems can use any computer monitor or modern wide-screen TV for video display.
Low Cost System
If you have very young kids, and want to get a video game system at low price, you could look for a used Nintendo GameCube console. There are plenty of games for that unit rated E for everyone, and suitable for very young children. Your tots will love it, and you can always get a more expensive console later on as your kids grow older.
If you are interested in a portable game platform, you may want to check out the Sony PlayStation Portable, or PSP. Other options are the Nintendo DS or DS Lite or DSi. These portable video game systems offer good selection of games, but of course the screens are quite small.
If you are concerned about your parental responsibility, you may be glad to learn that some of the modern gaming systems include parental controls. The Nintendo DS and DS Lite both use access code systems so that parents can control downloads, Internet access, and photo sharing.
Consoles for Home Use
For home use, the more modern consoles include the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) and the Nintendo Wii. These are currently the leaders in modern video game systems for the home.
There are over 500 games available for the Xbox 360. Online play is available through a subscription service called “Xbox 360 Live”. Some games have a multiplayer online mode. There are many accessories available for the Xbox 360, including gaming automobile steering wheel and pedals, guitar and other musical instruments, dance pad, and auxiliary cooling systems (some Xbox 360 units have experienced problems with overheating).
The Xbox 360 can play movies from multiple sources, and offers parental controls called Family Settings to allow control over the types of games and films that kids can play or view, based on content ratings. It also allows control of the types of interaction on Xbox 360 Live service. Note that the default Family Settings are for full access, so you will need to configure it for your kids.
The PlayStation 3 (PS3) also has multimedia capabilities, including DVD and Blu-ray Disc, and allows online play through the free PlayStation Network. There are at least 400 games available, and the same kinds of accessories as described above for Xbox 360.
The PS3 and PSP have parental controls that restrict the types of games that can be played and downloaded, as well as video content that can be viewed.
The Nintendo Wii started a revolution in gaming systems with its wireless remote, called the Wii Remote or Wiimote. It can be used as a handheld pointing device and detects movement in three dimensions. This provides a superior level of interactivity that translates into lots of fun! In 2007 the Wii Fit game let parents see that video gaming could involve giving the kids some exercise! Now there are more than 500 games for the Wii, and by connecting multiple controllers up to 4 people can play a game (for certain games designed for that). Online play is available through the free Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Again, the accessories described for the Xbox 360 are also available for the Wii.
The Wii offers parental controls for game playing and Internet use (content and messaging). Game playing settings use age ratings.
You pretty much can’t go wrong when choosing one of the modern video game systems like Xbox 360 or PS3. Be aware that some games are available across multiple game systems, but some are only available on a specific one. That may be a consideration if your kid is really intent on playing a particular game that can only be played on one of the console systems!