We’ve all seen how technology has become smarter, faster and more accessible over the last few decades. Video games have followed suit. The excitement of leveling up, the rush of defeating a boss, or just socializing with other players has led to increased gaming across the board. According to statista.com, there are more than 3 billion active video gamers annually. Let’s
take a look at the most popular games with kids and what parents should know about them.
One of the most popular games for kids of all ages is “Among Us.” This space-themed multiplayer game is like a modern version of Clue. Each round has up to 10 players called crewmates. Two of the crewmates are imposters who attempt to kill off the other players and sabotage the ship. The goal of the game is for crewmates to determine which players are the imposters while attempting to complete all the tasks. A player can call an emergency meeting and everyone can report what they’ve seen. Players are then asked to vote which color crewmate is the imposter. Those players who get too many votes are voted out. The game ends when all the tasks are completed or the imposters are all voted out.
“Among Us” is a free game that works on tablets, smartphones and Nintendo Switch. Players can purchase outfits and pets for $2.99 each. The one concerning thing for parents is the chat window. Most times what is typed is acceptable, however, a few bad apples can spoil that. Parents of younger players will want to turn on the profanity filter as an extra precaution to avoid their child reading anything unwanted.
Fortnite (Battlegrounds, Population One, Warzone)
“Fortnite” tends to rise and fall in popularity. While it’s not as popular as it once was, the game continues to attract new players. “Fortnite” has spawned many similar games such as “Battlegrounds,” “Population One,” and “Call of Duty Warzone.” Figures from August 2020 show an average of 22.5 million daily “Fortnite” players. The others on this list draw similar crowds. There are several ways to play the game but the most popular is “Battle Royale.” One hundred players compete to be the last person or team standing. Players can choose to battle solo (alone), in duos with a friend, or in squads with three other players. The game begins with players leaping out of a flying bus as it passes over the battleground. Competitors deploy their parachutes and navigate their way to the ground. Once they’ve landed, players need to arm themselves by searching buildings, homes, factories, trucks, etc. for weapons and other items that range in ability and availability. The arsenal available consists of simple handguns all the way to rocket launchers. The goal is to survive by eliminating all the other players or teams. The winning player or team earns a Victory Royale. A storm surrounds the outskirts of the battleground at the start. Every few minutes the storm closes in, forcing players toward the center and ensuring the fast-paced action. “Fortnite” has partnered with a variety of franchises (Star Wars, Marvel) as well as celebrities (Post Malone, Travis Scott) to keep the game fresh and relevant.
“Fortnite” is available on Playstations, Xbox, Switch, and personal computers. Players can purchase Vbucks with real money to buy in-game items such as gliders, skins (costumes), and levels for their players. In my opinion, the violence in Fortnite is minimal. The game revolves around gathering weapons and shooting the opposing players, so there is some level of violence, but the vibrant, colorful, cartoon feel to the game sets it apart from games like “Call of Duty.” “Fortnite” does have a chat system, but most players communicate audibly via a microphone. The concern for parents here is the wide age range of players and what those players might say. Parents of younger players may want to turn off “voice chat” and enable the “mature” filter inside of the parental controls on the game.
Parents need to understand that “Roblox” is a platform, like Xbox or Playstation, as opposed to an actual game. Kids will say, “I’m playing Roblox.” It’s equivalent to saying, “I’m playing Nintendo.” There are over 40 million games inside of the Roblox universe, most of which have been made by the Roblox players themselves. Popular games include “Adopt Me” (you collect various rare pets), “Work at a Pizza Place” (you open and maintain a pizza shop), and “Jailbreak” (you escape from different forms of jail). The games and graphics have a block-based feel to them, similar to Legos.
Roblox works on smartphones, tablets and traditional computers. Players can purchase Robucks with real money to purchase a variety of in-game items. The block-style graphics make for limited violence for young eyes. The concern for parents is the chatting. Players can chat in a common chat room and can also message players directly. Some parental controls should be turned on to prevent players from using or seeing profanity. It also prevents players from providing any personal information. Even with those safeguards in place, parents should have a conversation with their kids about talking with strangers online.
“Minecraft,” a longstanding staple in the gaming community, continues to grow and evolve. The game allows players to create, build, dig and destroy in a 3D world. Minecraft is both fun and educational. Players can choose among three modes: Creative, Survival and Adventure. Each mode includes a similar layout, but offers a different experience for kids to play through. The game’s design encourages real-world skills like problem-solving, creative thinking and collaboration. “Minecraft” even has an education edition that schools can use to teach computer programming concepts.
In recent years, players have been given the ability to build their own modified versions of the game, host it on a “Minecraft” server, and invite others to play their creations. Offshoots of the game have sprung up like wildflowers. One popular example is “Bed Wars.” The object of “Bed Wars” is to protect your bed from the enemy players. The game is played on “Minecraft”-style islands in the sky. Players get unlimited lives until their team’s bed is destroyed. After that, once you die, you’re out. The last team standing wins.
The violence in “Minecraft” is minimal. It works on tablets, smartphones, Playstations, Xbox, Switch and personal computers, which means kids can play it just about anywhere. The game does not have voice chatting built-in, however, many of the multiplayer servers offer this option. On-screen chatting is available. Like all games with a chat feature, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to see. There are some family-friendly features, like chat filtering, that need to be enabled. Take a moment to review the parental controls on “Minecraft” to ensure the environment is controlled for your child.
As a parent, it’s important to know how and where your children are spending their time online. Take a few minutes to Google-search games they mention to better understand what is involved. The best advice would be to keep an open dialog with your child about their online presence, have a conversation with your child about what is OK and not OK to share online, and consider setting parental controls, as available.