Unlike my parents, I grew up with access to a computer. I’m comfortable with technology. Most parents in my generation are more than comfortable with computers, mobile devices, e-readers, smart home devices, etc. However, there is still one area in the field of technology that has many parents stumped. That area of technology is video gaming, and all the technology that surrounds games. Games are getting more complex. Gamers, in general, are starting at a younger age. And, to make matters worse, many of these young gamers have parents who did not play games at all when they were younger. Talk about a perfect storm!
Gaming has grown so rapidly in the last decade or so that there is a huge population of kids that just don’t have the support that they need from their parents. These parents simply lack the experience needed to be of any real help.
These comments are not intended to be a condemnation of non-gamer parents. A lot of parents in my generation (including me) have been playing games for most of our lives. This gives us a strong base of experience and helps make finding solutions to some game puzzles a relatively easy task. But, my experiences are not necessarily the same as the experiences of all other parents. My wife, for example, was not a gamer as a child. She often gets stumped by the same puzzles my children get stuck on. As I tell her, all is not lost. You CAN find the help you need if your child is stuck. The internet is a vast ocean of information and the answer to virtually any question you can imagine is floating somewhere in it. You just need to know where to look.
I’ve heard too many stories where kids get stuck and their parents can’t help them. As a result their game gets “bricked” (rendered completely useless- the game may as well be built into the wall for all the fun it can bring).
My goal is to give parents who are not gamers a set of tools to help find the answers to their children’s questions quickly and effectively. I know that there are a lot of parents with no REAL interest in games. These parents buy games and let their kids play by themselves, without any engagement. Video games are a perfect babysitter, right? Nope. You really do have to be able to help your children while they play in order to prevent frustration from taking over and leeching any possible enjoyment and enrichment from the experience. This guide will help you ENGAGE with your child and show you several places to find the answers you will need.
1. Your Google-Fu Must be strong
This sounds obvious. Google is supposed to be able to help you find anything right? Yes. But, you can’t just type whatever you want into Google and get reliable information.
First, most games are broken down into levels or stages. You can often find the information you need by searching for the title of the game and the name/number of the stage you need help on. RPGs might be a bit more challenging, because things aren’t numbered, but each town, cave, dungeon, or boss fight will have a name associated with it. It can also help if you type the keyword “guide” or “walkthrough” into your search to help make sure you get assistance as opposed to reviews. For example, searching for “pokemon x gym leader guide” will bring up a list of websites that contain info regarding the different gym leaders and their pokemon in Pokemon X and Y.
Second, check your spelling. You might not know a lot about the game your child is playing, but you need to make sure that you know the correct spelling of things in order to have any luck finding them. Google might correct some of your misspellings, but it is possible to get lost and fail to find the information that you need. Ask your kids, or look at the game yourself to find out what you need to search for.
Lastly, there are a number of websites out their that are designed to lure people using information about popular video games and infect their computers with malware. When you are searching for a piece of information make sure to look at the search results and make sure you are going to a legitimate site before you click. (Pro-Tip: If the site appears dedicated to cheats and/or offers you ways to get ahead in games by downloading an unrelated program… its probably not legitimate. This is especially true with mobile apps.)
It is possible that GameFaqs is directly responsible for the longevity of my time as a gamer. Every time I recall finding myself frustrated with a puzzle or battle in a game I turned to one of the walkthroughs on the site and was able to overcome the challenge. I cannot recommend this resource enough.
GameFaqs has been around forever and has several walkthroughs for just about every game you can ever imagine. Each walkthrough is written by a community of dedicated gamers and are rated by peers as they are released.
The only real weakness for GameFaqs walkthroughs is that they are written in pure text format. They do not include images, videos, or sound. They are essentially step-by-step instructions that are painstakingly written out. Fortunately, these documents are searchable (just like most text on the web) by hitting Control-F on a PC and Command-F on a Mac. This will bring up a small search box in your browser. Simply type in whatever you are searching for and it will bring you right there. (Be VERY careful with your spelling here though. Google won’t be able to save you here.)
3. IGN Wikis and Walkthroughs
IGN is a website that covers the video game and popular entertainment industry. They have a significant portion of their website dedicated to providing a home for user submitted walkthroughs, guides, and Wiki pages. These pages function very similarly to GameFaqs, with the exception that they will often include images and video. They even include mobile apps like in this walkthrough for Cut the Rope 2. (This walkthrough was actually written by a talented writer from my home state of CT who also happens to share my name, Stephen Haberman. He is currently working on a site dedicated to “Heroes of the Storm, a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game run by Activision Blizzard. Check it out!)
YouTube has its share of challenges regarding content for children, but there is a massive community of gamers who post videos of the games that they play. You can find walkthroughs of virtually any game you can imagine here. This is an especially useful resource for parents who need help on action games and platforming games. (Also, some people are simply visual learners and having a video to watch will be of more use.)
These are my some of my suggestions. Where do you get your information? Are there any hidden gems on the web that have helped you find solutions to your questions? Sound off in the comments section!