With so many new games and systems available, why would you play retro games with your kids?


Nostalgia is a pretty big reason a lot of parents play the games they knew and loved as kids with their kids. While we can tell big tales about how amazing it is to finally beat that big boss at the end of Contra, or playing Legend of Zelda for the first time – there’s nothing quite like experiencing it firsthand. Showing your kids some of the things you loved as a kid, and going through the ups and downs, the joys and frustrations, is a really fun way to bond. Being able to show them the origins of some of the modern titles they like can help introduce them to the world’s lore – especially in RPGs. It brings some context to bosses and characters who show up in later titles or in games full of characters (like Super Smash Bros. or Marvel Vs. Capcom). Its great to have your kids understand gaming references and jokes from your favorite games, too.


Sometimes being intimately familiar with the games your kids play can be a huge help. It makes you that much more helpful when they get stuck. It also means you are more likely to know the content of the game without having to look it up. Being able to easily determine its appropriateness for your kids’ tolerance for difficulty and content take out some of the guess work.

Practical Reasons

There are some practical reasons to play retro games, too. Older games are often simpler as far as game controls go. This makes some of the older games a bit easier for an intermediate gamer to figure out. Getting your kids started on RPGs where the fighting is simplified to a few different buttons gets them mastering the basics before moving on to more complex systems.

Simplified button configurations and gaming options don’t mean the games are easy though. Older games are known for being a significant challenge – and can be a great way for a kid to practice building some frustration tolerance and perseverance. Older games often emphasize and prioritize things like resource management – for everything from in-game items to lives. Retro games are also particularly good at giving rewards for pattern recognition and timing – so if you have a kid who could use a boost to either skill, retro games are great for that. Platforming games (games which require the user to guide their avatar to jump from platform to platform or to avoid obstacles, etc.) are great for hand-eye coordination and pattern recognition. Text-based RPGs taught about how to explore, gather resources, and think outside the box for solutions. Simulators taught both resource management and coordination. The RPGs of the Nintendo era were a good mix of action and decision making. So many skills can be strengthened with games, but especially retro games which were less forgiving than modern games.

So, whether you’re looking to play those old games with your kids just for the nostalgia, or because you’d like to help them gain new skills – dust off those old systems, or find websites with some of those old floppy-disc based games and get your family game on!

By Stephen Duetzmann

Editor in Chief Founder/EiC EngagedFamilyGaming.com Blogger, Podcaster, Video Host RE: games that families can play together. Editor@engagedfamilygaming.com

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