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Child’s Play: Great Games For Learning Kids

Tuesday, 18.07.2017

Think your kid spends too much time playing video games? That might not necessarily be a bad thing.

Previously demonised for allegedly shortening children’s attention spans and encouraging violent behaviour, video games have now been scientifically proven to improve hand-eye coordination, develop social skills, and encourage emotional development.  In 2007, a paper was published revealing that surgeons who played more video games had higher success rates when performing laparoscopic procedures.

That’s not to say that letting your child play video games will automatically grant them admission to Johns Hopkins, but the evidence is tough to dispute: video games can help with cognitive development.

Still skeptical? Here are some games that might change your mind. 

Building blocks
Minecraft is one of the most popular games amongst the under-12 demographic. Look around at any restaurant, MRT station or shopping mall, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a child not playing Minecraft on their tablet or phone.

With its dated graphics, it seems a wonder that this six-year-old game would manage to sell over 121 million copies.

At first glance, Minecraft may come across as another run-of-the-mill adventure game. But Minecraft’s true beauty comes in the sheer scale of the structures players can build. “If you can imagine it, you can build it,” is the game’s motto, and this is no exaggeration.

Some of the most impressive Minecraft creations to date include replicas of the Eiffel Tower, and even a 1:1500 scale replica of Earth itself. Minecraft encourages players to unleash their creativity on a virtual world, with none of the mess or cost that conventional blocks would bring.

Minecraft also has limitless potential for collaboration. On the PlayStation 4, up to eight players can join a server at any one time, to collectively create structures that would have been impossible to build alone. 

This teaches children the importance of cooperation – after all, Rome may not have been built in a day, but it wasn’t built alone, either.

Keeping the beat
Rhythm games have long since been a staple of the video games industry, but none of them are quite as storied as PaRappa the Rapper.

First released in Japan in 1996 for the PlayStation, PaRappa the Rapper is widely considered to be the founding father of the rhythm game genre, paving the way for global sensations such as Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero series. While it may not have had the same runaway success as the games it influenced, its offbeat sense of humour and excellent soundtrack earned it a dedicated following. 

The game follows main character PaRappa as he tries to win the affections of his sweetheart, Sunny Funny, through a myriad of zany situations.

Featuring an innovative “call-and-response” style of gameplay, players must memorise sequences of rhythmic button prompts, and input them back exactly as they were given.

Over time, this not only helps cultivate a better sense of timing and rhythm, but also tests children’s ability to memorise and recall complex patterns. 

Drumming up interest
But if you prefer a little more strategy in your rhythm games, Patapon might be more up your alley.

First finding its success on the PlayStation Portable in 2007, the game puts the player in control of an army of Patapon, small two-dimensional characters armed with rudimentary weapons. Players can move their battalion by entering sequences of four-button inputs to a specific rhythm, telling them to retreat, advance, attack, or hold position. 

Positioning is key to victory in Patapon – for instance, archers can deal heavy damage from afar, but suffer at close range, and so must be kept off the front lines. Different enemies require different strategies to overcome, forcing players to change tactics on the fly. The true challenge of Patapon reveals itself when players have to adapt their strategy according to enemy movements, all while trying to synchronise their rhythm.

With Patapon, children will learn to recognize and react to auditory and visual cues. Patapon also imparts the merits of both careful strategy and improvisation, as players read and respond to different enemy approaches. 

Out of the box
On the slower side of the spectrum is puzzler LocoRoco. The game features the titular LocoRoco, a race of small, blob-like creatures that can merge together to form a singular, large LocoRoco.

Unlike in most games, LocoRoco offers limited control over the actual characters beyond lateral movement. Instead, players are allowed to control the world itself, using the shoulder buttons on the controller to rotate the level and let gravity move the LocoRoco for them. At the press of a button, players can also split large LocoRoco up into their individual forms, allowing them to fit through smaller spaces. 

  

On the PlayStation 4, players are able to make use of the DualShock 4’s motion controls to physically tilt, roll and bounce the LocoRoco across the level to their goal – creating a better sense of kinaesthetic awareness.

At a basic level, this innovative game not only familiarizes children with basic physical concepts like gravity, friction and inertia, but also inspires them to think out of the box and find new approaches to solving problems. 

Be a kid again
If all this doesn’t have you convinced of the benefits of playing video games, you don’t have to take our word for it – try them out for yourself.

All of the games listed above will be available for demo at the PlayStation booth at the Kids World Fair 2017 this November. Come down and take control of your own platoon of Patapon, or lead the LocoRoco to liberation, or even try your hand at being the next Michelangelo in Minecraft.

And who knows? You might end up enjoying these games even more than your child does. After all, they’re not just for kids any more. 


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