While playing board games might be a fun way to spend a family evening or other social event; children, parents and even grandparents can all get together and have a great time playing videogames. Although once thought of as an isolating and alienating influence, videogames are now becoming a favoured means of bonding for families.
A new survey by PopCap Games, released last month, found that 92% of casual gaming parents and grandparents used videogames to bond with their children or grandchildren. 70% of the respondents also cited that playing videogames with their young could help them improve their eye-hand co-ordination and memory and provided an opportunity for learning, stress relief and confidence-building.
Professor Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies at Nottingham Trent University, agreed with the survey’s findings:
“Empirical research has consistently shown that in the right context, computer and videogames can have a positive educational, psychological and therapeutic benefit to a large range of different ages and sub-groups,” he told ElectricNews.net.
Recent years have seen an increase in the amount of games released with family interaction in mind, with the most popular being the Buzz!, SingStar and Guitar Hero series of videogames, all available for the PlayStation 2.
The Buzz! series of videogames allows up to 8 players to compete in quizzes just like real TV game shows, complete with the host – Buzz – and his assistant, Rose, all accompanied by an audience that claps and laughs, on a variety of topics – there are two general knowledge editions and three special editions for music, sports and Hollywood, respectively. The games even use special five-button Buzz! controllers to further authenticate the feel of being on a real game show. There is also the Buzz! Junior series, featuring party games rather than quizzes, aimed more at younger children, but can be equally enjoyable for older children or even adults.
SingStar is a karaoke game where players sing to music videos in order to score points, using microphones plugged into the console. Lyrics are shown at the bottom of the screen and players score points in real-time according to how accurate their singing is. The game allows two players to compete simultaneously, and up to 8 players can face off in a series of singing challenges using the ‘Pass the Mic’ feature. SingStar is different to most karaoke in that the rights have been obtained to use the original sound recording, meaning players can sing along to the actual track, while the original vocals can be lowered or elevated in the mix depending on the player’s, or audience’s, choice. The series includes different editions offering a diverse selection of music, including SingStar ’80s, SingStar Rocks! and the upcoming SingStar Bollywood.
Guitar Hero allows players to play along to their favourite rock songs on a special guitar-shaped controller. In the game, an extended guitar neck is shown on-screen, and as the song progresses, coloured markers indicating notes scroll down the screen in time with the music. The player has to push the corresponding buttons on the guitar controller in order to gain points, and the game supports both cooperative and competitive modes, allowing two people to play simultaneously. The songs included in the games cover a variety of genres, from easier numbers, like “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple, to the ridiculously hard, such as “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The latest instalment, Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock will be released later next month.