Mario Kart 8, video game, box art, racing, Mario, Princess Peach, race track, cars

Fun: the cornerstone of gaming

Ben’s son’s reasons as to why he plays certain video games may have surprised him. But it’s given him an invaluable insight into the cornerstone of gaming.

Title overview

Name: Mario Kart 8
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release date: May 2014
PEGI rating: 3
Platforms: Wii U
More information: Official website

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Ben says…

“Oh my God – you’ve learned how to drift-boost!”

“Yup.” My six-year-old lad didn’t take his eyes of the screen but I knew in his mind there was one of those ‘Duh, been drift-boosting for like, years and years’ looks aimed in my direction.

Parents love to tell you of their children’s achievements and I’m no exception, especially when it comes to gaming. I had (yet another) proud-Dad moment the other weekend when, at my son’s request, we played some Mario Kart 8 together. It had been a while since we’d played last thanks to the lure of Disney Infinity; however, he’d got back into the Nintendo groove after I’d loosened the restrictions to access both kids had to the 3DS.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting him to be as good as he was but as it turns out leaving the Mario Kart 7 cartridge in the 3DS was an inspired move on my part – yes I’m taking full credit, unashamedly so too. My four-year-old daughter is playing it now as well, although she tends to swing back over to Nintendogs more often than not. The next step will be helping my son with the basics of weapon tactics (he tends to just fire things off as soon as he gets them) and the journey to 150cc and then 200cc will be complete.

Believe it or not, what interests me most isn’t his skill but why he plays games. Skill will come in time and also will no doubt be honed in the world of multiplayer but that’s very much secondary to instilling a passion for the medium. I often ask him why he likes certain titles and the reasons why he wants to play one over another on any given weekend. It’s usually one of two: “Because it’s fun, Dad” or “Because it’s what I’m in to.”

The best example of this when he didn’t want to play Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. “It’s not fun, I want to play Lego Batman 2.” TT Games take note.

It was a complete contrast to the two teenagers standing next to me at the counter as I picked up Splatoon. I was chatting with the chap behind the till about why I thought it was important Nintendo were trying something new when I heard a snigger and “Why don’t you play a proper shooter like Call of Duty?” I suspect the teen was trying to impress the young lady he was with.

“Because I like some variety in my games and if I want to shoot people in the face, I’ll play Destiny.”

Truth be told I wish I’d come up with a sage-like response, bottling my three decades of gaming experience into a concise and profound statement that would alter the perception of these two misguided youths. In doing so I would set them on the path to gaming enlightenment. Unfortunately the best I could manage was “Because I like some variety in my games and if I want to shoot people in the face, I’ll play Destiny.”

Then I really stooped to their level: “Which is better than Call of Duty, by the way.” I’m a bad person.

As my lad grows up and is exposed to the wider gaming spectrum, I’m sure there’ll be phases when my son is ‘too cool’ to play Nintendo, LEGO games or similar. It’s all part of the journey to adulthood. But fun has to be the cornerstone of gaming: it’s why I fell in love with the medium and I know I’m not the only one.

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One thought on “Fun: the cornerstone of gaming”

  1. Children have such amazing insights into how things should be. A simple thing such as “it’s fun” sometimes escapes most people. Ask anyone why they like a game and they’ll compile a review-like list and rarely will they say “because it’s fun.”

    And I agree, fun is important. Iwata himself said it didn’t he? Games are meant to be fun.

    Fantastic article, nice look into Gaming Parenting as well 🙂


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