Video games. Why do so many of the games we talk about, discuss and play have adult themes. Aren't developers and publishers aware? Don't they know we have kids now. Goddammit. I thought it might be time to create a little list of the games that are totally SFC — Safe For Children.
Because friends. The struggle is real.
To begin with: a quick disclaimer. All parents have different limits. We all make our own personal choices about what our children can and can't watch. I'm not judging. I watched Robocop when I was 8 years old! Do your own thing. You know your children best.
This is just a personal list. These are the games I've been allowing myself to play when my gobshite son is awake. Sometimes he watches me. Sometimes he gets bored. Sometimes he 'accidentally' punches me in the gonads during crucial moments. Such is the joy and pain of life as a gaming parent.
For reference: my son is currently two-and-a-half years old. He likes kicking balls (sometimes my actual balls), yoghurt and the movie Planes: Fire and Rescue. This is the literal list of things he gave me that he likes.
Okay game number one.
AKA: SPATOON or SQUID GAME
For me personally, this was a slightly difficult one to get past my wife.
Because it's still a game where you shoot people — technically — that might not be your bag. But for me, Splatoon is an interesting game on multiple levels. To begin with, shooting people is not the goal. It helps if you shoot at the opposing team, but the actual point of Splatoon is to cover the map with your team's colour using paint fired from paint guns.
On the one hand this is a super cool twist on the multiplayer shooter, but it also reduces the amount of actual violence shown on screen. Even when there is 'violence' — it's brief. It's cartoon violence. It's cute. No-one's really getting hurt.
Secondly, it's just such a colourful, stylish game to watch. And fits in with all the things my son is interested in right now: colours, colouring in, animals, fish. Splatoon is known as SPATOOOON or 'SQUID GAME' and really represents this middle ground. It's a game that I absolutely adore, and it's a safe watch for my son, who loves it.
Super Mario 3D World
I don't want this to be a list of Nintendo games — although Nintendo clearly makes the best, high quality 'family-friendly' games — but it would be dishonest of me to not mention Super Mario 3D World. Because I've spent so much time playing it with my son.
My son loves Mario. I don't really think he understands why he loves Mario he just does. Maybe it's one of those imprinting DNA things. Maybe my love for Mario is so strong that it's literally part of my son's genetic information. Perhaps he has the Mario gene.
Maybe kids just like things that have a lot of colour. That probably makes more sense.
In that regard Super Mario 3D World is probably the most child friendly Mario game ever made. It has a very simple, cartoon aesthetic and — crucially — it's easy to play. At the moment my son watches me play. When we go to the level selection world — where there is no danger of death or any enemies — he often grabs the GamePad and tries to play.
In the future, when he's a bit older, I totally see us playing Super Mario 3D World multiplayer together.
I'm not sure I fully approve of Spelunky. Mainly because dying in that game can be a little bit visceral, and there are a few questionable things you can do — like hit women over the head and carry them for a points reward. Perhaps I'm being a little pedantic, but that's my call.
However, I don't have too much choice in the matter. My brother in-law has been playing Spelunky with his son, who is four-years-old. My son worships his older cousin and wants to copy everything he does.
So yeah. Spelunky.
I'm not very good at Spelunky and, to be honest, it's not really my cup of tea. But I still play. Every now and then — if my son spots it on the PlayStation before I get the chance to load another game.
AKA: MAN FALL OVER
I went through a solid period of time where I played nothing but Bloodborne and OlliOlli 2. Bloodborne was pretty much out when my son was awake, so I mostly just played OlliOlli 2.
Which is all well and good, but...
As some of you may know, OlliOlli 2 is a pretty testing game. Towards the end it's bloody difficult. And there's a lot of trial and error, quick restarts, etc. My son loved OlliOlli 2 but he only liked one specific part of it:
"MAN FALL OVER!"
My son only really enjoyed watching OlliOlli 2 when I stacked it. That was an issue. Basically, whenever I was having a great run, my son would get super frustrated.
"MAN FALL OVER! MAN FALL OVER!"
He started to learn that if he grabbed the controller from me, or distracted me, that his "MAN FALL OVER" dreams would come true. So that's precisely what he would do.
Now he just plays the game himself. He doesn't know how to 'ollie' so he basically just pushes 'X' until "MAN FALL OVER", then he starts all over again.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
AKA: MONKEY KONG
I don't know if my son really like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, or whether he just really likes monkeys, gorillas and things that go "OOH OOH AAH AAH!"
Regardless, my son enjoys watching me play "MONKEY KONG". Which is good news, because I think Tropical Freeze is a phenomenally underrated video game that deserves more attention — even if that attention mostly consists of my son pointing at the screen screaming "OOH OOH OOH" over and over again.
It's clearly penetrated the far reaches of his tiny little brain.
My son goes to daycare and each day the teachers write-up a little report of how the class went that day. One day I arrived and there was a photo of my son sitting on the lap of one of the teachers, clearly in the middle of giving some sort of presentation to the rest of his class.
The note read: "Quinn told everyone in the class about the adventures of Monkey Kong and everyone enjoyed it very much."