Yes, yes we get it: video games aren't just for kids.
But sometimes video games are for kids. And what do you buy then?
The other week a colleague approached my desk with a question. There was a seven year old in her life. His parents wanted to buy him a console, but didn't want to buy a Wii U. What should they get? What games should they buy?
It was a tough one to answer. A PlayStation 4 I guess? But what games?
The reality is this: video games, particularly the ones we talk about, are targeted at adults. I have a child. I'm getting to the age where buying video games as a gift is a thing I'm planning to do. As someone who spends the majority of his professional life thinking and writing about video games, you'd think that would be easy, but it kinda isn't.
So consider this a journey. I'm thinking about this and learning as I go. Here are some video game related gifts that might work for the children in your life.
An iPad Mini 2
Wait, an iPad Mini 2?
Aren't we on the iPad Mini 4 already? Yes, yes we are. But I've decided to buy an iPad Mini 2 for my son, who turns three in a matter of weeks.
I think the reasoning is pretty simple. To begin with: the cost. There's no way I'm buying a three year old child a cutting-edge piece of technology that will be dropped, covered in saliva and sticky with every kind of foodstuff you can imagine within weeks of purchase. In a lot of ways it's sort of crazy to buy such a young child an iPad to begin with but I think learning those sort of motor skills, alongside understanding how technology works from a young age, is a pretty important part of a child's development these days. Your mileage may vary.
Also -- the idea of ownership, of taking care of things. These are skills I want my kid to develop.
Also also -- Metamorphabet looks amazing on the iPad.
I'm getting my son a reconditioned iPad Mini 2. So it's cheaper, still worthwhile, and great for all the games he enjoys.
If I'm a child in 2015 and I don't have a Nintendo handheld, I am upset. I'm whinging to my parents. I'm looking at my 3DS/2DS owning friends with a dark, brooding jealousy.
Point being: if you have a kid and he doesn't already have one, buy the poor bastard a 2DS/3DS.
If he's under 10, I'd recommend the 2DS. Mainly because it's a little cheaper, cool design, and 3D on the 3DS isn't really that big of a deal. I haven't used it in years. If he's over 10, maybe consider a 3DS XL of some kind. It's a great, sturdy piece of kit.
The truth is the 3DS is approaching the end of its prime. There aren't too many new games coming out for it, and I expect Nintendo so announce some sort of successor in the next year or two. That being said, it has an incredible backlog of child-friendly games. In fact it might have the best backlog of child-friendly games ever (outside of the original DS of course).
Seriously -- you buy a kid a 2DS with Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, Luigi's Mansion 2, A Link Between Worlds and Pokemon X and Y? You're providing that child with a lifetime of memories. Do it. Do it now.
I've heard people say that 2015 is the year where the Wii U became a must purchase. I feel as though it's been there for far longer. I love the Wii U and I think it's still the idea console to buy for kids.
For a number of reasons: firstly, the games.
Super Mario 3D World Nintendo Land Mario Kart 8 Splatoon Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker Super Mario Maker Super Smash Bros. Pikmin 3
That is a powerful list of games, and in terms of child-friendly game, I don't think the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One can come close to matching it.
The Wii U has a lot going for it when considering children. It's a family centered console that puts multiplayer at its core. Games like Nintendo Land, Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros., and Super Mario 3D World are games that you can play with your kids or family. In many ways that's sort of the idea. The ability to play games on the Wii U GamePad is also a boon, it allows your child to play while you use the main TV for something else entirely. Here's something I've been doing: letting my son watch his favourite Netflix shows on the Wii U GamePad while I play the PlayStation 4. GENIUS.