Gaming for Moms 101

School is out for the summer, and for teenagers everywhere this means more time to play video games. Yes, I roll my eyes and sigh at this too. But it is a part of teenage life, especially that of teenage boys, so I’m learning to roll with it. Not that I condone hours of video games, but I know my 14-year-old will be gaming away his share of summer vacation hours. So I sat down with my son and looked up some information to learn more so I can at least know what I’m up against.

Heads up, moms: most games are war games. That means guns, swords, and killing. That’s the reality. I’m not here to preach about violence in video games or give you my opinion; I’m just giving you the facts, moms. Popular non-violent games are NBA 2K, Madden, FIFA, and Forza Horizon. Other popular games include Fortnite, Call of Duty, God of War, Star Wars Battlefield 2, and Rainbow Six Siege. Currently, THE game is Fortnite. If you haven’t heard of it, you haven’t been listening/eavesdropping on your teen. This free game is played on a gaming console, PC, or cell phone. The object is to be the last survivor by building forts, etc. and fighting off your enemies to survive. You join squads, duos, or journey as a sole soldier. “Skins”  change a characters’ appearance. Fortnite “emotes” are dances characters do. “Dances?” I asked. My teen assured me players love the dances. 

Moms need to know most kids play video games with other people online. Did you hear that, moms? Most of the time, if not all the time, your teen is playing online with other people, Gamers play with people they know or people who happen to be playing the same game at the same time. Obviously, this makes warning bells go off in my mom brain. Again, just giving you facts. Thankfully, my son plays with friends from real life on the regular. I highly encourage this. Gamers’ usernames are called “tags.” Friends share tags to see who’s playing when they are online. They can invite friends to play games they are playing. Then they create a “party,” which is a private group chat for up to eight people. While in a “party,” they can talk without involving other players. Take a minute to let all that sink in. 

Games are about $60, and in my budget, that’s a lot of money. You don’t want your kid to buy a game he/she won’t play. Have your social savvy teenager look up online reviews. Preview games by renting on Redbox or by utilizing share-play with friends on Playstation 4. Share-play allows a player to “share” a game with a friend when they stream together. Subscribe to Playstation Plus or Xbox Live? You get two free games a month. Free is good! Used games sold at Gamestop, a popular video game store, are usually 50% off retail price of the same games in new condition. Check out local Mom-and-Pop video game stores, too. Games like Fortnite are free, but add-ons aren’t. Steer your teen to a battle pass for $10 to get “skins,” “emotes,” and in-game currency as he/she advances in the game. Otherwise, your teen might be tempted to purchase individual items that cost up to $20.

What’s your teen learning from video games? It’s debatable, but some say there are redeeming qualities to video games. When I asked my teen, he said you have to have quick reaction times and learn to adapt to new situations. Teamwork, strategic planning, and puzzle solving help you level up in most games. The sports games teach the rules of the game. Some games are based off of history, so games do teach some historical facts. My teen also brought up the point that TV-watching is passive, while gaming is active and requires higher-level thinking skills. Hmm, I think he talks a good talk.

What’s coming down the pike? Look for your teen to be asking for the new Call of Duty Black Ops 4, Red Redemption 2, Sea of Thieves, Detroit Become Human, and a new Spiderman game. New games like these are usually released in time for the Christmas shopping season. Developers aren’t dumb—they know we will be looking for gifts for our teens.

I learned so much from sitting down and talking to my teen about video gaming. It’s been eye-opening, and I hope that it provides other moms with information they never knew about gaming. While I am sure I have more to learn, I feel like I have “leveled up” on my gaming knowledge.

So, “GG”—that’s gamer speak for “good game”—to all you moms of gamers as you try to keep up with your teenagers and their video games this summer!

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