Laura Seaton writes about parenting and gaming regularly on her blog. Here, as she gears up to get her game face on for Play It Manchester, she explains how a family that games together stays together
Seeing how far gaming has come in the last 30 years is astonishing. Having only been born 31 years ago it has matured as I have, reaching new levels and growing in to the wondrous thing we see before us today.
As a family we absolutely love gaming, whether the addictive mobile games such as Candy Crush that get me through long train journeys, games such as Skylanders and Disney Infinity where you have to collect all of the different figures, or the immersive online worlds that my husband loses hours of his evenings to. We have a huge range of consoles and games in our house, including some that my kids seem to think are quite ancient like the original Xbox and Nintendo Wii. So I can’t wait to take them along to Play It at the Museum of Science and Industry and show them what really old consoles look like.
For me it will be a step back in time to the simple age where floppy discs contained all the information you needed and games cartridges just needed blowing on when they stopped working. The age when 64 bit gaming literally blew you away, when we fell in love with the simple graphics and monophonic game tunes were all the rage.
I write about our love of gaming and our adventures as a family on my blog Tired Mummy of Two and as part of that I have also written about our many trips to the Museum of Science and Industry so when I heard that Play It Manchester was coming to the museum I knew I had to get involved. I can’t wait to head there on the opening weekend and get my game on but deciding what to play is going to be a tough decision.
We have a family session ticket, which means we have a 90 minute slot to fit in as much gaming as possible and, with six gaming zones, I am going to have to do some serious planning. We may even need to split up.
In the Celebrations area, which has classic family gaming franchises, I’m hoping I might be able to prise the iPads out of the kids’ hands and get them playing some of the games I grew up with. My husband will probably be found in the Ring, a 16-screen gaming carousel offering competitive gaming at its best.
Replay Ages is where I will really start to feel old as I get the chance to introduce the kids to the Spectrum and Commodore, the very first gaming systems I remember playing on. There’ll also be the Megadrive, the console I got for Christmas as a child, and the SNES, Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast, which I lost many a teenage evening to. Being able to reminisce over these games is something I am really looking forward to.
For the ultimate fun multi-player game I couldn’t think of anything better than Mario Kart in the Multiplayer Gaming Lounges. With sets of four player, single screen games set up to race through the tracks, it looks like a great way to settle the score on who is the ultimate gaming champion in the family (me, obviously).
Of course there’ll be a whole area dedicated to Minecraft, which will be popular with the kids, and I can imagine that we’ll be spending a fair amount of time here.
Finally the Play It Extra area will feature classic arcade games. I am not sure if I want to bust out my moves in front of loads of people so I may steer clear of the dance machines but no doubt the kids will want to have a go.
Gaming for us is a fantastic opportunity to bond and spend some quality time together doing something that we all enjoy. It is sometimes hard to find something that satisfies the whole family but when we sit down to race each other on Mario Kart or beat each other up in the Disney Infinity Toy Box we all seem to grow closer. Some parents have low opinions of gaming but it’s an experience you really can’t argue with and I have peace of mind that many of the games we play are educational, Let’s just not mention that to the kids.
What perhaps isn’t quite as healthy is the hereditary competitiveness. My kids are already confident that they will be able to beat me even on the “ancient” games. All I can say is, game on!
Play It is at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, 25 July-9 August. Family sessions are £12 and other ticket prices vary