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Dec 08

Frustration with online games for kids

Games, Tech with tags: , Add comments

Sorry, you must have a Windows PC and Internet Explorer 5.5 or greater to play this game

Excuse me? This is exactly why I joined Mozilla with Ben. I don’t want to access my bank in 2010 and see “You must be running Silverlight on Windows with IE 9″. It sounds crazy, but think back a few years and we were there. And, this message from a Dora the Explorer game reminded me that we still even have that problem today!

Dora Game

This brings me to online games. There are so many (mainly Flash) games for kids online. It is fantastic. I play PBS Kids games such as Curious George with Sam for hours.

The problem I run into is that because they are simple little games, they don’t have the notion of saving a game, or going to a level. I can see why the creators wouldn’t put this in. It is more work, and they probably think “these are quick little games, who needs that?”

The problem is that kids tend to get addicted to a game and want to play it again and again and again. Sam will want to go back to play, and it is so annoying to play the same first level once again! Let me skip!

And then there is losing the game. Kids get so attached, that I dread the following interaction (which has happened):

  • Daddy, let’s play the Curious George game with the boats
  • Ok, *opens it up on the computer*
  • Um, it looks like that game isn’t there, let’s try the new one
  • NOOOOO I WANT THE BOATS

Kids really care, so game sites, please add rather than deleting if you can. There is a kid out there that loves the game, and you break his heart when you nuke it. The good news is that 5 minutes later he is onto the next thing…. but still.

Any other parents run into this? Any favourite games?

11 Responses to “Frustration with online games for kids”

  1. Jesse Kuhnert Says:

    Somewhat off topic, but Hannah enjoys the same flash games and now spends lots of time playing with http://www.leapfrog.com/en/families/leapster/leapster_learning0/leapster2_learning_system.html . (had to go through psp and nintendo DS first to figure out that they were for older kids until finding this thing)

  2. Nicki Says:

    My daughter loves that site too. We both also play on Neopets.com. They have a ton of games but they are no different than Nickelodeon’s in that you can’t skip to the last level you play the day before, etc.

    We are also a big fan of the flash games on Orisinal.com

  3. Dan Says:

    I’m not a parent, but I have suggestions none-the-less.

    Try using the User Agent Switcher extension to get around the IE detection. Might work. It’s worth a try at least.

    Some flash games you can save locally by figuring out the location of the SWF file and saving it to disk (make sure it is fully loaded into the cache first). With flash games that grab additional content from the server this probably won’t work. But if it does work, you have a backup in case the game gets deleted off the server.

  4. philip Says:

    our kids LOVE neopets.com.

    we had to implement time limits on the computer because they’d play for hours. neopets lets you earn ‘coins’ that enable you to buy virtual goods, so it isn’t just about individual games. while the kids love the games, they also love earning the virtual money so they can spend it on the virtual goods.

    we let them try other sites from time to time, but they always go back to neopets. we also don’t have to worry as much about inappropriate ads on the neopets site as compared to some more mature sites (our kids are 9 and 11).

  5. Robert Kaiser Says:

    Sorry, not on games, I’m still looking forward to having my own kids, but the problem you started with is even worse if you’re not using a browser with the brand name of the major players in the UA string, e.g. on SeaMonkey or Minefield, you’ll easily find a large number of pages telling you that “you need IE6 or higher, or Firefox 1.5 or higher to view this website”. I really hoped the open web would look different.

  6. Ray Cromwell Says:

    I ran into the same issues. There are some 3D plugins that the NickJr site uses. I got them to run on OSX, but they crash often, leaving me to explain to a 3 year old what segfaults are.

    Sesame Street’s website used to have this game Keyboard-o-Rama that my son loved, but they unlinked it, and now hide everything behind this portal-like flash page. Fortunately, some parents bookmarked it, and Google can still find it.

    My son likes PBS, Playhouse Disney, NickJr, and the Sesame Street websites. I was amazed that even when he was 2 years old, he was capable of using a trackpad. Some of the games require drag-and-drop however, and it took him a long time to figure out how to do that. I advocate that these kids games use click-and-drop. You press a button, pick up an item, let go of the button, drag it around, and then click to drop.

    +1 for Apple and 1-button. When my son tried to use a PC notebook, he kept accidently clicking the right mouse button!

  7. matt mcknight Says:

    My daughter learned to read with the help of http://www.starfall.com when she was 3- I give it a lot of credit.. My 1yr old likes the alphabet section and is getting pretty good. It’s well done- the flash segments are launched from an html page, so it’s all bookmarkable. Looking for an equivalent site on mathematics. So many of them are horribly done. I just got the older daughter (5yr old) started on creating animations on Scratch (scratch.mit.edu). She got the hang of it in a couple of hours. I guess learning Flash itself is next?

  8. matt mcknight Says:

    Almost forgot…you can download many of the flash files to run locally. Beats the “where’s my game?” problem and let’s you set up a local homepage full of links to various games to run.

  9. Kids Games Says:

    PBS kids games are really good. Kids enjoy this games, Any game it has to increase the mental ability for kids. Also we need to take care that they should not get addicted to game.

    Thanks
    Jessica

  10. Hand Me Downs Says:

    Hi,

    I totally agree with you. Its realy annoying when we encounter such tecnical issues while playing games.

    My kids love computer games and playing it all the time and they get upset if they cant find a level or game they were previously playing.

    So game makers, please take a note of this.

  11. mysterious stranger Says:

    hey,

    i have a website its preety fun, i was just surfing the web trying to find a fun site to play on cause games like clubpenguin,and webkinz are just not fun anymore.I am 10 though so i think i could give you a fair list of games that actually work case i’m online a lot:

    clubpenguin.com:make your own penguin and explore a fun new world chat with other penguins choose safe chat(list of words to choose from very safe) or free chat(type in words, however it won’t let you type in e-mails phone numbers adresses or inapropriate langue)

    sorry i could only type in one but go to my website to get more.
    ps.i didnt forget a period in my websites name so dont put in a period please

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