My five year old daughter and I do a lot of creative activities together: painting, drawing, coloring, playdoh, crafting. Last year, we started playing games together on a digital device. This shared screen time is as rich and fulfilling as any creative act and I’m surprised by how much I look forward to it.
The way we play
We sit at the dining table, shoulder to shoulder. We prop up the ipad (or tablet - we’re OS-agnostic!) between us so we can both see it. We get drinks and SNACKS! I also have my laptop off to one side so we can look up walkthroughs and get hints.
I set the kitchen time for 60 minutes of playtime - any longer than that and we get cross and the game gets too hard.
What happens when we play
When we play, we talk - a lot! It is very collaborative. We exclaim. We wonder and we laugh. Some of the animations are so cute we just watch and enjoy them together. As creative souls, we both appreciate the artistic efforts that go into the world building, the backing soundtracks, and the illustrations.
When it comes to solving in-game puzzles, two heads are better than one. Sometimes I think I’ve worked it out. I’ll say, “We have to put the bat-creature on the end of the vine so the little guy can hop from vine to vine”. She sees something I haven’t and counters with: “But Mummy, he can only hold on to the smooth bits of the vine - he won’t hop where there are spikes”. Neither of us could complete these games ourselves but together we are a great team.
Screenshot from Samorost 3, part 2. Thanks, GamerWalkthroughs!
Shared screen time
It’s digital but I don’t feel guilty. We love hands-on making and tech-free time, but entering this world together fills us with as much joy as any other craft. Screens are ubiquitous, so it makes sense to extend creative play to the digital realm. We’ve written up a list of the games we’ve played so far (plus our reviews!). Can’t wait for our next gaming adventure.