Game developers and reviewers, pay attention!

alexmetallicaherosmallAhem.

Cassie purchased for me Guitar Hero: Metallica for our anniversary.

I have not played it nearly as much as my 6 year old son, Alex.

Is it for lack of enjoyment?

NO!

It’s because the damn game has a ‘beginner’ mode, which let’s someone play the songs while only strumming, not having to use the keys on the neck!

When a note comes, it’s a rainbow hue, stretching across the frets. So one only needs to have the rhythm to strum at the right moment.

Game developers, pay attention to this, please, if you desire money.

If you don’t like money, then ignore it as you wish.

Game reviewers, you might also want to pay attention. Those games you review? Most of the people that read your reviews and have money to blow on games have kids, and like to share their video game obsession with them

So here’s the deal.

Guitar Hero: Metallica has just shot to the ‘most favorite game in the house’ status, based on the fact that I can play this with my 6 year old. I will play this game bunches. He is playing it, on songs like ‘No Leaf Clover’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’, and he is rocking it, his head is all into it at the beat, he’s focused and he is freaking lovin’ it.

Game Developers, the fact that this game not only has regular modes for us regular gamers, but also includes a mode, an incredibly basic mode, that my 6 year old can enjoy is pure genius. I would have bought this game based purely on knowing this fact, if it had been, you know, advertised or on a review. If you include kid friendly modes on the games we adults want, we will come.

I will look for future games that have a young child friendly mode, and if I find any of them out there I think would be neat, I WILL buy them too. Because it will be something I can share with my son, that isn’t f’ing Dora the Explorer in horrible shit art that looks like a smurf took a crap on a keyboard and foisted it on small kids because they aren’t selling a quality game, they’re selling a brand they know parents will recognise.

Guess what I don’t buy? I don’t buy crap games for Alex. I rent a Dora game from Blockbuster, see it’s crap and an insult to my son, and pass on by.

The Go Diego Go game for the Wii using the motion controls was a quality game, though, credit where credit is due. They did a real nice job there. It was just so linear and short that my son beat it, at the age of five, in 1.5 hours. And looked at me, and said he didn’t really ever feel the need to play it again. Ever. Too short, too simple.

You take $50 for a game a 5 year old beats in 1.5 hours, and has no replayability? I don’t care how nice a job you did mapping the controls, I’d like to smack you.

Game Reviewers? Yeah, this part is for you.

Remember where I mentioned who buys games? Who has the cash? And what those folks have… kids?

Yeah, we browse your site reading your reviews, giving you pagehits in exchange for info to help us make an informed purchase.

We know about FPS, RPGs, MMORPGs, tactical shooters, Sims, etc.

We don’t know shit about ‘kid’s games’. Games targeted at kids.

All we know is, we like games, we LOVE games, and we want our children to experience that same joy, that same wonder, that same ‘this is so freaking cool’ that we got playing video games as kids.

Guess what?

If you review a game, and you include just one single paragraph in each review telling us if there is any possibility that my son could play this in any mode or setting and enjoy it, I will bookmark your site and come back time after time, just to see if a game *I* am interested in has any appeal I can share with my son… an appeal where he DOES it himself, not just has to sit and watch me do it.

If you write reviews and don’t have kids… protip, they want to do it themselves. They don’t want adults to do it for them, or just watch adults do it. That’s boring.

My son watches me play WoW. He sees me fish, or mine, or herb, and says “Daddy, i can do that, can I try?”

He wants to have fun, not watch!

Make your game, rock on, make it good. But if you add a mode or capability for the primary owner/player to play it WITH their children, even their SMALL children… your game will pass from mild diversion to family favorite.

Yes, even Guitar Hero: Metallica.

I cannot even begin to imagine the success a Guitar Hero or other game using the guitar would have if it had reasonable music and a Beginner mode, targeted not at what idiots like McDonalds and Disney marketing thinks kids music should be, but what kids think kids music should be; light and fun and fast and boppy.

Man, you should see Alex rocking to ‘No Leaf Clover’.

He wants to try ‘Battery’ next.

I’m… I’m so proud.

Oh, and good lord, they included Bob Segar’s ‘Turn the Page’ on here. Is that awesome or what?

My son could be playing guitar for ‘Turn the Page’. Is that the shit or what?

Only way it could be better is if they included Blue Öyster Cult. /swoon.

Reviewers? I’m dead serious. I’ve been to your sites, your idea of kids games and reviews for them is a joke. That’s why you don’t get my traffic anymore. I can make up my own mind about what I’m interested in, it’s trying to figure out if my son would like something that sends me to a review site.

Word to the wise, you want my money? Make what the demographic with the money wants… and we want more ways to have COOL fun while interacting with our children.

This game and Paper Mario – sure genius.

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30 thoughts on “Game developers and reviewers, pay attention!

  1. I have now tried this game.

    (I know you sub to comments bigbearbutt, you are probably the only one reading this.)

    I can not play this game on any other difficulty than the easiest.. My knowledge of music is so lousy – and my dexterity so low, that I fail within the first minute of almost any song if I have to use more than one finger playing this game.

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  2. Now that I know this, I’m going to have to go out and buy it! Not only am I a Metallica fan, but my 5yo loves to play as well. We all usually play Rock Band because of the setting where you can’t fail out of a song. She usually plays the drums – much better than me btw – but being able to play the guitar parts without having to deal with the fret buttons will let her play the guitar stuff without the frustration she normally deals with. Thanks BBB! Yet another reason this blog is on my “must read” list!

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  3. If your son likes to watch WoW. Try FreeRealms its just like a disneyesque wow jr. And it costs nothing to play.
    Club Penguin is also okay except for the preteen cyber dating that some penguins do. I don’t know if its cute or disturbing the lil penguins saying “looking for hot gf” “you’re hot” “wanna go out”.

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  4. We are the same way with our 10 yr old. The games are just funner if everyone in the family can play together. Although we don’t have to worry about the guitar for her, its all about the vocals.

    I have to agree with Agora about the Lego games. The hub picked the Batman one up for his vacation as something to do on the DS while stuck in airports. When he got home and our daughter began playing. My geek heart swelled and they chatted up the game and what they liked and ohhh did you see this while playing it.

    Can’t say enough about Mario Cart, 10 yr old trying to trash talk her dad’s driving skills for not hitting a glowing block? priceless

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  5. You may want to try the LEGO Star Wars series. Excellent ganes which can be played solo or in a tean with another player. My 5 year old and I play together most of the time but he has can solo most levels on his own. The other LEGO games, Batman and Indiana Jones, are not as good and that’s coming from someone who is not a Star Wars fan.

    Some of the Sonic titles are fun, especially those you progress through a series of level. Hit and miss for me and I always rent the game first.

    Soul Calibur II (but not III, which is terrible) is a fun game if you are both into fighting aracade-style game.

    Animal Crossing is a game my kids (16, 13, and 5) all play but I can’t stand it. The game does require some reading, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your perspective.

    The Mario Party games have some fun mini games, some less so, and can be played with up to four players. The older titles are very cheap and are good enough to determine if you and your son will enjoy playing them together.

    Club Penguin is a web game my 5 year old enjoys and which has helped develop his reading skills.

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  6. BBB — what about the Animal Crossing and Mario Party games? Animal Crossing might be hit or miss with the adults ( I *LOVE* IT! My husband makes fun of me), but it’s cute and since it has seasonal events, it might be replayable. And the graphics are adorable (though, the neighbors can be a bit on the mean side for such a cute game).

    And Mario Party is pure fun! I got my 3 year-old-neice (at the time) playing the ‘trinket’ games you win on my DS (like, decorate a cake, shake a snowglobe, open a box to make a wish, etc).

    Just shooting out more adult and kid friendly games, in case you already haven’t checked them out.

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  7. I’ve explored a bit of wizard101, i like the concept, and the pricing. the gameplay isn’t realtime and robust like other mmo’s but it’s still fun. I’ve run an ice mage up to lvl 10, and started a life mage. So far I am still playing in totally free mode. I might buy some crowns to open a new area soon. (crowns are their real -> digital currency, at the cheapest; 5 dollars = 2500 crowns, and to unlock a new zone for life costs about 750 crowns) The other pricing option is about 10 a month and gives you total access to all parts of the game.

    The combat mechanism is a very simplified version of magic:the gathering or other card battle games like it. Turn based. you play a card that summons a critter to whollop your opponent, heal you or an ally, or add a buff or debuff.

    questing is really easy, pickup quests from guys with a ! over their head, go kill/collect something, turn in at a ? .. oddly that seems familiar…

    You can pickup gear that changes your appearance and adjusts your stats. As with the combat, the stats are very simplified. health/mana and elemental properties. there are 3 properties for each element/magic school accuracy, damage, resistance. the gear you equip can affect any of these stats, or can add cards to your choices in your deck.

    Mana – the one irritant I found is that the only ways to recover mana, is by drinking a potion, walking over a blue wisp, or playing a minigame. it does not automatically regenerate over time.

    You start off with a dorm room that you can decorate, later on, you can buy a house or castle. You have a private bank vault in your room/home for storage.

    I have found no tradeskills in this game, but they wouldn’t really fit the game anyway.

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  8. “Because it will be something I can share with my son, that isn’t f’ing Dora the Explorer in horrible shit art that looks like a smurf took a crap on a keyboard and foisted it on small kids because they aren’t selling a quality game, they’re selling a brand they know parents will recognise”

    Hear hear!

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  9. I always saw beginner mode as “old people” mode. Haha. For example, my mother has never played a video game in her life, but say my brother, sister, and I playing GH: World Tour and decided it looked interesting. Beginner mode was perfect for her, as it was challenging but not impossible.

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  10. Beginner mode would be where I start too. Something tells me your son would school me in almost every game. Nice post BBB, this made be ponder the kid gaming market; which is not normally part of my reality.

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  11. My two year old loves Wizard 101. She has her own wizard, and almost always wants to play “my character”. Of course, she just runs around in circles and moves the camera, but she loves it.

    The troll crashing through the wall in LOTRO, though, gave her nightmares and she wouldn’t sleep in her room for a month. There’s definitely some things that work and others that don’t.

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  12. WoW catered for the kids by introducing the BM hunter….. come on, someone had to say it :))

    Seriously. my teenage daughter has had “several” hunters because the starting areas are familiar (which young ones like), yet still slightly different every time she played them over the years. Now she’s a bit older, the lvl 74 BM hunter is doing some serious questing (she’s a leveling machine when given the time). Horde Guild had a retro/achievement night and she scored a T5 helm. She wasn’t overly exited about the slight stats upgrade, but it looks “SO COOL!!!” http://www.wowhead.com/?item=30141#screenshots

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  13. I don’t have kids but you have some excellent points and ideas in there and quite honestly this is probably the best blog post I’ve ever read. There is so much common sense, awesome and more awesome jammed into this post. While I don’t have kids I do have nieces and nephews and while they’re mostly grown now there were times where I wanted very badly to play video games with them but the video games I had weren’t compatible with small children and I’d really have loved to have games that they couldn’t play so we could play the games and have fun together rather than having them just watch me play.

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  14. I agree with you on family friendly fun games. We have that issue also. We try not to spend all our time infront of the games but you know how that goes. We found Star Wars legos a long time back and we still go back to it and play it. I would love some one to write reviews so I don’t have to play out the game most of the way before letting the young’ens see it.
    As for WOW and the kids. THe oldest is nine and he is aloud 30 mins a day if he has kept up on his homeowrk. The boy is good with games all games. If he spent more time in WOW he could be raiding. LOL no way too young. My little one sits on my lap and leads the toons around town. Sad that WOW has taken up so much of our lives. But WOW is the funnest way we have found to stay in touch with family 🙂

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  15. ROCK ON ALEX AND B^3 ! m/

    No, seriously. It’s awesome when dad and son can enjoy a game together like this, IMO.
    Have you tried racing games ? Those are usually not that hard to get the hang of either – steering and gas is all you need to know to get the car moving (unless the option doesn’t have an option for automatic transmission) and steering is just a matter of practice, though I don’t know how hard it is for kids to get a hang of it.
    Time trial modes also allow you to practice without other cars blocking your way, so yeah.

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  16. Yes, omg yes. I refuse to buy ‘kids’… Well, anything. It’s all such trash, moronic and insulting. Easy modes for your kids to play alongside you in games is where it’s at. Imagine modern action games with 2 player cooperative modes, where one player could be set to a ‘kid mode’ (say, simplified controls, automated stuff) and actually be able to play -with- you, while you play on a normal mode.

    Take the FPS. Kid mode includes a larger degree of auto-aiming, greatly reduced incoming damage, automated weapon selection, AI’s programmed to prefer targetting players playing on normal difficulty over kids mode, etc. Things that would be grossly op for older players but just ‘level the field’ for kids, allowing you to play together.

    BBB, you are absolutely right. Also, i’m buying GH:M tommorow based on this!

    (seriously, as well, what is cooler than jamming with your kid to quality rock?)

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  17. Ahh waht a cute picture of Alex. 🙂

    My daughter is the same age as your son; she turned six last week. She likes video games too. I haven’t purchased Guitar Hero, but I have been thinking about it. I’m teaching her piano, but I think she would like GH too. Yep, my daughter has beaten Dora and Diego but she still likes to play those games. She’s similar to me in that aspect, there are several games I’ve beaten on my Xbox 360 but I’ll still go back to play them. 🙂

    I did find a child friendly MMO yesterday that she is enjoying. It’s by Sony Entertainment, and it’s called, Free Realms. There is a free and a paid version. The paid version is less than $5 monthly. In some ways, it is similar to WOW in that it has quests, but it’s geared towards children. There are jobs and crafting professions (my daughter is loving the race car driver.) It’s also a fun learning tool also (although she doesn’t see it that way.) There’s reading, hand/eye coordination, etc., Sh’e been reading for a few years in fact she reads to me at night now but it’s nice to see her reading in-game to advance to another part of a quest. She’s so happy when she advances. 🙂 I’m right beside her if she needs help but for the most part she hasn’t. Fighting mobs is voluntary so she can run around and explore without being attacked unless she initiates it.

    I’m also going to check out Wizard 101. Saylah, one of my favorite bloggers, has written quite a bit about it http://notadiary.typepad.com/mysticworlds/wizard-101/ I think this will be a fun ‘downtime ‘ activity for the both of us. After school and on the weekends we’re usually outside playing (if the weather is nice) but she gets a few hours of gaming time each week. Thus far, my only complaint about those two games are they aren’t available for the Mac. Although I have Windows computers in my house I mainly use Mac in fact I use my 17″ MacBook Pro to play WOW.

    I agree with you that there are some companies that should be doing a better job marketing games towards parents and their children. It’s just another way to bond and my daughter and I are enjoying it immensely. 🙂

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  18. Awesome Bear. I’m right with you on the kids wanting to play WoW. the youngest likes making toons and killing things ( he only goes to about lvl 10 or so ) then he runs into problems.

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  19. XD hey BBB remember me the kindly bear that wrote the story, well I happen to work at a Gamestop here in my home state, yeah i know bad haircuts earrings, NOT, its polos and khakis here man, but anyway.

    Guitar Hero 5 comes out in a few months, check it out same with Guitar Hero: Van Halen, should be some awesome song selections between the two, no need to buy more guitars etc. should be just the game. So, enjoy the tidbit there man, and hey if you think theyll be good reserve em idk yet but there may be something that only reservers get for those games.

    btw the arthas book was good, really really good, and it was even better since it was free. XD

    have a good night BBB, LBB and Cassie

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  20. Hey, Bear – I strongly recommend doing a search for GamerDad’s site. Andrew Bub’s done a lot of work at getting reviewers who will look at ‘kid games’ and even regular releases and see both how kid friendly they are, and more importantly, if your kid will -enjoy- the game in question. With a lot of indepth review work and explanation.

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  21. Additionally, Guitar Hero: World Tour features the beginners Mode, if you’d like to further expand your son’s musical boundaries. Beat It and No Sleep ’til Brooklyn FTW. All radio clean versions, I believe, for concerned parents out there.

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  22. The “beginner mode” is a great idea. Also, Tap Tap Revenge (guitar hero for iPhone, really) has that included also – just thought you might want to know.

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  23. Awww, Little Bear Butt’s “My First Metallica”! ~sniff~ That’s beautiful.

    Funny enough, it also works the other way. I bought a Wii for my dad for Christmas this last year to help him get through some chemo he was undergoing, and to try to keep him active. We ended up playing Mario Kart and Boom Blox for a week and a half straight. And he hasn’t played in years. We had a blast.

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  24. “I don’t care how nice a job you did mapping the controls, I’d like to smack you.”

    Flawless BBB as always. Excellent post – devs everywhere should take a mental note. And potentially learn how to dodge a bear swipe.

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  25. Woo Hoo! You just gave me all the justification I needed for my wife to get that game 😛 my 3y/o wants to play GH3 with me all the time…

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