Monday, June 23, 2008

Kids' games SUCK  

Games: So, if you’re a developer who makes kids’ games and you’re reading this right now, let me just ask you… exactly what the fuck is the deal with the difficulty levels?

Notice that none of these kids are angry or crying? Remember it.

Do you have anybody even remotely within your target age range try these games out before you ship them off to retail? My guess is, probably not.

As the parent of a soon-to-be seven-year-old, I have an absolute hell of a time finding games that my son can play. Automatically ruling anything out that has language, sex or violence, the number of available titles is minuscule. Of that minuscule number of titles, the number of titles devoted specifically towards children is even smaller, and of that smaller number, the number that would be fun and appropriate for kids of my son’s age range is practically nonexistent. I’m getting a little bit off-track here, but I think you get the point.

Anyway-- difficulty levels, what the fuck?

You want me to do what with what fingers while holding the stylus?!?

Do you seriously think anyone above the age of ten is going to give a second glance to Kung Fu Panda on the DS? This game screams “for little kids only!!!” so why is it that it’s so ridiculously hard in spots? My son started getting frustrated about 15 minutes into it, so the wife stepped in with some parental guidance. 15 minutes after that, the wife started getting frustrated, and the wife getting frustrated is not a good thing.

Don't let its friendly appearance fool you. This game is evil.

Boom Blox. Again, what the fuck?

Although I do think the game is pretty fun, anyone who thinks this title isn’t aimed squarely at kids is fooling themselves. The characters are friggin' rectangles with faces, and you basically knock down brick structures for the majority of the game. Naturally, this intense kid appeal explains why the developers have crafted a number of levels which are stupidly difficult to complete, even for a person with my considerable gameplay expertise. Rather than being the gather-the-family experience I hoped it would be, it ended up being a “this is too hard, I need help” session on all sides.

I want to love Cars, but Cars won't love me!!

It’s not like these two games are the only offenders, either. The entire history of kids’ games is filled with titles that are geared with precision accuracy towards the young ones, only to crush their little hopes and dreams with absurd design choices and completely unrealistic difficulty curves that seem to exist only to make children cry.

As a parent, I absolutely do not fucking appreciate spending money on a game designed to make my son happy and introduce him to the hobby that I’ve spent so many years in myself, only to have him walk away from a game system frustrated, upset, and discouraged.

So, if you’re a developer who makes kids’ games and you’re reading this right now, make your games EASY. Very few people (and even fewer children) will ever complain that a game was too easy. On the other hand, everyone complains when a game is too hard – and if Dad and Step-Mom who’ve got near-on forty years’ combined experience playing games think the latest kiddie title is too hard, then it’s WAY TOO FUCKING HARD.

The new films may suck, but the games do just what they're supposed to.

You Lego games over there… Yeah, you. Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Your puzzles need a little tightening up, but otherwise you’re alright in my book. Good job on that can't-really-die thing.

Everyone else?

You piss me off.

Seriously, you think I'm going to buy another game from you that makes me look like this?

Get it the fuck together, playtest with the kids the games are actually meant for, and do every parent out there a favor by making your titles a source of enjoyment, not frustration and difficulty. If you don’t start flying right and cleaning up your act, I’m going to start taking it personal-- not to mention the fact that your future audience is going to disappear if you teach them over and over again that games aren’t any goddamn fun.

What next?

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