Skip to main content

Children are more intelligent and curious than the game industry gives them credit for

Just because something is made for children doesn’t mean the quality has to suffer

I have always loved video games, but before I made them my full-time job, I worked as a teacher for over a decade. The age group I taught for the longest is 4-6-year-olds, and you would be surprised by what someone that young can do. Their brains are not as developed as adults, but if you spend enough time with them, you understand more about how their minds work, and how much they are truly capable of when demonstrated correctly.

My students knew that I love video games, and as my school was a private one, many of the kids in my class had a Nintendo Switch. They would often tell me about the games they loved playing. Classics like Mario, Pokémon, and Kirby were all popular games, and parents would often give me Kirby-themed goods after I spoke to their kids so much about it. The thing with all the games on that list is that none of them are easy. Yet, just like me, they jumped on goombas, collected Pokémon, and took down Whispy Woods. Even after I left school, kids would send me pictures of their islands in Animal Crossing.

My point is that 4-year-olds play the same games we adults do. They may not be taking on Ornstein and Smough, but there are plenty of games that are ‘suitable for all ages.’ I bring all this up because back in April I was forced to play Peppa Pig: World Adventures and of the one hundred games we’ve reviewed at GLHF, it remains the worst. Not because as a 33-year-old adult I didn’t enjoy playing it, but because my 4-6-year-olds wouldn’t enjoy it either.

This is exactly how I felt when I saw four games aimed at children at Gamescom 2023. For the sake of fairness, I will talk about the one I thought was decent first. Paw Patrol World seems a decent age-appropriate romp. There’s not much game to it, you are a Paw Patrol dog, and you run – or drive – around town sorting out people’s problems, and picking up collectibles to unlock different goodies. Everything is voice-acted, as well as having the text on screen which would help with reading development. There is also a co-op mode so you can play with your kids, which I felt was a nice touch.

Paw Patrol World
Transformers Earthspark Expedition
Jumanji Wild Adventures
The Grinch: Christmas Adventures

If you only take one thing away from this, it’s that children deserve better. You can’t just slap a known face on a game and then put the minimum effort into developing it because “it’s for kids”. Children are smarter than you give them credit for, and they know a turd when they see one even if it’s dressed like the Grinch. This message of course goes out to the parents, and grandparents, not the kids themselves. When you see a game with a familiar face, check online before picking it up. More than likely your kids would rather play a Kirby game even if they don’t know the powerful pink blob yet.