Reluctantly, we agreed to purchase a DS for our son, over a year ago. In large part, this was due to noticing, while grading papers (volunteer work), that a lot of kids were writing about their DS or PSP.
Now, he chats happily with other DS-loving children about favorite games and strategies. His face glowing, he’ll tell me about a game they all made up and played – at the playground – based on the Mario games they play on their handhelds.
Simply owning a DS – and at that time we had precious few games – gave him a social edge. It gave him access to a previously unknown world.
The world of Mario in an elementary school can almost be compared to that of football in the workplace. People gather and talk about the latest games. My son, ever the ham and always wanting to do the talking, will actually listen to other children as they recommend games or provide strats. He’ll seek them out and ask them about their favorite characters and boss fights. Happily, they’ll chat with him as they puff up with pride and go over their latest game conquests.
Causing others to feel good about themselves when we’re with them… well, that means they’ll want to speak with us again. And again. Don’t we all seek out pleasant company? You betcha. And, for once, my son was the pleasant company.
Do we ring the DS with rules designed to keep him from sinking and getting lost in a dreamworld? Sure. He must make his bed and shut his dresser drawers before playing his games. His homework must be done. His time is limited. If there are tantrums, he loses DS privilege the next day.
I’ve never seen such an eager bedmaker in my life.
Nobody has to remind him or tell him to do a thing… he just comes up and announces that he’s done his chores, and is ready to play. We love it. We love that he’s doing chores without a fuss, and that he’s planning ahead: first do these steps, and then I can do what I want. No prompting, no nagging. It’s glorious.
Okay, it’s expensive.
But he earns the games. If we get a game, it’s because he’s earned it through our point reward system, or because he’s saved up allowance money for it. Occasionally, grandparents take him to the store and treat him to a new game.
Does it matter which kind of handheld game? I seriously doubt it. Mario games are pretty universal. Is this specific to boys? Hmmmm, I really don’t know, not having a daughter. However, I remember enjoying Mario games in my younger years, so it must appeal to both genders on some level.
What I do know is that this decision was a winner.