“All kids do these days is stare at their screens and play video games.” You’ve heard these sorts of claims before. And honestly, of late they seem to carry more validity than ever. The way we talk, it can be easy to assume that all screen time is bad and what we need to do is reduce it.
But along with screen time comes many other things we can celebrate. If we had a more accurate view of what kids are actually doing many times when they are on their screens, we might say, “All kids do these days is talk to each other.” “All kids do these days is learn the skills of rhetoric and debating. All kids do these days is develop their social confidence.”
I realize that sounds a little far fetched, but watching my kids play the new “hit” game Among Us I’ve realised these are exactly the sorts of things they are developing when they are “just staring at their screens.”
Among Us is a strategy game where some players work to prepare their spaceship for launch while other impostor players try and sabotage things—even killing the crew. To add tension to the experience, imposters know who each other are, but none of the rest of the crew know who the imposters are. This leads the crew to carefully observe their crewmates’ actions in attempt to uncover any irregular or sinister behaviors.
So far, so video game, but what’s different about Among Us is that at any time you can stop the game and call a meeting. A meeting! Then each play has to use the skills of cunning debate and persuasion to get the others to agree on who to eject from the spaceship. It’s not just a who-can-shout-loudest contest. You can use the things you and the other players have seen to put together what really happened and create a convincing argument.
If that sounds like the sort of game you’d like to play, here are some other games that will get you talking:
- Spaceteam – Communicate with your crew to tell them which of the crazy buttons to press to prevent your ship from crashing.
- Keep talking And Nobody Explodes – Check the bomb defusing manual to identify how to deactivate each element of the bomb only one player can see.
- Triple Agent – Parlour-style game that uses one device passed between 5-9 players, assigning them either an agent or double-agent role as the game starts.
- Subterfuge – A strategy game played with human opponents. The game is designed to be played over a week or so, to give players time to talk between goes.
- Heads Up – A word-guessing game where one person holds the tablet or smartphone on their forehead and guesses the word it displays from clues given by the other players.
- Tick Tock A Tale For Two A narrative game where each player’s game is slightly different. Players must combine their clues to solve the puzzles by talking and teamwork.
Andy Robertson created the Family Video Game Database (taminggaming.com) and wrote the Taming Gaming book.