There are no video games for a 3 year old. They have their shapes in the holes and the identifying patters and exploring storybook games, but there are no real 3 year old games. Fun games that send you somewhere else, driving a big truck, piloting a giant mech, or simply driving around a basic city in a car. They make them to entertain adults and they go above and beyond what a 3 year old needs to see, and should see. Outside of the fact that 3 year olds should have plenty of time to play and minimal screen time, I wanted to find him a good game.

My mind did not develop staring at a screen, it developed jumping and smashing sticks in the woods. So I’m finding a compromise here, he keeps being able to be a kid, with some games here and there, maybe even showing him potentially awe inspiring possibilities. I’d start him slow. I’d feed him the basic, the 4 bit, the 8 bit so he can take that with him as he gradually learns the newer technologies that made it possible to deliver the true artistry we can see today. I was looking for something older and less violent so the first place I looked was my own boxes since I still have many of my old games. The only requirement would be a machine to run them. I was going to build a Win98 machine, but if I went too far back I’d lose support for newer hardware, the whole point of being able to play these games at their best. So I dug up the XP I had lying in my office that hadn’t been used in some time, it was burred under boxes of cords whose usefulness have long since expired, but I recognize them, so I keep them. Digression! Back to XP machine, GO!

I set up an old XP machine I had laying around. 2.8ghz SINGLE CORE. I forgot how excruciating doing anything on a single core is. It takes for flippin ever! The good news is that many Win98 apps WILL run on XP.

They will run better then they ever knew could be possible. Plus I can do all sorts of smoothing because the GPU has nothing to do while running the games – making the old look a little better then it did. 256 dithered graphics and all!

It all started when I was looking for a game that my 3 year old and I could play together. I got a joystick for the mech games Hawken and MechWarrior Online. I figured I could find some training mode where we could walk around and wouldn’t have to go shooting any weapons. My mistake, I told him about the giant robots.

He was so excited that when we finally did play I figured one round wouldn’t hurt – we could stay off to the side, he could explore around, etc. Well I then played a real round, getting into it and hitting the other robots I described it as “zapping the energy from the robots so they have to shut down” and not letting anything get by him he started chanting “poo that guy! He got you, he kept pooing faster then you were pooing.”

That aside, I gave him the reins for one last round. Honestly I figured it would be over relatively quickly so wasn’t too worried, he had already seen it all in action. He got in that thing, he was swinging the body around, actually doing circles around an opponent, trapping him somewhat at the top of a hill while he maintained the orientation of the cockpit, fixed on the enemy, evenly circling around him, pressing the fire button, switch weapons button, then the fire buttons to eventually cycle through them all, blasting him and not missing a SINGLE SHOT.

I can’t say I’ve ever done that well at Mech Warrior. I was a very proud father to see that. He had ingrained strategic vision and approach!

So to avoid such “pooing” filled endeavors and the encouraging of such I was thinking about older games. I looked up some I enjoyed playing a long time ago, nothing good that I had in mind had been remade or was available via GOG so the next logical step was to sift through my CDs.

I installed:
Streets of Sim City – various modes with guns and armaments to defeat other racers and even a police mode to attack criminals but even thats a bit much. Thank goodness there’s Granny delivery mode, perfect! Drive as you want to, pick up some packages, run out of time after like 10 minutes if you don’t manage to get anything done. Those are 3 year old rules.
Monster Truck Maddness 2 – this one worked great with the force feedback, bumpy dirt roads, bounces after jumps, loose gravel, and general suspension sproingyness. It’s technically a race, but it’s just fun to forgo the racetrack for the traintrack – bumpa bumpa bumpa bumpa.

Next on my list is:
Midtown Maddness – I don’t remember the wheel support for this one, but it has more harmless racing around San Fran. Realistic cars, not so much the handling but it can grow with him.
Need for Speed 2 / 3 – should have good force feedback support, much higher speed racing, but since it’s s much more simple polygons the racing is that much more mechanical soul, unlike the late ones where the money and the pretty cards took the soul, fuck all to the handling.

All the microsoft titles and NFS up to a point all had the “original” force feedback. Not this vibrating bullshit, but the real hit the side of the road it bumps like your tire hit the curb, run over railroad tracks – dunka dunka dunka, tree, thump forward, gravel simulation, jump forces, impacts – they were varied and they made these relatively crude representations come to life. I have been disappointed that all that went away. I loved it all so much.

So now I have the OSX G4 iMac playing OS9 titles and an XP Machine playing Win98+ titles for the little guy. They’re all educational, at the very least non violent. He’s got limited time to be a kid. He doesn’t have to go dealing with killing and death until later – I want him to enjoy his time before it all comes down. There’s more to life, and more to gaming, then shooting and death.


I’d like to call this classic gaming with kids. Start them off with what we started off which. Control the blocks to control the pixel, to control the polygon.
ClassiKid Gaming. Something like that. Suggestions? How many other gamer parents are there out there?

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