What’s New And Noteworthy In The World Of Video Games

“Pick a card, any card.” That sentence sits deep in my childhood brain because I loved doing card tricks when I was young, and I would always say this line. 

Today, in the final TTT about non-triggering conversations with our kids and students, a new line is arising in my mind, “Pick a topic, any topic.”

I offer some intriguing stories related to video gaming that I am confident you will want to discuss with others — beyond just kids. Data reveals that more and more people over the age of 50 do some sort of video gaming.

Cozy video games

Have you heard about the growing trend of “Cozy” games? These games have cozy scenes, like, in a home with a cup of hot chocolate. The hallmark of these games is that they don’t have aggression or violence in them. 

One recently released called Cozy Grove is  “a game about camping on a haunted, ever-changing island. As a Spirit Scout, you’ll wander the island’s forest each day, finding new hidden secrets and helping soothe the local ghosts. With a little time and a lot of crafting, you’ll bring color and joy back to Cozy Grove!”

Other games in the Cozy category are Animal Crossing and Spirit Farer. In this video with many Cozy games called “Best New Cozy Games Of 2021,” I liked the one titled Cloud Garden. 

Questions to ask: My friend’s sister creates the art for the backgrounds of video games. When you look at the art in the Cozy Grove trailer, what do you think about the backgrounds and the art in general? Would it be fun to see your art used in a video game?

A VR empathy-boosting experiment 

There are many ethnic groups in Nigeria and a remarkably high number of languages spoken – around 500. Ethnic tensions are very real. So what to do? 

In an interesting BBC story, I heard about a Nigerian researcher Eugene Ohu from Lagos’ Business school, addressing this issue by focusing on helping high schoolers build empathy. 

He and his team do a randomized controlled study in which some students help design a virtual reality game. In the game, players get more points for the seat they sit in, but sometimes the seat is near a person who might be mean to them. 

Before a researcher helps a student design a game, they have the student tell the “story of their name.” This activity gets the students thinking in an empathic way about others before they start building the game.

Questions to ask: Do you think having students do these things could build empathy? How does designing a VR game compare to having students design a non-VR video game? A board game? 

Vehicle for human connection and human skills

We all know that playing video games with others can be a way to connect positively. In the most recent Screenagers Podcast, I loved when Mira and her mom talked about Mira teaching her grandma to play Roblox.

Yesterday, a friend told me that her 8-year-old son loves to play Minecraft with his uncle, who lives far away.

Meanwhile, human skills get practiced when playing video games. For instance, in many games,  you need to cooperate or make and stick to a plan. Video games can provide chances for working on regulating strong emotions that can arise in a game (think holding back from blurting out remarks born from frustration).

Questions to ask: In what ways are bonds being strengthened via video game playing? What are some positive human skills getting strengthened?