Sunday, 5 December 2010
The Bonkers House is under attack
‘I’m going in!’
James was given Call of Duty: Black Ops for his birthday. I know, I know – it’s an 18-certificate and I was deeply sceptical. Adrian, on the other hand, was typically blokeishly gung-ho about it.
‘It’s fine. His friends play this stuff. I’ve played this stuff.’ (er, once, at a mate’s in London when he was doubtless three sheets to the wind). ‘Anyhow, it’s legitimate killing in the Theatre of War. There’s no crime or rape or violence against women.’
Oh, so that’s alright then.
A few years back, when James first got into gaming, I spent hours trawling the Internet, convinced that gaming wasn’t good for children (or adults, come to that) – that there had to be side-effects. Weirdly, and annoyingly, I came up with very little. In fact, evidence seemed to point to the contrary – that gaming could help children with hand to eye coordination, with brain development and with a host of skills. More recently researchers have taken another look and observed that violent video games do fire up the area of the brain connected with aggression. But, interestingly, they didn’t find a correlation with real-life violence.
I suppose that is mildly reassuring but James’ behaviour definitely changes when he plays Black Ops. He becomes surly, irritable and downright stroppy. So, this Christmas, we’ll be waving bye-bye to body counts and bazookas and getting out the board games instead.
I know, I know (inner groan time). If we’re honest, we’ve (nearly) all let the games console play babysitter. And yes, traditional games take time and effort on the part of parents. But, come on guys, it’s Christmas! Once I get going (yes, okay, sloe gin or a large slug of Midori helps), I do rather enjoy some of these.
Perudo: This is a South American game of ‘Liars Dice’. It’s a mix of guesswork, bluff and luck. Incredibly simple and the best thing is that you don’t need hordes of people: just two can play or up to six. Not really my cup of tea but James loves it. 8+
Don’t Say It! This is a little cracker – encourages children to think and expand vocabulary but equally tantalisingly tough for adults. You have to describe an object without using the obvious words (ie describe a balloon without saying ‘pop’, ‘blow’ or ‘float’... It's another one that will get grandparents' knickers in a right old twist. 6+
Urban Myth: This is a bit like QI mixed with Trivial Pursuit. Can you tell the difference between fact and modern folklore? Did Marilyn Monroe wear a size 16 dress? Are there really alligators living in the New York sewers? 12+ for this one but, like Articulate, I reckon it’s fine for younger children teamed with adults.
Twister: Another classic and a good ‘un for small children (as well as the inevitable teen parties). Word of warning – not one to play with elderly grannies. Just trust me on this. The emergency services are always overstretched at this time of year. This says 6+ on the box but just go for it (very small limbs will struggle but hey, it encourages flexibility!). My brother bent me into knots when I was four and it hasn't done me any harm... *hmm*
Any I’ve missed? Any crackers you’d like to add on?
Meanwhile, I’m still touting for clicks to NEXT.... Thank you so much for the good-hearted souls who have already clicked and will, doubtless click again for the warm fuzzy feeling you gain from giving succour to the Bonkers House. For those more cynical souls, there is an incentive Next are giving away all sorts of goodies from now to 22nd December. Today you can win gadgets worth £210 so click HERE and try your luck.