To this day, even my mother attributes my incredible hand-eye coordination to the countless hours I spent with Mario, Luigi, Sonic, Earthworm Jim, and all of those other 2D console games in my childhood. I also attribute my great timing to it as well (although all those years of dance and music probably helped, too).
While many people discount video games as a waste of time, brain-melters that offer nothing to the developing mind, I say we cannot just dismiss all video and console games into the “useless” bin. Any game, even the most vile or violent, has some redeeming qualities. More than that, though, there’s a lot to be said for some of the new and innovative ways independent game designers are changing the face of PC gaming.
Now, I know I’m behind on some of these games, but I’d been hearing about them back when they were in beta, and I wasn’t able to even consider gaming while in school. I’m not the only one in my household who’s been itching to play them, my partner and my daughter both wanted to give them a try, and we’ve been enjoying the demos this weekend.
My picks? Well, let’s say they’re all about challenging the mind and getting players to rethink the way they see the world. Just imagine the new connections our brains make when playing these!
Braid – It’s a 2D game originally designed for the XBOX 360 now available for both Windows and Mac. Unlike your standard 2D scrollers, this one challenges one’s perception by giving you the power to go back in time and correct your mistakes! It’s an elegant puzzle game that requires thinking outside our limited three-dimensional boxes (to make use of a tired cliche).
Crayon Physics Deluxe – Do you have children who adore drawing? What about those pesky early physics lessons? This will appeal to both the engineering minded and the art lovers alike. Better than that? It’s a game that demands the player create their way through the levels. Sometimes, the solution is quite simple–a straight line, a path and a push–but on Level 2 of the demo, I had to stop and ask, “What do I do here?” I wished I hadn’t already sent my daughter to bed.
This is a game designed for Windows–no Mac version available yet–but it can be played with a mouse or a tablet, and can be–nay, should be–played by anyone old enough to use basic computer functions. The online forum and level editor make this a dynamic and developing game for all ages. Even better? It’s cost-effective, and one purchased game can be installed on all your household’s computers without issue.
flOw – Here’s a game I actually did play some time ago. This is more of a form of meditation, and there doesn’t seem to be an end point goal. The motivation? You’re an aquatic based lifeform that grows and evolves based on what you eat, and how far into the depths you’re willing to go. The beauty is that to play it, one must learn how to survive and thrive as you play. The game is customizable based on skill and can be played online, or downloaded and played on a PC or Mac. Not your average video game. The best part? It’s free!
[NOTE: There is a version out on PS3 for $5.99US that simply looks incredible. We, however, don’t have that particular console. Heck, we just invested in a duo NES/SNES retro console!]
Miegakure – This up-coming game is still in its design stages, but comes recommended by the creator of Braid. Playing off of the amusing physics novella Flatland, the goal of the game is to manipulate one’s world to solve puzzles using the fourth dimension. Once again, this game like the ones above, demands utilizing often under-valued aspects of our brains, and requires reconsidering one’s own perceptions. I can’t wait to try this one out! (Oh yeah, and have my daughter play it, too.)
Already played them? Let us know what you think! Still needing convincing? Let me know, and I’ll try to win you over; I might even bake brownies. Know what’s even better? Recommending other games!
Stretch your minds and help your children exercise theirs; who knows, they might grow up to figure out how to solve all the messes we managed to make while they were still in diapers. At least, one can always hope, right? ^_^
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Quick local update: we all went to the Not-Back-to-School picnic with SHG last week. Even though I wasn’t feeling well, and we didn’t stay long, we got a chance to meet and talk to a few parents, and we managed to make it in time for the annual group photo! This wasn’t even a possibility last year while I was still at university. If you’re a member of SHG, thanks for the friendly welcome!