Free Games for Young Children: Choosing a Virtual World Based on Kids’ Ages

When choosing a virtual world for the kids or even checking the ones your kids take part in, it is important to keep their age in mind. These days children may begin to experience such worlds from the age of three (generally with a grownup helping) to teenage years and beyond. Parents should see to it that the online world these people enter is protected in accordance to their ages and offers suitable content.

As you browse through the kids surfing the virtual worlds, you will find three main age groups:

Teens in the virtual worlds (usually 14-18):

Teens possess fully developed technological as well as language skills. They’re confident in browsing the Internet (occasionally more than their own parents). The Internet becomes a powerful social and academic tool in their life. Teens are often more conscious of the risks which exist on the web. However, in this age bracket there is an inclination for risk taking. In addition, teenagers usually make use of a PC within the privacy of their room, or they go to places that permit them to surf while not being watched. So it is extremely difficult to monitor a teenager’s Internet actions. Teens will often be drawn to adult virtual worlds. Adult virtual worlds are not usually suited for teens. In some, you are able to encounter content that may be violent, sexually themed or refer to drugs or alcohol. It is important for parents of teenagers to keep being involved in their kids’ online actions while allowing the teenager space to develop their own skills. Offering teenagers appropriate web sites that rouse their curiosity might be a great answer. There are virtual worlds for teenagers that offer excellent content and are non-commercial. Parents also need to emphasize Web integrity to their teens and alert them regarding the risks of the virtual worlds.

Tweens in the virtual worlds (usually 10-14):

Tweens are kids who’re stuck within the phase in between being young kids and becoming teens. Kids at this age group usually have great technological as well as linguistically capabilities that allow them surf readily. On the other hand, these kids lack the maturity and experience that may help them to avoid malicious content they might encounter whenever surfing and thus they need grownup guidance. They’re a susceptible population. Their high technical ability as well as desire to interact socially can expose them to mobile risks, in addition to their PC and family info. Tweens will usually search for more complex virtual worlds that will allow them to online chat with their friends readily. It is important for moms and dads of tweens to become involved around their kids’ online actions. Parents ought to direct their tweens to virtual worlds that they discover suited for all of them.

Guidelines with regards to using Internet should be assigned and followed. These guidelines ought to emphasize web integrity and privacy protection. A good Internet policy might help in making them understand the guidelines better. Parents ought to talk to their kids regarding Internet risks, such as: adware and spyware attacks, online potential predators, bullying by peers, harassment, and give them examples of instant solutions, for instance: turning away from the PC as well as notifying a parent or guardian. The most important approach is to give your kids confidence to approach the adults in the household in case these people encounter dubious behaviour whenever surfing.

Young kids in the virtual worlds (usually 3-10):

Kids within this age group are simply starting to experience these cyber worlds. They frequently need help through an adult to even surf. It’s not recommended to allow children at that age to browse without grownup supervision. You should make sure that the online content, the child finds are safe, encased environments. Even in free games for young children, there shouldn’t be any advertising (or even very little). Online talks and discussion boards if this kind exist ought to be limited as well as monitored.

Funny Team Names

Coming up with a team name is all about being yourself. Think of something and put your own comedic twist on it. Be random. The Gold Fish Bowlers for a bowling league is a perfect example and that just came right of the top of my head. I was looking around the room, saw the goldfish bowl and wala. The next part is being creative. Do not do one that you have seen before because that mean someone else has seen it before as well. Like who has not seen some of those most common ones like the master batters. Besides that being common try to be clean. Your team name represents yourselves so do not do something dirty, but something that will represent yourself in the way you want it to.

Now here is a list to help you get some ideas. I know that you have seen some of these before. They may have caught your eye and made you glance back at that basketball team name and ask, are you serious. Yes, here is going to be a list of those funny basketball names that add excitement to the game we all love to play. But this isn’t going to be just any list. The is going to be the biggest, largest, hugest, gigantic, massive, mammoth, colossal, titanic, vast, gargantuan, giant, very big list you might every see, or maybe not. I have to see it is a decent size, but what would make it that substantial sized list is if you would leave a comment of name you have heard over the years.

Unleash The Furry

The School Bus Drivers

The Four Skins

Technical Knockout.

Players of Talent Players out of Talent

Wonderful Excellent Enormous Dudes

The Intentional Foulers

The Technical Foulders…

Basket Brawlers

The Wet Wedgies

Super Heroes in Training…..

The Extrema

Already Lost

We Lose

Control Freaks

Foodoo Doctors

Wii Not Fit

Smoking Tress and Stroking 3’s

Winged Beavers

Snapping Turtles

King Salmons

Wampus Cats

Wii Fat

The Three Basketeers

The Boston Three Party

The Three Amigos

Cunning Stunts

The Baseball Team

The Monkey Yummies

Lightning Zappers

Yahooligans

The Cereal Killers

Staying Yummy

The Fugitive Mangoes

Dazzling Stars

The Hot Dawgz

The Razzle Dazzle of Fantazzmanglers

Mighty Morphin Ginyu Force

Mischievous Polar Bears

The Flying Monkeys

Athletic Hippies

The Flying Apes

The Bankers

Flying Bacons

Crazy Catz

Lunch Ladies

You Lead And Afflalo

P.S. You are best of in tournaments trying to get a sponsor and using them as your team name. It is all about the money, isn’t it.

P.S.S. It should not be about the money. Play just to play the game. Enjoy it because you do not know when your playing will come to an end for some reason you do not see coming.

Virtual Worlds For Children, Tweens and Teens

Virtual worlds have become a growing power in kids’ online activities. In 2008, an estimated eight million US children and teens visited virtual worlds on a regular basis. It is estimated that by 2013 this number will be doubled. These online worlds are a relatively new phenomenon, so there isn’t much research on their impact on kids. As parents, we ask: Is it safe? Is it educational? Do our children benefit from this activity? In lack of long-term research the best answer seems to be that like every other activity we choose to do, when it is measured and in balance with other activities, it can be enjoyable, harmless and sometimes even educational. It is our responsibility as parents to direct our children to safe constructive activities that will help them to grow as people and become contributing citizens. The same thing is true for choosing online activities for them and specifically for virtual worlds. As parents we have to make sure that our children visit virtual worlds that are suited for their age and are safe for them. We also want to direct our children to virtual worlds that offer quality content and educational value.

What is a virtual world?

Virtual worlds are services which offer Internet users a computer simulated environment imitating the real world. In the virtual world the user interacts by using an avatar (a two-dimensional or a three-dimensional computer graphic identity, which represent a user’s alter ego or the user’s real persona) in online chats.

There are two main types:

Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) –

These virtual worlds use point systems and competition in the simulation. They have winners and losers. Commercial MMOGs include Everquest and World of Warcraft.

Non-game worlds –

These virtual worlds are less game-like, or not games at all. They are more like social networking services like MySpace and Facebook, but with 3D simulation features. For example, Second Life, ActiveWorlds and The Sims Online.

What are the risks for kids in virtual worlds?

  • Children and teenagers can easily get absorbed in a virtual world. It is an enjoyable pastime allowing them to try different points of view and avatars. The danger is when a child is invested more in the virtual life than in real life. This may result in withdrawal from real life activities, poor social skills, loss of ability to distinguish between the real and the imaginary, etc. It is important to limit the time a child or teenager spends surfing virtual worlds in order to keep the child’s base in the real world.
  • Private information may be exposed in virtual worlds when a child is persuaded to give up his/her real identity to strangers. It is important to emphasize to the child not to give away private information under any circumstances.
  • Sometimes virtual worlds especially ones that are intended for teens can become violent environments. Many virtual worlds have guardians – adults that have avatars in the game and are there to keep the peace. These guardians can not always stop violent behavior. It is important for parents of teens to be involved in their children’s online activities and to instruct them how to behave in problematic situations.
  • Online predators sometimes use social network services and virtual worlds to target potential victims. They pose as children and gradually seduce them into an online relationship. This relationship might end in sexual abuse.
    The chance of your child being targeted by online predator is low, but since such an encounter has severe consequences, parents should be aware and make sure that their kids don’t get involved in online relationships with strangers.
  • All of these risks are worrying, but it seems that the greatest risk in virtual worlds for kids is the inherently commercial nature of many of them. Kids are encouraged to buy clothes, toys, food, books and more for their avatars using the virtual world currency. In some worlds they have to play games in order to earn “money”, in some they buy the virtual world currency with real money. You can see in many virtual worlds, avatars that are dressed in high fashion clothing and have expensive cars and homes. Many virtual worlds have a strong correlation between consumption and citizenship. Kids are learning that in order to be a good citizen they have to buy the right stuff. Many virtual worlds also have a lot of advertisement.
    In order to avoid this commercial nature, parents should direct their children to non-commercial virtual worlds that usually have more educational value.

What are the Benefits of Virtual Worlds for Children?

In virtual worlds kids are involved in informal learning. By trying different avatars, points of view and jobs they play out scenarios over and over from different angles. They can see what approach is best for them. They learn how to socialize, how to be Internet savvy, how to buy and sell online and how to be members of a society. They learn skills that they’ll need in the future workforce.

Matching the Virtual World to the Child’s Age

When choosing a virtual world for your kids or checking the ones your kids use, it is important to keep the age factor in mind. Today children surf in online worlds from the age of three (usually with adult help) to 18. It is important to see that the virtual world they enter is safe for their age and offers appropriate content.

There are three major age groups:

  • Young children – age 3-10. Kids in this age group are just starting to discover the cyber world. They often need help from an adult in order to surf. It is not recommended to let children at this age surf without adult supervision. It is important to make sure that the virtual worlds the child surfs are safe, enclosed environments. There should be no advertisement (or very little). Online chats and forums, if such exist, should be limited and monitored.
  • Tweens or juniors – age 10-14. Tweens are kids who are stuck in this phase between being young kids and being teens. Children at this age range usually have good technological and language abilities that allow them to surf freely. On the other hand, they lack the maturity and experience to help them understand the content that they encounter when surfing-they need adult guidance.
    They are a vulnerable population. Their high technological abilities and desire to socialize exposes them to risks, as well as their PC and private family information.
    Tweens will usually look for more complex online worlds that will allow them to chat with their friends freely. It is important for parents of tweens to be involved as much as they can in their kids’ online activities. Parents should direct their tweens to virtual worlds they find suited for them. Guidelines for Internet use should be defined. These guidelines should emphasize Web ethics and privacy protection. Include the child when defining the guidelines in order to make the child more committed to them. An Internet-use policy may help in making those guidelines clear. Parents should talk to their kids about Internet threats, such as: malware attacks, online predators, harassments, and give them examples of immediate solutions, for example: turning off the PC and notifying a parent. Most important is to give your children confidence about approaching the adults in the family in case they encounter suspicious behavior when surfing.
  • Teenagers – age 14-18. Teens have fully developed technological and language skills. They are confident surfing the Internet (sometimes more than their parents). The Internet becomes a strong social and educational tool in their life. Teens are usually more aware of the risks that exist on the web. On the other hand, in this age group there is a tendency for risk taking. In addition, teens usually use a PC in the privacy of their own room, or they go to places that allow them to surf without supervision. So it is nearly impossible to monitor the teenager’s Internet activities.
    Teens will usually be attracted to adult virtual worlds. Adult virtual worlds are not always suited for teenagers. In some you can encounter cybersex activity and violence. It is important for parents of teens to keep being involved in their kids’ online activities. Offering teens appropriate websites that may interest them could be a great solution. There are virtual worlds for teens that offer great content and are non-commercial. Parents should also emphasize Web ethics to their teenagers and warn them about Internet threats.

In order to find a suitable virtual world for your kids you can check out – SafeWeb directory [http://safewebforchildren.com/pages/sub_category.php/?sub_category=Virtual%20Worlds]. This is a web directory that offers safe websites for kids.

Brain Food: The Importance of Playing Mind Games

How to Give Your Brain the Proper Mental Workout!

It has been a part of popular knowledge for some time now that people who exercise their brain by consistently challenging themselves with mental activities such as jigsaw or 3-D puzzles enjoy a healthier cerebral capacity.

Apart from adults, playing mind games like jigsaw puzzles and brain puzzles is also the best way of exercising your child’s mind and keeping it active during long summer vacations. Apart from them being beneficial for the brain’s development, it is also a fun and hands-on way of keeping their minds pre- occupied.

Mind bending 3-D puzzles and other brain puzzles are easily available on the internet at online stores like. Puzzles also improve a child’s visual and spatial skills along with building critical thinking abilities which is very important during a child’s growth process.

Jigsaw Puzzles:

Puzzles come in all shapes and sizes that are appropriate to the child’s age. Some games for children require physical manipulation while others rely on vision in order to find a solution. One of the popular puzzles for children which require manipulation is the jigsaw puzzle. Puzzles for children usually show scenes from popular nursery rhymes, food, numbers and alphabets.

Jigsaw for older kids depict movie scenes, pictures of various places, historical events, and famous people. A jigsaw puzzle can also involve a game context, like those which give clues for solving a mystery.

Sliding Puzzles:

Sliding puzzles are made up of small plastic squares that are held together in a plastic case and usually depict a picture or cartoon character. These brain puzzles are generally of eight plastic squares with one empty space which is used to move the different pieces to a proper relationship in order to show the picture.

Rubik’s Cube:

The Rubik’s cube is one of the most popular 3-D puzzles. Also known as the magic cube, it can easily be called the world’s most perfect puzzle. The pieces of this puzzle can be moved around in all directions. The goal to get all the colours organized. For some, solving a Rubik’s cube is a matter of seconds, for others, it can take decades. Buying 3-D puzzles is sure to keep you busy for a while.

Others:

Puzzles that rely on a child’s vision often include word searches. For children, the word puzzle is arranged going only in one direction, but for adults, the words can be arranged vertically, horizontally and diagonally in either direction.

Visual puzzles are puzzles made out of wood or metal and are shaped in a particular design as to form a riddle.

Kids Educational Games

When your kids want to play games online, you might be annoyed that they are not doing something more constructive with their time. But fear not there are free fun kids educational games that your child will not only find fun but more importantly will learn whilst playing.

Research has shown that learning through play, fun and games has proven to build children’s’ creativity and imagination, hand eye coordination and problem solving skills. In addition online games can also improve there IT and computer abilities too which is essential with the academic world being so technology reliant in this day and age.

Children’s educational games cover a large cross-section of skills and skill levels. Some of the games are even adaptable to the skill set, and age of your child. Some like “Number” and “Word” games can be adapted to target specific areas like addition, or multiplication, or choose different groups of words for spellings, and build word familiarity.

Some game titles you may recognize like Adders, similar to the classic snake game where not only must the snake not crash but you have the added challenge of hitting the right numbers.

It’s not just numbers and letters though, the “World Capital” game as well as being fun tests Geography knowledge. A top game to help your child out with their History knowledge is the “Famous People” game. As it tells you a little bit about each of the people and what they did in History.

A game that will help your child pick up the skills to be a DJ, although it looks like its just fun the game can potentially help your child realize how music comes together by mixing the different musical elements together and building something that sounds good.

Co-ordination games are essential too; these include “Simon Says”, where you have to repeat the musical and color pattern in this fun game. “Building Blocks” as well as helping your child match numbers also helps them build their strategy, by trying to predict which numbers will come next.

As well as being great games for kids, these games can be fun for adults as well, so when your child next wants to play games online allow them but point them in the direction of an educational game that will be beneficial.

Hidden Object and Education Games

Games have always been a great part of people’s lives. Although, traditionally, games remind us of our childhood, adults have become quite passionate with them as well. I’m not talking about simple childish games, of course, as games have developed quite a lot over the years. There are several educational games available that have become quite popular in different categories of groups. This is how children and adults all over the world have managed to become passionate about the same types of games. These games have been properly designed to create a relaxing, fun atmosphere, while still keeping the brain active.

Online games make it possible for everyone to experience the joys of playing a game in the comfort of their own homes. Playing is essential for a healthy life, and people have started feeling it more and more. Growing up doesn’t have to mean getting serious and wiping any smile off your face or denying yourself any other interest than a family and a carrier. Thanks to these great educational games, you can still have a lot of fun, while still benefiting from mind development. Why not learn different new things, or refresh others with different educational games, while having fun at the same time? Sharpening your memory is not a thing that should be taken for granted. Having a game help you do it is a great advantage, as it will stop you from feeling tired through the process.

If you happen to come across hidden objects games for boys, you are hooked for life. It is funny how slow the human eye for detail really is. If you want to sharpen your mind and detect different details a lot faster, than hidden object games are exactly what you need. With every object you find, you will feel better about your ability to focus on details.

Swimming Tips To Increase Your Speed

Swimming is one of the most effective and enjoyable ways of keeping in shape. But, if swimming means more to you than merely a way of losing weight then you will want to excel in this sport by trying to optimize your swimming speed. For achieving this it is recommended to attend swimming classes, learn swimming techniques and master them under proper supervision of your swim school.

It is very important to follow the swimming technique which allows you to optimize your speed. Your first area of inspection should be your kicks since these generate the propulsion which pushes the body forward. Most swimmers make the mistake of kicking high expecting to generate greater propulsion. But, in fact this has a contrary effect. The ability to exert greater force in order to move forward is decreased when the feet goes out of the water. At the same time, fully submerged feet will also not be able to kick very effectively.

Therefore, the question is what exactly should be the position of the feet while kicking. Expert swimmers suggest that the ideal gap between the back of the feet and the water surface should be less than an inch. Another important point worth remembering is that optimum power is generated when the maximum area of the feet is used for breaking the water. This means that you should turn your feet inwards and should always keep the back of the feet as flat as you can and keep it aligned with the centerline of the body. The added advantage of this positioning is that it allows greater flex to the ankle. The techniques are theoretical, and practical improvement would surface only with more swim lessons from personal trainers or from swim schools.

However, technique is not the only factor which determines your swimming speed. Other factors, such as frequency of swimming, general fitness etc. also counts. It is important to swim regularly in order to maintain your swimming speed. Guidance of a swim school is important to track your progress. An average of thrice a week is recommended by most trainers. Keeping yourself active on the days when you don’t swim is also important because you must engage in daily workout to keep up your speed.

Most people do not realize that their swimsuit plays a very important role in determining their swimming speed. The lower the friction factor between the suit and the water the faster would be the swimming speed. Therefore, you should invest in a good quality swim suit for your swimming classes even though it will be relatively expensive. Also, make sure that you put on your swimming cap before hitting the pool since smooth surfaces reduce friction thus making you more streamlined.

Dora Games Online Are A Fun and Wholesome Way To Entertain Your Child

Who doesn’t love Dora? That cute little Explorer and her friends are loved worldwide by children and adults alike. Children love her for her sense of fun and adventure. Adults love her because they know that she is a wholesome character that is safe for their children to admire. If you are looking for a safe rainy day activity for your child, or a way to give them a little down time, why not let them play Dora games online for a little while? It is a guaranteed kid friendly way to spend time on the internet.

There are so many different types of Dora games out there that your child can find hours of entertainment waiting for them. Some of the games are action games where Dora or her sidekick Diego are placed in different settings and are given different tasks to complete. There is a wide array of settings, and some of the places they visit in their games are the grocery store, the sea, and a pirate ship. In many of these types of games, Dora and Diego have to collect certain items along the way during their adventure to work toward an end goal.

There is a huge number of Dora games that are dress up type games. In these activities, players can choose to dress Dora or Diego up in different outfits. There may be outfits for different activities, like swimming, or winter play, or children may dress the characters up in different types of costumes. There are also games where children may help Dora decorate different rooms by changing the color of the walls, carpet and furniture. Along these same lines, there are games where you can get characters ready for different events, like getting Dora’s horse groomed and ready for a race. These dress up games are a favorite of kids.

If you are looking for educational Dora games, those are available too. There are games featuring the characters from Dora the Explorer that teach young children to recognize their shapes, letters, and numbers. Some of the games even teach kids skills like spelling. There are educational games that focus on critical thinking like puzzle games, matching games and sorting games. There are also games which focus on character traits such as kindness, honesty and sharing.

Coloring pages which feature Dora, Diego, Boots and Swiper are a fun way for children to work on their fine motor skills as they have to carefully manipulate and click the mouse in the correct areas of the picture. The number of Dora activities online is almost endless. There are more games and activities that you could likely imagine. If your child really loves Dora, letting the play Dora games online is a fun, wholesome and educational way to spend a little of their time. You can be safe knowing that your child is visiting a site that is designed just for them, without worrying about them being exposed to things you would prefer them not to be exposed to.

Swimming

Swimming, one of the most popular activities in the country, is a healthy active way to spend your time. More and more people are visiting water parks, lakes, rivers, or the ocean. Over the past century the quality of the recreational water has improved a lot.

The human body is composed of water, and has a similar density ( 70% of the body is water). Most people are swimming for recreation. It is a good way to exercise and relax also. More and more people have pools. Swimming pools are as popular as lakes, beaches, rivers, and sometimes, creeks.

A number of people enter the water and swim as part of their work. Swimming is also used to rescue other people who cannot swim or have problems within the water. Recently swimming has become a professional sport as well. An important issue is the swimming resistance, the way the body is held and moves in the water. Everyone has his own technique and tries to improve it by practicing regularly. When we decide to learn to swim it is important to do it with a couch because he can teach us the right way to do it. Swimming reduces the effects of stress. Swimming is not a sport that makes you loose weight because it is limited and even in cold water burns more calories to maintain the body temperature to a normal limit.

Swimming exercises almost all muscles in the body. The arms and upper body are exercised more than the legs. Swimming is good for improving the circulation. It is also considered a sport with a low risk of injuries.

Men’s swimsuits can be one-piece or the body skins( whole body swimsuits for competitive swimming). Women’s swimsuits are generally either one-piece or bikinis. Another option would be more conservative than a bikini but still not a one-piece.

Video Games – The Perfect Escape?

Why oh why did you say yes to that last shandy? The kebab seemed like a good idea but your mouth now resembles the inner lining of Phil Jupiter’s underpants. And to top it all off, you’re stuck in a lava filled dungeon and some b*****d has kidnapped your princess. Where did your life go so horribly wrong?

I’ve got news for you, it’s much, much worse. It’s not that you’re hungover playing Super Mario Brothers, it’s that you spend your life “working” at a computer located in a sterile office surrounded by drones. Your only escape? A Friday night binge drinking session down in Clapham, tonsil tennis with a rather suspect femme fatale and bouncing around 8-bit levels crushing the skulls of Goombas with your immense chubby Italian plumber girth the next morning (she didn’t come home with you).

Computer games started out as something completely innocent. I remember my cousins having a version of Pong that despite being an absolute nightmare to plug into the telly, was good fun for ten minutes. Bouncing the ball around with the paddles was hardly Wimbledon. What was, was the 8-bit version of the AELTC’s prestige tournament which was one of the first games I played on the Master System. Still to this day the game mesmerises me, with added career mode, I can’t help but feel I’m there on Centre Court. Especially as I couldn’t play tennis for toffee.

These days, games such as the Grand Theft Auto and Halo franchises take escapism to whole new levels, allowing you to explore entire cities and indulge your wildest fantasies whilst piping hordes of bad guys. There’s a magazine on my desk right now emblazoned with the word “hero”, if only. And whilst escapism is almost at its absolute peak (barring virtual reality), it started way back in the 80s and had as much of an impact then as it does now.

Adult life fundamentally, hasn’t changed much in the last thirty years. Despite numerous advances in technology, supposedly to make life easier, for most of us it’s the usual 9 to 5. Slaving away to line someone else’s pockets only to come home at some ungodly hour completely exhausted. Eat your dinner, stick on the telly, sleep, repeat. Rather crudely, I hypothesise life requires five different needs: achievement; relaxation; emulation; competition and belonging. At the moment, sitting here in a non-descript office I feel tense, bored, lonely and as if this is just another day to kill on a road that is seemingly going nowhere. No need is being fulfilled, I want to be at home playing video games.

Achievement is the easy one. Those who are successful in life and who feel they are living a good life can point back to a string of achievements. Whether it’s continual progression through the ranks at work, bringing up offspring or jumping out of a plane, nothing beats feeling a sense of achievement. For those starved of such events, video games offer up an easy alternative and its impact is almost immediate. Going back to early arcade games such as Pac-Man and Asteroids, you’re instantly rewarded with level progression and score accumulation (sometimes to reach the feted leader board). Home entertainment systems such as the ZX Spectrum brought games like Manic Miner to the fore. This rise raises the other point that these needs don’t just relate to adult life but to children as well. For kids growing up, a sense of achievement can be gained from doing well at school, well at Physical Education, being praised for good attendance etc… How often would this really happen? Sometimes at primary school, I would feel a greater sense of accomplishment after nailing a few levels of Sonic than at anything I’d done during the day. With the xbox360 console, Microsoft brought the “Achievement” points system based on unlocking hidden secrets or even just by completing levels. Why did they do this? We all love rewards, even more so when they’re obvious. As unnecessary as this development was, it adds another level of achievement to the subtle one already existing.

This brings me to the next “need” – relaxation. Or should I say, Relaxation through detachment. There is no point in me going home to play a computer game where the protagonist is a Customer Service advisor who has to answer the phone and respond to emails all day. They say that during lunchtime it’s advisable to have lunch outside of the office, so that your mind is taken off work and relaxed accordingly. Video games work on the same principal as in they can take you out of work, out of your home life and into something much more wondrous. The aforementioned Super Mario Bros is a great example. I believe it’s the first true example of an ethereal world where you can explore and unlock hidden rewards at whim. Earlier consoles and computers had games containing hidden levels given, but the graphics and memory available pre-1985 struggled to do anything on this scale. Throw in a hero story where you’ve got to rescue a princess and you’ve got the whole package. I could talk about detachment all day long but the upshot is that video games take you to another world at the flick of a button where you can easily forget what your life is really about.

As I mentioned previously, I was bog awful at Tennis when I was a kid. Someone who was not awful at tennis was Stefan Edberg. Although Wimbledon on the MS was licensed, it contained no real players’ names. But my word, did one of the characters look like the Swedish maestro himself. When you’re growing up, role models are important. That seems like a rather obvious thing to say but how many kids lack the proper role models in everyday life? We look up to people and we want to emulate them. We see them achieve great things and we want to achieve them ourselves. When we can’t do something, video games (especially sports titles) are an easy way of emulating our heroes. I played World Cup Italia 90 on the Mega Drive way more than I should have purely because it was the only way of recreating the tournament that I had available. Emulation even boils down to just wanting to be said Italian plumber hero (one was also rather useless with the ladies) or a spiky blue hedgehog thwarting an evil genius.

Emulation follows on to competition. There is nothing like beating a game. All that coding and you’ve still beaten the CPU. Have that Edberg. It’s also great to prove you’re the best at the something, that you’re better than your peers. At work, I have few peers simply due to the mediocrity of my work. Do I want to be better than them? The feeling is hardly tangible. Competition is good for the human spirit. Constantly being challenged is how people get better and successful people thrive on it. The rewards are sometimes obvious, a big trophy, a big pay rise – but sometimes they’re not. Video games offer competition on all levels. Beat the CPU, beat your friends, beat the world. Video games offer a challenge when life falls on its backside. Want an arena to prove you’re better than your mates? Hold a Days of Thunder on the NES competition (not all were impressed… ). Multiplayer games existed in abundance from the days of Pong and now video game tournaments have evolved into a multi-million dollar industry of their own.

That brings me to my final point – belonging. Sega or Nintendo? If you’re into retro gaming that question alone is probably stirring something inside you. Why? Because choosing a console isn’t just about choosing a machine to play with, it’s about choosing a gang, a way of life that’s got be better than its counterpart. Kids and adults alike feel segregation on a daily basis. I was lucky at school as I had good friends with whom I still socialise with to this day. Others were not so lucky. When you move into the professional world it’s only natural that you want to work for a company where you belong. In your personal life, it’s only natural to want to live somewhere in a home with people you love and where you feel you belong. Even before online gaming with its vast communities and friendship came into existence, simply by saying in the playground whether you were a Mega Drive or SNES guy started positive chat about Sonic or Mario alike. They weren’t just consoles, it was who you were.

As much as a holiday might satisfy your relaxation needs or going to a football match satisfy your need to belong, there is nothing as complete as video games to provide the full package after a long day at the coalface.