Over the last few weeks to months I have finally been able to enjoy some real gaming with my kids. For a while I have been trying to get some games together that I can enjoy with my son, for those who do not know my son is Autistic. For this I need to thank Windows Phone, Windows 8 and the Xbox 360.
Just for some background, My son Michael is an 11 year old boy who was born into the world of Autism, currently he can not talk full words but we are getting more and more out of him every day. Sarah my Daughter is 6 and is very much a little girl who loves to talk and recently has found herself in love with the world of computer games.
Michael finds it hard to get his hand around a controller and his coordination doesn’t help that much either (or lack of) but for the last few weeks Michael has been enjoying playing a simple game on my new windows 8 machine. Michael has found “Wordament”, this is a really simple game that reminds me of the old boggle games I used to play as a kid. The basic idea is for the player to put words together based on the jumbled up letters on the screen, the main rule is that you can not use the same letter piece twice and they must be next to each other on the board.
It all started with my playing the game on my Windows Phone device, then downloading it on to my windows 8 desktop through the windows store, after that Michael would spend his time watching myself and then my wife play. Now it has gotten to the point that if we leave the desktop alone for a period of time we can sometimes catch Michael opening up the new Start Screen and then starting the game and enjoying a few rounds. Now I know that he is only guessing with a lot of the words but we are finding that he is getting around 10 words on average each round, what we need to do no is watch how many this increases to over time as he plays.
But for me the good thing is that Michael has worked out how to operate the new Windows 8 interface and find his way around, this shows how easy the interface is to operate.
On another note I little while ago I picked up Sky Landers for my kids, hoping that the simple game play and style of the game would drag my daughter into some gaming that I could also enjoy, this has worked I now have a game that we can now both play and enjoy… nut little did I know that the game has also affected Michael…. Now when we play Sky landers or even when we go and just turn on the Xbox, Michael will come running from which ever room he is playing in and come and sit in front of the console. When he does sit down he will start to gather the Sky landers figures and arrange them in front of the games portal ready to start. It has now gotten to the point that we can Ask Michael to swap a Character and he will, he is even getting to the stage that he changes the characters when we don’t want it but he does it based on what the game is asking for… “Characters of Air are stronger here” so he swaps for an air character… even if we are halfway through a main fight…
The part that I do like is that even with out the game running Michael has started to play with the characters by walking them around on the floor and arranging them into different patterns. We can even ask Michael the characters names and he can respond with the names, to me that makes it worth buying the figures and games.
Last of all my brother has introduced Sarah to Mine craft… so it looks like I am going to be spending a lot of time with her inside the world of Mine craft, but this has also been good for Michael. A few days back we started to see that Michael had started to watch us play the game on the Xbox 360. Then over the week end I found out that Michael had found the install I had on my Android Tablet, now he is able to start up a game in the creative mode and had now found his legs around the world. We have now seen him twice exploring the worlds that are created and a few times we have even seen him destroying blocks.
So it looks like we have one of those new children from the touch generation of gamers, he may not be able to hold a controller and maneuver a small character around the screen, but he can control a First Person around a world where he is required to jump and climb out of holes, this is something that I am going to have to work on as much as I can.
This last week I ordered my self another little toy (Microsoft Surface), I think it is going to be time that I put my game development back in gear and see what I can do on the touch devices for my son and his gaming needs.