The great things about playing video games is how it gives you a chance to spend a little time with your child in their environment. That doesn't mean gaming should replace throwing a baseball, playing a little one-on-one basketball or building models, but sitting back and letting your child take charge in a fictional world can be a meaningful bonding experience. Here's a few great games for the parent looking to play.
This satirical action-adventure game has a well-deserved, big fan following because of its open approach to class creation and focus on spells over loot.
(Pick up a copy for $9.95 on Steam, though sales sometimes drop it below $5.)
I'm pretty much recommending this for anyone who enjoys gaming, has a PC or Mac and enjoys playing games. While Minecraft has been around in beta for more than a year, it just hit retail this month. It's a wonderful game, a beautiful title that mixes charming aesthetic, with player freedom and the ability to create after digging, digging, digging into the ground and discovering mineral treasures and not a few monsters. My son spends hours creating minecart roller coasters, exploring and giggling. This is a charming must have.
(Pick up a copy for $26.95, you can buy gift codes right in the store as well.)
Portal 2 is a wonderful blend of puzzle-solving and laughing. I'm not sure which I enjoy more, playing the game's increasingly perplexing puzzles, or listening the the wonderful voice-acting and dialog. Add to that a fantastic cooperative experience, one perfect for playing with your child of just about any age, and this is the perfect bonding game.
( This runs from $30 to $40 depending on what platform you pick it up on. It's out on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360..)
Flames of War: Open Fire
Miniature gaming has plenty of things going for it. It requires a level of focus and attention to detail that few games ask for these days. It also asks a lot from its gamers. To fully experience these games you're going to want to learn to paint minutely, learn tactics, maybe learn a bit of history. The end result are breath-taking, real world set pieces laid out on a table in your basement, garage or any other handy flat service. I'd recommend just about any miniature gaming set up, but I happen to be delving into World War II's Flames of War right now, so that's the one I'm recommending.
(The starter kit comes with a few tanks, basic rules and sets you back $41.48 on Amazon right now.)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
This is the most played game in the world right now. Yes, it's about shooting, but it's so homogenized, such a watered-down version of war that it's more akin to kids playing cops and robbers in a backyard than any sort of life and death struggle. There's a very good chance your child, as they approach the age of majority, will be playing this game or wanting to. It's best, once your comfortable with the notion, for you to pick up a copy of the game so you can experience it together.
(Pick up a copy for $59.99 for PC, PS3 or Xbox 360.)
This introduction to Dungeons and Dragons guides new players through the experience in a way that's a little less daunting that then old basic set. The game comes with a board, pieces and even cards. Next step, a world fully created in your imagination.
($59.99 on sale now, down from $69.99.)
Star Wars Chess
I'm a huge chess fan, both for myself and my son. Teaching a child the rules of chess will serve them in many ways later in life. If you're going to devote the time to learn and enjoy the game you should do so with a luxury board, a Star Wars luxury board.
($600. Yes you could get other boards, but they wouldn't be nearly as grand.)