Best Apps and Video Games for Girls
My kids are all gamers. My sons especially love their screens: XBox, iPod, computer -- they have games they adore on all platforms.
But what about my daughter? She would like some screentime too and she would like to play games that are aimed at her and don't have the implicit violence of her brothers' games. We often search the Apple store for "girl" games for our iPad and what comes up are ridiculous girly, shopping and fashion apps that embarrass the maker and my gender.
I was told by a web producer that there is a huge hole in the market when it comes to girl apps (especially for tween girls). It's like the big production houses don't care, or don't even remember that smart girls exist. And before you say why can't girls play the same things as the boys, they can. But a lot of the games are from a male point of view and I think that girls, as 50 percent of the population, deserve to have games made for them and their learning styles and interests.
I'm not advocating for a Lego-style abandonment of core play values in favour of supposed girly methods of play. I'm just wondering if there is anything that my daughter can call her own, enjoy and learn from.
Because as much as we hate the fact that boys play so many video games there are some benefits to game-playing such as increased knowledge of technology, better spatial reasoning and eye-hand control. Studies have shown that girls are missing out on those benefits.
Instead of all that good stuff, girls are learning how to pick dresses and find a boyfriend.
So, in our never-ending quest to take back the game consoles and screens in our home, my daughter and I do have some favourites games (I'm leaving out all the educational/reading apps for another time):
Jellycar: This is the current obsession in our home. It is a simple premise, you have a car made of jelly and you have to negotiate obstacles, also made of jelly. It is much harder than it sounds and teaches some important skills that have nothing to do with jelly.
The Incredible Machine: Also a building, logic game. Nothing wrong with learning physics and some engineering skills and playing with gears, darts, dolls and tiny explosives. Very cool.
Toca Tea Party: This doesn't get played as much now, but for a year it was the game of choice for my tea-party obsessed 4-year-old. I'd recommend many of the Toca Apps.
My Playhome: Though the figures are stagnant, my daughter still loves this game which is sort of like a dollhouse on the iPad.
Drawing pad: The most used app here in chaos is probably Drawing pad. It is simple to use, colourful and doesn't have any levels to be finished so can be turned off easily.
Totally Amp'd: First off, I have to say that I was brought in for a weekend to talk to the producers before they launched this unique app, so I am a little biased. Secondly, my kids love it. This is a unique structure to an app. It has 10 five-minute Appisodes built in, as well as interactive games. The more Appisodes you watch, the more games appear. The story is about a band trying to make it, and will appeal to anyone who likes family shows. The music is quite catchy and my kids love to play music producer and lay down some tracks with their own voices. Because of the watchability plus the games, this app has been a favourite on long car rides.
While there may be a lack of apps aimed at girls, video games are even worse. My daughter and I kick out the boys to play:
Dance Central 2 for Kinect: I'm horrible, she's not bad and the pictures of us dancing are humiliating. But you can't help but dissolve into a pile of giggles playing. Usually, the boys even join us.
Mario Games: My boys may scoff that the Mario games are babyish, but they loved them in their day. And my daughter enjoys some rounds of Super Mario Galaxy and Mario Kart. I just wish the female characters were a little less damsel-in-distress. (Am I overthinking?)
Kinect Adventures and Kinect Sports: We usually play this as a family, the kids like to laugh at us adults. (Of all the gaming consoles we have, I like the Kinect best. They even have workout videos that I would like to try.)
Video games are not the most important part of a kid's life, but some of the skills they impart are going to be a large part of our kids' futures. In the meantime, I want my daughter to be able to amuse herself on long car trips too.
Do you think it is important for girls to play video games? What are some of your favourites?
Want more chaos? Last year, I wondered if teaching handwriting was important. I'm still not sure.