I not the gamer I used to be, now that I have a toddler to take care of. So finding a computer game which is both fun for my 3-year-old boy and interesting enough for me is not easy. We tried the incredible machine – which is a very very cool game. But my toddler is a tad to young for it, and he enjoys the much more after I show him how to finish the levels.
Another great download is phun – basically a Master’s degree work by Emil Ernerfeldt, which enables you to build all kinds of stuff – from bouncing balls to rockets and strange machines. If only I had Phun when I was a boy!
But both Phun – great fun that it is – and the incredible machine were made for children – not for toddlers. Toddler games are usually unimaginative, silly, and utterly dull. Toddlers need large buttons with an easy operation. They need compensation when they get stuck or do the wrong thing. If your character just dies or explodes, they cry. They need something more emotionally- friendly, where a wrong move still gives an interesting outcome, or better some insight on what the right thing to do was. Where do you find such a game?
Then comes ON.
I don’t know his name, but his creations are just what I sought for. They are witty, hilarious, ingenious, interesting, sometimes hard – but always trivial to function. These flash games are all that is good in computers and can’t be made without one. Most of his games are played by pressing on large, well defined buttons. It always does something – your job is to discover the correct order in which to press the buttons.
Grow 1 is the best children’s computer game I know. You are given a small egg. It is up to you to decide how to grow it – you can make a giraffe, a vampire, a teddy-bear train, an underground colony, or a battery-powered earth (my child’s most-loved ending). Exploring the possibilities is the issue here, as well as remembering which route leads to the outcome you want.
Grow 2 and 3 are nice, but far less attractive. In Grow 2 you can build a Robot – which my kid likes a lot, and the task is to develop things in the right order to get the robot up and running. Cute, but not as good as Grow 1.
Grow Cube is amazing, but the child needed some guidance there. Grow Island is very very good (try getting the little green men). Grow RPG is for older kids. In all of these your task is to understand the correct order in which to develop things.
chronon is truly ingenious. A game in which you are literally playing with time. But it is not for toddlers.
So go play with your kid!