Sunday, September 23, 2007

Seeking Recommended Handheld Game

So here's the deal. The bioboys have had to buy all their electronic gaming stuff with allowance and/or gift money. (Well, we got them the Wii for Christmas and I did replace Andrew's DS when it was stolen.) However, the bioboys have accumulated so much STUFF that whenever a boy moves in who has nothing we have always discussed buying them one thing: CD player, MP3 player, hand-held game console (e.g. Gameboy).

This WoW thing is getting really exhausting. Frankie does NOT have the judgment skills or patience to play it well. He just doesn't. He is obsessed with it, but he is not doing well.

It is beginning to try my patience too. Today I listened to a long debate about whether he should create a character on a heavily populated realm so that there would be lots of high level characters to beg from (yes, I said beg), or on a less populated realm so there would not be so many people to pick on him. (That he perceives characters in WoW as laughing at him when they clearly are not is very worrisome, but that is another issue).

After an hour on that topic he spent the next couple of hours debating whether he should be a warrior or a rogue. This kid has, by his own count, created and played at least 20 characters in the past month. Most of them he has deleted. He has tried out every occupation and every race. He should know which one he would like the best, but he doesn't. He kept reading me descriptions of abilities and asking me what I thought. I said four times, "Frankie, I need you to be quiet while I am grading papers" (each request got me an "Oh yeah. Sorry" and ten minutes of silence) and then said, "I really don't know which is better. It has to be your choice" about 10 times.

So I want to tempt him into spending his electronic time on something else. Of course he may spend his time playing something else and TALKING about WoW ALL THE TIME, but that is a risk I am prepared to take.

So... if you are a gamer, I am seeking recommendations.

I would be looking for a game that:
-is easy to do well in both in terms of strategy and in terms of fine motor skills (DS games that require careful moving of the stylus are no good).
-is fantasy-related, preferably he would get to play as a wizard or druid or elf or something cool

I have a good gaming re-sell store so I can probably get older games and older machines.

And as long as I am seeing advice -- anyone who knows anything about helping children deal with obsessions, I'm all ears.

Do I tell him that he is not allowed to talk about it more than a certain amount of time? Do I continue to let him do what he is going to do and say things like, "Hmm" and "Interesting" and "I really don't know, sweetie" indefinitely?

I'll be so glad to go back to work tomorrow.


  1. I'm not much of a gaming expert, but there are a bunch of MMORPGs that are fully or partially free to play - things like Runescape, which I think someone suggested before. These aren't console games, mostly - they usually have a program to download to your PC, although some of them are entirely browser based. I have dabbled in a few of those and my guess is that the average player on most of those is younger than on WoW, which might be a better fit for Frankie. I don't really know enough to say which one would suit him best, though. There are some sites that review those games, and since they are free (at least the basic levels) he could even download a few and see which one he likes best.

  2. Well, I know nothing about the gaming ideas, but as far as the perseverating...

    What I would do (and this is just imo, not based in expertise) is put some serious limits on it. From what you've written, I'd be inclined to tell him he just can't play WoW anymore. I think this is in line with him being so much "younger" than 15 -- younger kids need more help and guidance with realizing that something just isn't really fun for them. I'd say something like "I can see that you are really interested in WoW, and I know that it is something the other boys and other kids your age are doing, so I think you really *want* to like it, but when I watch you play, I can see that you really aren't having fun, and it is stressful for you. Because of that , Hubby and I have decided that you won't be allowed to play it anymore (or for a while, or whatever)". As far as rambling on about it, again, I'd seriously nix it. That's just basic social skills, yk? It's annoying to the listener, and learning to pay attention to the response of people around you is an important social skill.

    He sounds kind of like a kid with Aspergers sometimes, especially in regard to this obsessive stuff. Does he have any other signs of ASD, or has that ever been looked at for him?

    He sounds like a challenging kid. You are doing better than I would be! I can handle big old rages so much better than incessant chatter and little irritations all. day. long.

  3. I'm a slightly older-school gamer (started on the NES!) so I'm not 100% up to date, but I'll give it a try... please excuse the novel this turned into. :-D

    In terms of gameplay, look for RPGs that have a turn-based battle system, not realtime. This means as long as you don't give your characters the wrong command, they'll execute the move no problem (...well, ignoring the fact that physical attacks can still miss, or monsters can dodge). Realtime means you have to swing the sword and then dodge yourself... much higher learning curve.

    If you're going for a traditional, non-online-play RPG, you can't choose anything about the leader of the party, and 98% of main characters will be male. As a girl gamer, this drives me nuts, but there's not much to be done about it...

    As for actual games:

    Final Fantasy anything is usually great; people complain about FF9, on account of it being so little like the other games in the series, but I still liked it. Graphics are rather cutesy. Except for the latest, FF12/XII (see below), the battle systems are always turn-based. If you buy any, get good at reading Roman numerals! ;-)

    Final Fantasy X-2 (PS2) is an unheard-of all-girl cast, with some pretty snazzy outfits... and also very, very revealing outfits. Nothing unusual or X-rated, just something that kind of makes me twitch. Mind, I'm pretty sure WoW outfits can be just as bad or worse. Most people hated the game, but it is pretty...

    Final Fantasy XII (PS2) technically has a male main character, but the plot so far is mostly centered around Princess Ashe, and you can change who's actually in the lead during battle. Warning: the battle system is not turn-based. I've logged nearly 50 hours and I'm STILL trying to figure out how to fight better.

    Final Fantasy VII (PSX) is considered probably THE best in the line, it's got quite a few spin-off games and even a movie. The main character is male... but very early in the game, he ends up having to crossdress to sneak into a brothel... ;-) Turn-based battle system, with a long, complicated plot (...that doesn't always make sense).

    Tales of Symphonia (GameCube/Wii) also has a male main character, but most of the plot centers around the Chosen of Mana, a girl. I give it major bonus points for half the cast being female, and only one of them wearing something even borderline revealing. Again, though, the battle system is realtime (that seems to be a trend these days).

    Legend of Zelda (pick a Nintendo system, any system): Link is, predictably, male, but it's... kind of hard to tell, he's so pretty. ;-) And in the latest offering, Twilight Princess, Princess Zelda helps out in the final battle (no idea how often she's seen before that). Downside: every Zelda game ever is realtime battle.

    Kingdom Hearts: There's three games in the series so far, KH1 and KH2 (PS2) and Chain of Memories (GBA). Massive crossover with a few Final Fantasy characters and a LOT of Disney movies (the princesses don't do much, but they are there from time to time). KH1 is good, but hard; KH2 is easier and just overall better. Chain of Memories... er, I don't hear it really recommended. They recap just about the entire thing in KH2 (honestly, it should be KH3), which probably says something.

    Not sure how easy they are to find, but I love how a bunch of older games are available for Playstation now--games that came out ten years ago or more on SNES, or even NES. Chrono Trigger was one of my first RPGs, and it's still AWESOME... although, since it came out in something like 1996, the graphics aren't too impressive. Also, the Wii has an entire library of cheap games to buy and download, all from previous Nintendo systems; I think they're usually about $5-20, but sadly I don't have one yet, so you might have to check with someone on that.

    More important, though... I suggest getting some kind of cheat device! GameShark is one, but Action Replay seems to be more highly reccommended. On older systems, it's called Game Genie. You can input codes to make games MUCH easier--infinite ammo, infinite lives, insta-level up to max level, never run out of money, stuff like that. I don't have one, but I do have three different Game Genies (for NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis) and they can be lifesavers... and sanity-savers! You can make a game pretty much no challenge at all, or just easier.

    ...yes, I did go to five different stores in search of a specific game today. And they still didn't have it!

  4. Mrs Butter B8:47 PM

    With the obsessions- a couple of possibly helpful things (maybe? unless its assvice, then please just ignore me)

    1. Has he been treated with an antifungal medicine? Oddly, it seems to help kids with aspergers/autism like symptoms who suffer with OCD. Not sure how it works, but its an easy enough fix, and I know several that will vouch for it. Talk to the dr.

    2. Try giving him a time limit per day that he can talk about/obsess about that topic. I don't mean "an hour a day" or "2 hrs a day", I mean, from 5:15 pm to 5:45 pm, this can be discussed, otherwise, it can't. Then make sure you provide other entertainment options (books? does he like to read? fantasy ones maybe? or is his attn span too short?)

    Puzzles? Knitting? Quilting? How about making model airplanes?

    I know it sounds odd, but for kids functioning significantly below their chronological age, its easier to treat them as though you would treat a child of their developmental age. Which in Frankie's case seems about like an ADHD 7 yr old- needs lots of structure (which he probably got used to at the facility he lived at before), and clear choices.

    From friends of ours that adopted from Russia, kids who were institutionalized for extended periods tend to obsess about random things once they have freedom outside of a carefully scheduled structured life. Sounds like Frankie may be experiencing some of that? Do you think?

  5. Now that I actually look, forgive how I overlooked the "handheld" part. My recs on Final Fantasy and the Tales series still stand, the games just aren't the same!

    Also, Action Replay does seem to be available for the DS as well.

  6. As for hand held, there are a few things on the DS I play that don't use the stylus - Pogo Island, Bomberman, Mario Kart & Mario Brothers. All of these aren't too difficult, and fun. But not fantasy related. Just fun anyway.
    Has he ever tried There are a lot of free games on there, and a paid subscription where you can get even more - if he likes card games, board games etc. Again, not fantasy related but gives him a lot of choices.
    For the Wii - I like Rampage. Rather simple to play. Plus you can be Godzilla and run around and smash buildings.
    As for WoW (Sorry if he/you know all of this but I thought I would offer my 2 cents)- if he does beg from high level characters - he won't get far. It is generally not looked favorably upon, and he make very well get laughed at. It isn't something that goes over well on the server I play on. I know it won't help with the obsession, but maybe if he researched his current characters more, he could find something he likes enough to stick with one. At lvl 10 you get pets for warlocks & hunters. The higher you go up, the more fun stuff you get. Maybe he can find an incentive to stick with one? Also I would stay away from warriors. These seem much harder to play. I had a good time with my warlock and my shaman is going well also. I had a hunter, and it isn't too bad to play either, I just got bored with her. He should also look for something a lvl or 2 below his character's lvl to kill, when he is hunting beasties. These are generally the best combo for ease/experience gained.

    -from a lvl 70 warlock/lvl 24 shaman

  7. Thanks Squeak -- Frankie knows all the advice you gave (although he probably disbelieves that begging is frowned upon). He can even repeat the advice.

    He just can't seem to FOLLOW it.

    Sometimes his whole life reminds me of my behavior when I am trying to loose weight. There is the gap between knowing and doing that is difficult to explain.

    Part of it for him is understanding probability. If there is a CHANCE he can kill a beastie then he thinks he should be able to and he takes it on.

  8. Final Fantasy Four for the Gameboy Advanced is both fun and easy (even I beat it, and I usually just watch when my dh plays games).

  9. Have you thought about having him participate in a (supervised) old skool game like AD&D (Dungeons and Dragons/Advance Dungeons and Dragons) perhaps even in person at the local game store (provided there was a kid's group)? He may not have the skills for that but it also might help him develop some social graces in the context of something he likes.

    I noticed that Frankie seems to be trying on and searching for identities that work for him both IRL and online in his WoW characters; nothing really wrong with that, but you may want to take into account games that are forgiving of and easy to play with low level characters in case he keeps switching them out and is always a level-2 whatever.

    What about the SIMs? It's not fantasy, but you do get to set up a house etc. for the people to live in, things for them to do etc.

  10. Cody is 11 and also tends to Obsess. He plays Kingdom Hearts and KH2 on PS2. He also plays Runescape online. It is completely free and most kids he knows between 9 and 12 play it. He has a Gameboy advance, but much prefers the other games.

    Wish I could be of more help.


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