Kids Video Game Software and Consoles – An Introduction for Frugal Families

A good number of kids are introduced to video games through computers at home or at school. Ample sites allow kids to have fun with games for free. Several computer games are available for free download. In fact, some of these games are comparable or even better than commercial games available in a CD or as a download. The best sites for K-6 kids leaning towards educational and commercial-free content are:

  • Arcademic Skill Builders: An outstanding site by ALTEC (Advanced Learning Technologies project at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning). Their offerings compare well with most computer games that commercial companies have been able to market.
  • PBS Kids: - Another outstanding site from PBS (Public Broadcasting Services). This site gives commercial software game manufacturers a run for their money.
These two sites provide user-friendly, outstanding content that is commercial free as well as free of links to other products or sites.

Many other sites exist that have similar content, but they mostly lack one or more of the above criteria. Despite excellent games, computer video games lack the key ability to offer entertainment that can be appreciated at its full potential with just a keyboard and a mouse. This explains why game consoles & accessories are an industry in itself. Portability is a big problem when the computer serves as the video game gadget for kids. Hand-held games and Console-based games exploit on this weakness and below is a discussion on them.

Outside of the Internet and certain down-loadable freeware games, free options are hard to come by in the hand-held games arena. The best option for frugal folks tip-toeing into this ring is Console TV games. They are all-in-one products with an integrated joystick and audio-video cable along with a set of games. There are no upgrade options, but the games are both functional and fun thus making it a good bargain. Pricing make it elementary - sometimes closeout deals can be obtained on these for as little as $5. Below is a list of the best options in TV games:


ProductJakks Pacific Ultimotion Swing Zone Sports Motion Controller Video GameJakks - Disney TV GameActivision 10 in 1 TV Game
Jakks Atari Classics 10 In 1 TV Games
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List Price$74.99$25$25$25
Best Price$34.99$19.99$19.99$19.99
Battery4 x AA4 x AA4 x AA4 x AA
GamesBowling, tennis, baseball, golf and footballSimba & the Tree of Trials, Donald's Golf Tournament, Aladdin and the 5 Gems of Agrabah, Stitch's Search for Paradise, and Timon to the RescuePitfall, Atlantis, River Raid, Spider Fighter, Crackpots, Freeway, Tennis, Boxing, Ice Hockey, and Grand Prix.Centipede, Asteroids, Missile Command, Circus, Yar’s Revenge, Breakout, Gravitar, Realsports Volleyball, Pong, and Adventure.
CommentsAt less than one-tenth the cost of the Nintendo Wii, this is a good alternative with all accessories included.Aladdin (a hunt to get 5 gems and save the princess) and Stitch (Escaping from a cave) are excellent. Simba (like Tetris) and Timon (building pathway) are also good. River Raid is an excellent game. A fallback to the 70s era, nevertheless provides good entertainment.Another fallback to state of the art Atari 2600 – these games are excellent replicas.

Many kids never get enthralled enough to ask for the premium products among consoles (Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3, and Microsoft Xbox) and hand-held devices (Nintendo DS, Sony PSP). These products do provide excellent graphics, doubles as a media player, has expansion slots, and a large array of packaged video games “produced” by the console manufacturers themselves and by other 3rd party developers. In addition to the premium price for the console; the real sticker-shock comes in the form of pricing for the individual games - they start at around $25 per game!

Before making a sizable investment in any of the premium consoles, a careful evaluation of its merit should be undertaken. This industry can offer endless hours of entertainment and it is easy to get obsessed with it. Parents need to realize that the premium consoles have the potential to squander away a significant amount of time and hence should instill a disciplined approach.





Last Updated: 01/2015.


2 comments :

Greener View said...

I generally shared your disdain for the premium consoles until this year. The Wii's intuitive controls are really great. But Nintendo is a proprietary monopoly and the prices are ridiculous for the games themselves. So I have taken to using Swaptree, sharing with friends, and buying used games.

Cartoon network games said...

For those on a budget cartoon network offers some great games to play for free.

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