Create Memories and Fun with "Family Video Game Night"

We've done family board game nights in the past, and the kids have always loved them.  The challenge comes, however, when the younger kids and the older kids can't play the same game.  We have since transitioned a few of our "Family Game Nights" over to "Family Video Game Nights" with huge success.  Here is why we adore these times with our kids:

1.  Video Gaming can be more active than traditional board games.  Thanks to the technology of the Wii and Xbox Kinect systems (which we have both), our kids are moving, sweating, and laughing much more than when we sat on the floor with board games.  This is important to us, as we look for ways to keep our homeschoolers active and healthy during the winter months.

2.  Video Gaming can be adjusted to fit the child's skill level.  With one of the new games we played at our last Family Video Game Night (Lego Lord of the Rings for the Wii), it was inspiring to watch the older kids team up with the younger kids to defeat levels and problem-solve using team work.  The Lego games have traditionally been a very good way to get our non-talkers communicating better, and the relaxed play pace makes them a good choice for parents who may not be the most skilled at using the Wii Controls (*cough* like me, perhaps?)

3.  Video Games can be very educational.  One game that we picked up from Walmart is the Nat Geo TV game for the XBox Kinect.  My 7-year-old is very into animals and nature; this game provided him with fun facts, videos, and interactive games that allowed him to be the bear.  (There is no value you can place on watching your kid try to catch virtual moths in his mouth -- all in the name of science!)

4.  New video games can be as affordable as board games.  I mistakenly thought that all video games were very expensive.  The games I saw adults playing (shooter games, for example) required $60 or more to buy!  The games we've found for our kids to enjoy, however, have traditionally been less than $35.  Walmart has been great about offering good in-store and online pricing on top games, and if we're willing to wait until a game isn't a new release, they have very affordable bundle deals (2 games for $30, for example.)  When you consider that many popular board games run $20 or more, it's easy to fit a new game into the budget!

So, how do you plan the perfect Family Video Game Night? 

Homemade chocolate-covered pretzels for our Family Video Game Night!
  • Start with one or two new games, at first.  Kids take awhile to get accustomed to new game play, so it's wise to mix new titles in with old ones while they get their bearings.
  • Plan a party atmosphere.  We always use our game nights as an excuse to snack!  If the games are more active, have plenty of liquids on hand for thirsty gamers.
  • Practice safety.  Today's games aren't the ones we grew up with.  Watch your kids to ensure that they aren't getting too tired.  Encourage frequent breaks or trading up players to be sure that no one overdoes it -- that includes Mom and Dad.
Need even more help picking out games, planning a game night, or getting tips for creating a safe and educational experience for your little gamers?  The Walmart Gamer Network is here to help!  In addition to having members of the Gamer Network in stores to assist you with all of your video game questions, they are online and available to get you started with your first family video game night.  Follow them on Twitter for updates and to ask questions about family-friendly gaming!

*I am a participant in the Walmart Moms program. Walmart has provided me with compensation for my time on this post. Participation in this program is voluntary. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.