You should play more video games with your kids

Playing Dungeons of Eternity with my son on a Meta Quest 3 and Quest 2
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

My son and I had just about to finish clearing our 3rd dungeon of the evening when we came upon something completely unexpected. We had already found a treasure trove of weaponry and some sweet new armor in this dungeon, but there was one chest left that we’d been waiting to find the key for. Too bad the chest had other intentions when we opened it. I’ve seldom screamed like that in my adult life!

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In his weekly column, Android Central Senior Content Producer Nick Sutrich delves into all things VR, from new hardware to new games, upcoming technologies, and so much more.

Turns out, Dungeons of Eternity’s latest update added Mimics, a fantasy creature that disguises itself as a valuables-filled chest and hides itself in the deepest dungeons you might try to raid. Once opened, the Mimic’s fanged visage is fully revealed, very killing the person who attempted to loot its coffers.

Finding this chest alone would have been cool enough, but there’s something special about quality father-son bonding time that made it significantly better. I cheered my son on as I dodged fireballs that emitted from the chest, and as we both went in for the killing blow, the high fives that erupted from the room were the kind some only reserve for the stands at a stadium.

It's these moments and countless others have helped shape the bond between my son and I, and I'd love to encourage other parents to do the same. Even if it's playing a game that you normally wouldn't like, doing things together — especially if that's playing immersive VR games — creates lasting memories and a childlike sense of joy that's akin to when he was even younger and we would play with action figures or LEGO on the floor together.

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Playing Dungeons of Eternity with my son on a Meta Quest 3 and Quest 2

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

There’s something special about gaming with your kids that helps bridge the traditional generational gap in interests and understanding. Gaming breaks down borders, but it can also be an unhealthy way to add more couch time to your life. That’s where VR comes in.

Most VR games are inherently more active than traditional games on a flat display because they force you to move around more, even if that just means moving your head or your arms. It’s better for your body and mind because you’re not spending another Friday night just sitting on the couch.

Traditional games can encourage unhealthy habits, but VR games encourage movement and physicality in a new and different way.

But VR gaming is also about more than just getting up and moving around a bit. It’s a way to create lasting memories in a way that’s unique to our brains’ ability to capture spatial information.

While traditional flat-screen gaming can elicit emotions and create memorable moments, our brains were built to experience things with more than just our eyes and ears. They were built to explore with our hands, to walk with our legs (or roll in a wheelchair), and sense the ethereal quality of being there with our presence.

When my son asks me if we can play Dungeons of Eternity, he speaks about it the same way he might speak about playing with his friends outside or exploring the woods. That’s because he’s going on a real adventure with his dad, slaying actual skeletons and undead wizards with the weapons his hands hold and his eyes behold, exploring new places we’ve never been (and can never go back to), and, of course, finding gobs of treasure as a reward.

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

We love our outdoor time and get plenty of it, but VR gives us the ability to go on a real adventure in a way that the fully-explored real world sometimes can't.

It’s fun because we can experience a romanticized version of life together. It’s impossible to actually set out on “a medieval quest” — the one created by fantasy books and movies, not the plague-filled serfdom — because, quite frankly, nearly everything has already been discovered or done in some way, usually then recorded and rebroadcast over YouTube to be experienced in some cheap second-hand way.

So instead of just watching or reading about someone else doing these things, we’re able to actually do them and create lasting memories from the experiences. It’s the difference between simply observing someone do something cool and actually doing something cool yourselves.

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

My son and I have been gaming together since he was four or five — it’s hard to remember exactly when he started joining in for more than a few seconds — and we’ve poured our fair share of hours into plenty of games across a wide variety of systems. Whether it’s playing Minecraft cross-platform on different devices, leveling up on the living room TV with Minecraft Dungeons, or taking turns passing the controller in Breath of the Wild, we’ve made memories neither of us will ever forget.

And while I cherish all those times together, there’s something truly special about being able to play the same game together inside if the virtual world together. It’s a substantially more personal experience because you can see and understand the body language of the other person.

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Games like Dungeons of Eternity make it feel like he’s 4 again and I’m sitting on the floor with him while we play with stuffed animals and action figures, making a story while we make memories.

When we play in VR, it’s not sitting next to each other on a couch. Games like Dungeons of Eternity make it feel like he’s 4 again and I’m sitting on the floor with him while we play with stuffed animals and action figures, making a story while we make memories. It also feels like a way to preserve childhood because age barriers are irrelevant in a game.

Of course, I love time outdoors with him and we spend a lot of it there. There’s a reason I live in a mountainous area where we can still naturally explore. But there’s something satisfying about being able to still feel like we got a physical adventure even if we didn’t go outside for it.

A Screenshot of opening a treasure chest in Dungeons of Eternity running on a Meta Quest 3

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

If you haven’t played VR with your kids yet, I wholly encourage you to try it! If you’ve only got one VR headset in the house, check out the best Meta Quest 2 deals and pick up an extra one for under $200. You’ll eventually have to upgrade it to keep playing the latest games, but the most popular VR headset of all time will still be around for a few years, yet.

Think of it as an early start to Summer vacation so you can take completely different adventures all throughout the week.

Or if that’s too much for you, just play what you have around the house. Whether it’s crafting and mining on two phones or taking turns passing the controller back and forth, I encourage you to do more gaming with your kids. It’s ridiculously fun, helps build relationships, and creates lasting, active memories. Plus, there’s something for every interest, so it’s not hard to find games that at least two people can love together.

Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu
  • Stanley Kubrick
    How about kids going OUTSIDE and playing sports, and other games with friends. You know, breathing the fresh (polluted) air and getting some exercise? This whole article is all wrong!
  • seph13
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience here. I'm going to download Dungeons of Eternity tonight. My son and I already bike almost every day during the summer/spring/fall and ski together most weekends during the winter. This will be a great indoor activity to add to the list.

    We've struggled to get into gaming together because my interests are in more challenging genres like JRPGs and fighting games while he leans towards Minecraft and Lego games at his age. I get super bored trying to get into his games and he finds my games too challenging (obviously with more years that problem will go away)

    But VR is so different. We both would love a simple exploration and fighting dungeon crawler that we could do together.

    I just recently got a Quest 3 and already own a Quest 2 so this works out well. Hopefully we can work out enough space to not crash into each other.

    Thanks again for the great article and game suggestion. I hadn't really thought of the possibilities here and movement based gaming is so much better in VR for co-op.