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Taming Gaming review

It is close to 10pm on a Friday night. I am tired from work and ready for the weekend. My partner and I are about to watch BlizzCon 2021. Blizzard do not make games for me, but I have never seen my girlfriend so giddy. I am telling you this because what struck me during the opening ceremony is just how big gaming has become. I have never really stopped to think about it before. I have always been a gamer but as a child in the mid-90s, this hobby was hugely different back then to what it has become today. In 2021, gaming is colossal. It is an industry that is now bigger than music and film combined, and even though it has grown so much, wider society still seems to almost go out of its way to misunderstand what gaming is. Frustratingly, in the age of information, it is still popular to fall back on woefully inaccurate stereotypes and sensationalist headlines. It is lazy and it needs to stop.

Effected most by our misrepresentation are parents of young gamers. They need to be better informed, which is why Taming Gaming is nothing short of essential reading. Written by Andy Robertson, and funded by countless parents, carers, guardians, academics, schools, and more, Taming Gaming methodically covers all aspects of modern gaming specifically for parents who have children that game. Andy has spent the last fifteen years of his professional career, writing about video games for families. His wealth of experience in this field touches every page. Taming Gaming is sympathetic to parents and aims to give them practical advice and insight, something the book does wonderfully well.

Split into two parts, the first half of Taming Gaming moves from chapter to chapter explaining the positives and negatives of gaming. Nothing is left out and each topic is presented in clear and concise fashion. Andy is consistently honest and open about the good and the bad in equal measure. Just as he discusses how games are fun, educational, how they push imaginations and improve social skills, he is not afraid to talk about too much gaming, violent content, in-game purchases, and anonymous strangers online. No stone is left unturned. As a gamer myself, I particularly enjoyed the debunking of certain gaming myths that cropped up occasionally. We have all heard people claim video games are nothing but violence, but in 2019, 1755 games were released in Europe with just 12% being rated mature. Gaming can, and does, cover all manner of important subjects, and offers unique experiences in ways that other mediums simply cannot. Everything a parent needs to know is in this book and that is just in the first half.

The back end of the book is full of ‘Gaming Recipes’. Parents will love these! The clue is in the title. Games are shown as recipes. You are told what the game will be like to play, the age rating of said game, how many players the game needs, how long the experience is, and what equipment is required to enjoy it. A really nice touch is the ‘serving suggestions’, which are how other families have experienced the games. Every single recipe has been tried and tested and parents can even read through stories, characters, and spoilers, all in advance so they know exactly what to expect for their children – screenshots are also provided. Everything in Taming Gaming is with the parents in mind so that they can make the most informed decisions to keep gaming a happy and healthy pursuit. It is a remarkable piece of work.

If that was not enough, once you have read the book and enjoyed the gaming recipes, you can then go to taminggaming.com and make use of the Family Video Game Database. Better yet, use the site with your reading of the book from the start. From this website, you can find more games for children, teenagers, and young adults. You will discover new releases, recommendations from other parents, and there is even a section showing games currently on sale to save you a few quid here and there – gaming is not cheap. Be warned, this industry moves fast, you can stay ahead by signing up to the Taming Gaming newsletter.

I am not a parent, but I have been a gamer all my life and although my parents never frowned on how I spent my time, I would have loved my early adventures to have been something we could have experienced together. But I cannot complain. At several points in the book, Taming Gaming suggests the best way for parents to understand why their child games is to game themselves. I totally agree. I found this book delightfully refreshing – it is going to do so much good. I have already recommended it to a handful of families. Bravo.

Taming Gaming

I am not a parent, but I have been a gamer all my life and although my parents never frowned on how I spent my time, I would have loved my early adventures to have been something we could have experienced together. But I cannot complain. At several points in the book, Taming Gaming suggests the best way for parents to understand why their child games is to game themselves. I totally agree. I found this book delightfully refreshing – it is going to do so much good. I have already recommended it to a handful of families. Bravo.

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