Game of chopping fruit – choices + challenges = learning & entertainment!

Observing my six year old son play the video game, Fruit Ninja, for half an hour was an enlightening experience! While this game is not strictly educational, I believe this and games like it give children the opportunity to practice valuable skills, such as decision making.  It is also highly entertaining and interactive with a good rewards system.  Watching him play made me think about the role that parents and teachers play in mediating children’s game experiences, and the reasons for their choices of games.

Fruit Ninja is free and can be played on the PC or on a mobile device via an app.  My son mostly plays it on our tablet.  We have had the app for about a month and already he has worked his way through the levels (or challenges) and unlocked eight different blades, and several different backgrounds.  (For those who haven’t played this, the blades are used to chop fruit that is hurled toward the player – each chop earns points, and the backgrounds provide atmosphere).   Being rewarded with tools and visual images empowers the player as it enables them to control their experience of the game by allowing them to make choices.  This keeps my son engaged with the game and he experiences excitement and a boost of confidence when he unlocks new tools and backgrounds.  He is also learning about various aspects of Japanese samurai culture through the content of the game.

Parents and teachers play a huge role in mediating children’s access to various popular culture texts, such as video games.  Our choices are informed by factors, such as: the educational benefits of the game; its suitability for the age group; the cost; and how entertaining it will be for the child. I chose this game for three reasons: 1) It creators were on the Sunday Mail’s Rich List;   2) my son is in to all things Ninja since his introduction in to the phenomenon, Lego Ninjago, and 3) it was free.  Fruit Ninja was a good choice for us. Sometimes the choices aren’t so easy.

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