5 ways creativity-inspiring video games can help parents share quality time with kids

(BPT) – When winter arrives, parents eagerly anticipate taking kids on family vacations and spending more time with them during the holidays. Kids look forward to more free time for their favorite video games. However, a growing body of research indicates video gaming can actually be a good thing for parents and kids — if they play together and choose games that foster creativity.

A recent study by one game website found 63 percent of parents view video games as a positive part of their children’s lives, and 59 percent play video games with their kids at least once a week. Gaming together is a great way to spend time with children — who will play regardless of whether a parent is participating! What’s more, when parents help kids choose games that allow players to personalize their experience, they can nurture children’s creativity, too.

If you’re looking for creativity-inspiring games to play with your kids, here are some tips:

* Look for games that allow kids to stretch their imagination like Skylanders Imaginators by Activision Publishing Inc. Available now worldwide, the latest iteration of the popular franchise introduces video game icon Crash Bandicoot to the Skylanders universe that both kids and parents can enjoy alike, and gives players the ability to create their own customized characters. Players can choose from an endless combination of powers, abilities, catch phrases and much more to create unique Skylanders and bring them to life in an all-new adventure. Skylanders Imaginators is sure to be at the top of kids’ wishlists this season. The game has already won numerous prestigious awards including “Best Family Game” from the two top videogame tradeshows in the world: Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and Gamescom. The game is the perfect gift for kids and parents to enjoy together. There’s even a free new mobile app, Skylanders Creator, that allows families to express their creativity and love for franchise in a variety of ways. Some fans can choose to have their creations transformed into 3D printed Imaginator figures (limited quantities, while supplies last). Additionally, they can create Imaginator Cards with an image of their created Skylanders that are fully-playable in the console game. Fans also can create a customized Skylanders Imaginator T-shirt featuring an image of their very own creation.

* Long gone are the days when players were content to make their way through static virtual worlds created by someone else. Today, many games allow players to create their own levels and worlds within the game’s virtual universe. In addition to helping kids exercise their storytelling abilities, world-building games can also be a great basic introduction to the concept of programming.

* Not ready to dive into creating an entire virtual world? No problem! Look for story-based games that allow players to guide the outcome of the tale based on decisions they make within the game. Kids (and parents) can play through the game a first time to achieve a specific end, then play again making different choices to influence an entirely different outcome.

* Who didn’t love those classic block-busting games that required you to think 10 moves ahead in order to clear a level? These traditional puzzle games have always fostered problem-solving skills. New versions also allow players to create their own challenges by customizing puzzle pieces and other key elements of game play.

* Multi-player games that allow kids to share their creativity with a like-minded community of gamers can encourage collaboration, healthy competition and originality. In this type of game, players can create characters, scenarios, levels and story lines, and share them with the online community so others can play in the worlds they’ve created.

A recent study published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology found evidence that playing video games may actually make kids mentally healthier and more socially adept.

Parents who want to spend quality time with their kids while maximizing the benefits of game time, should look for games that foster creativity through fun, exciting play.