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Getting a Grasp on Games


My name is Trenton, and I really like games. Especially video games. I graduated high-school in 2022. I am now working part time as a TA at the high school I attended while I work on my first year at college. My qualifications for writing this column? 17 years of gaming experience. I’ve played games across all four of the major platforms - Nintendo, Xbox, Playstation, PC and in all age ranges from E to M. I have even attended competitive tournaments and have made friends in the various communities, and in the gaming community as a whole. If there is a game I haven’t played, I know someone who’s played it for years.

I am really excited to be doing this column because I.. well I like games but I really do think that games can be helpful, even important.

Gaming can:

~ Bring about a sense of camaraderie through shared experience

~ Tell fun and beautiful stories

~ Give a real sense of progression and skill

And if they are approached properly, they can help tie families closer together and make unforgettable memories.

Over the years my family has found a way to have video games be an activity that brings us closer. I hope to impart some of the knowledge we’ve gained from that journey to all of you. I hope that if nothing else I can help explain things in a way that allows families to be able to talk more about their interests and come together in ways they haven’t before. Now, let’s get into our first game.

Tetris

Genres: Arcade, Puzzle

Perspective: 2D

Number of Players: 1-2 (typically)

Age Range: All ages

Price: $

Platforms: Everything under the sun

Difficulty: Low


Tetris is the game with the highest number of copies sold in the world, so it seemed like the perfect start. Almost everyone knows of Tetris, so I feel like it will be a good way to feel how these reviews are going to go.


Game Overview:

In Tetris, tetrominoes fall from the top of the screen until they land on the floor or another tetromino.

As these tetrominoes fall, the player can move them to the left and right, and rotate them in 90° increments to better fit them in place. When an entire row gets filled, it is cleared, the player scores points, and all blocks above them fall down to fill in the new space. As time goes on, the tetrominoes slowly fall faster and faster until they reach the top of the screen, when they reach the top of the screen, you lose.


As previously stated, Tetris, is the game series with the most copies sold. It is available on every console, computer, app store, heck even some calculators can run it. It’s very simple, meaning almost anyone can play it. Tetris is traditionally a single player game, but there have been a few exceptions to this rule over the years. When it is multiplayer it is usually two (or more) players playing separate games of Tetris and trying to be the last man standing. A recent example of this is Tetris 99, a game in which 99 players compete online to try and be the last man standing.


Tetris can get very competitive, especially when you are playing multiplayer, but it is also competitive through the high-score system. When the game is over your score is recorded. So, even though there isn’t a way to “win” or “beat” Tetris there is still a sense of achievement. When you play on an arcade machine if your sore is in the top ten the game lets you record your name to be displayed on a list of high-scores. There is a sense of accomplishment by getting on the scoreboard, beating someone else’s, or even your own, high score..It’s very satisfying being able to track your skill and progression visually like that.


This game is really good as a first game because of its simplicity, it’s quite easy in the early levels, but quickly it gets harder because of the speed increases. This is a great time to introduce two terms that I will probably use a lot in this column.


Skill Floor: The minimum skill requirement to play a game.

A game with a low skill floor will be easy for anyone with little game or genre experience to pick up and play well. A Game with a higher skill floor will be harder, requiring more of a grasp on the genre or sometimes just video-game literacy to play well.


Skill Ceiling: The amount of skill it takes to master a game, to get the most out of it.

A game with a low skill ceiling doesn't require much skill or knowledge to play the game the best you can play or literally optimally. A game with a high skill ceiling? You will probably have to put time in to master this game, and there’s likely going to be a lot of growth and development possible, whether through a game’s complexity or simplicity.


Tetris is a game with a low skill floor and a high skill ceiling. It’s very easy to pick up and play without any gaming experience, but there are many techniques and skills to master in order to play at the higher levels. It's an easy game to pick up that encourages the player to get better through its high score system. Its simplicity made it both popular and easy to put on almost any device. This killer combo led the game to its massive success, acclaim, and #1 spot on the list of games sold.

Many parents worry that playing video games can rot your brain but playing Tetris can actually promote brain development. A study by The Mind Research Network used brain imaging and found that areas of the brain "involved in planning complex, coordinated moves, the area responsible for multi-sensory integration, and areas associated with critical thinking, reasoning, and language processing have grown thicker".


Playing the game also helps with organizational and fine motor skills. Your brain begins to "recognize individual elements of an item, understand relationships between them, and decide how to utilize them to your advantage" Tetris provides exercise of eye-hand coordination, dexterity, and physical impulse control and trains "your hands to quickly and accurately follow the instructions from your brain."

Tetris expands cognitive and strategic skills. While playing several areas of your brain focus on a single goal engaging pattern recognition, memory and matching to promote problem-solving, decision-making, impulse control. While you engage with the falling tetrominoes you must "observe, categorize what you have observed, contextualize that information, and make the appropriate associations" and this will help your child learn how to break down systems into fundamental elements and make decisions based on how these elements effect each other. Playing Tetris can literally and functionally expand your brain.


So you can expand you brain and acquire a sense of accomplishment but most importantly the game is a a bundle of fun for young or old, hardcore gamers, casual gamers, non-gamers.Tetris has my recommendation for… everyone.


Post Scriptum

Thank you so much for reading! I’m going to be doing a series of articles, so if there is a game that you or your child is interested in, leave it in the comments below so that I can cover it. I am planning on covering some of the bigger games that are popular with (and a little infamous because of) kids; like Minecraft and Fortnite, but I wanted to talk about Tetris first because it was simpler and because I wanted to pay homage to this classic.



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Ellen Wheeler
Ellen Wheeler
Nov 03, 2022

What is a good game for me to play with my 10 year old son that he will like but won't drive me crazy?

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Unknown member
Oct 27, 2022

As I mom I have sometime resisted gaming. But watching my two boys play and laugh and create and challenge each other I have come to see that there can e bonding that happens. I sometimes even wish I was good enough to play with them. (But don't tell them I said that!)

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