Online games can be accessed from a range of platforms, including dedicated gaming websites, social media sites or through gaming consoles, PCs or other devices. 

There are many types of online games and genres and these can vary in suitability and popularity depending on the age of your child.  Genres include, action, adventure, sports, first-person shooter (FPS), strategy, role-playing, puzzle, educational, stealth shooter, and the list goes on! You can access a more comprehensive list of genres and examples of games hereIGEA provides a top ten list of retail games, including online games.

Dota 2, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, StarCraft, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch are some examples of popular games that are played on a competitive level in eSports tournaments. These tournaments are hosted in large arenas and attract thousands of spectators. They offer substantial prizes which can be an incentive for young people to compete and work towards being at the top of their game.

Online gaming can facilitate positive experiences.  Some games have the potential to improve a child’s coordination, problem solving and multi-tasking skills and also help build social skills through online interactivity with other players.

Recent developments

It is common these days to hear about virtual reality and augmented reality gaming and to come across products that incorporate these technologies in gaming stores. Virtual reality and augmented reality have the potential to enhance the gaming experience: 

  • Virtual reality games (VR) – these games add another dimension where players can completely immerse themselves into a virtual gaming environment and experience it as if it was the real world.  This is usually enabled by a special headset (that often looks like a thick pair of goggles). There may also be the potential for players to connect and interact with other players located remotely in a way that makes them feel like they are in the same room. 
  • Augmented reality games (AR) - these games often superimpose computer generated graphics onto a player’s physical environment through their device’s screen view of the real world.  Only some AR games use special headsets. They are mostly played on devices like smartphones, tablets and portable gaming systems.

Potential risks

It’s a great idea to play along with your child to get a good sense of what a game has to offer and to enjoy some quality time together, but also to be better aware of some of the potential risks

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