Family Bonding Through Video Games - Part 4

Hello and welcome back!

If you’re not familiar with the purpose of this post or would like to review the games that I’ve talked about earlier, then feel free to jump over to my first post in the series and my last post about games with connected toys. For this post, I’ll be focusing primarily on World of Warcraft; however, many of my comments will be relevant to any massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG).

I have been playing World of Warcraft since it’s initial release in 2004. In fact, I was first introduced to the Warcraft series of games with Warcraft: Orcs & Humans when it was released in 1994. I continued my adventures while playing through the subsequent releases of Warcraft II and Warcraft III. All three of these games were actually real time strategy games rather than roleplaying games.

My daughter gained experience with World of Warcraft as a baby. She would sleep in my lap while I played. As she got older, she would sit and watch while I played and, eventually, she started playing herself. Last year was when she really started becoming interested in doing anything other than just running around. She started getting interested in the quests that the various characters have for you around the fictional world of Azeroth, how you interact with the millions of other players who are also playing, and how you go about upgrading your character to become more powerful. Now, we can play together either with her sitting in my lap while she or I play our characters or in a group on two separate computers controlling our own characters.

World of Warcraft (and other games like it) provide many opportunities for learning while playing. It also is a great way for families to bond as it combines strong storytelling with the ability to grow your character and play with others in a constantly changing digital world. For this post, I want to focus primarily on how families can play together. Some of the educational opportunities will be discussed as well.

On to the World of Warcraft…


In World of Warcraft, you decide upon both a race and a class of character that you want to portray in the digital world. Your race (e.g., human, goblin, once, etc…) can be one of 14 types that are split evenly between the Horde side of the on-going battles or the Alliance side.  Within in each race, there are up to twelve different classes of characters (e.g., warrior, hunter, priest, etc…). From there, you can then proceed with determining how your character will look and provide them with a name. Then, you are on your way towards adventuring, slaying monsters, and getting loot. This process of deciding upon race, class, physical appearance, and name can take minutes or hours – depending upon the individuals. For families, it provides ample opportunity to learn more about each family member, why they made the choices that they made, and to talk about how the different characters can work well together. It’s also a great time to start thinking about creating an individual journal for each of the characters. Kids and adults can keep track of their adventures as they progress through the game and, over time, develop a story for their character.

In World of Warcraft, you decide upon both a race and a class of character that you want to portray in the digital world. Your race (e.g., human, goblin, once, etc…) can be one of 14 types that are split evenly between the Horde side of the on-going battles or the Alliance side.  Within in each race, there are up to twelve different classes of characters (e.g., warrior, hunter, priest, etc…). From there, you can then proceed with determining how your character will look and provide them with a name. Then, you are on your way towards adventuring, slaying monsters, and getting loot.

This process of deciding upon race, class, physical appearance, and name can take minutes or hours – depending upon the individuals. For families, it provides ample opportunity to learn more about each family member, why they made the choices that they made, and to talk about how the different characters can work well together. It’s also a great time to start thinking about creating an individual journal for each of the characters. Kids and adults can keep track of their adventures as they progress through the game and, over time, develop a story for their character.


There are several opportunities for players to work on both their strategies for different scenarios and how they’re going to solve problems that arise. The first is in both picking the equipment/weapons for their character and in determining which stats and talents are the best for them. For example, if you’re a Paladin focused on dealing as much damage as possible, then your most important stat is Strength. There are also secondary stats that you must focus on based on whether you’re planning on fighting other players or delving into dungeons. The stats on which you should focus will be different depending upon the class you chose for your character. Aside from the stats and equipment for your character, there are also challenges in the form of dungeons (5 player teams do these), raids (for 20 players), and player versus player battles. As with everything, practice makes perfect. The only to improve in any of these challenging situations is to try them, analyze what you did wrong, improve yourself, and try again. The rewards at the end are better equipment, experience points to level your character, and recognition within your family and community of players. Playing through each of these challenges as a family offers many opportunities to learn from each other and to teach children that they won’t be perfect at everything the first time. It also provides bonding time as you go through the challenges together and work together to add to your own character journals.

There are several opportunities for players to work on both their strategies for different scenarios and how they’re going to solve problems that arise. The first is in both picking the equipment/weapons for their character and in determining which stats and talents are the best for them. For example, if you’re a Paladin focused on dealing as much damage as possible, then your most important stat is Strength. There are also secondary stats that you must focus on based on whether you’re planning on fighting other players or delving into dungeons. The stats on which you should focus will be different depending upon the class you chose for your character.

Aside from the stats and equipment for your character, there are also challenges in the form of dungeons (5 player teams do these), raids (for 20 players), and player versus player battles. As with everything, practice makes perfect. The only to improve in any of these challenging situations is to try them, analyze what you did wrong, improve yourself, and try again. The rewards at the end are better equipment, experience points to level your character, and recognition within your family and community of players.

Playing through each of these challenges as a family offers many opportunities to learn from each other and to teach children that they won’t be perfect at everything the first time. It also provides bonding time as you go through the challenges together and work together to add to your own character journals.


World of Warcraft has an amazing economy system that features in-game currency, the capability to trade currency and items with other players, and a full featured auction house. As you collect armor, weapons, trinkets, toys, pets, mounts, or other items that you don’t need, you can either put those items up for auction in the auction house or try to sell them or trade the to other players directly.  The economy is driven by the concept of supply and demand. It will also fluctuate with different seasons and when new patches or major releases of the game come out. In some scenarios, it’s best to hold on to items until a season or new version arrives. There are players who only play World of Warcraft for the fun provided by the economy. Aside from the auction house and trading, your character can also take on multiple professions in the game. You can have two major professions (e.g., skinning, herbalism, blacksmithing) or several secondary professions (e.g., cooking, fishing, archaeology). Through these professions you gather resources and craft speciality items which others players won’t have available to them. You can see these resources or crafted items for quite a bit of gold which you can use to buy better equipment or improve your character in other ways. The benefit to families is that World of Warcraft provides a great simulation of how our world economy works – even allowing for trading items across servers and from horde to alliance. By wrapping some projects around the in-game economy and creating connections to our real economy, it provides a great way for kids to learn.

World of Warcraft has an amazing economy system that features in-game currency, the capability to trade currency and items with other players, and a full featured auction house. As you collect armor, weapons, trinkets, toys, pets, mounts, or other items that you don’t need, you can either put those items up for auction in the auction house or try to sell them or trade the to other players directly.  The economy is driven by the concept of supply and demand. It will also fluctuate with different seasons and when new patches or major releases of the game come out. In some scenarios, it’s best to hold on to items until a season or new version arrives. There are players who only play World of Warcraft for the fun provided by the economy.

Aside from the auction house and trading, your character can also take on multiple professions in the game. You can have two major professions (e.g., skinning, herbalism, blacksmithing) or several secondary professions (e.g., cooking, fishing, archaeology). Through these professions you gather resources and craft speciality items which others players won’t have available to them. You can see these resources or crafted items for quite a bit of gold which you can use to buy better equipment or improve your character in other ways.

The benefit to families is that World of Warcraft provides a great simulation of how our world economy works – even allowing for trading items across servers and from horde to alliance. By wrapping some projects around the in-game economy and creating connections to our real economy, it provides a great way for kids to learn.


Playing World of Warcraft together as a family, with family friends, or allowing your kids to play online with their friends is a good way for kids to learn how to plan, cooperate, and communicate with other people. Through completing quests offered by other characters in the game, completing dungeons, and participating in raids players learn how they can contribute to a given challenge, what makes their class and skills valuable, and how they can improve after failure. Providing a safe, controlled way to learn this through cooperative family play is a good way to prepare your kids for playing with other people online.

Playing World of Warcraft together as a family, with family friends, or allowing your kids to play online with their friends is a good way for kids to learn how to plan, cooperate, and communicate with other people. Through completing quests offered by other characters in the game, completing dungeons, and participating in raids players learn how they can contribute to a given challenge, what makes their class and skills valuable, and how they can improve after failure. Providing a safe, controlled way to learn this through cooperative family play is a good way to prepare your kids for playing with other people online.


Aside from cooperative play, there are also ways that you can play against your kids and demolish them in player versus player battles, battlegrounds, and arenas. This is a great lesson in learning how to be defeated and fail gracefully – perhaps on the part of the adults as well.

Aside from cooperative play, there are also ways that you can play against your kids and demolish them in player versus player battles, battlegrounds, and arenas. This is a great lesson in learning how to be defeated and fail gracefully – perhaps on the part of the adults as well.


My goal is to inspire you to grab one of these games, sit down with one (or more) of the kids in your life, and have fun spending time with them. If you play one or more of these games and want to share what you and your kids thought, send me a quick message on TwitterFacebook, or via email. For the next post, I’ll be writing about Diablo III, Battlefront, and Hyrule Warriors

Thanks for reading!

Coy