I actually think that racing games can be one of the best game genres to play with your kids for learning problem-solving skills. However, because they are so much fun, some kids want to play them for hours on end, diminishing the cognitive benefits they might derive from playing.
Car racing games can be can be a great deal of fun and provide an opportunity to develop thinking and fine-motor skills. There are two major forms of car-racing games: simulation games, in which the player is usually placed in the driver’s seat of an extremely realistic vehicle, and arcade racing games, where cartoon-type graphics are accompanied by easy game controls and unrealistic powers.
Cars games can help kids become flexible in their thinking. Racing games require players to react appropriately to novel situations, make quick decisions, determine the best path of action to take, and learn to avoid obstacles.
Racing games also require working-memory skills. Most racing games contain multiple tracks that have obstacles and power-ups to collect along the way. Players need to use working memory to remember where they are on the track so they know when to speed up and when to use caution. To the degree that a child is able to memorize different aspects of the track, he will be able to navigate it more speedily and win the game.
Another skill your child will practice while playing racing games is self-control. Even the best players in racing games tend to crash and burn. This can become very frustrating if you don’t learn to have fun when making mistakes. It also requires you to assess your abilities so you don’t go too fast on the track. This is the type of skill a child might use when learning to ride a bike or, once he has mastered riding the bike, slowing down when going around curves or down a steep hill.[cjphs_content_placeholder id=”73596″ random=”no” ]
This might be more than you ever wanted to know about racing games, but they are a very popular and generally wholesome genre of games. If all your child does is play racing games he is likely to get a limited amount of benefit from these games, as they are limited in the types of cognitive challenges they present to a child. I strongly encourage parents to have children play many different game genres. If your child likes racing games, he may be interested in action, adventure, or simulation games. Playing different genres of games would practice additional thinking skills and expand his horizons to other interests beyond cars and trucks.
Feature image: Flickr user Patrick