Genre Guides: Shooter Games

Genre Guide: Shooter Games

ShooterGenre: Shooter

Featured LWK Games: Uncharted 3, Super Monday Night CombatThe Gunstringer, Tribes: AscendGeometry Wars: GalaxiesSyphon Filter: Combat OpsN.O.V.A. 2

Popular M-Rated Games: Halo 4, Call of Duty Black Ops II, Crysis, Far Cry 3, Vanquish, Battlefield 3

Most Common Thinking Skills Used: 


Genre Description

The Shooter genre is usually associated with First-Person Shooters, which are the 3-D action games like the Call of Duty and Halo series, in which the players see the game play from the main character’s perspective, often looking out at their environment over the barrel of a gun. However, there are in fact quite a few different game play types beyond the FPS that are still considered Shooters. These include Top Down Shooters (in which the player looks down from above on the actions of their character, which is often not a person at all, but rather a vehicle, robot, alien, etc.), Third Person Shooters (which are essentially the same as FPS games, except the entire figure of the main character is visible), Light Gun Shooters (in which the player has a gun-like game controller that the player points and shoots at targets on the screen), and Tactical Shooters (which focus on the strategic movements and decisions of soldiers, rather than on accurate aiming and shooting). It is important to note that, while the majority of Shooters are quite realistically violent, and thus inappropriate for all minors, there are many that use a more kid-friendly, cartoon style of shooting which some parents may deem acceptable for older children. LearningWorks for kids suggests that parents take extra care with Shooters to consider the appropriateness of any given game for their specific child.



Getting started and then maintaining attention and effort to tasks.


Shooter games can be extremely helpful in teaching your kids about Focus. In most shooters, the player is presented with continuous waves of enemies and obstacles, each one different and more difficult than the last. If the player is to stay alive, she must give the game her full attention, 100% of the time, otherwise an unseen enemy will easily get the best of her. Practicing this type of concentration in a shooter game can help your child to pay attention while taking test, reading, and during other activities that require her full and complete attention.


Adapting and adjusting to changing conditions and expectations. Trying new things.

Most shooter games feature a wide variety of weapons, and constantly changing levels and challenges. With the constantly changing weapons, the player must adapt to differing rates of fire, range, reload time, and other key shooting mechanics. Additionally, the player must remain flexible to shift their gameplay style to suit each and every different level, many of which will include varying terrains, vehicles, and enemies. By practicing this type of Flexibility in a shooter game, kids can get better at being flexible while changing classes at school, or adating to new situations at home.

Use this PlayTogether guide to learn how you can help your child turn time spent playing Shooters into a positive learning and relationship-building experience. To learn more about why playing games with your children is so important, check out our Science of Play page.

Talk Before You Play

Take a minute to talk with your child about how the Flexibility and Focus thinking skills work, and why they are important for success in school and at home.

Set Gameplay Goals

Uncharted 3Most Shooters have some form of multiplayer built into the game, with many having both cooperative and competitive play modes.

When playing cooperatively, set a game-based goal, like reaching a certain place in the story, or defeating a specific number of enemies. If you decide to play competitively with your child, you can try be the first peson achieve 5  or 10 wins.

In either case, ask your child what he thinks a good goal would be for your Play Together time. Chances are, he’ll have a few ideas already in mind.

Stop & Reflect

After you’ve completed a few rounds or levels, take a minute to pause the game and talk with your child about how the game was exercising your thinking skills.

  • Discuss how being flexible helps you adapt quickly to swarms of enemies and the fast-paced gameplay.
  • Explain how staying focused helped you to see where all of the enemies were coming from, and differentiate between enemy types.
  • Talk about the different defensive measures you can take. How does focusing on the layout of a level allow you to find new spots to attack from, locate defensive positions and find objects you can take cover behind.

DK Shooter

Many parents simply do not want their children to play video games which involve shooting a gun or attempting to kill anything or anyone. While many shooter games are ostensibly designed for younger children (these tend to be the ones that are cartoonish in nature, and involve killing monsters, machines, or other non-humans), the majority of the most popular shooters are quite violent, and are clearly designed for adults. That is why it is extremely important that you take extra care to inspect the content and rating of shooter games before buying them for your child. If you are uncomfortable with the content, simply do not allow the game into your home.

However, if you are comfortable with the more tame, “kid-friendly” range of shooters (such as those listed in this guide), you might want to follow the old adage, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” The fact is that shooter games are probably the most engaging form of video games out there. For older kids and adults, it is very clear that the best-selling, most popular games are almost all first-person shooters, such as the Call of Duty games and Halo series. These games have the capacity to fully engage players, keeping them on the edge of their seats and focused on the moment.

Because these games are so much fun for kids, they present a great opportunity for parents to become active participants with their kids. While many of these games are for single-players, an increasing number of them have multi-player modes that you can play along with your kids. Getting your kids to talk to you about their strategies, their need for paying attention to minute details, and developing an awareness of what is happening in the game can be a first step towards making shooter games an opportunity for developing thinking skills such as focus and flexibility.

If you have an older teenager who you allow to play some of the more violent shooter games, you might want to engage in a conversation about the violence that is portrayed in these games. Even the less graphic shooter games that younger children play can be an opportunity not only to talk about the games, but also to talk about your concerns in general about violence in the world and to have a discussion about gun control and media portrayals of violence. Some of the more realistic games may also be an opportunity to encourage your child’s interest in learning more about world wars or medieval history.

Related Games

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