Genre Guides: Sports Games

Sports GamesGenre: Sports

Recommended LWK Games: NBA 2K12FIFA Soccer 12, Grand Slam Tennis 2, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13, Wii Sports Resort: Bowling

Popular M-Rated Titles: Fight Night Champion, Blitz The League, Blitz The League II

Common Thinking Skills Used: Flexibility, Time-Management


Genre Description

Sports video games come in a variety of forms, from realistic simulations to action-oriented arcade titles, but all generally attempt to reproduce the basic experience of playing whatever sport they represent. Popular franchises like Madden Football and MLB: The Show focus heavily on stats and are updated yearly to reflect the current roster of players for each team in the NFL and MLB, with similar gaming counterparts for the NBA, NHL, and PGA, among others. These games tend to evolve and become more complex as the franchise grows, introducing new ways to organize plays and control the action on the screen. Other titles, like The Bigs or any Mario-themed sport title, focus more on over the top action and fun, forgoing simulation to deliver an exciting re-imagining of the basic premise of the sport. This could include the addition of unrealistically powerful moves, an unorthodox amount of players on the field or the inclusion of special items and power-ups.

Sports Games are Good for Kids Who Need Help With:

Time Management

Being efficient and aware of the use of time and effort.

Just like real-world sports, many sports video games require an aspect of Time Management. Whether it’s the game clock in basketball or football, or a race timer in a skating or snowboarding game, players almost always have to be aware of how much time they have to work with, and how to use that time to beat their opponents. For example, when holding a narrow lead over an opposing team in a game of football, it would be smart to play defensively to keep the ball in possession and run down the clock. There are a myriad of ways to use time to an advantage in sports, and such time-conscience strategies translate well the video game equivalent.


Adapting and adjusting to changing conditions and expectations.

In any sports game, players will have to deal with a variety of different play styles and situations, both in video games and real life. In a football game, for example, players will have to contend with a variety of different teams and implement various strategies as the game goes on. In a skating game video game, players are commonly penalized for completing the same few tricks every time, while being rewarded for diversifying their tricks and stunts. In a baseball game, players will have to bat against a variety of pitchers, while also throwing  a variety of pitches themselves to keep opponents on their feet. In all of these cases, players have to be able to adapt to new situations, and adjust strategies in order to succeed.

Our Make it Work activities are designed to transform your child’s gameplay to real-world improvements in thinking and academic skills. If you’re just getting started with LearningWorks for Kids, we suggest you try them all to find which are the best for you and your child.

Introduce the Thinking Skills

Read over the pages for Time Management and Flexibility.Then take some time to introduce these thinking skills to your child.

Explain that:

  • Time Management is the thinking skill that helps us complete tasks on time, finish things more quickly and be efficient and aware of our use of time and effort.
  • Flexibility is the thinking skill that helps us adapt to new situations, learn from mistakes and change what we are doing in order to deal with different challenges.

Time Management Activity

Set reasonable time limits for tasks and then work to reduce them. For example, state the expectation that your child can unload the dishwasher or clear off the table within 15 minutes. As you work towards decreasing the limit to ten minutes, praise any efforts and attempts to complete this task more efficiently.

Flexibility Activity

Try teaching your child how to use common household items in different and unusual ways. Ask your child to come up with 10 ways to use a fork, book, pen, or piece of clothing, and discuss how being flexible can help solve problems. Flexible problem-solving often uses the “materials on-hand,” such as filling holes in drywall with toothpaste or making cleaning rags out of old, stained clothing. Talk to your child about ways to apply this approach in his own life.

The best sports games, such as the FIFA Soccer and Madden NFL franchises, can be an incredible amount of fun for kids and parents. Every year, these types of games come out with new versions that improve graphics, deepen game play, and update the team rosters to reflect real-world changes. Unquestionably, players must have a great deal of basic video-game and game-control skills to become champions of these games; however, they also need a number of other thinking skills as well.

Interestingly, research has shown that playing sports video games appears to increase the amount of time that children go outside and play these games in the real world. In other words, while many parents worry that sitting inside and playing Madden 2011 takes away from exercise time, the data suggest that kids who get into sports video games tend to play more sports.

As a parent, you might want to use these games to encourage your child to take up a sport of his own. If you choose to purchase a sports video game as a birthday or Christmas present, you might also want to buy sports equipment to encourage your child to play the same sport outdoors. Package a new football with Madden 2011; a new soccer ball with FIFA 2011; or a bat, ball, and glove with Backyard Baseball.

Sports games can also help encourage a child’s interest in learning about sports and utilizing some academic skills. For example, many of the baseball and football games include a variety of statistics within the games. You can use these games to encourage your child to learn more about sports and athletes by sending them to websites such as Sports Illustrated for Kids and NFL Rush 360. These sites provide wonderful opportunities for reading, improving mathematical skills, and developing an interest in a particular sport.

Playing sports video games also might help your child to improve his or her skills on the field. Many professional athletes have attributed some of their success to the hours spent playing sports video games. In a sense, these games are a simulation for the actual sporting event.

Perhaps most importantly, the vast majority of sports video games are safe, nonviolent, and family-friendly. Most are designed for two or more players and are great tools for improving social skills. As long as your child does not substitute opportunities to go outside and play these sports for sitting in front of the television and playing a video game, they can be a great opportunity to have fun indoors.

Related Games

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