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Ask Slashdot: Best Linux Game For Young Kids?

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the starting-them-early dept.

Education 338

First time accepted submitter pseudorand writes "I have a 3 year old that I've so far kept away from TV and computers. I met a gamer who has a 1 year old that plays xbox (probably better than I do). I believe kids should experience the real world first, but computers will obviously be a basic job still for the foreseeable future and I'm afraid I'm letting my kid fall behind. I'd like to responsibly introduce my son to computers so he can start developing hard-eye coordination, typing skills and learning UI concepts. What's the best (Linux, of course) game to get a kid started with? Shoot-em-up's are obviously out, but I'm more concerned with something that will help him understand how to interact with a mouse, keyboard and screen and hold his attention rather than something 'educational' because there's plenty of (probably more effective) ways to teach math, reading, etc. that don't involve a computer. So far I've tried Tux Racer, which held his attention for 10 minutes or so. He doesn't quite get pressing multiple keys simultaneously yet."

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nethack (5, Funny)

neo8750 (566137) | about 2 years ago | (#41653071)

nethack or if you can find rouge both great games from my childhood

Re:nethack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653095)

*Ahem, rogue

Re:nethack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653163)

maybe he wore lipstick when ...he erm...played with himself.....er nethack

Re:nethack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653149)

for a 3 year old?

Re:nethack (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653201)

Yeah, eating elf corpses and nurse bumping is a little intense for a 3 year old.

Re:nethack (3, Funny)

sadness203 (1539377) | about 2 years ago | (#41653497)

Nothing like cannibalism, rotten corpses and laying naked with succubus (or incubus) to help a child grow up.

Re:nethack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653323)

Ya, for a 3 year old. WTF.

Re:nethack (3, Interesting)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 2 years ago | (#41653465)

Roguelikes will teach you your ABC too [google.com] , great for a young kid

All kidding aside, Angband is one of the best games I've ever played to date still. After about 1000 tries, I did an ironman noupstairs win.

The learning curve is moderate to learn all the keystrokes and commands, but the game itself is really indepth and pure fun if you know what depths to get your resists. Make sure you download a version of Angband that has autosquelch in it. The guy who wrote autosquelch did it mostly out of a kind gesture for me! It shows you how cool Open Source guys can be. I wish I had his name, but I don't because I lost that data with a hard drive crash. I thought it was Dr. Andrew White, but Angband's page is saying: Dave Blackston.

I actually encountered something REALLY cool in Zangband once. I charmed some monsters who were spawning and polymorphing themselves. So half the dungeon was a bunch of monsters I owned, and the other half was a bunch of monsters that spawned as enemies. It was like one giant war around me. I have been making video games on my own, on the off chance I can recreate the scene, because it is incredibly... interesting.

Of course Angband's learning curve is about too much for anyone under 9. But if you've never played it, you can find it Here [rephial.org] . It is the predecessor to games like Torchlight. Compared to Nethack, you actually do a lot more hack and slash in Angband because you're fighting tons of monsters. If you want ez mode imo, go half-troll/warrior.

Burgerspace! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653077)

BurgerSpace a burger time clone is always fun (http://perso.b2b2c.ca/sarrazip/dev/burgerspace.html) and maybe heros of wesnorth?

Lula (1)

Lillebo (1561251) | about 2 years ago | (#41653083)

Good times.

Don't give him a game (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653085)

Jesus, you're thinking of giving a kid a game that early? On linux too? Do you want him to grow up without a chance in hell of being able to speak to Women? How about you just let him shit his pants and play with wooden bricks? Looking forwards to your next post - "Which beers should I introduce my 12 year old to?"

Re:Don't give him a game (3, Funny)

The123king (2395060) | about 2 years ago | (#41653105)

Beers to a 12YO? I've been drinking since the age of 5! And it hasn't killed any brain cells off yet!! Ooooh, something shiny!

Re:Don't give him a game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653241)

What? You're insane.

Re:Don't give him a game (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653367)

there's more to life than picking up people for sex..

Re:Don't give him a game (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41653517)

Jesus, you're thinking of giving a kid a game that early? On linux too? Do you want him to grow up without a chance in hell of being able to speak to Women? How about you just let him shit his pants and play with wooden bricks? Looking forwards to your next post - "Which beers should I introduce my 12 year old to?"

Letting children play with video games is pretty standard, now-a-days. Most often, simple smartphone games and whatnot rather than Linux games, but not at all uncommon. It's a good way to improve hand-eye coordination and brain development. Not being able to speak to women is pretty much unrelated, outside of the fact that a lot of people who can't do so in the first place gravitate towards computers and games, on account of the fact that they don't involved the possibility of messing up some social convention they are often unable to grasp. But playing games doesn't mean you won't or can't develop such skills, it's more that people who don't have those skills in the first place go towards gaming and computers in general. Don't confuse cause and effect.

And for that matter, 12 is a bit young for alcohol, but 14-15 is a good time to introduce them to small quantities (soft liquor, mind you, beer or wine). Otherwise, when they leave supervision around alcohol for the first time they'll likely overindulge, on account of a lack of experience. If they've been drinking on moderation for several years, that is a lot less likely.

Re:Don't give him a game (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653553)

I introduced my children to IV drugs around that same time too for the same reason.

Re:Don't give him a game (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653561)

Letting children play with video games is pretty standard, now-a-days.

Yes and it's a sign of retarded parents. We have to ban all electronic devices from the dinner table when our nieces and nephews are over otherwise dinner drags on for an hour and you can't get more than two words out them. There's more to life than immersing yourself in video games to the exclusion of all else. Allowing that kind of ongoing involvement makes for socially and mentally inept adults.

Re:Don't give him a game (2, Interesting)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#41653621)

WHAT? Letting children play with games. Is retarded. All of these anti video game posters have got to be fucking kidding with this.

Is there anyone here who didn't play games (and most likely video games) as a kid? For me personally, playing video games as a kid led me to hacking video game saves which let me to writing my own video games (Eamon was a great early text RPG where you could write your own modules in BASIC).

Re:Don't give him a game (2, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 2 years ago | (#41653667)

You're doing something that I don't like; therefore, you're mentally inept.

Re:Don't give him a game (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#41653597)

That's no problem. By the time he's 12 he can just mail order the Howto [pinside.com] .

Causing Developmental Damage, Physical Harm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653617)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/oct/09/ban-under-threes-watching-television

Prof Mitch Blair, officer for health promotion at the college, said: "Whether it's mobile phones, games consoles, TVs or laptops, advances in technology mean children are exposed to screens for longer amounts of time than ever before. We are becoming increasingly concerned, as are paediatricians in several other countries, as to how this affects the rapidly developing brain in children and young people."

Re:Causing Developmental Damage, Physical Harm (2)

simplexion (1142447) | about 2 years ago | (#41653665)

From the same article: But the issue is controversial and his opinions and standing are questioned by Dorothy Bishop, professor of developmental neuropsychology at Oxford University who says that although this is an important topic, Sigman's paper is not "an impartial expert review of evidence for effects on health and child development". "Aric Sigman does not appear to have any academic or clinical position, or to have done any original research on this topic," she said. "His comments about impact of screen time on brain development and empathy seem speculative in my opinion, and the arguments that he makes could equally well be used to conclude that children should not read books."

Scorched 3D (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 2 years ago | (#41653087)

Great for giving an understanding of ballistics, gometry and strategy. It does involve explosions but it's not graphically violent like Unreal or those kind of shoot'em ups.

Re:Scorched 3D (2)

Sfing_ter (99478) | about 2 years ago | (#41653233)

Back in 2000 my buddy and I were forced to take a beginning linux class in order to take the advanced - so we quickly got the root password for the DeadRat server the teacher was running for the class - created some alternates, then installed scorched3d for the rest of the year we played scorched3d while the rest of the class tried to learn. :D Ah... Memories.

PQ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653097)

I'm not sure if there's a Linux port or not, but I highly recommend the Gressquest of the One True Pro. [progressquest.com]

The only (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653101)

Jagged Alliance 2. It's never too early. It's never too late. He will learn how to use the mouse. He will learn how to use the keyboard. He will learn to fear death.

GCompris (5, Informative)

Dozy Lizard (1708728) | about 2 years ago | (#41653103)

For a 3 yr old, GCompris is hard to beat.

Re:GCompris (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653191)

I second this, my son started with GCompris at age 6. Before this though I shieled him from screen-based entertainment (well other than Hollywood and Disney).

"well other than Hollywood and Disney" (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#41653581)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

Before this though I shieled him from screen-based entertainment (well other than Hollywood and Disney).

That's a strange choice of what to expose your child to, given the damage that Hollywood and Disney have done to the intellectual commons through copyright lobbying.

Re:GCompris (5, Informative)

HoldmyCauls (239328) | about 2 years ago | (#41653445)

Seconded. Married to a teacher who is now running daycare for some friends' kids so she can stay home with ours. I'm a tech for local catholic schools whose teachers and staff can't deal with Linux though I myself have been a user for more than a decade.

We have acquired some older P4 machines and I have one slightly newer one that I set up as an Edubuntu LTSP server. The older ones NetBoot from it.

Point is, my 3-yr-old and her friends between 3 and 4 love Gcompris, and my wife thinks it's incredible. Connect-the-dots, memory, typing blaster and even a simple mouse-learning game where one wipes translucent bricks away to reveal a fun animal picture. It gets used for maybe an hour total per day, so it's a fun reward for good behavior and a pastime while the babies need feeding or lunch prepared or laundry done, not a mindless zombie creator. Compare the activities with what's playing on the Disney or nick channels and you can easily see which is better for a developing mind. Most activities are nearly if not entirely on par with the sensory and craft activities my wife plans with the kids, though visits to the rec center are a nice break from monotony, and they also attend a nursery school 2 days a week. Nice days are also used well with play on the swings and trampoline. I'm just saying by way of comparison for the benefit of those commenters who will say, "why stick your kid in front of a screen?" As though life is binary.

Re:GCompris (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653509)

My 2 and 4 yr olds both like GCompris.

For those people saying "why don't you let them do something non computer," we don't plug them into the computer 23 hours per day. They get occasional use within a balanced range of activities. They certainly spend less time playing GCompris than most of the posters here spend reading slashdot...

Re:GCompris (1)

physlord (1790264) | about 2 years ago | (#41653701)

Agree with that My son started to play GCompris when he was 4 (he is 7 now). The game improved his skills not only with the mouse and the keyboard, but learning math, colors, reading and a very long etcetera . My boy has been using linux his entire life and he's becoming very good at it. Linux Paint is might be another option. But if it's the firs time your kid will grab a mouse, it will take some time for him to really enjoy it.

SnapMaps (3, Informative)

retroworks (652802) | about 2 years ago | (#41653109)

My kids know three languages I2/3 of 3 kids have 3 fluent, the third has 2 fluent and is starting 3rd). But that's nothing compared to their geography. The Snap Maps game was awesome, I play it myself. http://www.coolmath-games.com/0-geography-map-snap-usa/map-snap-Africa.html [coolmath-games.com]

Several Options (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653115)

Have you looked into Edubuntu (http://www.edubuntu.org/), Qimo (http://www.qimo4kids.com/) or Foresight Linux Kids Edition (http://www.foresightlinux.org)? While they aren't games, they are distributions designed for kids with pre-installed applications and games for ages 3 and up.

You are making the problem worse (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653137)

By force it to be Linux rather than something your child is likely to see outside your narrow view of the world. Might as well force him/her to speak Latin at home as well.

Re:You are making the problem worse (5, Insightful)

mathew42 (2475458) | about 2 years ago | (#41653213)

By choosing linux, you expose the child to a different way of working to accomplish the same task. This means when the inevitably encounter a different OS they will have to learn new skills, but will then have a distinct advantage when it comes to learning the third OS or a major upgrade occurs. You also need to consider that most kids are exposed to smart phones and computers so have some experience with this anyway.

Your language example was well chosen. Learning a second language has many additional benefits [duckduckgo.com] . Latin is an excellent choice for someone interested in science.

Re:You are making the problem worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653299)

At age 3 though, I doubt the kid will understand anything about the underlying OS. Just enough to click on the right icons to get his favorite artificial babysitter, er program up and running. Do try to at least go for programs that encourage creativity and thinking instead of mind numbing "hand-eye" coordination. The hand-eye coordination will develop naturally as his brain develops. Go visit a park and tech him social skills, so he has a chance to interact meaningfully with others.

Re:You are making the problem worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653525)

Care to explain (preferably with cites and not just shit spewing) how using Linux gives anyone the advantage when learning another OS?

Ri-li (4, Informative)

Dennis Sheil (1706056) | about 2 years ago | (#41653151)

Ri-li [sourceforge.net] is a game very young children might enjoy. It has a toy train running around the track, and there's not much to do - just click the button to switch the train tracks if you think it might crash. It has lots of motion and train noises, and is simple. I have heard from more than one parent that their child really enjoys playing it.

A couple good options (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653161)

I started the grandkids off with the Childsplay http://childsplay.sourceforge.net/ and Gcompris http://gcompris.net/-en- educational games collections as well at Tux Math and Paint http://tux4kids.alioth.debian.org They all are in the OpenSuse repositories or could fool with Quimo http://www.qimo4kids.com/ as a live CD or as a dedicated install.

I found that having two mice connected was a big help in getting them started so I could show them what to do without having to take their mouse away.

Tux Paint (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653173)

Tux paint was a hit with my kids though that got bored of it after a few weeks

Re:Tux Paint (2)

linuxwrangler (582055) | about 2 years ago | (#41653187)

My daughter loved tux paint and still occasionally uses it to make a card, poster or board for a game she is making up. I mentioned it to a friend and his son now loves it. Definitely worth a try.

Re:Tux Paint (2)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | about 2 years ago | (#41653683)

+1 for TuxPaint. If you install the sound pack they'll love it, but you'll hate it.

My 8 year old just asked me to put it back on after I reinstalled my laptop. Seems there's no end to the creativity and the simple drawing tools are really fun to use.

Gcompris also held his attention for a good long while. There's quite a few challenges in there.

And +1 for all the other "take your kid to the park" responses. Get them out there and make them run about. Teaching them to be sedentary is a terrible thing, and you'll spend a long time undoing that early "work" later on.

Enigma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653193)

Fun as hell

Enigma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653195)

Enigma [nongnu.org] is a game where you control a marble with the mouse to solve puzzles. There are a ton of puzzles, and most of them will be out of reach of a three-year-old, but the mechanics aren't difficult at all.

Give the kid an Amiga 500 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653203)

Give the kid an Amiga 500 with Rod-Land, Wiz 'n' Liz, Bill's Tomato Game, Arabian Nights and Volfied.

nickjr.com (1)

DrDitto (962751) | about 2 years ago | (#41653219)

Or pbs.org Assuming Linux has decent flash support.

Sesame Street (4, Informative)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about 2 years ago | (#41653229)

Try Sesame Street Games [sesamestreet.org] . They're mostly flash games, but they should work. My kid started playing them when he was 2, liked them a lot, and learned to use a mouse from playing them.

Re:Sesame Street (1)

robot5x (1035276) | about 2 years ago | (#41653439)

+1 to this - my 5 and 3 year olds love it. Also some good ones at nickjr.com.

this gave me the excuse to set up a user account for my eldest on my linux laptop - now she fires it up, logs into KDM, starts up firefox and browses to either of these sites all by herself. I should probably look at locking it down a bit before she gets too clever...

TuxPaint (5, Informative)

mathew42 (2475458) | about 2 years ago | (#41653253)

I recommend TuxPaint [tuxpaint.org] :

Tux Paint is a free, award-winning drawing program for children ages 3 to 12 (for example, preschool and K-6). Tux Paint is used in schools around the world as a computer literacy drawing activity. It combines an easy-to-use interface, fun sound effects, and an encouraging cartoon mascot who guides children as they use the program. Kids are presented with a blank canvas and a variety of drawing tools to help them be creative.

My kids have had great fun using the program, especially with the special effects tools and sound effects. Rather than a structured environment it encourages free play. You can add in your own photos as stamps or just use the extensive collection.

Point-and-click adventure games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653261)

Companies like AGD Interactive have re-released a bunch of Sierra adventure games (a lot of them with better sound and graphics), for free, ranging from Mixed Up Mother Goose through to the King's Quest series. They all run quite well under WINE.

Shmups (1)

CerealSam (642129) | about 2 years ago | (#41653263)

I'm not sure why you're against Shoot'em Ups, unless you mean something more along the lines of First or Third Person shooters. Or more specifically, a game that involves violence by or against human beings. Or are you including any kind of shooting at all? Shoot'em ups are just dodge'n'shoot games, generally 2-D space games with crazy numbers of enemies and firepower to dodge. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoot'em_ups [wikipedia.org]

Welcome to the real world (5, Insightful)

Kevster (102318) | about 2 years ago | (#41653275)

Hand-eye co-ordination is best learned in the real world. Take him outside and play with real objects (I've heard it's called "catch") in a natural (non-human constructed) setting.

As for the other two things, typing skills and UI concepts, they can be trivially learned by him 10 years from now just as easily. He'll pick them up on his own before that, anyway.

OpenTTD or simutrans (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41653281)

OpenTTD or simutrans are cool building games.

World of Goo would be a good start. (1)

MaxToTheMax (1389399) | about 2 years ago | (#41653283)

World of Goo is a great kid-friendly game, in addition to being a good game full-stop. It is mouse-only, but some of the puzzles would be very challenging (in a good way!) for a small child. Don't expect him to beat the whole thing though. So that's a good first one. Another good game (although it requires some more advanced reading skills) is Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles: http://www.howtogeek.com/92615/wind-and-water-puzzle-battles-an-awesome-game-for-linux-and-windows/ [howtogeek.com] I wouldn't pull this one out right after World of Goo though. So you should look for a few other games to put in between these two.

Dwarf Fortress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653289)

It is never too early to learn excavation and economics.

Best puzzle game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653291)

He should try emacs

Re:Best puzzle game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653697)

His hands probably aren't big enough to reach all the strange simultaneous combinations of keys. He should try Vim!

Humble Bundle (2)

chepati (220147) | about 2 years ago | (#41653303)

Some of the humble bundle titles (chocolate castle, crayon phisics) are pretty good and educational, stimulating the brain. A three year old is a bit too young, but I would suggest you play together -- this way you can help the child, strengthen the bond between the two of you and steer the educational and entertainment process.

However, please keep in mind that there was an article a few weeks ago that exposure to TV (and maybe a computer?) at an early age may hamper a child's cognitive development.

Why not crack open a good printed book with nice illustrations and read to your child? Or play some old fashioned games. Or kick ball, learn to ride a bike, etc etc. You'll be thankful one day that you did. And your child will, too.

Linux games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653309)

Install Wine and run any of these fine children's games [amazon.com] by Humongous Entertainment.

PuttPutt and Freddie Fish were childhood favorites of myself, my brother, and now my own son.

If you're looking to avoid mindless button mashing (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#41653313)

I'd suggest you go buy a used Wii for him. You should be able to pick one up for around $50 secondhand if you look a little bit. It should be no problem for him to pick up and play with.

Besides, the best computer games require the ability to read. No offense but I suspect your 3 year old isn't very literate yet.

Dwarf Fortress! (1)

Zimluura (2543412) | about 2 years ago | (#41653335)

start by generating a world with only 1 civ, so they won't have to deal with goblins sieges. then later on, after they learns crop irrigation, and how to forge iron weapons introduce them to the full game.

Minecraft (2)

DeciDigi (2283220) | about 2 years ago | (#41653339)

My 2yo and 4yo daughters are addicted to minecraft, and they're surprisingly proficient at the game. They also play on a variety of websites, but minecraft seems to capture their imagination best. I 2nd whoever suggested Edubuntu, but not for a 3 year old.

Tux Paint (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#41653341)

Entertaining, creative, non-violent.

All the violence they want and more (1)

r00t (33219) | about 2 years ago | (#41653575)

Put a boy in front of a paint program, and what will he draw? Yeah... Mine 5-year-old immediately drew things getting killed. Tux Paint even has stamps (clip art) of military equipment, emergency services stuff, a cross, fire, mushroom cloud, and various tools for beating people to death.

It's fairly easy to make new stamps (clip art) for the kid. You can add an AK-47, RPG-7, iron maiden, rack, breaking wheel, etc.

Tux Paint isn't even limited to violence. The stamps include a hypodermic needle. The line tool makes it very easy to draw a swastika. The text tool lets you add the mark of the beast ("666") to your drawing. You can add stamps for pot plants, pills, sex toys... the possibilities are endless!

Re:All the violence they want and more (1)

zegota (1105649) | about 2 years ago | (#41653653)

Your 5-year-old has issues.

Learning in kids (1)

aurizon (122550) | about 2 years ago | (#41653345)

This child needs to be able to grow up in the modern world, not rusticate with your biases against computers and games. It is hard to teach adults a new language, they never become facile speakers. In the same manner, if your child grows up with the ability to use computers and a little later, some programming he will be far better off. That said, he should not spend 150 hours/week on Warcraft. Games help you to master computers - up to a point, after that they waste time.
Check with the various online computer learning places, like Khan academy. Suggest Khan academy establish courses for children of various starting ages, and let them progress to the adult programs, you would be amazed at how far and fast they can progress if they are smart enough.
In the old days, in tribes, kids learned it all as fast as they could, snakes, bees etc.
We are now so far removed from that time, that we forget the learning plasticity of kids, let them go for it, but control the time waste aspects the kids want - leave those as a reward. every hour of A gets and hour of B etc.

MS paint (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653371)

I know you said Linux, but I started my kids out on paint. It did not take them long to figure out the start menu and launch it on their own.

Once they get a little control, they figure the rest out fast.

Minecraft was another game I let them loose on once I thought they were ready.

Poisson Rouge (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653391)

Poisson Rouge (Red Fish) is a delightful collection of simple games for preschoolers. It does require flash.

TuxPaint is also great.

What's wrong with education? (2)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 years ago | (#41653393)

GCompris. Yes, it's boring for an adult, but there is a wide variety of activities - some of which he'll like. It includes TuxPaint which teaches mouse use and drawing. You're late with TV. Get "The Letter Factory", "The Word Factory", and "The Storybook Factory". Let him digest them one at a time - each needs a few months to sink in, then introduce another - he'll be excited. Don't hesitate, if your kid can't read basic words already, your late with these videos.

Wordworld, Dinosaur Train, Sid the Science Kid. All on PBS (assuming US here). Also, get an antenna so you can get PBS Kids during more hours of the day (for scheduling, not additional watching) your cable company does not carry all the subchannels and Kids in not #1 all the time.

I'm a fan of limiting TV. We limited ours to 1 hour per day early on and have migrated to 2 hours (she's 6 now). The "Factory" DVDs are excellent and teach reading. If you're going to teach your kid anything "academic" it should be reading - everything in life is easier if you can read. There is nothing wrong with educational stuff, but free play and getting creative with physical objects/toys is also important. Education is not lame - you sure you're from around here?

And don't worry a bit. Your kid will know how to use tech stuff better than you by the time he's 5 regardless of what you do. But if you must, get him an iPod or iPad and get lots of puzzle games - Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, whatever that silly alligator game is.... But limit screen time per day.

Try Touchscreen Android Kids Apps (1)

Jonah Hex (651948) | about 2 years ago | (#41653395)

On my Android phone I've entertained a 2 year old with several of the Shapes games, and from Humble Android Bundle: Snuggle Truck and Toki Tori.

Hex-a-hop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653411)

http://hexahop.sourceforge.net/

It's cute too. I'm not sure if your kid will understand the puzzle mechanics, but at least the first few levels should be understandable.

It may not be a Linux game... (0)

lattyware (934246) | about 2 years ago | (#41653433)

The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis. It was the staple of my childhood, and I enjoyed it a crazy amount. Looking back on it, I think it was the basis for my logical reasoning skills, and therefore my programming ability. It also gave me a good introduction to games.

It's a good example of a game that was educational, where gameplay was still a primary concern. It was actually fun, and even with the name, I didn't really think of it as educational as a child - it was just a fun game.

It's old now, but I seriously recomend finding a copy and going with it - I imagine it'll run great in a virtual machine. I can't overstate how fun that game was for me as a child, and how good it was at making you think logically. Even my parents enjoyed playing it with me and my sister, as the difficulty could be scaled up to be challenging enough for an adult.

Re:It may not be a Linux game... (1)

lattyware (934246) | about 2 years ago | (#41653501)

You can see some videos on youtube of the intro [youtube.com] , the kind of logic [youtube.com] problems faced.

shutdown -h now (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653437)

On some systems it's even massively multiplayer :-)

Braid (1)

Zimluura (2543412) | about 2 years ago | (#41653443)

simpe platformer controls + press shift to rewind time.

Tux racer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653449)

Tux Racer? It's been a while since I played it, but I was fun and required maybe two or three keys.

Try Tablets instead (1)

r6_jason (893331) | about 2 years ago | (#41653463)

My soon to be 3 year old nephew can add and remove icons on my mom's phone better than she can, she can't figure out how to change the wallpaper and he'll change it to a different picture of him self every time he gets the phone. If i hold him while in front of my computer he'll poke at links in chrome by touching my monitor and look at me like why isn't this working. The Leappad 2 is great, $100 upfront then around $20 or so for the games, not a bad deal. However, kids learn different ways and while some can use keyboard and mouse, or console controller early on, others can not. The best thing to do is let them explore on their own, within reason of course.

Puzzles (1)

bscott (460706) | about 2 years ago | (#41653473)

I have a 6-yr-old and a 3-yr-old. So far the smaller one is happy enough with a few kid-friendly games on mom's iPhone (very sparingly, a few times a week at most) but I'm finding the 6-yr-old very engaged with online casual puzzle games. He's not quite ready for escape-the-room-type stuff, but there are quite a few kid-friendly puzzlers out there - check JayIsGames.com, you can search by tags and I use "kidfriendly" and "puzzle" (and "flash" because I'm not downloading anything, even if I did have Windows around)

While others may disagree, I'm happy to let the local schools teach the basic 3 R's; later on I'll supplement the history and geography and science. Right now I'm more interested in making sure he has analytical skills, including skeptical thinking and inductive reasoning. He's not the math/science geek I was at his age. So I'm trying to make sure he learns as much as possible about puzzles and different ways of solving them. "Rubble Trouble" is a current favorite, but that's only after we've gone through most of the Bonte stable (especially "Factory Balls"! he solved virtually all of them, not bad for (at the time) a 5-year-old)

As for the 3-yr-old, he loves Angry Birds first and foremost, but is just as happy tossing the birds to the left as to the right. He's developing differently and takes things at his own speed, so we're kind of feeling our way forward. (by contrast with the older boy, who's basically a carbon copy of my wife's personality) If he ends up more like me there'll be no keeping him away from the more analytical, strategy-type games - violence-based or otherwise - and he'll be wanting to modify the games as soon as he's finished with 'em... I'll certainly be showing him puzzles of every shape and size until we find a genre he likes.

Kids can only be steered so far. But there's enough out there that you can find something that you and the child can agree on for almost any combination of "you" and "the child"!

Educational stuff, obviously. (4, Informative)

MMC Monster (602931) | about 2 years ago | (#41653477)

How about http://www.starfall.com/ [starfall.com] ?

My kids loved it when they were around 3-4 years old.

Re:Educational stuff, obviously. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653613)

I second this. My 5-year old plays starfall from time to time. We started him on the computer around 1 and had some windows games for him to play. Mostly key mashing to make characters on the screen dance around. I used to tutor the very young and the very old and found that a trackball works much better than a mouse for both age groups since you don't have to explain picking up the mouse when you get to the edge of the desk/mouse pad. Also, the coordination required to hold the mouse steady while clicking to prevent dragging is not quite there for those age groups. The only trouble is that my son has taken the ball out and pays with it on his car tracks and it ends up all over the house.

My mother was bewildered when she saw my son at 1-1/2 years old ask to use the computer, log me out, log in as himself, start up firefox and start playing on Starfall. It was priceless. He knows how to get to his games / firefox on both Windows and Linux. We've also started changing his passwords to help him remember things, such as our house number, phone number and most recently, his lunch code for Kindergarten.

All that being said, we limit his "media time" to less than 2 hours a day, as recommended by our pediatrician. He usually clocks in at about 1/2 hour per day, more in the winter, less in the summer.

None at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653495)

I wouldn't recommend any. At 3 years old he's too young to need be exposed to computers at all. And I wouldn't worry about him 'getting left behind'. Once a kid with no computer exposure starts using them at school they'll catch up with those who have been using within 6 months. It just seems to be something that kids soak up whether they start it at 3 or 6 or 10.

DDR (2)

Press2ToContinue (2424598) | about 2 years ago | (#41653499)

Don't forget the eye-foot coordination. Plus, he'll be able to dance.

Best Evar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653541)

Hunt the Wumpus. None of that stupid graphics shit for those with no imagination.

Don't do it (1)

crrkrieger (160555) | about 2 years ago | (#41653543)

I did not start on computers until I was 14. Nobody says I am behind now. Why rush it?

Yeah... no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653545)

Unless your friend is specifically referring to Happy Action Theater (where you simply stand on camera to play), he/she's lying/heavily-exaggerating to you. A 1-year old, even a hand-eye coordination prodigy, wouldn't be able to play even a children's XBox game.

qimo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653559)

Try qimo (http://www.qimo4kids.com/), its an entire linux distribution centered around kids games. I started my daughter on it when she was 3 as well.

You are doing it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653569)

If you forbid games to your kid, you are going to fail miserably. If he doesn't play games from young age, he won't learn games are a waste of time and will spend adulthood playing till he realices. You will only feed his addiction. Instead, you should let him play and then ask him what did he learn, what was it useful for, and tell him about health issues that may arise. Let him be.

Doom 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653599)

Be sure to let him play alone in the dark.

what? No hard eye jokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653603)

so he can start developing hard-eye coordination

I met a guy with hard-eye before. He's working on the new .xxx domain now.

Open World stuff. (1)

whoop (194) | about 2 years ago | (#41653615)

My daughter started playing WoW at about 2-and-a-half. She was fascinated with going in doors and up/down stairs in it. I was surprised how long it took her to perceive moving around in a 3D game. It starts with her just spinning non-stop, but before long (about 15 minutes) she had the key timings down to do just what she wants.

Sure, WoW's not Linux-specific, but start with something that's open-world with no pressure to do anything (Minecraft maybe?) but plenty of stuff to explore. Then, let them go at it on their own.

Auriferous (remake of Lode Runner) (1)

matt_morgan (220418) | about 2 years ago | (#41653623)

Auriferous [sourceforge.net] is a pretty good remake of Lode Runner, complete with the level construction tools.My son and I started playing it and building levels (some good, some interesting) when he was four and he loves it.

Otherwise, I can second all the GCompris and TuxPaint recommendations. My son loves them.

XBIll (1)

White Shade (57215) | about 2 years ago | (#41653629)

XBill!

That game is killer for hand-eye coordination, and it's fun and cute and free...

You might want to modify it or change the difficult settings though, because it does ramp up from wicked easy to insanely difficult fairly rapidly.

Debian Jr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653645)

Set him up with a Debian Jr box or vm of his own and let him go to town. It's supposed to have some good games packaged with it, plus programming tools and other stuff specifically for childrens. http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-jr/

grab emulators instead (1)

Vince6791 (2639183) | about 2 years ago | (#41653649)

what native linux games for kids? just grab rocknesx20f(nes), snes9x, fusion(sega genesis, master system) emulators and download rom collection through torrent or individual roms from sites for the kids. There is nothing wrong with playing old nintendo and sega games.

Re:grab emulators instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653695)

For a place to get the ROM sets, I advise Emu Paradise.

Libreoffice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653657)

Seriously- when my son was 2 1/2, he would spent many minutes playing what he called "map", which involved him typing words into OpenOffice.

Didn't see any harm, as he sort of learned his letters and was using his imagination.

xEvil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41653669)

My dad let me play xEvil on the KDE desktop when I was about 10, and I turned out alright considering it had messages in the background like "WINNERS USE DRUGS" and "KILL YOUR PARENTS".

VideoLAN (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | about 2 years ago | (#41653677)

No, really.

Buy him some educational DVDs and fire up VideoLAN. On the PC you'll learn how to navigate menus, click a mouse - all that. It's basic computer skills. Then as a bonus - educational videos.

My kid right now is watching the School House Rock DVDs on his machine. Clicking around like a pro. And learning about about adverbs at the moment. [youtube.com]

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