A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a realistic simulation of baby care. Players are tasked to feed, play with, and talk to their virtual infants. They even have to change diapers and deal with cleaning up digital poop and pee. However, this level of detail means that the game can be unexpectedly complex. It's not really suitable for children who can't read well, or who haven't some degree perseverance. In fact, it seems at times, almost like a game made for expectant parents.
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What's it about?
My BABY GIRL (or My Baby Boy, should you choose to pick up its male-themed counterpart) is a simulation of infant care. Players start by customizing their child, choosing skin, hair, and eye color. Then the pretend parents begin looking after their newborn by feeding her, caressing her, and trying to get her to grab hold of their fingers (as embodied by the DS stylus). She cries and acts up when unhappy, and little love bubbles and stars appear when she is content. As she grows, play progresses to include diaper changing, dressing her up, and playing with her. You'll even get to take pictures and send them to her grandma, who will reward well composed images with gifts for the wee one.
Is it any good?
The game's depiction of infant care is surprisingly accurate. Players must learn specific ways of performing various tasks and pay close attention their virtual child's behavior in order to discern what she wants. When feeding, for example, you'll need to learn the correct angle at which to hold the bottle to ensure she is getting just the right amount of formula. Hold it too high and she'll take too much and spit up on her bib; hold it too low and she'll begin crying because she's not getting enough. You'll also have to figure out the proper way to change a diaper, including how to hold up the baby's legs, attach diaper tabs, and the proper direction in which to wipe to clean the mess (tip: don't go up). Indeed, kids wanting to practice babysitting and expectant parents can learn a thing or two about child care, not only from the game's challenges but also its virtual pediatrician and nurse, who provide guidance and information on baby development milestones.
In fact, the only real problem with My Baby Girl is figuring out who might want to play it. Outwardly, it looks like a game for young girls, but its unexpected complexity and lengthy text instructions will make many kids lose patience. And children old enough to fully understand the challenges and goals might be too old to have any interest in playing with what, in the end, is essentially a highly interactive virtual doll. In the end, it might be best appreciated by babysitters-in-training or parents-to-be; a decidedly niche group of DS owners. It's a good little game that, unfortunately, may never find much of an audience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the degree to which the game successfully simulates infant care. Is there any aspect of the game that seems inauthentic? Is there anything the game is missing? Did it accurately replicate your own personal experience with babies? You can also discuss whether the game would be a useful tool for kids who want to be babysitters and for parents-to-be.
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