I remember the days when a parent or older sibling could hand a young person an unplugged controller and they would happily ‘play along’ with the older gamer. Now, with wireless controllers, a young child can take charge with a single button press.
I’ve not played too many video games around my 1-year-old. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I actually played more games after she was born, when she was struggling to sleep through the night and so on. Of course, she wasn’t aware of the game being played.
I rarely have the TV on for more than an hour when my daughter is around. On the few times when a game has been on with her in the room, it tends to be something light and colourful. She enjoys the alien fishes in Subnautica, the colourful world of Minecraft, and most recently she likes spotting the odd creatures in No Man’s Sky.
She’s held a PS4 controller on more than one occasion. What self-respecting Gamer-Parent would miss the chance for a photo of their 1-year-old playing with a controller. Occasionally, she will get hold of the controller and wiggle the sticks. At 16 months of age, she even knows that the left analogue stick makes the PlayStation menu flick backwards and forwards.
It turned out that she knew more than she was letting on.
One morning in June, she was sat in the living room playing with her toys. Our house is open plan, so I can get prepare breakfast and watch her. I didn’t think much of her scooping the controller up off the sofa as I made porridge for us to ‘share’ (she ends up eating the lion’s share and I grab a cereal bar for myself, which she also helps with).
I also didn’t react when the PS4 beeped awake. She’d figured out the middle button on the controller weeks ago, and it’s very cute to see her wiggle the left stick and then look up to see the menu scrolling. So I let her carry on.
A few minutes later, I looked over to see that she had managed to get onto the PlayStation Store. As I set the food on the dining room table, I chuckled at the memory of all those stories you hear about young children racking up huge bills on their parents’ credit cards via in-game micro-transactions.
It was as I turned to collect her to put her in the high-chair that I witnessed her master stroke. In what I thought were random strokes on the controller, she had navigated to a particular video game, and then proceeded to quickly thumb the ‘X’ button over and over again.
Before I knew what was happening, she had added the game to the cart, jumped to checkout, selected payment type… and completed the transaction before I could bound towards her and snatch the controller away.
At the time, I hadn’t yet put any restrictions or password protections in place, because she’s a 1-year-old. Silly daddy. I could not believe how many ‘accidental’ button presses she had to make to lead her to the end goal. You might believe her actions were deliberate, especially since the game she ‘chose’ was LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2. At the time, this was a £50 purchase.
Had I been a second later, she may have even downloaded the purchased game. As it turned out, this would have prevented me from getting my money back. Luckily, one of the Player Support Specialists was kind enough to quickly respond to my hastily scrawled email and refund the purchase. I’m guessing honesty helped me too – who would pretend that a toddler bought the game?
Thank You For Reading
Have you had any bizarre moments with young, soon-to-be gamers? Have your little ones made some shocking purchases? Is your young child secretly an evil genius too? Let me know.
Written by Rufus Scott