Play it now: Jostle Parent


A game that teaches you to be an anxious helicopter parent? What a great idea. Instead of keeping little Hapless away from that faulty electrical outlet, you might think about fixing the outlet, but I suppose that would require a mod.

The faulty aspect may be a hard coded feature of the game, but the outlet doesn’t have to be faulty for the kid to get injured messing with it. At 4+ years of age my brother tried to make an electric blanket by sticking the ties of his sleeping bag into an electrical socket. Fortunately they turned out to be non-conductive.

Child protective devices can help, but kids can be ingenious at circumventing them and have surprising strength when they’re focused. My daughter routinely broke child locks off cabinets. Before she could talk she somehow managed to recruit other toddlers to collaborate in tearing down a baby gate. And before she could walk, accomplished a feat of engineering using a broom to twist a handle and pry open a door that my wife and I sometimes found heavy to open ourselves.

I’ve tried to give our kids some autonomy and the chance to get hurt in minor, non-life-threatening ways, to develop self confidence and their own sense of level of risk. But below a certain age, my experience suggests that anything short of constant vigilance, even if from a distance, would’ve ultimately resulted in serious injury to self or others. Though our experiences may not be typical.

I’m sure you are a wonderful parent. My point was about a video game, not your parenting skills.

I’m posting just to say I really enjoy Leigh’s posts. Nice addition to BoingBoing.


I’m one of five and my Mom always gave us the advice, w/r/t our own kids, “Your kids will get hurt. Try to see that they don’t get injured.” My son cut his hand open with an immersion blender. That was a messy thing, but ultimately he was fine. But better to learn the lesson there than with a chain saw or a lawn mower. I had my 4 year old dicing peppers. One pretty good cut and she’s never made another big one.

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That was thoroughly unenjoyable. I like the idea but I cannot stand the music or anything past feeding the kids. Putting randomly moving objects that collide with each other with a sketchy hit box along a narrow path with instant death if they stray is never going to be fun.

I didn’t think you were critiquing my parenting skills.

But it sounded like the fault you found with the game was that it didn’t allow one to prepare an adequately safe environment in the first place, and thereby (or maybe incidentally) promoted excessive vigilance behavior.

My response was intended more to suggest that an adequate level of safety can be difficult to determine ahead of time, and short of a padded cell there’s no substitute for some degree of vigilance.

Probably fixing an electrical socket is something you should do whether you have kids or not. But I see it as simply a place holder (albeit a poorly chosen one) for all the seemingly innocuous things that can turn into hazards (though more often simply persistent inconveniences).

So, I’m not sure this is something the game gets wrong.

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