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This is the Family Gamer Awards suggestions for vidoegame console and handhelds that suite different ages of player: Infants, Juniors, Students, Workers, Parents and Seniors.

These awards complement PEGI's age-appropriate ratings by suggesting games each age group will enjoy. Rather than warning families about which games are inappropriate, we suggest which games each age group will get the most out of.

Although consoles like the 360 and PS3 make the barrier to entry seem really high, the truth is that games can be played on machines of all shapes, sizes and prices. Here we take a look at the different available options - everything from free games on your PC to high-tech multimedia gaming and everything in between.

Videogame Consoles for Infants (3 to 6 yrs)
The best games for toddlers, very-young children and pre-school kids from 3 to 6 years old. These games work with the basics of play and should easily engage the super young players in our families. Simple and easy controls and bright colours engage young players in some educational and informative games.
Nintendo DS: Works very well with young players because of its touch screen and range of games that can be played at their own pace. Pre-school children can enjoy experimenting, learning and interacting with the stylus, microphone and buttons. While the original DS isn't quite up to the knocks and throws it will get in the service of a toddler, the DSlite is well up to the task. The DSiXL's bigger screens with wider viewing angles also suite collaborative play between parents and very young children.

  • DSlite: The redesigned DS is available second hand for around £70.
    - Supports: DS and Gameboy Advance games.
    - Pros: It is a sleeker and more compact design. Much brighter screens and improved 9 hour battery life.
    - Cons: Hinges often fail so ensure that there are no plastic stress marks on them before buying second hand.

  • DSiXL: The larger version of the DS is available new for around £100.
    - Supports: DS and DSi-ware (download) games.
    - Pros: Very bug screen that is easier to see for both player and watcher. Can download DSi-ware games directly to the handheld for a few pounds each. Easier to connect to internet with better Wi-fi support.
    - Cons: Improved 9 hour battery life because of the bigger battery. No support for the old Gameboy Advance games.
Videogame Consoles for Juniors (7 to 11 yrs)
The best games for primary school, junior and young children aged from 7 to 11 years old. These games provide experiences that connect with a basic joy of discovery and play. Although still simplistic they engage with a wide range of basic principles.
Nintendo DS: Works very well with junior gamers, but for the more tradition Nintendo first party games. Junior players are also better suited to the original DS than younger infants where durability and robustness is more of an issue.

  • DS: The original DS is available second hand for around £40.
    - Supports: DS and Gameboy Advance games.
    - Pros: Older model much cheaper than DSi or DSlite. 6 hour battery life.
    - Cons: Less bright screen not good for outside play. Build quality not as solid as later models.

  • DSi: The updated DS is available new for around £100 and can play DS and DSi-ware (download) games.
    - Supports: DS and DSi-ware (download) games.
    - Pros: Slimmer design and bigger screens than the DSlite and solves the hinge issue. Built in camera. Can download DSi-ware games directly to the handheld for a few pounds each. Easier to connect to internet with better Wi-fi support.
    - Cons: Reduced 7 hour battery life because of the larger screens and smaller battery. No support for the old Gameboy Advance games.
Gameboy Advance: Although most Gameboy Advance games are too demanding for very young players, its combination of low price and massive catalogue of games makes this ideal for more able junior gamers.

  • Gameboy Advance: The original Gameboy Advance console is available second hand for around £10.
    - Supports: Gameboy Advance and Original Gameboy games
    - Pros: Runs on two AA batteries that last 12 hours, very robust.
    - Cons: Screen not backlit so can be hard to see.

  • Gameboy Advance SP: The redesigned Gameboy Advance console is available second hand for around £15.
    - Supports: Gameboy Advance and Original Gameboy games
    - Pros: More compact clam shell design. Backlit screen.
    - Cons: Shorter 7 hour battery life due to backlit screen. A late revision to model numbers "AGS-101" has an upgraded even brighter screen.
Videogame Consoles for Teens (12 to 17 yrs)
The best games for secondary, high-school, teenagers, adolescent kids and young-adults aged from 12 to 17 years old. These games provide thrilling experiences that major on brash, loud (sometimes busty) protagonists and aim to connect with the students in our families.
Gameboy Advance: Although most Gameboy Advance games are too demanding for very young players, its combination of low price and massive catalogue of games makes this ideal for more able junior gamers.

  • Gameboy Micro: The minaturised Gameboy Advance console based on a candy-bar mobile phone shape is available second hand for around £40.
    - Supports: Gameboy Advance games.
    - Pros: Very compact design. Brighter backlit screen than Gameboy Advance SP. Digital sound and brightness controls.
    - Cons: Shorter 6 hour battery life due to bright screen and smaller battery.
3DS: Next generation Nintendo DS with advance graphics, 3D display, motion controls and a 3D camera. The 3D screen is suited to children over 7, but it is older more experienced gamers who will appreciate its advantages over the previous generation DS.

  • 3DS: The first version of the 3D handheld, available new for around £120.
    - Supports: DS and 3DS games.
    - Pros: 3D screen, motion controls and built in camera. Can download Virtual Console Gameboy and Gameboy Advance games as well as DSi-ware and 3D games via eShop.
    - Cons: Short 3 hour battery life due to high performance 3D graphics and bright screen.
Videogame Consoles for Workers (18 and over)
The best games for those with full time jobs, workers, 9-to-5-ers, employed hard-core gamers 18 years and over. These games provide more of a challenge in both dexterity and problem solving. They are often more about strong single player experiences that hard working hard core gamers. Although these are often longer experiences that are also ideal to switch off and chill out after a long day at the office.
3DS: Next generation Nintendo DS with advance graphics, 3D display, motion controls and a 3D camera. The 3D screen is suited to children over 7, but it is older more experienced gamers who will appreciate its advantages over the previous generation DS.

  • 3DS: The first version of the 3D handheld, available new for around £120.
    - Supports: DS and 3DS games.
    - Pros: 3D screen, motion controls and built in camera. Can download Virtual Console Gameboy and Gameboy Advance games as well as DSi-ware and 3D games via eShop.
    - Cons: Short 3 hour battery life due to high performance 3D graphics and bright screen.
Videogame Consoles for Parents
The best games for parents, mums, dads, carers, aunties and uncles. These games connect with the gamer on a more mature level. Story driven and often open ended, the experiences here provide space to play with complex issues and engage in moral dilemmas. Either that or to escape the grind of the work/home balance.
Videogame Consoles for Grandparents
The best games for grandparents, older, senior, grown-up, mature, retired and wiser people. These games provide a slightly slower, although no less challenging experience. Time and consideration are of the essence as our most senior gamers enjoy interacting with other players and perfecting their approach.
Nintendo DS: This works very well with more senior players because it provides a wider range of games that stray away from heavy reaction based experiences. The touch screen lends itself to turn based puzzle games and interactive learning.

  • DSiXL: The larger version of the DS is available new for around £100 and can play DS and DSi-ware (download) games.
    - Pros: Very bug screen that is easier to see for both player and watcher. Can download DSi-ware games directly to the handheld for a few pounds each. Easier to connect to internet with better Wi-fi support.
    - Cons: Improved 9 hour battery life because of the bigger battery. No support for the old Gameboy Advance games.

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