In my opinion, you can't introduce your child to video games early enough. As soon as that umbilical cord is cut, a game controller should be placed in your child's tiny hands. However, it needs to be done correctly. You think you can just throw them in at the deep end with drek like Ultimate Duck Hunting? Think fucking again.
I wrote a small thing about this topic a little while back, but I've now realised it needed to be much more in-depth. With the following guide and your dedication, your child will be a conqueror of artificial worlds in no time.
The First Game (ages 0-3)
Super Mario Bros. (1985)
The beginning of awesomeness.
There's no better place to start. Face it, it's perfect. For a child who can barely look at their hand for more than two seconds, an Italian plumber will hold their attention like a motherfucker. At an early age, kids love pretty colours. Put that together with quick movement and funny sounds, they will adore it from start to finish. Also, it's an awesome game.
Fat, short-arse plumber Mario Mario (yes that's his full name) embarks on an adventure in a insane world called the Mushroom Kingdom (usually ruled by huge bastard dinosaur Bowser) to overcome all obstacles and rescue the love of his life from a castle (usually occupied by useless waif Princess Peach). Along the way, he has to deal with speeding turtle shells (Koopas), killer brown blobs with legs (Goombas) and amongst other things, about a million platforms to jump off and die from.
Bring it, you Koopa fuck.
The controls are great, the jumping puzzles are frustratingly brilliant and the characters are intoxicating. Mario is a bizarre hero. He's not a square-jawed fighter pilot or a dashing secret agent. He's a plumber with a moustache. That's some genius shit right there. Him and his brother Luigi Mario (in 2-player mode) are unexpected gods in this game. The kids will love them like surrogate parents and want to spend an unhealthily massive amount of time in their world. That's not a bad thing - the game's just that good. Yes, it's primitive by today's standards but guess what? That don't amount to much. Here, an example:
A shitty-looking brilliant game.
A brilliant-looking shitty game.
Besides, the child doesn't care about graphics or sunlight rendering. They will look at those crude bunch of sprites and think it's the bomb. It doesn't necessarily have to be Super Mario Bros though. There has been so many similar games in this series any of them should do - Super Mario Bros 1, 2 or 3, Super Mario Land 1 and 2 or Super Mario World. They are all essentially the same kick-arse game.
Where to get it: Get yourself a Nintendo Wii. With it's online game shop - Virtual Console, you can get all the necessary Mario goodness on the cheap. If you want to go with a handheld system, a Nintendo DS or Game Boy Advance. On Nintendo DS, there's an updated version called New Super Mario Bros. Which fucking rules.