Below is a list of sites with codes for making games easier, but first some commentary, and Dan Vilter's response to a public question about children's frustrations with difficult games:
I have been reading a lot about the virtues of video games and just wondered if anyone had ever had the experience of kids getting highly frustrated and having essentially temper tantrums in front of their video games? My son used to do this a lot and still occasionally does at which point I insist he turn them off, because I see no point in playing a game that makes one so angry they curse and yell at it. (does not sound like fun to me) For this reason, I have never been a big fan of video games. Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in them around here. Maybe someone would recommend a few games that are considered better than the others? My son is 12.There is a wealth of information on video games on the web. A Google search on "Video Game Reviews" turns up about 1,410,000 worth. Many review sites group by age of type of game or platform. These are a great place to start researching games that might be suitable to you child's interest and temperament. If you want to check out a specific game, enter its name in the search engine. When I entered "Zoombinis" the game my son demonstrated in our session at the conference, 7,140 links were returned including one written by the authors of the game in which they explain their design goals and how they tried to accomplish them.
Now to answer your frustration concern, as was covered in the session, you need to help him modify the game. Out on the web there is information for the many people who have been there and been frustrated, just like your son and my son. Many people have written instructions on how to get around the really tough parts. There are also "cheats." These are usually a listing of codes that you enter in some form that usually give you some advantage in the game to make these tough points easier to pass. Using these codes often takes away from the challenge of the game, but when you hit that wall of frustration, judicious use of codes and hints can empower the player past the particular frustration and they can learn about the game and how the challenges are laid out which often gives good insight in how to solve the next tricky spot. My son will work very hard before he resorts to using codes. He then will often ask me to get them and review them and only give him the necessary information he needs at that point so as not to give away anything else about the game. I have noticed a direct relation of the amount of frustration to the involvement my son has in the task or goal that is challenging him at the time. It makes me value these situations all the more. After he has gotten around these points and learned from them, when he figures out how to do the next one on his own, the satisfaction and empowerment (and fun) is that much more valuable. I try to never minimize his feelings in these situation, they are very real and very strong and have led to some very worthwhile discussions about frustration and challenge and goals. These vary situations contribute to why I am a big fan of video games. Like Sandra, I do not limit the use of video games so I could never insist that he turn them off. Just as I could never insist that he stop reading or figuring out math puzzles or drawing.
Note from Sandra later:
About a year after Dan, Kathy Ward and I did that first video gaming talk at HSC in 2002, I got a phone call from someone insisting that she didn't want her nephew playing video games and she was SERIOUSLY negative. Her primary objection was about his desire to use "cheats," and she pronounced the word with as much vitriol as if he had been caught cheating on whatever might be imagined to be the most important test in the most important situation on EARTH, as though even the WORD 'cheat' were tantamount to murder of an innocent child, or a nun, or... I explained that using a cheat isn't cheating, it's just a way to set the parameters of the game, but she would have none of my lame and immoral explanations. It was bad enough to play the games at all, but to want to CHEAT...
There are magazines, too, that can be purchased at gaming shops or most magazine stands.