Zoe Saldaña Says 'It's a Workout' Raising Three Boys but Video Games Have Become 'Family Activity' (Exclusive)

The actress opens up to PEOPLE about life with three sons: Zen, 7, and 9-year-old twins Cy and Bowie

<p>Zoe Saldana /Instagram</p>

Zoe Saldana /Instagram

Zoe Saldaña is opening up about the uniting factor video games have played in her family life.

The actress tells PEOPLE she and husband Marco Perego have begun to introduce their three sons — Zen, 7, and 9-year-old twins Cy and Bowie — to gaming this year, an interest that has become something they all have been enjoying together.

"A big part of parenting is nurturing their curiosity, fostering their opinions, and meeting them where they're at. So when my kids started to express interest in video games, I knew it was something we couldn't ignore," says Saldaña.

"The boys now are going to school and all of their friends are gaming, so every time they would come home they were just like, 'Why can't we do it? Why can't we do it?' They have certain needs and if I'm not meeting them, they do feel that they're left behind and they do feel that they're isolated at school."

"So it was important my husband and I figured out a way to not only make it positive but to make it a family activity," she adds. "That's why we're all playing together. They're not just in a corner, sucked into a screen; we're all involved."

The timing of the boys' newfound interest was "perfect" for Saldaña, who recently signed on as a partner with gaming giant Nintendo. "It really came at the best time in my life," Saldaña says.

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Related: Zoë Saldaña Shares Rare Family Photos with Her 3 Sons: ‘In the Best Places, with the Best People’

She admits to PEOPLE that parenting three boys is "a workout," but the household is "a lot of fun" when they all play together. "It is a loud household when we're playing on the weekends, it's very very loud," she says. "But it's the kind of noise that I like to hear."

Nintendo is particularly nostalgic for Saldaña, who remembers getting her first system when she was around 10 or 11. "We used to go to our neighbor's house to play and I used to watch my two friends and their older brother playing. And by the time we got our system — which must have been like, a year later — we were already experts because of playing at their house," she recalls.

Of course, the first game Saldaña introduced to the boys was Super Mario Bros.

"Going back to playing Super Mario Bros. of any sort makes me super happy," says Saldaña. "The game, even though it looks better than it ever has, it's still the same game and I just love being able to share that with the boys and see how fun it is with them. That just felt like the natural course to take."

Saldaña will next be turning the kids on to Princess Peach: Showtime!, Nintendo's newest game and the first standalone title the Mushroom Kingdom’s monarch has had in 19 years.

The game, which dropped March 22, follows Princess Peach as she helps save the Sparkle Theater from the wicked Grape and the Sour Bunch. Along the way, gamers can play as Princess Peach, who transforms into a variety of personas with different abilities like Sword-fighter Peach, Patissiere Peach, Cowgirl Peach, Figure Skater Peach and Ninja Peach.

"I love Princess Peach, she's so feisty yet very feminine," Saldaña tells PEOPLE. "I support the idea that women can be strong and resilient and be at their most feminine. You don't have to give up your femininity to be tough. And she wears different hats in this game, all these roles that girls should be curious about and are already filling in. It's just a celebration of women."

Related: Zoe Saldaña Opens Up About Raising Three Boys, Teaching Them to 'Celebrate Their Feminine Self' (Exclusive)

Celebrating women is something Saldaña stresses to her sons, too.

"It's so important to show my kids female role models," Saldaña says. "Even though I'm surrounding them with women — from their grandmothers, to their nannies and caretakers who are assisting my husband — when they turn on their TV, they often don't see that. When they're gaming, they often don't see that. Which is why we chose Nintendo Switch and we chose the Mario Bros. games, to introduce the boys to a strong female character like Princess Peach early on. That's future I hope for; where boys are celebrated for picking female heroes to incarnate for their gaming."

<p>Cindy Ord/VF23/Getty</p> Zoe Saldana and Marco Perego attend the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 12, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California

Cindy Ord/VF23/Getty

Zoe Saldana and Marco Perego attend the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 12, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California

As for those family game nights, Saldaña encourages others to consider doing the same, even if — like Saldaña and Perego — they limit screen time with their kids.

"People have extreme opinions about gaming, but I do believe that everything in life, if you do them in a balanced way, that you can really achieve benefits," she says. "We're certainly seeing it. Nintendo's really popular in this house around rewards. We're working it to our advantage."

Princess Peach: Showtime! is available now.

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