Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!
Some of you might remember hearing that old cereal slogan from way back when. But just as ancient is the idea that video games are just for kids, too. Children do love video games, but adults are enjoying those digital bundles full of button-bashing brouhaha just as much as their youngsters.
And well they should. For if parents start playing with their kids, they can not only have a good bit of fun, they can also keep track of what kind of games, and what kind of less than savory gaming content, might be trying to creep into the family room.
So, if you’re one of those bright and fun-loving moms or dads, you could be wondering what family friendly games are out there that you can get your collective game on with. And here’s a list. Sure, it’s a subjective collection. But it covers many of the favorite genres and includes a variety of fun that won’t require ear plugs or blind folds for younger players.
Pokémon Go (N/A):Let’s start out with a game app for your smartphone, since we seem to run our lives from those these days. And even though this augmented reality game is some five years old, it’s still going strong. Your smartphone and its camera become the “eyepiece,” so to speak, that help you spot the Poké creatures that are digitally placed out and about in your neighborhood. The app “skins” Google Maps with a virtual, treasure-hunting overlay. And then as you walk down the street it’s up to you and the kids to catch ‘em all with that magical device in your hand.
There’s the overarching Pokémon worldview—with its evolving beasty foundations—to navigate here. But it’s all dialed way back with no story or explanation to worry over.
Splatoon 2 (E10+): Shooters full of bloody virtual death and constant trigger pulling can make any parent wince. But how about a shooter full of … paint!? That’s the key to this Nintendo Switch third-person game that sends you and the kids into multiple missions and competitions with the goal of painting the town red, and green, and whatever other color you choose as your own. There’s lots of frantic and chuckling fun.
Yep, it’s a shooter aimed at spreading around a whole lot of mess … without leaving young gamers in a pool of gory goop.
Rocket League (E): So, you’re looking for a bit of sporting action that’s just off the beaten path? How about a game of colorful soccer that you play with … cars? It’s crazy and fast paced and … it’s free! You can download the base game for one-to-four players on just about any console you may have. Just realize that once you get hooked on burning rubber while you land a goal you’ll be likely be tempted to spend some green on those cooler cars and styles that the gamemakers offer.
Minecraft (E10+): We’ve now made our way to a classic that’s a decade old. But it’s still available and still loads of fun. This is a building game that starts you from scratch with nothing but a pair of blocky hands and a great big blocky world full of potential. All you need is some time and a little imagination and you can build tools and create pretty much any kingdom your royal highness requires. You can download this game on most consoles.
The only drawback to be aware of for tykes is the threat of blocky zombies that come out when the sun goes down. (Better have a shelter in place by then.)
Mario Kart 8 (E): OK, we can find tons of kid-friendly games involving that seasoned plumber named Mario. Nintendo has created an empire from he and his cartoony compatriots. But this is one of my favorites. It’s a racing game that works for any age group. You can play against your youngest family members, applying all your old-person gas-pedal skills through the tricky track trip-ups and … still end up in last place. While chuckling all the way, of course. Loads of harmless racing fun here.
Portal 2 (E10+): Yet another “older” game that you won’t want to miss out on. This one sets you and your youthful helpers against some brain-challenging puzzles that deal with space and logic … and a funny robot sidekick. You’re racing to find your way out of a futuristic testing facility and its many puzzling conundrums. Negative nitpicks are few and far between. Some of the challenges feature lasers and bullet-blasting robotic turrets, but there’s no gore on display.
Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville (E10+): In case you’ve got a teen hungering for more trigger-pulling challenges, here’s an adventure-filled game packed with shooting quests and confrontations. There are all sorts of kooky gadgets and blasters, and equally kooky plant and zombie foes going toe-to-toe in the king-of-the-hill-like struggles. Yep, there’s lots of explosions, snapping jaws, lasers and goofy gags, but nary a thing to worry a mom or dad much.
In fact, the biggest parental grumble here is probably the fact that you must always be connected to the internet. And if that is an issue, you might want to seek out the earlier PvZ game: Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.
Marvel’s Spider-Man (T): While we’re talking about teens, this is a very fun adventure game that mixes in super heroics, jaw-dropping web-swinging action and bad-guy busting into a very involving story. This is a PlayStation exclusive, and it’s rated T (for teens). So you can expect that things are a little more heavy hitting here with small splashes of blood. You’ll also encounter a bit of foul language. But those are the only gobs of errant webbing that will stick to the bottom of Mom’s content-wary super-shoe.
Nintendo Labo Toy Con Variety Kit (E): Here’s another Nintendo game aimed at the true kid and adult builders in the crowd. You know, those who really dig the challenge of grabbing an old cardboard box and a pair of scissors and rejoicing in what a little imagination can create. In this case you’ll be working with, well, cardboard and imagination once again. But this time the imagination is augmented by the brainiacs at Nintendo. With the aid of a Nintendo Switch and its Joy-Cons, the ultimate creations are nothing short of amazing.
PAW Patrol: Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay (E): I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t include a video game option for the littles who often have to just sit by and watch the older kids play. And this one—that can be played on PC and most consoles—definitely fits that bill. Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay is inspired by the Nick Jr. kids’ series PAW Patrol and it really gears the heroic adventures down for little hands and those with fewer button-crunching skills. And each of this game’s missions are separate, self-contained and kept very short. Which earns a big thumbs up for taking physicians’ screen-time warnings for youngsters into account.