The best video games for kids – a parent’s perspective
Over the last 30 years, video games have become one of the most exciting and dynamic forms of entertainment for both children and adults. Games have the potential to tell great stories, encourage creativity, improve hand-eye coordination and can provide a bonding experience for your family. Playing Mario 64 with my Dad and brother in the late 90’s is one of my fondest childhood memories!
Games are also providing much needed relief for those of us in quarantine or isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a parent you may now be considering buying a game for your child to help with those isolation blues.
As the game playing audience has grown older, video games have now matured and become more adult. Therefore, when introducing children to video games it is important to know what you’re looking for. Some games – especially mobile games that are aimed at kids – can be laced with incentives to spend money to keep playing, or have ads that may not be age appropriate. That’s why, when it comes to getting a game for your child, knowing what ones are appropriate and accessible is key.
So, where to start? I’ve put together a list of some of the best kids’ games (for ages 5+) out there that provide a positive and pleasant introduction to gaming. If you’re chasing apps and games for preschoolers, check out this list by Kidspot.
Super Mario Odyssey, (Nintendo switch, rated PG, recommended playing age 7+)
Nintendo is well known for providing wonderful family friendly games. Their latest iteration of Mario might be one of their best yet. Super Mario Odyssey is a 3D platformer that follows Nintendo’s most famous character, Mario, on his quest to save Princess Peach from the evil monster Bowser. The game takes the player across 18 different worlds, ranging from deserts and jungles, to bustling cities.
The game has a vibrant and colourful design, and gameplay that encourages problem solving and exploring. Mario has a focus on being fun and accessible to all players, and as such is a perfect game to start off with. Super Mario Odyssey also has a co-operative mode, which means you and your child can play together. This is very helpful when your child encounters a puzzle that might be too challenging.
The game also has an ‘assist mode’ which makes the game easier for first time players, by including screen prompts indicating what to do and where to go.
Minecraft, (Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, MAC, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, rated PG, recommended playing age 7+)
Minecraft has been a cultural phenomenon for the last ten years, spawning books, toys, clothing, an interactive Netflix series and the reason being; it is an incredibly good game. Minecraft is a game where players can use the environment to mine resources to build the world around them from scratch. There are a number of different modes of play, and the ‘creative’ mode is great for kids.
Creative mode doesn’t burden young players with health bars or enemies. Instead it provides them a blank canvas to create whatever they want, with no limit on the materials available. Creative mode will allow your child to build anything they can imagine. Minecraft is multiplayer which means you too can join in on your child’s world and help them create.
Yoshi’s Crafted World, (Nintendo Switch, rated G, recommended playing age 5+)
Yoshi’s Crafted World (YCW) is one of the most adorably designed and charming games out there. The game uses a unique handcrafted aesthetic which is colourful and appealing to kids.
You play as Yoshi, a little dinosaur looking to recover magic gems before the evil (and adorable) Baby Bowser gets them. The game is targeted towards kids and has a ‘mellow’ mode for first time gamers. YCW has easy-to-use controls and simple game mechanics which makes it accessible for kids 5 years and older.
Again, there is a multiplayer option which is a lot of fun. You and your child can work together to progress through the levels. The game also has 178 different costumes for Yoshi. There’s a lot of fun to be had playing through levels dressed as a milk-bottle or lighthouse.
Lego Games, (Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, rated PG, recommended playing ages 7+)
There are a LOT of Lego games, but for the sake of keeping this list short and sweet we’ve decided to bunch them all together. Lego games are themed 3D platformers that let the user play through their favourite movie franchises like Harry Potter, Marvel Superheros or Star Wars. The games use digital Lego blocks to redesign the universe and provide a fun and relatively easy gaming experience for kids – complete with multiplayer.
Lego games are accessible on every platform and some of the older ones are fairly inexpensive and will give you great value for money. The games provide a more “child friendly” version of popular movie franchises like The Avengers or Star Wars. This is great if you want to introduce your child to these franchises but are worried the movies might be too mature.
All in all, Lego games provide a good introduction to gaming for 7-8-year olds, with a wide enough variety of titles out there to accommodate most children.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, (Nintendo Switch, Rated G, recommended playing ages 5+)
Mario Kart has been a staple of video games for the last 30 years, and still to this day provides great fun for families and people of all ages. Mario Kart is a great way to introduce your children to gaming. It’s fun and its creative level design and roster of classic Nintendo characters make it thoroughly enjoyable.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a racing game like no other; it places its emphasis on having fun and enjoying the levels rather than just winning and losing. The game supports 4-player multiplayer mode, which is useful if you have more than one child.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has 48 tracks, all varying in difficulty, but there are enough easy tracks for young players who may not be ready for some of the harder ones.
These five games will provide you and your child with hours of fun in a safe and enjoyable virtual environment. Now that you know the best ones to choose, it’s time to give them a go!