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The Best Video Games To Play With Your Kids

min read

By Devon Taylor

If you’re of a certain age with small(ish) children, there’s a good chance you grew up with video games being a huge part of your pop culture. In fact, well over half of all gamers are currently adults, so the stereotype of video games being just for kids is long outdated. There a ton of games that are made for “adults only” these days, that feature realistic violence and plenty of mature situations. This list won’t feature any of those, so put the Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty discs back in their cases.

If you want to share your love of gaming with your children, or even if you have no interest in gaming at all and simply have kids who want to play the same games as their friends, then you’ve come to the right place. This list features 20 age-appropriate games that you can introduce to your kids, or even play alongside them — almost all of them feature some sort of multiplayer mode.

Ages 3-to-6

20. Super Mario Odyssey

In almost every case, Nintendo games are great for kids of any age. Even adults loved Super Mario Odyssey, the first big Mario release for the Nintendo Switch. The reason we listed this game as suitable for the smallest of gaming kids is simple — it’s a tremendous introduction to gaming itself. The game is gorgeous, and Nintendo’s cartoon-like graphics will definitely grab the attention of your little ones.

Even if they don’t bother to actually work on the game’s objectives, they will have a blast making Mario run around the various landscapes. There’s also an Assist Mode, which will make things less frustrating. Like most modern games, you don’t really die or lose lives — you just have to start a level over if you fail. For gaming parents, there’s a multiplayer mode that lets a second player control Cappy, Mario’s magical hat, in a co-operative effort.

Platform: Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone

Via Nintendo

19. Rocket League

This is easily the most played game in my household, as both my son (7-years-old) and I (34) are completely addicted to playing soccer with rocket-powered battle cars. Yes, soccer with rocket-powered battle cars, which plays as awesome as it sounds. In its simplest form, Rocket League is basically just soccer with RC cars. You can play offline or online with a number of different players, in a variety of game modes and maps (there are hockey, basketball, and even a crazy Rumble gamemode, featuring insane powerups inspired by Mario Kart). Up to four players can play locally, making this a great game for the whole family.

However, there’s other sides to Rocket League too. You can decorate and accessorize your car with hundreds of different cosmetic upgrades. I’ve seen my kids spend hours just changing their car design. There’s also a robust competitive ladder, which your kids may be interested in as they get a bit older. Not to jump too far ahead of your kindergarteners, but Rocket League actually has a thriving esports scene as well.

Parenting Tip: Turn off the Loot Crate option. While the crates don’t offer anything other than cosmetic upgrades for your car, your kids will be begging you to spend real money to open them. Consider monitoring the text/voice chat if your child wants to play online.

Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone

Via Psyonix

18. Yoshi’s Woolly World

If you’re not spending hundreds of dollars on the newest and coolest gaming consoles, Yoshi’s Woolly World might be more up your alley. This title is only available on the Wii U or Nintendo 3DS, which you might have laying around (or be able to pick up at a reduced cost). In classic Nintendo fashion, this game features fun platform gameplay across multiple levels made entirely of yarn. Yes, yarn.

As you may have guessed from the title, all the characters and levels are designed out of yarn or cloth, creating tons of soft, kid friendly visuals. Like always, Yoshi uses his tongue to swallow enemies — only in this game, he turns the enemies into balls of yarn, with various different uses. Yoshi’s Woolly World is an excellent game to play solo, but it really makes this list for it’s co-op mode, which allows for the two players to use teamwork to discover new areas they wouldn’t be able to find on their own.

Also: Yoshi’s Woolly World is a spiritual sequel to Kirby’s Epic Yarn, a 2010 game available on the Nintendo Wii (if you have one of those instead of a Wii U).

Platforms: Wii U, Nintendo 3DS
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone Via

17. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

We’re listing the latest version of Mario Kart here, the “8 Deluxe” version that came out for the Nintendo Switch, but truthfully any version of Mario Kart is an excellent addition to a household with children. Racing games have a simple concept, even for younger gamers — cross the finish line first. Like other Nintendo games, Mario Kart games are colorful and easy to pick up, featuring a collection of your favorite characters to race with.

The newest version on the Switch features a “training wheels” mode that will help your kid learn the basics without getting too frustrated. Plus the game’s famous “catchup A.I.” will keep races close, letting your kid learn both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. If you don’t have a Switch, consider whichever version of Mario Kart you might have for your Wii U, Wii, 3DS, or even older consoles — my children are particularly fond of Mario Kart 64!

Platforms: Nintendo Switch; older editions of the game available on various other Nintendo devices.
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone Via

16. Lego Games

The LEGO games are all largely the same, but some are definitely better than others. Mostly though, you should play whatever franchise your kids are into. If they like superheroes, the Lego Batman or Lego Marvel games are excellent choices. If they like dinosaurs, go for Lego Jurassic World. There are also Star Wars, Harry Potter, and various other versions, all providing roughly the same gameplay.

The Lego Games are basically problem solving platformers, as your child will guide their Lego characters through a series of puzzles to get to the end of each level, which include breaking Legos, building useful objects with the bricks, and solving simple minigames. There is a ton of replay value too, as most games include hundreds of unlockables for replaying levels with new characters and discovering previously unreachable secrets. My household has probably put well over 100 hours into Lego Marvel Superheroes. Even after the game has been “beaten,” there’s plenty to do — my kids simply love roaming around Lego New York City as various Marvel characters, even though the game progress has been at 100% for over a year now.

Platform: Varies by game title, but almost every major gaming platform (including handheld and tablets for some titles).
ESRB Rating: Again, it varies, but most are E for Everyone 10+, noting that every game does feature simple cartoon violence (ie, Lego characters break apart when they “die” and then rebuild themselves right away). Via

15. Pac-Man Championship Edition

No, we’re not suggesting you go out and find an old arcade cabinet from the 80s to play one of the first major video games hits ever. The classic dot-eater has been modernized, and there are two great versions to get depending on what consoles you might own. Older consoles can look for Championship Edition DX, while current gen owners can try its sequel Champion Edition 2.

The core mechanics of “yellow guy eats dots and avoids ghosts” are still intact, but these games feature alterations of the classic version that make it more fun and addicting for modern gamers. Plus the music and visual can be intense as the game gets faster and faster.

Like the original, Pac-Man is a quest for high scores, so there isn’t really much of a progression system or story mode. However, for little gamers who are just learning how to use a controller, the simple gameplay (Pac-Man only goes in four directions, and there is very little button pressing required), it makes the perfect introduction to gaming. Or just a fun way to pass a rainy afternoon.

Platform: Championship Edition 2 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Championship Edition DX on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. You can also find it on mobile, and older (classic) versions of Pac-Man are available on almost every gaming console ever made.
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone Via

Ages 7-to-11

14. Slime Rancher

Slime Rancher is basically a farm simulation game, but it’s also the most colorful, cute, and addicting farm simulation game we’ve ever played. You don’t grow corn or herd cattle on his farm — instead you play as Beatrix LaBeau, a character who has left Earth to take up a career ranching slimes on a distant planet called the Far Far Range. As your kid plays, they will encounter various types of slimes, that can be ranched and used to harvest “plorts” (the byproduct of feeding your slimes), which are then exchanged for money to upgrade your ranch and unlock new areas of the map.

There’s a lot to unpack in this game, depending on your kid’s playstyle. They might just want to collect as many different types of slimes as the can. Or maybe they want to grind for those plort dollars, in order to unlock everything. Lastly, if they are perfectionists, there is a secret hidden vault endgame to discover. The only downsides to Slime Rancher are that this is one of the games on this list that is single player only (although it is fun to watch others play). It’s also only available on Xbox One and PC (so far), limiting your options to play if you don’t own either of those.

Platforms: Xbox One, PC
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone Via

13. Overcooked

This game will either create a sense of teamwork, or completely destroy any positive relationship you have with your child. We’re kidding, of course (we think). Overcooked is a hectic kitchen simulator where two (or more) players work together to prepare food and fill orders. Unfortunately, the clever level design makes working together a mandatory aspect. You’ll regularly find yourself in situations where only one player can access the ingredients, but the other has to assemble them. Or one player gets stuck with the returning dirty dishes, but only the other player has access to a sink. You get the idea.

The good news is that Overcooked is not that hard to play through. The controls are super simple to learn and you can advance to the next level by completing a bare minimum number of orders. The truly frustrating parts of the game only arrive if you want to earn top marks (Three Stars) in every level you play — then you’ll have to devise and execute a perfectly efficient set of movements in order to keep hungry customers happy. There’s also a sequel on its way in 2018.

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone Via

12. The SNES Classic

Okay, we’re cheating a bit on this one, because it’s not a single video game. The SNES Classic is a $100 mini replica of Nintendo’s classic 16-bit system from the 90s. It comes preloaded with 21 excellent games, including the previously unreleased Star Fox 2. Unfortunately, you can’t add additional games (without hacking it) and it won’t play any SNES cartridges you might have laying around your basement.

The highlights are easily Donkey Kong Country, A Link to the Past, Super Mario World, and Earthbound. Those four games alone are considered classics, and would be a welcome addition to any young gamers library. While they may recoil as the retro graphics at first, the brilliant game design should keep your kids coming back to the SNES classic for more. Also, it’s 21 games for just a little more than the price of a single AAA console title. The only hard part will be finding one in stores.

Platform: The SNES Classis is a platform all by itself.
ESRB Rating: Varies, so be warned: there are some cartoony violent games, like Contra III, Street Fighter II, and Super Punch Out. Nothing outrageous or gory, though, like some modern games. Via YouTube

11. Pokemon

Besides Mario and his buddies, Pokemon is the other iconic Nintendo franchise that keeps churning out new games to play. Starting with the original Red and Blue versions for the classic Gameboy handheld, the Pokemon franchise now spans over seven generations and features 807 total pocket monsters to catch. Granted, if you want them all you’ll be committing to buying multiple games over multiple handheld systems, but for the sake of your children, you can probably start with just one. Pokemon Sun and Moon (or Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon) are the most recent pairings, but any version is equally good.

The gameplay consists of exploring a fictional map, collecting pokemon, and training them be stronger as you battle gyms. When you’ve assembled a powerful lineup of evolved monsters, your kid can challenge the Elite Four to become the new champion. The open world aspect of Pokemon means there is plenty of gameplay time involved, often keeping your kids busy for dozens (or hundreds) of hours.

Platform: Varies, but there is at least one version for each of the Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS.
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone Via

10. Minecraft

It’s digital Lego! We admit that the “survival mode” of Minecraft may be a little too difficult and complicated for younger kids (involving crafting materials in order to build shelter, weapons, and food), the “creative mode” is an absolute blast. It unlocked every kind of building material and allows for unbridled creativity.

You will be amazed by all the cool things your children will build, from massive castles to sprawling farms to entire villages or cities. One of the best features is that up to four players can play split-screen at the same time, allowing for massive collaborative efforts (“you build the roof, I’m working on the moat and drawbridge”). The game can be a bit overwhelming at first, but spend a few minutes watching beginner’s guides on YouTube and you’ll be up to speed in no time. Or just ask your kid, who will probably know more about Minecraft than you.

Platform: Literally everything.
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone 10+

Via Mojang

9. Stardew Valley

Stardew Vallley is farming simulator, but that makes it sound robotic and boring. Clearly inspired by the classic Harvest Moon franchise, Stardew Valley has plenty of charm mixed in with its farming core. You start by designing a character who inherits a small plot of farmland. After that, your journey in Pelican Town begins. You must fix up your inherited farmland and work on growing crops and tending to livestock. As you generate income from your farming activities, you can upgrade your land and tools to increase yields and revenue.

The real charm of Stardew Valley is engaging with NPCs (non-player characters) in town, including the ability to start a relationship and get married. (Side note: Stardew Valley was one of the first games that casually included same-sex marriages as an option). The game is filled with quests and rewards, and includes season changes that affect your ability to farm certain crops. Like Slime Rancher though, this game is still confined to single player. But it can be super fun to watch your child grow their little farm, perhaps with advice from their older, wiser parent. Or maybe you just take turns!

Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PS Vita
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone 10+

Via Twitter

8. Splatoon 1 or 2

Easily the most kid-friendly “shooter” game on the market today, Splatoon in Nintendo’s first-party franchise that features colorful characters and levels in a battle for territory. The game features Inklings, who are similar to small squids, who must use their ink spraying abilities to cover a small multiplayer map with ink of their own color (and cover up the ink of opposing players).

The sequel, one of the best early releases for the Switch, includes a better single player campaign than the original. However, it’s always going to the multiplayer that shines in Splatoon. Gamers can play online or locally in up to four-vs.-four matches, across a variety of different maps. Each level features a unique design and there are multiple “inking” weapons to choose from — including pistols, sprayers, and brushes.

Splatoon 2 was consistently given review scores of at least 80% (or higher) by every major gaming media outlet. A must have for any Switch owner.

Platform: Wii U (Splatoon 1) and Nintendo Switch (Splatoon 2)
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone 10+ Via

Ages 12+

7. FIFA/EA Games

Electronic Arts may be the scourge of the video game industry (and you won’t hear any arguments from us) with shady business practices and manipulative microtransactions, but here’s a simple truth: no one does sports games better than them. In particular, the FIFA, NHL, and Madden games are annual best-sellers, and must-haves for any gamer who also loves that particular sport (sorry NBA fans, you’ll have to get the NBA 2K games for your basketball fix).

The FIFA games feature club teams from all over the world, and most of the relevant national teams as well. You can play with (or against) your sports crazy kids in a battle for living room supremacy. The Madden franchise is the only one left that used the full NFL license, so if you’re a football household (instead of a hockey or soccer one), be sure to check it out instead.

Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One (although the last gen games are now severely limited).
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone Via

6. Overwatch

Here’s a simple fact for gamers this age (and even younger): they are going to want to play the newest, most violent first-person-shooter available. The latest Call of Duty or Battlefield or Doom or whatever. It may be tempting to give in, but those games are rated “M for Mature” for a reason, and they are really meant for adult gamers (17+), not teenagers. That’s where Overwatch comes in, a competitive team-based FPS that focuses more on magical and sci-fi weaponry than blood-and-guts violence.

The game features over 20 different “heroes,” each with their own characteristics and play styles. If you have bad aim, for example, maybe take up the role of a healer and support your team from behind the front lines. There’s an increased focus on playing the objective (defending points on the map or escorting a payload), so there’s not much benefit to running around the map blindly shooting the enemy players. Only a strong emphasis on teamwork will get your team the win.

Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
ESRB Rating: T for Teen Via Destructoid

5. Portal 2

The first Portal game was a surprise sensation when it was released for PC and included on Valve’s compilation disc The Orange Box in 2007. The quirky physics-based puzzle game became a huge phenomenon, which meant that a longer and more polished sequel followed in 2011. While the single player campaign of Portal 2 is also excellent, the multiplayer section is one of the best pieces of puzzle solving in any video game — ever.

Two players assume the roles of Atlas and P-Body, a pair of testing robots tasked with completed increasingly difficult test chambers. The first few are easy, but soon players will be forced to work together to solve more complicated chambers, requiring plenty of communication and teamwork. While the portals are always included, new elements like propulsion gel and light bridges get introduced to spice things up as you progress. It’s super fun to play with an older child, but be warned — it can be frustrating if you get stuck on a solution. Although the sense of pride for figuring it out (without checking YouTube) for help is totally worth it.

Side note: We are still praying for a PS4 and Xbox One remaster of this game.

Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360.
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone 10+ Via Amazon

4. Super Mario Maker

Nintendo’s resident mustached plumber makes a final appearance on our list with Super Mario Maker. While the concept of this game is similar to most other Mario games (it’s a basic platformer), we included it for one extra reason. The game features a truly deep level design feature, allowing your kids to create their very own Mario levels. If they prove the levels are actually beatable, they can upload them for other games to try. Likewise, there are thousands of player-created levels available to download and try.

There are levels of all difficulty available, so don’t think you’re stuck with the ultra-hard levels that are basically video game torture. The best part about this game is watching your child’s creativity spring to life, as they design, decorate, and improve upon their levels. For nostalgic parents, the levels can also be designed in the old NES and SNES style of Mario games. There’s technically no multiplayer on this one, but level design can certainly be a collaborative effort.

Platform: Wii U, Nintendo 3DS
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone Via

3. Roblox

Roblox is often described as Minecraft for an older audience. It’s a massive multiplayer online game (MMO, to use gamer vocabulary) where players can enter different minigames, all designed by other players using Lego-like bricks. Some popular entries are “Cops and Robbers” or “Find the Killer” types of games.

Roblox is also a bit a social network unto itself, with level creators advertising their creations and even picking up fans along the way. If your kid is interested, there’s the option for designing their own levels — perhaps an early sign of a career in game design or development? There’s a lot of variety and options in Roblox, so the possibilities are near endless. Be warned though, the game is free but has many options for microtransaction purchases (called, hilariously, Robux). Make sure those auto-purchases features are turned off, parents. Luckily, the game can be played just fine without spending much money (or any at all).

Platform: PC, Xbox One, Mobile, PS4 (coming soon)
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone 10+ (But keep an eye out, since the game is primarily played online and those interactions can vary.) Via

2. Trials Fusion

Here’s a motorcycle racing game that is easy to learn, but hard to master. Trials Fusion has a simple concept — drive your bike from left to right using only the following mechanics — throttle, brake, lean forward, lean backward. But the tracks are littered with obstacles and jumps for you to contend with, meaning that a huge crash is just one small mistake away. While the levels are designed in 3D, the game is actually played on a 2D plane like classic platformers.

This is a great game to play with your kids as you compete for the best times on any given level. There are multiple motorcycles and new levels to unlock as you progress. The multiplayer mode allows up to eight players (four on Xbox 360) to race simultaneously on a different set of tracks. You can also race against other gamers online. One word of warning: the difficulty level ramps up considerably as you get to the last few levels, so try not to get frustrated. Maybe suggest to your kids that they try to get better times on the earlier levels instead, if they are stuck.

Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone 10+ Via Amazon

1. Fortnite

Described as a cross between Minecraft (see above) and Left 4 Dead (a co-operative zombie shooter), Fortnite is a game that requires up to four players to work together in order to survive on randomly generated maps after a worldwide storm wipes out most of the human population and leaves zombie-like creatures remaining to attack everyone who is left.

Players must collect resources, fortify their shelter, and come up with defensive strategies to survive both the weather and the monsters. They can also use collected parts to craft weapons and traps to fight off the horde. The more objectives completed, the better upgrades the player can get for both their character and their defensive objects.

After it’s initial release, Fortnite added a Battle Royale mode, with up to 100 players competing to be the last man (or team of four) standing. Players all start with no resources and must scramble to craft weapons, armor, and shelter. Gradually, the storm closes in from every side, forcing players to encounter each other. This game mode has become a minor phenomenon in 2018.

Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
ESRB Rating: T for Teen

Devon Taylor


Devon Taylor is an experienced writer and a father of three young children. He's been in online publishing since 2013 and has a degree from the University of Guelph. In his free time, he loves fanatically following the Blue Jays and Toronto FC, distance running, camping with his family, and playing video games.



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