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10 Exceptional Games for Kids

If you’re a gamer and want to introduce a youngster to the wonderful world of gaming, then this is just the article for you. Remember, gaming is good for kids on a social and cognitive level and according to an Oxford survey; “Kids who play video games for an hour a day are happier. Games for Kids

Every game we list we have either reviewed or done enough research or coverage to give you an informed opinion. Games are good for kids, but it can also be bad, and that’s why we’ll give you sufficient information to make an informed decision. I’ve also indicated if a game includes violence, sex or explicit language. Please remember that the age rating is a guide only, so make sure you watch the video and read the game description. We’ll list it per age group, platform, short description and the best place to purchase.

(Unless otherwise indicated – all game descriptions are from our reviews.)

1. Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition

It’s arguably one of the best games you’ll ever play, no matter your age.

“Ori and the Blind Forest is a metaphor of tragedy and restoration. If you’ve ever experienced the pain of loss, you’ll relate in an instant. It’s also a solid 2D side scroller with a mix of Metroid Prime and Rayman thrown in. It’s a visual masterpiece. Ori acts as a beacon of light in the Blind Forest, flowing through the world. You’ll see Ori flipping and climbing with the dexterity of an energetic child. You’ll also see improvements in Ori’s movement over time. These implementations echo themes of growth and strength through adversity.

Ori and the Blind Forest is an exceptional game. Is isn’t just the visual and aural presentation. It’s the way that the story plays out, how it plays on your heart strings. There is a beauty to every area in the game, even with the destruction of the world around. My heart broke into several pieces and Ori mended it again.”

2. Portal 2

  • Age Restriction: E for Everyone (10 years and older)
  • Rated for: Fantasy Violence, Mild Language. Online not rated
  • Platforms: PC, PS3 & Xbox 360

The one puzzle game to rule them all, right! If you’re a gamer, then you’ve probably played the Portal games, and already introduced your kids to them as well. If you’re not a gamer, then let me assure you, Portal 2 is a must play for kids. Not only does it require problem-solving skills, but it’s also witty and a lot of fun. The best thing about Portal 2 is that you can play it in co-op, so it’s an excellent medium to help your kid develop his or her lateral thinking muscle.

I’ve played both Portal games and recommend it as games everyone should play at least once. In the words of Seth Schiesel from New York Times; “Somewhere out there an innovative, dynamic high school physics teacher will use Portal 2 as the linchpin of an entire series of lessons and will immediately become the most important science teacher those lucky students have ever had.”

3. Transistor

  • Age Restriction: T for Teen (13 years and older)
  • Rated for: Violence, Mild Language
  • Platforms: PC & PS4

Transistor received high praise from fans and critics alike. “There’s a touch of magic, even of spirituality, to Transistor,” said Gamespot (4/5). “Transistor offers an escape into a strange and enchanting world,” from Gameinformer (9/10). “Transistor’s grace and beauty go far below skin deep,” from Polygon (8.5/10). When it comes to Steam user reviews, there’s a staggering amount of “overwhelmingly positive” reviews – more than 18 000!

From the official description: “Transistor is a sci-fi themed action RPG that invites you to wield an extraordinary weapon of unknown origin as you fight through a stunning futuristic city. Transistor seamlessly integrates thoughtful strategic planning into a fast-paced action experience, melding responsive gameplay and rich atmospheric storytelling. During the course of the adventure, you will piece together the Transistor’s mysteries as you pursue its former owners.”

4. King’s Quest

  • Age Restriction: E10+ (10 years and older)
  • Rated for: Fantasy violence
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4 & PS3

A reboot of one of the most memorable adventure games in gaming history (the original was listed under TIME’s top 100 video games of all time). King’s Quest is fun, charming and directs the player towards making “good” decisions in his or her quest to become a knight. Please note it’s an episodic game.

Official description: “Select between the noble pillars of Bravery, Wisdom, and Compassion to see what rippling effects these choices will have on Graham’s journey as well as later chapters. Puzzles will offer multiple solutions, encouraging players to experiment with their inventory and environment. Befriend the most unexpected and peculiar of companions throughout Daventry.”

5. Bastion

  • Age Restriction: E10+ (10 years and older)
  • Rated for: Fantasy Violence, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Animated Blood
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS4 & PS3, iOS

What makes Bastion so exceptional is its atmosphere, you have to watch the trailer to “feel” it. The artwork, story, music and especially the narrator all combine to create something I’ve rarely felt in a video game. Bastion is a hack and slash platformer, action role-playing puzzle type game. Parents should know that although the characters and environment look cartoony, it does feature violence. Violence in the sense that the Kid has to fight his way through different levels and enemies in his quest to restore Bastion.

6. Child of Light

Child of Light strikes first with its visuals, then with its music. It proceeds to shower you in experience by conveying story in rhyme. After all, everything, absolutely everything it does, hinges on it being a dream-like, fairytale experience: you play a princess, your colourful companions each have their own motivations, the land is populated by fantastical creatures – from people-sized mice to skull-tatooed spiders – and magic is both devastating and healing. Even the visuals – moving water-colours – look as though they’re from the pages of a book read at bedtime.

7. Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth

Strategy games can help develop strategic thinking, problem solving and decision making.

Civilization: Beyond Earth is a turn-based strategy game developed by Firaxis and published by 2K Games. The game sets itself apart from previous Civilization titles via a futuristic setting, breaking the chains of history to evolve into something spectacular. Firaxis reaches for the stars and achieves greatness by delivering a game of grand-strategy that’s immensely satisfying. For anyone who enjoyed turn-based strategy games, Civilization: Beyond Earth is a must buy and in my opinion, the best game of grand strategy I have ever experienced.

8. Broken Age

  • Age Restriction: E10+ (10 years and older)
  • Rated for: Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Crude Humor
  • Platform: PC, PS4, PS Vita, iOS, Android Other: Mild violence, language & sexual innuendo

Another classic adventure game from Double Fine Productions. Broken Age is a traditional story about “boy meets girl” – but there the familiarity ends. It is the real deal, a point-and-click adventure game to the core, and according to the critics, a celebration of everything that made the genre exceptional, beautiful and unforgettable. The story will linger in your heart and make you yearn for that innocent bravery we sometimes see in children.

9. Minecraft

  • Age Restriction: E10+ (10 years and older)
  • Rated for: Fantasy violence
  • Platforms: All platforms

Minecraft is arguably one of the most popular games in the world – no matter your age. It’s also been used as an educational tool, and educators can even purchase the Minecraft: Education Edition. Did you know that a ten-year old winning the world’s very first Minecraft National Championship. Minecraft not only stimulates cognitive development, but also boosts creativity and social development.

“At its core, Minecraft is an open world that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem solving. It’s enjoyed by a worldwide community of over 100 million players who constantly inspire us with their creations,” said Rafranz Davis, Executive Director of Professional Development and Learning, Lufkin ISD.

10. Papo and Yo

I’m closing the article with my top pick, Papo and Yo. It’s probably the most difficult game I’ve ever played. Difficult emotionally. Parents have to know that the game is about a young boy’s relationship with his alcoholic dad. I only recommend the game to kids who have the emotional maturity to play the game. On the other hand, the message might not be clear and get lost in the fantastic puzzle solving mechanics.

Papo and Yo Stunned, heartfelt, shocked, compassion, terrified, empathy, despair, profound, anger, courage: these are the emotions that stampede through my soul as the credits roll across the screen. I’ve just finished playing Papo and Yo, and I will never be the same. Before Papo and Yo is a game, it is an extremely personal story. Should you choose to share in this journey of addiction, betrayal and courage, you will find that your own world has been somewhat altered. One thing is for certain; you cannot play Papo and Yo and remain untouched.

This article has been republished and facts edited to reflect correct dates and prices.

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