Games to play with your children

Written by Joe Martin

September 3, 2009 | 15:16

Tags: #advice #amiga #childrens-games #gta #indie-games #monkey-island #my-dad #serious-sam #star-wars #thief #trine #world-of-goo

Companies: #lego

I don’t have children, but I do have a lot of younger siblings and nephews and nieces, and we've played a lot of computer games together. A lot of the experiences we’ve shared have been through the medium of joysticks and mouse clicks.

Looking back on that recently I’ve come to think that parents should definitely play computer games with their kids, even though a lot of parents are of the opinion that "games are bad for you" and "all games are violent". Absolute rubbish, every word of it.

Of course, some games are violent and there’s a huge amount of games out there which aren’t at all suitable for children – but violence, if handled responsibly, isn’t always bad and there are a lot of games that are good for kids. My parents had an inkling of this and I spent a lot of time playing either with my Dad or talking about it with him. It’s something I plan to do with my children too, heaven forbid, and something I reflect on every time I go into a shop and see a parent blindly buying Grand Theft Auto for their seven year old. Grrr.

This isn’t new thinking obviously – any number of child-rearing programs or handbooks will tell you it’s important to get involved and find experiences you can share with your children. The problem though is that if you’re not someone who’s ‘into PCs’ and your kid is then it can be hard going. Thus, here are some recommendations for games that are suitable for most children and which open themselves up to this kind of activity.
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Games to play with your children Games to Play With Your  Children
Lego Star Wars: The Original Saga
Lego Star Wars
This is the one to start with if you’ve got a young child as, if they like games, it’s likely they love Lego and Star Wars too – though it can be swapped out for Lego Indy or Lego Batman too. It’s easy and long and cute and funny and you won’t have to sit through loads of movies and so on. Best of all though, you can play it two player and spend ages running around collecting bricks. Available on all platforms.

Games to play with your children Games to Play With Your  Children
World of Goo

World of Goo
World of Goo is fun for all ages and really opens itself up to playing with children because all they have to do is drag and drop the goo around to make towers and bridges and you can sit there and help them solve the puzzles if needs be. Or just laugh at all the jokes. Either way, it’s vaguely educational and available cheaply, plus it has a great soundtrack and is available on the PC and Wii. Swap it out for Boom Blox, if you prefer.

Games to play with your children Games to Play With Your  Children
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
An absolute classic game, Monkey Island is the story of a wannabe pirate who has to chase down a ghost and save the governor of the island. It’s also recently been re-released with new graphics and vocal work, though you’ll still need a bit of patience to cope with the puzzles and pace. We played the original when we were young’uns and would highly recommend it. Comes on the PC, iPhone and Xbox 360.

Games to play with your children Games to Play With Your  Children
Trine

Trine
Something to consider if you’ve got more than one child to cope with, Trine is a fantasy platform game about a Thief, Wizard and Warrior who have to save a kingdom from…something or other…because of…something. M’eh. The story isn’t important – what is is that it’s good for three players at once, simple to get to grips with and all about teamwork. Available for the PS3 and PC.

Games to play with your children Games to Play With Your  Children
Braid

Braid
Something for the bigger kids, Braid is another 2D platform game – but one which has a lot of much harder puzzles and a deeply interesting story underpinning the fantastic visuals. It’ll probably take at least two of you to solve some of the harder puzzles as you learn how to rewind and control time, but sitting down and doing it as a team is kind of the point. Available on the PC and Xbox 360.

Games to play with your children Games to Play With Your  Children
Serious Sam 2

Serious Sam
Not every child is going to be satisfied by difficult puzzles and cutesy graphics though, which is when you break out one of the most fantastically fun shooters ever. Serious Sam has plenty of killing admittedly, but it’s all of a cartoon nature and not at all bloody or offensive, despite focusing on having hundreds of enemies fighting you at once. The difficulty levels cater literally to all skill levels and it supports team play as well, which makes it ideal for when you’re stuck on Braid. It’s available on the PC and Xbox 360.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head right now (edit: also and especially Psychonauts), but there are plenty of other games out there which are equally suited to playing with children, or even just watching kids play. It’s far better to try and get involved than to sit back let your kids play whatever they want, no matter how unsuitable it might be.

Unless you’d rather they played Grand Theft Auto?
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