11 of the Most Popular Video Games for Kids and Young Gamers
Video games and especially video games for kids can be quite a fiery topic. Do they enhance intelligence? Are they too violent? Do kids spend too much time in front of the television? While there is plenty of research to back nearly every conflicting viewpoint, for me it’s all about balance. Find the right game, set sensible boundaries, and there is no doubt that your child will benefit, and thoroughly enjoy their gaming experience.
So, what is the right game for your child and what are the best video games for kids? Well, here are some of our favorites that are cognitively challenging, are non-violent, encourage physical activity and collaboration, and are a whole heap of fun. My own children play all of the following games – some more than others, but they enjoy them all. We went out of our way to include games that are great and not necessarily the latest trend, Everyone knows kids like Fortnite, but our selected titles are fun, different and make kids think too. We’ve partnered with Humble Bundle on every title we could so a portion of your purchase can go to vetted charities. What could be better than playing and helping others in need!
The Gold Standard In City Building Games
Cities:Skylines is one of those rare games that satisfies both the artist and analyst at the same time. It’s a GORGEOUS game – the artwork is really top-notch. Expansion packs allow for famous landmarks to be added to your city with ease. Some players just build in creative mode and use the fly-around camera to take screenshots of their cities for art’s sake.
In addition, it’s a full-blown city-simulator. You’ll need to balance your residential, commercial and industrial zones long with making sure you have enough fire, police and other municipal services to keep your citizens happy. The micromanager in all of us will get their fill deciding where to put roads, trains, power plants, etc. You don’t have to get totally in-the-weeds; but if you want to, the option is there.
SimCity was one of the first PC games i played – sadly the franchise has really suffered and isn’t worth looking at in my opinion. Luckily Cities:Skylines has stepped into the breach. There are a bunch of expansion packs available that continue to freshen up the game every few months – my boys like the Natural Disasters add on.
Ages: 8 and up
Platforms: PC,Mac,Linux, Playstation 4
Must Have Game For Your VR Enthusiast
Created by two friends who thought the HTC Vive wasn’t getting enough cool software, this rythym-based virtual reality game is one of the simplest yet most addictive games I’ve played this year. It’s a pretty good workout as well. If you don’t have a VR headset, it’s fun enough to give you a reason to go get one.
Players work to keep the beat going by using virtual light sabers to chop and slash at virtual blocks hurtling towards them while avoiding hitting the bombs. The song selection is extensive and more songs are being added by the modding community all the time.
Like many good games, it’s easy to begin yet hard to master – leading to hours of fun. Add in the ability to play online against your friends in a VR world, and you are looking at a must-have title if you own a VR rig. Here’s someone’s mom learning the game to give you an idea of how actual gameplay goes – (don’t worry, I’ll get up some videos of my family playing shortly):
Ages: All ages that can wear a VR headset
Platforms: Virtual Reality on PC – HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Microsoft Mixed Reality
Best For: Future Astronauts and Rocket Lovers
While the dream of getting mankind to Mars is getting closer to being realized, it’s still years in the future. While we wait, young future space-farers can prepare by playing Surviving Mars.
In this game, you are in charge of the first settlement on Mars. You need to build your base using drones and domes, manage your resources and increase your research in order to grow your settlement. What’s really cool is the creators made sure to stay as true to science as possible when designing the game. While the “mystery quests” are more fantasy than fact, they do help make a fun game to play.
Ages: 10 and up
Platforms: PC, Mac,Linux, XBox One, PS4
Super Smash Bros Ultimate
A Perfect Choice For Nintendo Switch Gamers
I used to play Super Smash Brothers back in 1999. And Nintendo’s latest incarnation of the game, Super SmashBros Ultimate, is just breathtaking! Developed exclusively for their latest and greatest console, the Nintendo Switch (a very cool concept and especially worth looking into if you want the ultimate console for younger kids) Super Smash Bros Ultimate is the hottest game of 2018. With the ability to play as one of over 70 characters you know and love, this is just the best game to get kids playing and competing together.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
For The Aspiring Programmer Who Likes To Play
Roblox is a free-to-play “imagination platform” for kids. This platform seems to be aimed at the 12 and under crowd from my experience. Over 64 million active players go on Roblox to play games made by community members. There are over 29 million games to choose from. One of the great things about this game platform is children can take their love of gaming and become a creator – anyone is allowed to upload their own games. There are tons of templates available to begin with, and then expand upon as your skill grows.
So what do people play on Roblox? As of the time I’m writing this, Pizza Factory Tycoon, Jailbreak, and Vehicle Simulator are among the most popular. That will change through time of course. It’s free to sign up and play – there are in-game purchases but they aren’t mandatory. It’s the game my son and his friends moved on to after they tired of Minecraft.
Ages: Everyone – though this is great for pre-teens in particular
Platforms: Xbox One, PC/Mac (browser-based)
Just Dance 2019
Great To Get Your Kids Up And Moving!
With a star studded lineup that looks like the guest list for the Grammys, Just Dance 2019 will blow the minds of any music/dance lover. Easily one of the most popular video games for kids over the past few years, Just Dance encourages your child to get active and perfect their dance moves, choreographed to all of their favorite songs. They can compete against their past performances and even challenge friends anywhere in the world to beat their score.
Platforms: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii
Farming Simulator 19
Tractors, Horses, Farmfields – This Game Has It All!
It may sound like an unlikely video game for kids, but Farming Simulator has consistently been one of the biggest franchises in the simulation genre. Not just for kids from the country, Farming Simulator ’19 allows players to grow a giant working farm by tending to crops, harvesting produce, and selling goods. This is both a single and multi-player game, allowing for collaborative play.
The newest version has added many features. You now build your own farm and buildings, rather than just buying pre-made farms. This gives some creative freedom. Children will learn about biology, micro and macroeconomics while enjoying themselves. A surprisingly addictive and strategic game!
The video above is a quick walkthrough by Quill18. He does a great job giving you a feel of what the gameplay is about. If you are on the fence, take the time to watch the video.
Platforms: PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One