Video games get a bad rap as isolating kids or exposing them to inappropriate content, but the truth is that many wonderful, enriching video game options exist for families today. With a little research, parents can find engaging games that avoid mature themes and bring everyone together for bonding entertainment.
This article will highlight the top video game recommendations for familial fun. You’ll discover kid-approved titles that inspire creativity, build skills, and provide hours of laughter without the need for parental hand-wringing. Learn tips for evaluating games yourself to uncover hidden gems that align with your family’s needs.
Let’s delve into the rewarding world of family gaming! Discover how video games can promote meaningful interactions when chosen with care.
Top 5 Wholesome Video Games for Family Game Night
Quality time together as a family can be hard to facilitate in our increasingly busy world. However, gathering around the TV or computer for some well-chosen gameplay can offer an easy, budget-friendly way to connect.
The right games will have everyone laughing and bonding without parents needing to worry about appropriateness. Here are 5 top-notch video game options to try for your next family game night:
This pixelated 3D world of endless possibility has become a global phenomenon for a reason. Players gather resources and craft tools to build elaborate structures and creations limited only by their imagination. Various gameplay modes exist, including survival mode against monsters or just casually playing in creative mode to build.
Minecraft promotes creativity, problem-solving skills, collaboration, and community interaction. By working together gathering resources and designing projects, families will need to plan, compromise, and cooperate. And of course, kids go crazy for Minecraft’s endless possibilities for customization and exploration.
With its blocky, retro graphics and lack of blood, Minecraft offers mild cartoon action. Harder enemies can be avoided in creative mode as well. Recommended for ages 8+ or younger with parental guidance.
Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch
2. Animal Crossing
This wildly popular Nintendo series lets players inhabit an idyllic village populated with friendly talking animals. Players can fish, catch bugs, decorate homes, plant gardens, and collect items to craft and customize. The real-time clock matches actual time progression in the real world for a relaxing escape.
Animal Crossing’s non-competitive atmosphere focuses on creativity, customization, and building community. Players of all ages will enjoy the cute characters, relaxed pace, and bright, upbeat setting. With no danger, combat, or time limits, it offers wholesome entertainment for the entire family.
Ideal for kids ages 5 and up. Exclusive to Nintendo Switch console.
3. Mario Kart
This long-running Nintendo racing series stars the beloved Mario franchise characters. Players speed through vividly colored race tracks battling to finish first by using silly power-ups like banana peels and turtle shells to impede opponents’ progress.
Mario Kart offers infectious excitement and competition in a cartoonish, family-friendly package. While Items attack other racers, it’s all silly, exaggerated action in the spirit of good fun. The frenzied races will bring energy and laughter to family game nights.
Best for school-aged kids and parents to play together. Mild crashing violence but clean content overall. Exclusive to Nintendo consoles.
4. Plants vs. Zombies
This tower defense game sees homeowners building up an arsenal of plants to battle invading zombies through different eras. With a fun cartoon style and wacky sense of humor, PvZ offers creative strategy gaming suitable for older kids.
Players must build up defenses by carefully selecting plants with different abilities to attack matching the movement of the zombies. This promotes planning, flexibly responding to challenges, and forward-thinking.
The charming graphics, silly premise, and addictive gameplay combine education with entertainment. Perfect for ages 8-10 though still fun for the whole family.
Available on: iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Playstation
5. Lego Video Games
From Star Wars to Harry Potter, Lego has adapted endless fan-favorite franchises into family-friendly video games. Players control Lego versions of beloved characters guiding them through adventures in a lighthearted, humorous style.
Using fun puzzles, simple combat, and cooperative play,** these games bring family-friendly adaptations of popular stories like Marvel, Jurassic World, Indiana Jones, and more.** Lego games encourage teamwork and puzzle-solving together in a kid-safe universe.
Ideal for younger elementary school kids and fan of story franchises, the Lego games offer hours of laughing fun for gamers and non-gamers alike. Playable on all major platforms.
So try one of these delightful games tailor-made for family amusement. They mix multiplayer enjoyment with learning themes to provide a entertainment the whole family can appreciate.
Choosing Appropriate Games for Your Kids
Of course, not all video games neatly fall into family-friendly categories. Given the thousands of game options out there, how can you judge what’s suitable for your household?
Use these tips to select games thoughtfully based on your family’s needs and values:
Consider Your Child’s Age and Maturity Level
Most video games receive a rating from the ESRB indicating suggested age-appropriateness such as:
- EC – Early Childhood: for Preschool-Aged Children
- E – Everyone: suitable for players ages 6+
- E10+ – Ages 10+
- T – Teen: Appropriate for ages 13+
- M – Mature: Recommended for ages 17+
These ratings provide helpful guidelines, but remember each child matures differently. A cautious 6-year-old may find some E-rated games too intense, while a mature 8-year-old may reasonably handle more complex T-rated games. Adapt age recommendations to your child’s sensitivity and discretion.
Understand Risks of Inappropriate Content
Unfortunately, many popular video games still revolve around violence, gore, sexual themes, drugs, profanity and other stuff you probably don’t want your kids exposed to!
Do your due diligence by researching game content before purchasing. Some have mild cartoon action while others depict extremely visceral violence. Reviews will reveal potentially objectionable content not obvious by the rating alone. Avoid buying games blindly to steer clear of mature themes entering your home.
Make Sure Gameplay Is Age-Appropriate
The interactivity of games makes them great teaching tools, but only if kids can handle the gameplay demands. A game rated E for Everyone may still prove too challenging for very young kids.
Look for games with gameplay suited to your child’s abilities. Young children may struggle with reading complex text, using multiple controls, solving puzzles, or understanding advanced in-game strategies. Seek out family games that avoid frustrating your kids by being too hard.
Look for Prosocial Content and Skill-Building
The most beneficial games for kids go beyond just fun entertainment. Many excellent titles also incorporate prosocial themes about helping others, solving problems, following rules, practicing empathy, boosting self-esteem or conquering fears.
Educational games build knowledge in areas like math, history, science, geography and problem-solving. Seek out games offering your children growth in addition to play.
Set Reasonable Time Limits and Balance with Other Activities
Games promoting learning and family togetherness can still become problematic if played excessively. Set limits on gaming time and ensure your child engages in a variety of activities for balanced development.
Gaming should not replace outdoor play, family time, reading, schoolwork, and other enriching activities kids need. Maintain a schedule focused on moderation to keep gaming healthy.
Try Playing Games Together
Rather than seeing games as isolating kids, use them to connect! Try out your child’s games yourself to understand their entertainment appeal.
Playing age-appropriate games together offers a great way to bond through joint experiences. Challenge your kids in fun competitions or work together in cooperative modes promoting teamwork. Guiding your child through games shows interest in their world.
Research Titles Thoroughly Using Ratings, Reviews and Trusted Recommendations
Official ESRB ratings provide a starting point but don’t necessarily tell the whole story. Dig deeper by:
- Reading multiple reviews on reputable sites like Common Sense Media to understand consensus on age-appropriateness and specific content
- Researching the ESRB content descriptors like violence, language, romance etc. for games that interest you
- Asking recommendations from other parents whose judgement you trust
- Consulting experienced gamer publications and websites focused on family gaming for kid-approved titles
- Trying free demos or viewing gameplay videos to evaluate appropriateness firsthand before purchasing
Time invested in vetting games upfront will help you confidently select rewarding experiences tailored for your family’s needs and values.
Consider Free-to-Play and In-App Purchases Carefully
Many kid-friendly games now use “free-to-play” business models that are free to download but offer optional in-game purchases. While this allows easy access to fun games, it can also lead to kids overspending without realizing.
Look for fair free-to-play games that avoid “pay-to-win” scenarios where purchases become required to progress. Guide kids on reasonable spending limits before they play.
By carefully evaluating games using ratings, reading reviews, playing demos and maintaining open communication with your kids, you can discover rewarding, age-appropriate entertainment for amazing family game nights. Avoid judging all games as problematic and instead focus on titles promoting laughter, bonding and growth.
Frequently Asked Questions About Family Gaming
Are all video games inappropriate for kids?
Absolutely not! Many wonderful game options exist with positive themes, educational value, and cooperative play. Focus on non-violent genres like sandbox games, sports games, party games, music games and educational puzzles. With an open mindset and proper vetting, you can find great family-friendly games.
But don’t all popular games involve violence?
Many major franchises like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto do contain graphic violence. However, thousands of kids’ games involve no violence at all, including options like:
- Animal Crossing
- Mario Kart
- Music and dancing games
- Educational learning games
- Sports simulations
- Interactive story games
With a little digging, you can find plenty of wholesome, non-violent games perfect for family enjoyment.
Don’t games promote isolation and hurt social skills?
Excessive gaming can become problematic if it replaces human interaction. However, the right games played together as a family offer a great way to bond and build connections through shared experiences.
Multiplayer games allow kids to cooperate, take turns, communicate, and feel like part of a team. Set limits on solo play while encouraging engaging games that bring loved ones together.
Can video games really help learning?
Absolutely! Many excellent educational games exist that build kids’ knowledge and skills in areas like:
- Critical thinking
- Reading and writing
- Computer programming
- Foreign languages
- Music and art
Well-designed learning games incorporate education seamlessly into engaging gameplay. Try supplementing traditional learning with educational video games for a powerful boost.
The key is focusing on games created specifically with learning goals in mind. Plenty of options provide fun with enrichment to grow young minds.
Keep an Open Mind and Happy Gaming
By setting aside stereotypes of video games as wasted time or harmful entertainment, families can discover incredible interactive experiences perfect for bonding. The key lies in selecting titles thoughtfully using ratings and reviews as helpful guidelines.
Focus on games with enriching content, educational value, and multiplayer modes that bring families together for memories of laughter and fun. Gaming in moderation while balancing more traditional activities offers a great way to connect with kids through their passion.
Approach gaming with an open mind, emphasize variety and limits, thoroughly vet games beforehand, and be willing to play together. Follow these tips to promote healthy play patterns that avoid problematic content and tech obsession.
The world of family-friendly games holds limitless potential for sparking creativity, competition, and lasting connections. Now power up your console and gather the family for a gaming session that brings joy and growth for all ages!