Gaming For Little Kids


Forgive me if there is a prior post on this, but I couldn’t find any that weren’t multiple years old at this point.

My son just turned 4. On the PS4, he enjoys playing some of the lego games and other simple action games, so we’re set there. What I’m having trouble is finding slower paced PC stuff aimed at kids his age. We’re still in the minimal-violence, awkward mouse control stage, so my options may be limited. Anyone have any suggestions?


iPad all day every day. The Toca Boca games are PURE FREAKING GOLD. All of them.


Oooh! A topic I have a lot of recent experience with!

Both of my daughters game a lot with me and both started when they were about 2 yrs old. Games we enjoy:

Bit Trip Runner 2
Super Mario Odyssey
Ratchet & Clank
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
Rayman Legends
Steamworld Dig 2
Lego City Undercover
Mario Kart

Various other PC and console games. In general, Bit Trip Runner 2 was great because it’s a 1-button game at the easy levels and gradually increases in difficulty. Whatever you can give them that allows them to learn the controls without getting frustrating is good. Learning to move in a 3D space with twin sticks takes a while, which probably why we have spent 100s of hours with Spelunky.

I’d like to get them into an RPG, like Ni No Kuni, but they do t really have the patience. I think my ~7 yr old is up for Zelda Breath if the Wild soon.

They’re both loving Steamworld Dig 2 and Mario right now.

Also: I do not allow either of them to play iPad at all unless they are on an airplane. I try to make gaming as social as possible for them and found that they get cranky and argue when they play with iPads.

Edit: I should amend that slightly. I have an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil and they’re allowed to draw on it, but usually only when they are sitting together and taking turns. The Toca Boca games, which they play sometimes on the airplane, are really good, wholesome, ad-free experiences.


That’s not even 3D! That’s 2D movement. Twin sticks would be 3D, pretty sure Spelunky is not that. But point taken.


They have those on the touchscreens at certain chain restaurants. He loves those, but I always forget to look them up. Hopefully some are on Android, as we don’t have IPads here.


Right, I mean they can almost beat Spelunky but have a really hard time with even the simplest games that require moving in a 3D space.


I wasn’t sure platformers would do anything but frustrate him, but I should probably give it a try since he just constantly surprises me at what he understands. He is, though, extremely easily frustrated when he understands how to do something but can’t actually execute what he wants.


The Lego Marvel games have an open world, over the shoulder feeling to them in certain levels, and he finds those baffling. 3D space and a rotating camera with changing perspective is just beyond him.


Try Bit Trip Runner 2. The cool thing there is that the jumps are timed to the music, too. Plus, you can help him start by holdin the controller with him and helping him time the jumps at first, etc.


Proteus is good for this. My son enjoyed it when he was 4-5.


I’m proud to say my 4-yr old just beat Super Mario Odyssey’s story all by herself, so she picked up the skills along the way, probably in Minecraft (co-op was helpful because she could orient to her sister).


I buy every Toca Boca game on sight, because their track record is perfect. They are the Blizzard of little kid games on iPad, no doubt.

Start with Toca Pet Doctor and Toca Hair Salon 3. Love it.


Games I play with my 5 year old:

Wii U:
Breath of the Wild
Child of Light

Cook, Serve, Delicious (now that she’s started reading)
A Boy and His Blob (mostly me controlling and her puzzle solving)
Fort Meow
Stardew Valley

I think our next one will be World of Goo.


I’m just adding games left and right to my wishlist now.


yeah this… my 6 year old enjoys this. And we are playing Braid now. She loves the music of Braid.


4 was a little tricky for my son. He kind of understood the awesomeness of the games I liked to play, but didn’t have the strategic thinking or twitch skills. I’d sit him on my lap or we’d sit side-by-side and try a few of the gentler ones, but this gap caused him to lose interest pretty quickly. So instead, I started to focus on some of his interests and got him games which revolved around them.

For instance, trains; I got him an old game on CD-ROM (waaaaay outdated, now) called Train Town. Then he moved on to loving dragons, so I got him some dragon-oriented stuff. Then history, and I introduced him to Civ. And so on and so on. I kept the themes of whatever game associated with his interests at the moment, and that really seemed to work well.


Same with my four year old. Also, he will lose it when game time is over so I had to almost completely stop playing with him. Any suggestions there?


Immediately have something else planned. Even if it’s silly and stupid (sometimes especially so). As long as there’s something “shiny,” detachment from games wasn’t an issue. I’ve even used “Hey, let’s go see what new games are coming out!” and that… got him away from playing games. Once out, that led to stopping by the bookstore, grocery shopping, running errands, etc., on top of a brief visit at some place which had games (Half Price Books was a favorite of mine).

edit - also, how you package it matters. “Game time is up” is an instant no-go. “Time to do _____” is a bit easier to digest.


I will try that this weekend. Thank you.

Any board game recommendations for the 4-5 range? We have Candy Land, Shutes/Ladders and other fairly terrible stuff. Animal upon Animal is fun but you can only play so much of that.


Any time. Good luck! All parents need it, lol.

This is REALLY tough. Board games are inherently less engaging to young minds than video games, so they already start out behind the 8-ball. One game he did like was called Lego Racers; you would build race cars, and then go around a track you’d build with an RNG spinner and special “power ups.” Basically, it emulated a video game but had solely physical components. This at least gave me a little hope, and I started speaking reverently of some classics. Notably, chess. “It’s an amazing game, but maybe a little too tough for your age” kind of stuff that passive-aggressively inched him toward expanding his zone of comfort (side note; he wound up being captain of the chess team at his high school, and still doesn’t know to this day how I manipulated him)