Video Game Recommendations for Terrible Children

I know, that was why I was gonna recommend it =)’

Edit: I meant, I was gonna recommend that, and Tim already did, so I started to think about turned base games in general

I will second this. You can change the difficulty settings so that it’s impossible for kids (or, uh, less-coordinated adults) to accidentally drive off a cliff.

Super Mario Party is built exactly for this. The mini games are short and perfectly suited for learning how to play videogames. It’s also great fun as a family and has more variety than something like Mario Kart so will hold their interest longer.

Not sure which Mario Party we have, but it wasn’t that successful … we would do practice mode in the minigame a few times, and then when we’d do it for real, the kids would immediately lose, every time, and get frustrated. There just can’t be harsh stops and starts to the game for these kids, they need to be able to putter without consequence. Whereas we learnt through sheer force of repetition, this gen seems to need open play.

Part of it is motivation, for sure. My brother’s kid taught himself how to play Minecraft and Splatoon through sheer force of will (having one or two friends who play obsessively gives that motivation, apparently). I’m not trying to force my kids to do anything they don’t want to do, but I do think that basic game literacy is going to be important at some point during their lives, so want to do some due diligence.

Also, its something they can do when stuck inside during the eternal Covid Winter.

Competition is important. My three boys, now all 19 and up, all had competitive streaks, but not at the same level of importance to them.

Video games allow for low stakes competition that teaches the importance of competing at all. The reality is that your child will enter a competitive world where they will often have to make quick considered decisions on how to further a career, create a financial future, or just get from A to B. Video games allow you to learn those skills (and how to get along with others while competing) with no real world consequence.

Having even a rudimentary background of video games as a kid also means friends. It’s one more way to connect with other kids and other people later in life. My sons have easily made many new friends partially because they have the background growing up playing games. All sorts of relationships can be forged through shared experience, and video games give kids major amounts of shared experience.

I have a 4 year old and 9 year old so, these suggestions work for both ages and are fun for mom and dad too.

Also, my kids and wife don’t like competition so all our games have to work with that in mind:

Minecraft (hear me out) - Hate to say it (and the aesthetics offend me too) but some of our best family moments during this lockdown have been family multiplayer Minecraft. When mom and dad play, we play in survival mode, but on their own they’ll play in creative multiplayer. Over the last year we’ve built up an amazing world and had some real adventures they’ll never forget. Bonus: now and then their cousins and Grammy have joined us in our world (I setup a private server) and we even celebrate virtual birthdays on what has now became “Birthday Mountain” - an elaborate and extensively decorated facility on top of the highest peak near our main town.

MarioKart 8 - family multiplayer but we all play on the same team vs Ai. This is a no brainer for any family IMO.

Mario Odyssey - 4 year old controls until something is too hard and then mom helps him for a few minutes and then he resumes but even when she controls it he likes to make suggestions. They recently completed it so definitely accessible for young ones and non-gamers.

BeamNG - They love driving around and smashing up their cars and doing stunts - also tons of mods for any vehicle they like. More fun when mom or dad joins and they can chase us to smash our vehicles.

Farm Simulator 19 - co-op multiplayer where we’ve built a farm as a family, plus they love tractors.

That’s freaking awesome, Blair. I don’t even have any aversion to voxel graphics, so maybe this will be a thing around our house too. I should look up how cross-platform play works or doesn’t.

Super Mario 3D World comes out tomorrow on the Switch and it’s my recommendation. You can play with up to 4 players cooperatively, and you can literally pick up and carry each other. Perfect for helping the less skilled through tricky platforming sequences.

Years ago I played that (the Wii U version) and LEGO Batman with my nephew. I’m not sure how old he was, but he didn’t have any gaming experience at all. It was remarkable the subtle ways in which I noticed LEGO Batman was targeted for a young audience, but wasn’t truly designed for players who didn’t already have some gaming know-how.

Watching my nephew who would struggle to make jumps in a platforming sequence in any circumstances, there was still a marked difference in how carefully Mario 3D World was designed with an eye toward camera angles and clean design that aided in accessibility, lining up jumps, not walking off platforms inadvertently, etc., vs. the more detailed often more cluttered design of stages in the LEGO game.

LEGO Batman (and all the LEGO games I’ve tried) are definitely still low-stakes games that won’t punish you for lacking skill, but Mario 3D World was on a whole different level of being kid-friendly.

Interesting! I was considering picking up Mario 3D world for myself, so I’m glad to hear it has some kid-accessibility options. They’ll also very much enjoy the ridiculous Cat-Mario outfit.

I have an 8 year old with sensory processing disorder and a 3 year old. We have PCs, so they’re using mouse and keyboard. Neither is particularly goal oriented, so they like sandbox games.

The 8 year old loves Minecraft and Lego games. He’s managed to get through the Lego games (Ninjago, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Star Wars) on his own. Portal has been good to him as well, although I can see that can get frustrating. He also liked building towns with Simcity 4, Kingdoms and Castles, and the Colonists. He did not get hooked on Scribblenauts.

He’ll play World of Warcraft on a account that I’ve got as restricted as possible, but all he does is make character and run around the world (and ride zeppelins.)

The 3 year old likes playing World of Goo. She mostly plays the early easy levels, but she’s figured out some of the puzzles on her own.

Lego City Undercover is pretty great for kids. Does a good job of slowly introducing concepts. Played a lot of co-op where at first I basically did everything while my son followed a long and then slowly he took over doing everything.

Oregon Trail - the original

It’s difficult to express how disappointed I was when I realized when that wasn’t the point of the thread.

Then I began taking notes, because I apparently have the approximate video skillz of an easily discouraged 6-year-old, based on the replies here, so at least I can get some purchase suggestions! For instance. . .

I totally gave up on Portal on some puzzle where I had to perfectly time shooting out my portals while flying toward some kind of tall wall. Props to your kid!

I too clicked this thread hoping for the video game equivalent of the Dreaded Laramie article.

But, while I’m here, how about Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker?

Yup, have that one. Haven’t tried my 4 yr old son on it, but it did appeal to my daughter quite a bit since it was so much less hectic. But the enemies do seek you out in places, and she refused to even move her character when she got to the shyguy mansion, where they’re out on patrol. She really doesn’t like the threat of getting her character ‘hurt’ by the baddies. That said, haven’t played it with them in over a year, I should try it again, now that her control is better, and since you can’t jump, your control is a lot more predictable.

Not sure if they are still around, but the old Wii games would seem natural at developing hand-eye coordination and remote action.

You can get a wii U with backwards compatibility and all the perks with that. But yes, the motion controls on the Wii are loved by my children… but be prepared to have them flail like idiots for a very long time, which they will love, but will not progress too far doing. IE, trying to tutor your kid to actually do a golf swing or throw a frisbee will not be any easier on the wii than it is in real life, and sometimes even more so, since the game isn’t programmed to fail as abysmally as a chicken flap would get you in the yard, and they get false confirmation of their actions 40% of the time.

I can only relate my experiences with my son, but when he was three or four he played two main games*:

Spider-Man 2: This was a fun open-world game. He could just run around, swing from things, climb buildings, and jump off. Occasionally he would actually do a mission stopping bank robbers or something, but mostly he would just run around and explore. It was great to get him used to exploring 3D space. Also, he decided his home was the Guggenheim Museum, so he would always have to return there before quitting the game.

Mario Kart: We played a lot of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, which was fantastic because I could drive and he just had to throw things. I still remember being in third place on the final lap: I drifted around a corner and passed the guy in third place, my son threw a red shell to knock out the second place guy, and we came in first and won the race. Moments like that really built a bond between us, even at three years old. Pretty soon he wanted to try driving so we could switch places. At four years old he could beat my wife pretty consistently in races.

With Mario Kart 8, you can turn on steering assist or acceleration assist. Or both. Get the kids used to driving around and throwing shells, and then slowly introduce them to newer elements. It’s perfect.

My son has beaten more games than I have in recent years: Breath of the Wild, all the Luigi’s Mansion games, and most recently, Hades. Time well spent!

Edit: Smash Bros. is also a good choice for overall fun.

*Technically, I believe my son’s first game was Grand Theft Auto III. Yes, I’m serious. He would drive around, stop at red lights, and go when they turned green. I would tell him he could just run the red light, and he would go, “Why?? The light is red!”

If they like Animal Crossing but you find it lacking, maybe Stardew Valley will satisfy both. The harder part of the game, dungeons and high level fishing isn’t actually required persay, but there is some game in there the might also alleviate the boredom. It’s also MP and on all the bigger platforms.