The world of gaming is huge. There are hundreds of video games to choose from and several consoles to play them on. Many video games are violent, gory, and contain themes that are inappropriate for children. Family-friendly content is more difficult to find. When it comes to purchasing family-friendly content for your children you want to know what to expect from the games you purchase so you can protect them from any inappropriate content. No matter what console or consoles your kids have or want, there are fun, kid-friendly options for your children to enjoy. The top three gaming consoles and the family games you can find for them are listed below with their ESRB ratings to help you decide what works best for your family.
The Nintendo Switch is easily the most family-friendly console with a variety of for both younger and older kids. The portable console can be played without the use of a TV and consists of a screen with two detachable joy-con controllers attached to either side. You can also purchase additional joys-cons and traditional USB controllers for the console. If you’re looking to save money, there’s a new smaller version of the console, the Nintendo Switch lite, which lacks the detachable joy-cons and can only be played handheld. The switch sports a huge library of games, including console exclusive titles such as Super Mario Odyssey.
1. Mario Kart 8- E
The latest in the Mario Kart series, Mario Kart 8 is a racing game featuring the characters from the Mario Bros series including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser, Wario, Waluigi, Yoshi, and more. Players can choose to race tournament style, versus, or in battle mode, then select a difficulty, ranging from 50cc at the easiest to 200cc at the hardest, a character and a kart. While racing around tracks from every generation of Mario Kart including the SNES classic Rainbow Road as well as new tracks inspired by the Legend of Zelda and Excite Bike, players can gather power-ups like mushrooms to speed up or shells to throw at other players to slow them down as well as many others. While it does contain mild violence, the game definitely kid-friendly, easy to learn and extremely versatile. It also sports up to 12 player multiplayer, as long as you have enough controllers, allowing families to play together. Just watch out for blue shells!
2. Super Mario Party- E
The latest in another long-running series, Super Mario Party is the twelfth installment of this long-running series that began back in 1998. Once again featuring Mario franchise favorite characters Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, and more, Mario Party is the virtual board game your kids will love. Players choose their characters and board to play on then roll dice to race around the board in an attempt to collect the most stars before the game ends. Players also engage in Mini-games between rounds to collect coins and purchase more stars. The mini-games range from free for all battles to 2 vs 2 team games to 3 on 1 matches in games that require anything from slicing onions the fastest to throwing pies to racing through obstacle courses. The game exclusively uses the Joy-Con controllers as it relies heavily on movement-based mechanics like shaking. Some mild violence occurs but otherwise, the game is an instant family favorite.
3. Sid Meier’s Civilization 6- E10
The final game for the Switch is aimed at older kids and teens, although younger kids can play along with an older sibling or parent. Civilization 6 is a turn-based strategy game where players are tasked with building an empire to last from the dawn of mankind to colonization of Mars. Players can choose from, or randomly select, a variety of world leaders represent various nations and peoples. Each Civilization has specialized traits, a special unit, and specialty building. Each turn players choose where military and builder units go and do, decide what their people should research scientifically, politically, and what their people should add to their city or cities. The game is won in a variety of ways, often depending on the chosen civilization, either via military conquest of all other civilizations, creating a dominant world religion, becoming culturally dominant or by colonizing Mars. While the game features strong themes surrounding religion, politics, and military violence, it also teaches players about various cultures, historical leaders, and empires. It can be played multiplayer either over multiple devices or in a hot-seat mode, where players pass around the console or controller. With two expansions adding Dark and golden age mechanics and world climate/natural disasters to the game, Civilization 6 is a great pick that entire families will love and learn from.
The Playstation 4 is a more traditional console when compared to the unique Nintendo switch, and it is the latest in the PlayStation line, although the Playstation 5 is on the horizon. It has a massive game library on its own but Playstation also offers access to a library of games for PS 2, 3, and 4 through PS Now. Known for its console exclusive titles such as God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, and the Persona Series, the console also features a variety of other services that can make the Playstation experience even better. Players can now play games via Remote Play from various devices including phones, tablets, and computers as well as create playgroups in Share Play in order to share titles, play couch-op online, and more. Parents can set-up restrictions for playtime, accessible games and more and the console itself also features streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and more, and can play DVDs, and blu ray disks. A versatile machine, the Playstation 4 library contains thousands of titles, including a few top family video games.
1. Sonic Mania- E
The SEGA classic sonic is back! Sonic Mania is a platformer with levels based on the classic Sonic titles as well as all-new levels to enjoy. The Sonic franchise sticks to a well-known equation of fast, simple gameplay mixed with real-world physics that challenges even the toughest gamers. Players can choose from three characters, Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles, each with unique abilities. Players can also choose to control Sonic and Tails together or as a two-player team. This is especially useful as Tails controls are very simple and the character can’t really die, serving as the perfect way for younger siblings to play along with older ones without causing a fight. Players race through scrolling level, freeing forest creatures from Dr. Robotno’s machines as they try to defeat him. Containing only mild violence, this is a great family-friendly title your kids will love.
2. Stardew Valley- E
Stardew Valley is a simple farming game where after inheriting land from your grandfather, you take to running a farm in the small town of Stardew Valley. Players build a character and spend hours farming, foraging, fishing, and fighting to find rare items, unlock rare buildings, make friends in town, fall in love and more. Stardew Valley can be played differently by every player, allowing kids to go at their own pace. The game can be played multiplayer online as well, allowing for friendly co-op gameplay between friends. With hundreds of hours of gameplay available in Stardew Valley, it’s sure to stick around. The game features only mild violence and some romance, as players have the option to marry one of the single townspeople and combined with simple controls and easy to understand mechanics, it’s a great choice for everyone from young kids to parents themselves.
3. Spyro Reignited Trilogy- E10
The Original Spyro trilogy was a Playstation 1 game that won a lot of children’s hearts with its impressive graphics and gameplay for the era. The reignited trilogy brings back the spunky dragon Spyro and takes you on his adventures all over again with new beautiful graphics, combined with the same amazing mechanics that Spyro an instant classic in the PS1 era. The game features all three remasters of the original trilogy including Spyro the Dragon, Spyro™ 2: Ripto’s Rage!, and Spyro™: Year of the Dragon. The game features open level gameplay with vertical levels, boss levels, and flying levels that are both challenging and fun. Great for kids of all ages, Spyro only features mild cartoon violence, so it’s an easy family-friendly choice.
Like the Playstation 4, the Xbox One is the latest in the Xbox console series, although the Xbox Series X is on the horizon. The Xbox One allows you to access a tremendous library of games via game Pass, giving you access to games from the Xbox 360 and onwards on PC or Console. Like the PS4 the Xbox One can be used as a Dvd/Blueray player and allows access to streaming services like Netflix. Although it doesn’t have as many exclusive game titles as the Playstation, there are still a few games best played on the Xbox One console.
1. Zoo Tycoon- E
A trip to the Zoo is an exciting part of childhood, with Zoo Tycoon your kids can build their own Zoo. Plays can choose from a variety of different animals, enclosures, and more to create an amazing environment that’s all their own. It features several game modes, including story mode, building mode, and challenge mode. It also minigames, and integrates real-world events that allow players to send aid to animals all over the world just by playing. Easy to play and understand, this addition the Zoo Tycoon series is a great pick for kids.
2. Overcooked 2- E10
Overcooked 2 is a sequel to Overcooked, a chaotic co-op cooking game that takes players on an adventure across the world to learn how to cook everything from sushi to tomato soup. The squeal adds even more dishes to cook and even more outrageous places to cook in including hot air balloons and wizards towers. Players choose from several adorable characters, they must create and serve as many dishes as possible while dealing with weird kitchen mechanics, and each other. Not only is the game a great pick for playing together as a family, but it fosters communication, cooperation, and teamwork. The game is very highly rated and aside from a bit of cartoon violence, it is the perfect choice for a family game night.
3. Minecraft- E10
If you haven’t heard of this multiplatform game that spans the world over, Minecraft is OPen World game where players can explore, build, craft and mine their way to victory over an Otherworldly dragon. Minecraft can be played any number of ways, from creative mode building beautiful homes, or intimidating castles, to adventuring across the world, to mining to depths unknown, and even tinkering with strange contraptions, every kid will love getting to experience this game in their own, unique way. It can be played on several difficulties and contains only some minor violence as you fight zombies, skeletons, and creepers. Minecraft can also be played multiplayer with friends on various devices. This game will be everyone’s instant favorite.
Ranking of Games
Whether you get a Switch, PS4 or an Xbox One, make sure you pay attention to the games your kids are playing. TheESRB has a very specific rating system that can help you understand if your child is ready to play it. eC ratings are given to games rated for preschool audiences and contain no content parents would find objectionable. Games rated E, and E10 are for everyone and contain only small amounts of cartoon violence and are suitable for children. A rating of T means it contains more adult themes including violence, blood, moderate language, sexual themes, etc. and are meant for audiences older than 13. A rating of M contains more realistic portrayals of violence, mature sexual themes, partial nudity, and sexual themes, and are generally suited for audiences older than 17.