It may come as a surprise, but a recent report shows that some two-thirds of parents play video games with their children at least once a week.
Long considered a pastime for teenagers and man-children, gaming has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. The report, by the Entertainment Software Association, also shows that 65 percent of U.S. households are home to at least one person who plays three or more hours of video games a week and the average gamer is 35 years old.
Finding games to play with the whole family can be difficult. Video games can be hard to pick up and learn, especially for those not accustomed. And many feature violence or other content parents find not suitable for children.
For some recommendations on good games to play with your family, the NewsHour spoke to Ashley Jenkins from Rooster Teeth, an entertainment and media company that hosts several large gaming Youtube channels. Jenkins is the executive producer and host of Rooster Teeth’s gaming news Youtube channel “The Know,” and also hosts the gaming podcast “Glitch Please,” which covers the latest news and trends in the gaming industry.
Jenkins herself plays games with her family, and says many have come out in recent years that are more family-friendly. There are cooperative games, competitive games and games made for a wide range of ages. Some of her favorites:
The Jackbox Party Pack, All Platforms
The Jackbox Party Pack is Jenkins’s number one pick for playing with pure beginners. A set of party games that can be played with cell phones, The Jackbox Party Pack teaches you how to play as you go, allowing family members of every age and skill level to have fun. Since players use their phones, you also aren’t limited by the amount of controllers you own. It is rated T for teen, so keep that in mind for very young players.
Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo Switch
Winner of Best Family Game at The 2017 Game Awards, Super Mario Odyssey comes with a two player cooperative (co-op) mode. It allows the more experienced player to play as Mario, while letting the less experienced player to play as Mario’s hat. The hat can roam freely around the stage, hitting objects and helping Mario complete his tasks. This co-op mode is great for little kids and gives them a real sense of helping.
Yooka-Laylee, All Platforms
Yooka-Laylee’s co-op mode functions similarly to Mario Odyssey, with the less experienced player playing as a hovering group of bees. The user playing as the bees can roam around the screen and collect items. Although co-op is more limited than Odyssey, it still allows the less experienced player to feel like they are a part of the game.
Snipperclips, Nintendo Switch
A cooperative puzzle game, Snipperclips has users play as pieces of paper and try to solve puzzles by forming certain shapes. There’s also the party and blitz modes, which offer players opportunities for four-player mode and light competition in minigames such as basketball or “snipper deathmatches.” Easy to pick up and easy to understand, Snipperclips is fun and builds communication.
Overcooked, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows
In Overcooked, you take on the roles of cooks in a kitchen. As the game goes on and you learn the mechanics, you start to fill harder and harder orders, requiring a lot of communication. For families that like to be more competitive, there is a competitive mode.
Mario Party, Nintendo Wii, Wii U, Gamecube, N64
“If you want to start some sort of blood feud between your family,” Jenkins said, there’s always Mario Party. Although not on current generation consoles, Mario Party is a lot of fun, very simple, and doesn’t take long to learn. It’s a timeless classic and good for all ages.
Lego Star Wars, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Android, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Nintendo DS, macOS
Lego games are charming, very easy to play and fantastic for co-op. Lego Star Wars was one of the first Lego games and remains one of the simplest. It’s an older game, but it checks out.
Lego Worlds, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows
A Minecraft-style game, Lego Worlds drops players into a massive open world and lets you team up, build structures, and gives you free reign to explore. Lego Worlds also keeps that same family-friendly Lego charm.
Towerfall Ascension, All Platforms
Towerfall Ascension is a last-man-standing video game where players shoot at each other with arrows. “Within 30 seconds [you] know what you’re doing,” Jenkins said. There is a co-op mode for families who don’t like to be competitive.
Don’t Starve Together, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS
Good for families who are comfortable with playing games, Don’t Starve Together drops you into a world with no resources. You have to coordinate to build shelter and equipment to survive. It can be a bit scary and challenging for younger kids. Every player also needs their own computer or system to play.
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