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Playing Video Games Across The Ages (And Abilities)

06/04/2021 - Author: Jo Robertson


There’s quite a bit of gaming-skill disparity in our house. With me at the bottom of the pile and the husband and kids jostling for the top spots.

I recently played Firewatch with my husband that was lovely to look at but really hard to control, eventually I gave up and let him play through while I watched, which wasn’t quite as fun. There are games that work really well with different skill levels.

Just Dance for instance doesn’t require any gaming (or dancing) skills but just an ability to get your arms and legs moving at the right time (ok some of us may still struggle with that!). Some friends of ours recently said that in their family, granny was the best because she wasn’t trying cool moves and just focused on what her arms should be doing and actually won a few rounds.

So how do you play video games together if you have a mix of ages and skill levels?
Chatting to families via Twitter and Facebook, there are creative ways to let everyone join in. Like allowing the younger 4-year-old sibling to float around the levels in Sackboy: A Big Adventure, while a slightly older sibling plays with a parent. This seems to keep everyone happy.

Families said they played Overcooked with a mix of ages, and while it started well the rest of the players were bound by the ability of the youngest child. While it’s nice to try and involve everyone, is there a way to do it without sacrificing someone’s enjoyment?

Other families have enjoyed games designed to bring players of different abilities together. Games like Super Mario Odyssey where a second player has simple controls to help out Mario, playing as his hat. Or the upcoming PlayStation game, Chicory A Colorful Tale where a second player can jump in to help with colouring in the levels so the main character can advance.

We asked Iain Simons, director of the National Videogame Museum about this in Taming Gaming book: “Lean in a little, and you can start to unearth a whole load of exciting, weird, fun and different games to explore….”

You can find loads of games that are great to play with players of different abilities in the Family Video Game Database:

You can also search the database for games which cater for different skill levels. For example, we searched on the Play with Experts and Novices genre for games on a Nintendo Switch with an PEGI 12+ age rating:
Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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