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Develop Critical Thinking

Being able to discern between reliable sources and unreliable sources of information is an important skill for children to develop. This starts with questions of trust and authority but then leads to decisions about how we use and share information ourselves.

We've worked with Childnet International on this list of games that help children and young people experiment with what they should trust and the potential unintended consequences. Childnet International is an online safety charity working with others to help make the internet a great and safe place for children and young people. They believe that the internet is a wonderfully positive tool for children and young people. Childnet are also part of the UK Safer Internet Centre and organise Safer Internet Day in the UK every February.

Some of the games, like Thousand Threads, either put them in a world where what people say and believe impacts the other characters. Other games, like Headliner, put the player in charge of information so they can see the consequences first hand of its misuse. There are even games, like Papers Please, that enable the player to police who is and isn't allowed access to information or even access to the country.

As Childnet write, "Critical Thinking is an important skill that we need in order to navigate the internet safely and find the latest news headlines or facts and information. With the amount of content that is online sometimes it’s quite easy to be reading something that is inaccurate without realising."

These games each provide different ways for players to develop critical thinking. They provide a space where trust and authority can be experienced first hand, and where the negative and positive consequences of how we handle these topics play out.

This list includes 127 games from the last 25 years, with 1,012 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to Critically Assess information.


 

Cris Tales

Release Date: 20/07/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Cris Tales is a role-playing game where you see how your actions in the present affect the past and future. You play as Crisbell in a cartoon-looking adventure through four Kingdoms in a bid to stop the powerful Time Empress and rewrite the future of...

Vane

Release Date: 15/01/2019, updated in 2019

Platforms: PC and PS4

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Vane is an ethereal adventure in a ruined desert where strange golden dust transforms a free-spirited bird into a determined young child. The premise is not all that uncommon, but Vane stands out for how you soar over the dessert and climb your way...

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Series)

Release Date: 01/01/1999, updated in 2019

Platforms: Game Boy and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is an adventure-puzzle game in the Zelda series and universe. A remake of the 1993 Game Boy game of the same name, this one is set on Koholint Island and follows Link after he is stranded and must find a way back to...

Wildermyth

Release Date: 15/06/2021

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Wildermyth is a medieval role-playing game about diverse heroes and themes. You take on evil in a number of stories, each with different heroes and settings. The focus is on the characters as much as their adventures, who are believable, diverse and...

The Tomorrow Children

Release Date: 06/09/2016, updated in 2022

Platforms: PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

The Tomorrow Children is an online strategy game where you collaborate with other players to build, explore and develop communities. Unusually, it uses social economics and a Soviet Union-themed post-apocalyptic dystopia as the setting. You play a...

Overboard

Release Date: 02/06/2021

Platforms: Android, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Overboard is a murder mystery narrative game played in reverse. You murder your husband at the start of the game and then try and get away with it. It's played on a ship where the characters are affected by your choices and change their actions...

Rainbow Billy

Release Date: 05/10/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is a role-play adventure where you save the world from a colourless darkness. Unusually, battles are won through listening and conversation rather than traditional attacks. It combines the excitement and...

Planet of Lana

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Planet of Lana is an adventure where you play a young girl Lana and her loyal animal friend Mui, on a rescue mission. Set on a planet under siege from cold machines and unfamiliar creatures. Rather than the war, though, this is a game about the vibrant...

Factorio

Release Date: 14/08/2020, updated in 2022

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Factorio is a construction strategy game where you crash-land on an alien planet and must harvest resources to create industry to build a rocket to escape (or fall in love with running your factory and stay on longer).

Do Not Feed the Monkeys

Release Date: 23/10/2018

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Do Not Feed the Monkeys is an adventure game where you sit at a computer and spy on live video feeds of various events and characters. Your job is to gather information about "the monkeys" while also looking after your character's health and apartment...

Umurangi Generation

Release Date: 19/05/2020

Platforms: PC, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Umurangi Generation is an adventure you play by exploring a city and taking photographs. Unlike other games where the photography is secondary, this is the main way you progress. As you do, you discover a story about ecology, friendship and the...

There Is No Game

Release Date: 06/10/2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension is a comedic adventure with a strange twist. From the outset the game’s narrator insists that there is no game to play. As you inevitably ignore his instruction you go on a journey through silly and unexpected video...

Thousand Threads

Release Date: 30/07/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Thousand Threads is an open world game of consequences. You are free to interact with the world, animals and people however you like, give, take, save, kill, inform, hide, befriend, betray. But how you do this will have ongoing and unavoidable...

Season: A Letter to the Future

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC, PS4 and PS5

Season: A Letter to the Future is a narrative adventure where you take a bicycle road trip game. You play as a young woman leaving a secluded community, exploring the world for the first time. Collect artefacts and memories as you explore because soon,...

Storyteller

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Storyteller is a puzzle game about building stories. You use a set of icons to matching what is happening in each frame of the story. It's a simple challenge that gets the mind-stretching as you construct some of history’s greatest stories using...

Orwell's Animal Farm

Release Date: 10/12/2020

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Orwell's Animal Farm is an adventure game with a decent slice of strategy, all brought to life with beautiful hand-drawn storybook art. As the name suggests, the game is based on the 1945 literary classic Animal Farm by George Orwell, which uses a farm...

Papers, Please

Release Date: 08/08/2013, updated in 2017

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS Vita and iOS

You play the role of a border-crossing immigration officer in the fictional dystopian Eastern Bloc-like country of Arstotzka. You review each immigrant’s and returning citizens’ passports and paperwork according to an increasing list of changing...

Bully

Release Date: 17/10/2006, updated in 2016

Platforms: Android, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Bully (Canis Canem Edit in Europe) is a role play adventure from the people who make Grand Theft Auto. You play juvenile delinquent student Jimmy Hopkins who aims to rise through the ranks of the school system in order to put a stop to bullying.

A Place for the Unwilling

Release Date: 25/07/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC and Stadia

A Place for the Unwilling is a narrative adventure set in the final 21 days of a dying city. You investigate the city and its inhabitants to piece together what has happened. However, the clock is always ticking and the city carries on, with or without...

Hitchhiker

Release Date: 15/04/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iPhone, iPad

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Hitchhiker is a narrative game set on lost highways. Unlike other interactive stories, Hitchhiker is intentionally dense and hard to follow. In fact, your goal is to unravel the puzzle of your own backstory.

The Forgotten City

Release Date: 28/07/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

The Forgotten City is a mystery adventure. You explore and relive the final days of a cursed Roman city, where if one person sins, everyone dies. It starts as a bewildering array of characters, locations and information but over multiple goes your...

Buildings Have Feelings Too

Release Date: 22/04/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Buildings Have Feelings Too is set in a city where buildings can walk and talk. Not only that, but each has aspirations, hopes and fears. Your job is to create a city that works for all the buildings, a task that will see your city planning pulled in...

Disco Elysium

Release Date: 15/10/2019, updated in 2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Stadia, Switch and Xbox One

Disco Elysium The Final Cut is a role-playing game set in the fictional city of Revachol where you play Harrier "Harry" Du Bois who must solve a complex murder. Unusually, your choices and actions not only determine how the story unfolds but affect...

Democratic Socialism Simulator

Release Date: 20/02/2020

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Democratic Socialism Simulator is a puzzle game where you run for office and then run a country. It offers a flow of questions with a yes or no response. Each answer has consequences in the minds of the voters and the prosperity of the country. It's an...

Seasons After Fall

Release Date: 02/09/2016, updated in 2017

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Seasons After Fall is a running and jumping game where you traverse through forests in search of the lost spirits of the four seasons. As you progress, you unlock the ability to change the season at will, altering the dynamic of the level and letting...

Cloud Gardens

Release Date: 09/09/2020, updated in 2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Cloud Gardens is a puzzle game where you grow vegetation over a dilapidated post-apocalyptic world. It's a low-pressure puzzle, from the team behind Kingdom. It has the same pixel-art style, but here you are left to take your time...

Reigns (Series)

Release Date: 11/08/2016

Platforms: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Take charge of a kingdom, one decision at a time. Each choice is presented to you as a playing card with some advice or a question from one of the 38 different characters. Swipe left or right to make a decision that will impact the church, people,...

Into The Breach

Release Date: 27/02/2018, updated in 2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Stadia, Switch and iOS

Into the Breach is a fantasy turn-based battle. It's set in a future where humanity fights an army of giant monsters. You control mechs equipped with a variety of weapons and armour in carefully coordinate actions played out on super-small tile-based...

LOCK (Dreams)

Release Date: 17/10/2020, updated in 2021

Platforms: PS4 and PS5

LOCK is a puzzle game about escaping rooms. LOCK stands for Logic Operated Combination Keep, referring to a digital password protected door lock. You must discover secret four letter word clues by exploring each space, in order to unlock panels, collect...

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion

Release Date: 22/04/2021

Platforms: PC, Switch and Xbox One

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is an action role-play game where you play a Turnip working hard to pay off a massive tax bill to Mayor Onion. The set-up soon gives way to a series of Zelda-style quests, dungeons and puzzles that earn new items and...

Headliner: NoviNews

Release Date: 05/10/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Headliner: NoviNews is a narrative-driven simulation game where you play as the person in charge of the headlines and stories that are released to the public. Each article you approve from your office has a direct impact on the world outside. Which news...

Strange Horticulture

Release Date: 21/01/2021

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Strange Horticulture is an occult puzzle detective game where you run a plant shop. While you identify and sell new plants to your customers you discover and influence their interweaving lives. It's unusual because your power is in your knowledge of...

Where the Heart Leads

Release Date: 13/07/2021

Platforms: PS4

Where the Heart Leads is an adventure game where you make life-choices and then see their impact. You play Whit Anderson, as he revisits and alters his past, present, and future. It's a game that creates a surreal dream-like narrative, but one that is...

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain (Series)

Release Date: 05/06/2006, updated in 2021

Platforms: DS, Switch and Wii

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Big Brain Academy is a puzzle game designed to test and improve your mental capacity and well being. You are presented with an assortment of challenges designed to measure how smart your brain is. The focus is on fun rather than learning, and the Big...

Fête de Famille

Release Date: 01/09/2022

Platforms: Android and iOS

Fete de Famille (Family Gathering) is a text adventure about families. About what happens when families get together. It's an acid portrait of a contemporary French family that asks why, how and what are the bonds that tie them together.

HoloVista

Release Date: 11/09/2020

Platforms: iOS

Holovista is an adventure game where you play by taking and sharing photographs. You play as Carmen an up-and-coming architect who is tasked to live in and take photographs at mysterious mansion. Your job is to take photographs of specific objects and...

Not For Broadcast

Release Date: 30/01/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Not For Broadcast is a narrative puzzle game where you control the National Nightly News just as a radical government comes to power. By deciding the angles, adverts, images and censoring in the show you control what the people see and determine...

Alt-Frequencies

Release Date: 16/05/2019

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Alt-Frequencies is an adventure game played by listening to a series of radio shows. It's a story about people stuck in a time loop without realising it and what you can do to save them.

Argument Wars

Release Date: 16/09/2016, updated in 2020

Platforms: Android, Web and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Pieces: Cards

Argument Wars is an adventure game where you play a lawyer in a U.S. Supreme Court. It's a card game that recreates constitutional arguments behind some important historical cases.

Cart Life

Release Date: 25/04/2019

Platforms: PC

Cart Life is a simulation game where you play one of three street vendors. You attempt to run their shop whilst looking after their health, interests, and families. It has simple visuals, but depicts the realities of the thin-end of life.

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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