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Nurture Neighbourhoods

In a world of technology, it’s easy to become disconnected or forgetful of the people we live with and the places we live in. Video games can be a part of this dislocation as screen time diminishes engagement with the real world. But they can also offer ways to reconnect with those around us and find a fresh (helpfully disruptive) perspective on our neighbourhoods.

This list has been created with the help of Cormac Russell, Managing Director of Nurture Development. For 25 years Cormac has helped communities, agencies and governments solve urban and rural development problems not by focusing on the deficiencies of neighbourhoods, towns, villages but by understanding that people, their families and communities, have unique competencies in building community. As Cormac puts it. “Communities can’t know what they need from outside sources until they know what they have themselves internally. And we get this the wrong way round.”

The video games here offer a range of experiences that reshape and challenge our thinking in this direction:

  • Reimagine Space: Games like Eco and Terra Nil underline our relationship with the land. Not that we need to minimise harm, but that we need to understand our presence and impact so we can balance benefits ecologically.
  • Reimagine Community: Games like One Hour One Life invite us to contribute to a community for the benefit of future players. Others, like Pilgrims, invite us to understand the interrelated needs of a small community and then use their existing resources to meet these needs. Then there are games like Thousand Threads and Fable that shine a light on inter-related tensions in groups, where helping one person may negatively impact another.
  • Community Memory: Games like Heaven’s Vault, Treasures of the Aegean and Deep Time Walk illustrate the power of community memory and tradition, and how these things are lost (and recovered) through language.
  • Community Planning: Games like Mini Metro, Townscaper or Conduct Together put us in the role of planning transportation and provision as opposed to experts. Then there are games like Buildings Have Feelings Too, that disrupt the usual remote dispassionate planning of the lived environment by giving voice to it. Or games like Everything, that invite us to physically inhabit space in a massive range of bodies – from pollen to mountains, antelope to power pylons.

Another interesting voice on the intersection between play and place is Benjamin Stokes. His book, Locally Played, encourages us to “collaborate in the creation, deployment, and study of playful ways to build local connection and restore a critical sense of vitality and even possibility to our civic lives.”

This list includes 25 games from the last 21 years, with 910 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to rediscover community.

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DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3 to PEGI 16
ESRB Ratings: ESRB EVERYONE to ESRB MATURE 17+
Australian Ratings: G to R 18+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Brain Game, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Physically Active, Platform, Point-and-Click, Puzzle, Role-Play, Simulation, Strategy and World Building
Total Likes: 910
 

 

Conduct Together (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 7-12 year-olds

Release Date: 06/12/2018

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Genres: Creative, Puzzle and Strategy

Accessibility: 29 features

Developer: Hey Northplay (@HeyNorthplay)

Players: You can play with 1 to 4 players in the same room

Conduct Together is a strategy game where you control toy trains along the overlapping train tracks. Each train can be started and stopped with a specific button. Other buttons change different points. The aim is to transport the people from one station...

Fable (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 14/09/2004

Platforms: Mac, PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Action, Adventure, Open World and Role-Play

Developer: We Are Playground (@WeArePlayground)

Players: This is a single-player game

This is an adventure role-playing game set in a fantasy world where your interactions with the world and villagers, and decisions about your use of magical power, substantially alter the story and the environment.

Stardew Valley

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 26/02/2016, updated in 2018

Platforms: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 24 features

Developer: Concerned Ape (@ConcernedApe)

Players: You can play this by yourself or as a 4-player online game

Stardew Valley looks like a farming simulator. That’s partly what it is, but you must also develop relationships with the other townsfolk and delve deep into the mines. Its quirky labyrinthine attention to detail is as inviting for young players to...

Animal Crossing (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 9-16 year-olds

Release Date: 14/12/2001, updated in 2020

Price: 22% off

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS, GameCube, Switch and Wii

Genres: Open World, Role-Play and Simulation

Accessibility: 28 features

Developer: Nintendo (@Nintendo)

Players: You can play with 1 to 4 players in the same room or as a 8-player online game

You live on a small island teeming with life. Insects, fish, trees, vegetation and fossils are represented with cute cartoon visuals. Rather than the scale or grandeur of other game worlds, it’s the interconnected drama of the world and characters...

Townscaper

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 30/06/2020, updated in 2021

Price: Free

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch, Web, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and iOS

Genres: Creative and Simulation

Accessibility: 25 features

Developer: Osk Sta (@OskSta)

Players: This is a single-player game

Townscaper is a town building toy. You pick colours from the range available and click to put down a house in the sea. As you continue to add houses of different colours the game automatically orientates the architecture for you.

Mini Metro

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 06/01/2015

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and iOS

Genres: Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 26 features

Developer: Dinopolo Club (@DinopoloClub)

Players: This is a single-player game

Create an ordered, efficient underground train system. It sounds like hard work, but the simple Tube-map visuals, calm music, and streamlined interactions make this relaxing, like sudoku. Dip your toe in this strategy challenge and keep the system...

Everything

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 3+ year-olds

Release Date: 21/03/2017, updated in 2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4 and Switch

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Open World and Simulation

Accessibility: 3 features

Developer: David Oreilly (@DavidOreilly)

Players: This is a single-player game

This is an unusual game that simulates a world where you can become any object. It sounds strange and not much fun, but the enjoyment is in discovering how small or how big a thing you can become. From tiny atoms to whole planets and everything in between.

Thousand Threads

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 30/07/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative, Open World, Role-Play and Simulation

Accessibility: 36 features

Developer: Threads Game (@ThreadsGame)

Players: This is a single-player game

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...

One Hour One Life

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 27/02/2018

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative, Fighting, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Jason Rohrer (@JasonRohrer)

Players: You can play this by yourself or as a 100-player online game

This is a civilisation survival game where each player lives a whole life in an hour of play and then passes away. Born as a baby into the care of anonymous other online players, you initially depend on them for food. Quickly growing, you can soon fend...

Heaven's Vault

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 16/04/2019

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Switch

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Point-and-Click and Puzzle

Accessibility: 20 features

Developer: Inkle Studios (@InkleStudios)

Players: This is a single-player game

In Heaven’s Vault you play an archaeologist translating an ancient alien language whose decrypting weaves through an unfolding drama. While doing real linguistic work you interact with companions and locals. Your choices can open or close vast swathes...

Terra Nil

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Open World, Puzzle, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 6 features

Developer: Free Lives (@Free_Lives)

Players: This is a single-player game

Terra Nil is a strategy game where you are using clean technology to bring back life to a barren world. It's a city building game where you aren't building a city at all, but a clean thriving ecology. It raises interesting themes of how humanity plays...

Eco

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 10-14 year-olds

Release Date: 06/02/2018

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Creative, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Strange Loop Game (@StrangeLoopGame)

Players: You can play this by yourself or as a 100-player online game

Eco extends the resource-collecting and building of Minecraft by introducing environmental implications to your actions. Using resources like trees will erode the soil; mining might pollute the river; and each animal depends on another.

Buildings Have Feelings Too

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 22/04/2021

Price: 75% off

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Open World, Puzzle and Strategy

Accessibility: 5 features

Developer: Blackstaff Games (@BlackstaffGames)

Players: This is a single-player game

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...

Parkasaurus

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 7-12 year-olds

Release Date: 13/08/2020, updated in 2022

Platforms: PC and Switch

Genres: Creative, Simulation, Strategy and World Building

Accessibility: 35 features

Developer: Wash Bear Studio (@WashBearStudio)

Players: This is a single-player game

Parkasaurus is a strategy simulation game where you create a dinosaur park for people to visit. You need to construct well-designed exhibits, research specialised technology and maximize profits so you can expand with more dinosaurs. It combines pet...

Orchids to Dusk

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Release Date: 03/12/2015

Price: Free

Platforms: PC

Genres: Narrative, Open World and Simulation

Accessibility: 1 feature

Developer: Ko Op Mode (@KoOpMode)

Players: This is a single-player game

Orchids to Dusk is a short wandering adventure. You are an astronaut stranded on an alien planet, with only a few minutes of oxygen. You explore the world and discover fantastic gardens on the planet.

Dépanneur Nocturne

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 26/05/2020

Platforms: PC

Genres: Narrative

Developer: Ko Op Mode (@KoOpMode)

Players: This is a single-player game

Dépanneur Nocturne (which means Nighttime Convenience Store) is a short narrative adventure about the value of conversation and local shops. You explore a store late at night, to find a gift for your partner. What unfolds is a gentle search-and-suggest...

Pilgrims

Release Date: 07/10/2019

Platforms: PC and iPhone, iPad

Genres: Point-and-Click, Puzzle and Role-Play

Pieces: Cards

Developer: Amanita Design (@Amanita_Design)

Players: This is a single-player game

Pilgrims is an adventure game where you help the characters you meet by playing cards. As you progress you assist them to complete their little stories in different ways. It's a little like Scribblenauts, but with less focus on the breadth of options...

Foundation

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 01/02/2019, updated in 2021

Platforms: PC

Genres: Creative, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 17 features

Developer: Polymorph Games (@Polymorph_Games)

Players: This is a single-player game

Foundation is a city-building simulation game where you create networks of supply and consumption in a medieval village. You not only develop structures, gather resources and create your own unique settlement, but also manage the individual needs of...

Disney Dreamlight Valley

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Release Date: 06/09/2022

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

Genres: Adventure, Creative and World Building

Developer: Gameloft (@Gameloft)

Players: This is a single-player game

Disney Dreamlight Valley is a world building game about restoring a broken Disney world. You interact with famous Disney Characters and decorate the valley with a wide variety of items and famous locations. Like a cross between [link to...

The Simpsons: Tapped Out

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 29/02/2012, updated in 2022

Price: Free

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Creative, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 22 features

Developer: EA (@EA)

Players: This is a single-player game

The Simpsons: Tapped Out is a city-building game based on the popular and long-running cartoon. After Homer causes the destruction of Springfield, you complete quests to earn money, unlock buildings and characters, and rebuild the town. The free to...

Before We Leave

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 08/05/2020

Price: 50% off

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

Genres: Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 24 features

Developer: Balancing Monkey (@BalancingMonkey)

Players: This is a single-player game

Before We Leave is a city building simulation and strategy game. Humanity has been living in bunkers after a great calamity, and are emerging to start a new life by building farms, industry and trade routes throughout the solar system. It's an unusual...

Treasures of the Aegean

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 11/11/2021

Price: 50% off

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

Genres: Action, Adventure, Platform and Puzzle

Accessibility: 17 features

Developer: Undercoders (@Undercoders)

Players: This is a single-player game

Treasures of the Aegean is a Tin Tin-style tomb raiding adventure game. You are Marie Taylor and unveil the secrets of a forgotten kingdom trapped in an endless time loop. To do this, in 15 minute runs you explore a hand-drawn world to recover valuable...

Deep Time Walk

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 09/12/2016

Price: Free

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Open World and Physically Active

Developer: Deep Time Walk (@DeepTimeWalk)

Players: This is a single-player game

Deep Time Walk is a game where you go for a walk as you listen to a history of the Earth that's tied to each step. The game calculates your speed and distance to match your real-world progress and translates it to a journey across 4.6bn years of time,...

Concrete Jungle

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 23/09/2015

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Genres: Brain Game, Puzzle and Simulation

Pieces: Cards

Developer: Cole Powered (@ColePowered)

Players: You can play with 1 to 4 players in the same room

Concrete Jungle is a city-building puzzle game. It's the follow up for MegaCity. Rather than manage resources like a traditional city management strategy game, here you place cards to create buildings, parks, amenities and services on each square. The...

Train Braining

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 02/03/2015

Price: Free

Platforms: Web

Genres: Brain Game, Puzzle and Simulation

Accessibility: 22 features

Developer: Draknek (@Draknek)

Players: This is a single-player game

Train Braining is a puzzle game where you lay train track to then deliver passengers to their required platforms. While sounds simple, but due to the minimal passenger room on your train and the layout of each miniature level, the solution is rarely as...

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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