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Tend and Befriend

Video games are usually thought to be about fighting, shooting and adrenaline. As regular readers will know, there are video games about everything. Recently I've been noticing games that combine the stewardship of the land and the nurturing of resources.

These games, like Animal Crossing, present an "ambience of bucolic" and a "reassuring mix of the pastoral and the industrial," wrote Simon Parkin recently. They offer an escape to simpler times, that provides meaningful work along with the possibility of also working at friendships.

The games collected in this list each offer the chance to escape and absorb yourself tending to a plot of land and nurturing often surprisingly moving relationships. Whether you are diligently cleaning someone's empty flat as in Sunset, setting up a farm after retiring from your adventures in Littlewood, reconnecting with grown-up children in The Stillness of The Wind, nurturing a musical garden in Mutazione, establishing a coffee shop in Coffee Talk or even eeking out provisions while you care for children in This War Of Mine all these games have something to tend to and people to get to know while you do it.

This list includes 101 games from the last 21 years, with 2,776 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to grow things and make friends.

DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3 to PEGI 18
ESRB Ratings: ESRB EVERYONE to ESRB MATURE 17+
Australian Ratings: G to R 18+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Brain Game, Collecting, Communication, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Physically Active, Platform, Point-and-Click, Puzzle, Race, Role-Play, Sequencing, Shooting, Simulation, Sports, Strategy, Traversal and World Building
Total Likes: 2,776
 

 

My Time At Portia

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

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

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

This game is set after civilization has been destroyed, and humans are emerging from underground to rebuilding society. By gathering resources, crafting and building you slowly gain the tools to collect food, store grain, chop trees and build dwellings....

Graveyard Keeper

Release Date: 15/08/2018

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Graveyard Keeper is a funeral-themed role-playing game where you are the caretaker of a local cemetery. You make choices about how to lay out the plot, what services to offer and generally how to make money from your unusual enterprise. The pixilated...

The Last Guardian

Release Date: 28/10/2016

Platforms: PS4

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

The Last Guardian is a running, jumping and exploring adventure about a boy who befriends a giant half-bird, half-mammal creature, Trico. You work together to navigate the world, solve puzzles and reach new heights. Unusually, you have to build trust...

Stardew Valley

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

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

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

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)

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

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

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

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...

Adopt Me! (Roblox)

Release Date: 14/07/2017

Platforms: Android, PC, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Adopt Me is one of the most popular Roblox games. In a rudimentary way it simulates daily life. You can build a home, look after pets and make friends. Like many Roblox games, it's the combination of an avid community of players...

MeepCity (Roblox)

Release Date: 23/02/2016

Platforms: Android, PC, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

MeepCity is a popular Roblox Game. It's a social game where you role-play a character to interact with other people and customise their look. Like Toontown Online or the now defunct Club Penguin, MeepCity is an evolving virtual space for players to...

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

Release Date: 11/12/2020

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

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is an adventure game where you play as a young girl who starts a wildlife conservation club. When Alba visits her grandparents on a Mediterranean island, she is excited for a summer of exploring with her friend Ines. But when...

Pokémon Cafe Mix

Release Date: 15/12/2020

Platforms: Android, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 3+ year-olds

Pokemon Cafe Mix is a puzzle game. Similar to the icon-connection challenge of Disney Tsum Tsum, you play as Eevee and delivering orders in a cafe by linking Pokemon icons in a ring. It's a low pressure puzzle with a swirl-to-connect interaction that is...

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...

Pikmin 3

Release Date: 26/10/2013, updated in 2020

Platforms: Switch and Wii U

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Pikmin 3 Deluxe is the latest in a series of puzzle games where you direct hordes of titular plant-like creatures to navigate garden locations. Different colour Pikmins have different abilities so the challenge is to get enough of the right ones to...

Littlewood

Release Date: 18/06/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Littlewood (coming to Switch soon) is a town and farming simulator a little like Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing. Here though, the twist is that the game is set after a grand adventure. You...

Smalland

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Smalland is a survival adventure where you are a tiny character in an overgrown wilderness. The world is dynamically changing, not only with the weather, seasons, day and night but also in response to what you do. It's as beautiful as it is intimidating...

Moonglow Bay

Release Date: 07/10/2021

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

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Moonglow Bay is a role play game where you play a rookie angler. Unlike other slice-of-life games, fishing isn't tucked away as a side quest here, it's front and centre. Set along the Canadian coastline in the 1980's, you live in a fishing town that has...

Good Pizza, Great Pizza

Release Date: 05/06/2018, updated in 2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Good Pizza, Great Pizza is a simulation game where you run your own Pizza shop, fulfilling orders from customers while making enough money to keep your shop open. You can upgrade your shop with new toppings and equipment to compete against your...

Farm Together

Release Date: 25/02/2018, updated in 2019

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

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Farm Together is a low-pressure farm simulator. You develop your farm by yourself or cooperate with your friends. Starting with an empty plot you can grow crops, plant trees, take care of the animals, add buildings and facilities, and unlock new items...

Cozy Grove

Release Date: 19/03/2021

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

Cosy Grove is a life-simulation where you camp on a hand-drawn island. You play a scout and explore the ever changing island's forest to find secrets and help the local ghosts. Like Animal Crossing, it has a children's story-book look, but is a...

Haven Park

Release Date: 05/08/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Haven Park is a strategy game where you build camping spots in a national park. You play Flint, who is repairing his grandma's park to attract new campers. It's an intricate open island that packs in plenty to discover. As a game made by one person,...

Coffee Talk

Release Date: 29/01/2020

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

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Coffee Talk is an interactive story about a barista working in a coffee shop in Seattle. You listen to customer's concerns about life and love, in a retro pixilated world backed with lo-fi chilled hip-hop music.

Island Saver

Release Date: 13/05/2020

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

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Island Saver is action-adventure about cleaning up litter and goop to make money. It's created by Natwest with the aim of teaching children how to manage money. Unusually for a game with ideological ambitions, it's also a lot of fun.

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

Release Date: 18/07/2017, updated in 2018

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is an adventure where you explore a world seeking out and collecting magical creatures, known as sprites, to banish an ominous shroud known as the Murk. As you do this, you make your way in the world, farming,...

Potion Craft

Release Date: 21/09/2021

Platforms: Mac and PC

Potion Craft is a puzzle adventure game where you create potions in an ancient looking workshop. More than learning recipes, your potions need to strategically combine the qualities of each ingredient to explore the potion-map and create brews to help...

Castaway Paradise

Release Date: 08/01/2018

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

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

This game places you on your own tropical island. Make the place your own with decorations and furniture, dress up, collect bugs, fish, grow crops and help your new neighbours. It's an open-world game that offers an Animal Crossing style experience on...

Style Boutique / Savvy Style (Series)

Release Date: 23/10/2008, updated in 2017

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS and DS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Style Boutique (Style Savvy) is a role play game where you play a fashion shop owner. You work on the style of your fashion collection as well as your own clothes, makeup and so on.

My Time at Sandrock

Release Date: 26/05/2022

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

My Time at Sandrock is a life-simulating role-play game where you restore a run down town. It's set in the same wholesome yet post-apocalyptic world as My Time at Portia. You start by working as a builder, but soon...

Ooblets

Release Date: 15/07/2020

Platforms: PC, Switch and Xbox One

Ooblets is a farming and creature collecting game where you tend your animals, explore the world and bring home new wild Ooblet animals from the wild. You can then battle in turn-based dance-offs.

Hokko Life

Release Date: 02/06/2021, updated in 2022

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Hokko Life is a community simulation game like Animal Crossing. You pick a town and set up your home, before spending time helping the place develop into a charming rural idyl everyone loves. Even though it's the creation of one person, it has most of...

Skyblock

Release Date: 01/01/2011, updated in 2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Skyblock is a game played on Minecraft servers where you start on a bare island floating in the sky and must gather resources to thrive and reach other players. It's the Minecraft equivalent to being washed up on a desert island and is hugely popular....

Summer in Mara

Release Date: 15/06/2020, updated in 2021

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

Summer in Mara is a farming game with a strong narrative about an adventurous girl called Koa. With a full day-night and season cycle, you can take the challenge on at your own pace as you build your farm and explore the world around you.

PowerWash Simulator

Release Date: 19/05/2021

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

PowerWash Simulator is a puzzle game where you clean different objects and locations using a pressure washer. It's designed to be soothing with sounds of high-pressure water and satisfyingly clean results as you blast away every speck of dirt and grime.

Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos

Release Date: 23/02/2021

Platforms: PC and Switch

Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos is a fighting game where you battle Titans and explore the dungeons of an expansive over-world. It's unusual because it combines the homemaking of Stardew Valley with classic Zelda style adventures and lets you play with up...

Bear and Breakfast

Release Date: 28/07/2022, updated in 2022

Platforms: PC and Switch

Bear and Breakfast is a strategy game where you build a bed and breakfast in the woods. You play as an aspiring bear host, renovating a dilapidated area in town into one fit for tourists. However there is an underlying darkness in the woods and you are...

Teacup

Release Date: 23/09/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Teacup is a narrative adventure about a shy young frog who loves drinking tea and reading. You explore the Wind In The Willows world and make choices that change the direction of the story. It's a gentle game about friendship, stepping out into the...

Evergarden

Release Date: 31/07/2018

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Evergarden is a puzzle game where you grow gardens by combining plants into strange new forms. You use the tile-based layout to populate each area in flora in connect-four style.

Garden Story

Release Date: 11/08/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Garden Story is a role-playing adventure, crafting and farming game similar to Stardew Valley. It also features combat, dungeons and puzzles similar to the Zelda games. You defend your garden-home from an invasion on...

Ghostopia (Roblox)

Release Date: 13/08/2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Xbox One and iOS

Ghostopia is a multiplayer role play game where you own a haunted mansion. The aim is to develop, build and decorate your grand residence to attract a collection of powerful ghosts. It's a more ambitious game than others on Roblox, because the company...

The Garden Path

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

The Garden Path is a slice-of-life simulation game about the small pleasures of gardening. You tend to a world and make it your own through fishing, growing, trading and making new friends. As you do an adventure emerges.

Terra Nil

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

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...

Bird Alone

Release Date: 15/06/2020

Platforms: iOS

Bird Alone is a narrative game where you befriend a bird. Your feathered companion encourages the conversation in the direction of real life worries while you make music, draw pictures and write poetry. It’s a slow game that unfolds in real time with...

Forager

Release Date: 18/04/2019

Platforms: Android, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Forager is an open-world adventure where you manage resources in a simple pixel world. The collecting, crafting and consuming requires you to tap buttons. It soon becomes apparent that you need to automate your work if you are to progress effectively....

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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