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55 Great Games Like Cozy Grove

Our experts have spent time searching for great games similar to Cozy Grove and have found the following:

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 surprisingly layered and engaging experience. You soon discover different ghost bears on the island who need your help coming to terms with their past before they can pass on to a peaceful afterlife

Unfortunately, Cozy Grove is not available on Android, Mac, PS5, Xbox Series X|S or iOS. However, we recommend the following games that offer a similar experience or theme:

DetailsGame Details

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 19/03/2021

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

Genres: Narrative, Open World, Puzzle, Role-Play, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 22 features

Developer: Spry Fox (@SpryFox)

Players: 1

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases

41 Hand Picked Video Games Like Cozy Grove

These are our hand-picked Video Game games similar to Cozy Grove. This doesn't use automatic matching, instead, we hand-pick games that are good to play if you have enjoyed Cozy Grove. These selections also include Video Game games that offer a different experience but address a similar theme or topic.
 

Proteus

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 4-12 year-olds

Release Date: 30/01/2013

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3 and PS4

Genres: Open World and Simulation

Accessibility: 3 features

Developer: A Twisted Tree (@ATwistedTree)

Players: This is a single-player game

This game takes you to a pixelated island. As you explore you discover that your presence changes the seasons and time of day. Delving deeper, there are rudimentary interactions with the creatures that inhabit the land, and rain clouds that blow in from...

The Touryst

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 10-16 year-olds

Release Date: 21/11/2019, updated in 2020

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

Genres: Adventure, Open World, Platform and Puzzle

Accessibility: 8 features

Developer: Shinen Games (@ShinenGames)

Players: This is a single-player game

The Touryst is a puzzle based adventure, where you seek to unlock the mysteries of an archipelago of sun-drenched islands. That's if you want to of course, because the adventure can wait if you'd rather soak up the sun and make the most of your time...

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.

Bugsnax

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Release Date: 12/11/2020

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

Genres: Creative, Puzzle and Simulation

Accessibility: 17 features

Developer: Young Horses (@YoungHorses)

Players: This is a single-player game

Bugsnax is a whimsical adventure where you track, trick, catch and eat anthropomorphic food in all shapes and sizes. But as you do, you literally become what you eat. It's silly puzzling fun from the creators of [link to game/Octodad+Dadliest+Catch...

A Short Hike

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Release Date: 05/04/2019, updated in 2021

Price: 33% off

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

Genres: Adventure and Open World

Accessibility: 26 features

Developer: Adam Gryu (@AdamGryu)

Players: This is a single-player game

In A Short Hike you play penguin-like character Claire, who needs to climb a mountain in a beautiful national park to receive an important phone call. Presented in cute pixel graphics, the game invites you to explore the park, help other animals, find...

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...

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 5-10 year-olds

Release Date: 11/12/2020

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

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Simulation

Accessibility: 30 features

Developer: Us Two (@UsTwo)

Players: This is a single-player game

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...

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.

Stardew Valley

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

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

Price: 27% off

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...

Spiritfarer

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Release Date: 18/08/2020

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

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

Accessibility: 31 features

Developer: Thunder Lotus (@ThunderLotus)

Players: You can play with 1 to 2 players in the same room

Spiritfarer is a boat building exploration game. Unusually though, you play Stella, ferry master to the deceased and the boat you manage takes them to the next life.

I Am Dead

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 07/10/2020, updated in 2021

Price: 50% off

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

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Accessibility: 26 features

Developer: A i (@A_i)

Players: This is a single-player game

I Am Dead is a puzzle game from the creators of Wilmot's Warehouse. You play a recently-deceased museum curator trying to avert a disaster from his home town of Shelmerston.

Haven Park

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Release Date: 05/08/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Genres: Creative, Narrative, Open World, Platform and Puzzle

Developer: Fabien Weibel (@FabienWeibel)

Players: This is a single-player game

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,...

Island Saver

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 13/05/2020

Price: Free

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

Genres: Adventure, Open World and Simulation

Accessibility: 23 features

Developer: Nat West Help (@NatWest_Help)

Players: This is a single-player game

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.

Castaway Paradise

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 08/01/2018

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

Genres: Open World and Simulation

Developer: Stolen Couch (@StolenCouch)

Players: This is a single-player game

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...

Summer in Mara

Content Rating: PEGI 7

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

Price: 55% off

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

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

Developer: Chibig Studio (@ChibigStudio)

Players: This is a single-player game

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.

Rime

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 26/05/2017

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Open World and Puzzle

Developer: Tequila Works (@TequilaWorks)

Players: This is a single-player game

Rime is an adventure on an island where you play a boy led a fox-like spirit as a guide. To progress through the beautiful environments you solve puzzles across five large levels. You can run, climb, carry objects, and push or pull larger objects across...

Bad North

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 10-16 year-olds

Release Date: 31/10/2018, updated in 2018

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

Genres: Action, Fighting, Puzzle, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 21 features

Developer: Raw Fury (@RawFury)

Players: This is a single-player game

Bad North is a stylised strategy fighting game. You control an army defending an island and must train and develop your forces efficiently. The simple visuals and knife-edge Viking combat along with the jeopardy of losing precious troops make this a lot...

Hidden Folks

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8-12 year-olds

Release Date: 15/02/2017

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Genres: Puzzle

Accessibility: 28 features

Developer: Adriaande Jongh (@AdriaandeJongh)

Players: This is a single-player game

Hidden Folks tasks you with exploring hand-drawn worlds to find particular people. It’s simple enough for youngsters to control but complex enough to keep parents and carers involved too.

The Garden Path

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Genres: Narrative, Open World and Simulation

Accessibility: 26 features

Developer: From Carrot Cake (@FromCarrotCake)

Players: This is a single-player game

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.

Witchbrook

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC

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

Developer: Chucklefish LTD (@ChucklefishLTD)

Players: This is a single-player game

Witchbrook is a role play game that takes you through the highs and lows of school-life. You play a witch-in-training but it's not just about learning spells. The push and shove of student life at the magic school and town life are very much front and...

Hidden Through Time

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 6-11 year-olds

Release Date: 12/03/2020

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

Genres: Creative and Puzzle

Developer: Rogueside Games (@RoguesideGames)

Players: This is a single-player game

This is a spot the item game that also takes you on a journey through different time periods. You are tasked with finding specific items and must zoom, interact and uncover things to find each one.

Wildflower From The Embers

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure, Creative, Open World, Role-Play and Simulation

Developer: Ice Water Games (@IceWaterGames)

Players: This is a single-player game

Wildflower is a narrative role-play game about a young witch and her life in a new town. Drawing on play developed in Tenderfoot Tactics, you talk to locals, solve problems, fight demons and witch hunters and commune with the forest spirits, forage,...

Wytchwood

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 09/12/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Open World, Role-Play and Strategy

Accessibility: 43 features

Developer: Alientrap Games (@AlientrapGames)

Players: This is a single-player game

Wytchwood is an adventure in a land of gothic fables and fairytales. You are an old witch of the woods and must explore the countryside, collect magical ingredients and brew enchantments. That much is relatively common, here though, your role is to pass...

Welcome to Elk

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 17/09/2020

Platforms: Mac, PC and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Accessibility: 21 features

Developer: Triple Topping (@TripleTopping)

Players: This is a single-player game

Welcome to Elk is an adventure game set on a fictional island. It tells true stories and tall tales, about the people who live there.

Beasts of Maravilla Island

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 6-12 year-olds

Release Date: 12/06/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative, Narrative, Open World and Shooting

Accessibility: 38 features

Developer: Maravilla Beasts (@MaravillaBeasts)

Players: This is a single-player game

Beasts of Maravilla Island is an adventure game where you play an aspiring wildlife photographer. You play Marina who explores the hidden, magic jungles of Maravilla Island. Follow the sights and sounds of the place, you solve puzzles to discover...

Core Keeper

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 08/03/2022

Platforms: PC

Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative and Open World

Developer: Pugstorm Games (@PugstormGames)

Players: You can play this by yourself or as a 8-player online game

Core Keeper is a life-simulation strategy game set in a vast cave system where you construct a sprawling base. It crosses the exploration and discovery of Stardew Valley with the camaraderie and adventure of [link to...

Lil Gator Game

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC and Switch

Genres: Adventure, Open World, Platform, Puzzle and Simulation

Developer: Lil Gator Game (@LilGatorGame)

Players: This is a single-player game

Lil Gator Game is an adventure set on an island playground. You grapple with your floppy gator protagonist's unusual movement to help them explore the world as you bop cardboard baddies, climb mountain peaks, glide, fling and jump around. It's unlike...

Wylde Flowers

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 18/02/2022

Platforms: iPhone, iPad

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Role-Play, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Studio Drydock (@StudioDrydock)

Players: This is a single-player game

Wylde Flowers is a cozy life and farming strategy game with a witchy twist. It's a charming world of diverse characters, magical spells and player choices. You play Tara, who has moved in to help her grandma and the family farm. By day you work the farm...

Down in Bermuda

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 14/01/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, Wii U, Xbox One and iPhone, iPad

Genres: Adventure, Brain Game, Creative and Puzzle

Developer: Yak and Co (@YakAndCo)

Players: This is a single-player game

Down in Bermuda is a puzzle game where you are stranded on a set of interconnected islands. You push, pull and manipulate objects to solve puzzles and explore the world. Each one you complete brings you closer to getting back home.

Mario & Luigi (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8-12 year-olds

Release Date: 17/11/2003, updated in 2017

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS and Wii U

Genres: Adventure, Fighting and Role-Play

Developer: Nintendo (@Nintendo)

Players: This is a single-player game

Mario and Luigi adventure games feature Mario and Luigi as the heros, accompanied by playable characters from the Nintendo pantheon. Each adventure pits you to defeat Bowser in different ways. Progress is through talking to characters, exploring,...

Ollie & Bollie: Outdoor Estate (Sokpop)

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Release Date: 10/10/2018

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure, Open World, Puzzle and Simulation

Accessibility: 20 features

Developer: Sok Pop Co (@SokPopCo)

Players: You can play with 1 to 2 players in the same room

Ollie & Bollie: Outdoor Estate is an adventure game in a simulated world. You help Ollie and Bollie, who are two bird-like people, look after their farm in the countryside by completing simple tasks. It may sound familiar but stands out because it gives...

Road Not Taken

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 05/08/2014

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS4 and iOS

Genres: Puzzle and Strategy

Accessibility: 5 features

Developer: Spry Fox (@SpryFox)

Players: This is a single-player game

Road Not Taken is a puzzle adventure game where you help a village from losing its children in the storms. It's a low pressure, but complex, puzzle where you head into the forest to find and free the children by moving items and enemies around. You fail...

Staxel

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Release Date: 23/09/2021

Platforms: PC and Switch

Genres: Creative, Narrative, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 34 features

Developer: Staxel Game (@StaxelGame)

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

Staxel is a strategy farming game. It looks like Minecraft and has block building tools that are similar. However, this is a farming game more like Stardew Valley rather than open-world adventure. There are no monsters or dangers you find in other...

Stories of Blossom

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8-12 year-olds

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC and Xbox One

Genres: Narrative, Point-and-Click and Puzzle

Accessibility: 48 features

Developer: Soft Leaf Studios (@SoftLeafStudios)

Players: This is a single-player game

Stories of Blossom is a narrative point-and-click game where you play Clara as her grandfather tells her stories. In each story you take on a different character and go on adventures as you solve puzzles.

Disney Magical World 2: Enchanted Edition (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Release Date: 10/12/2014, updated in 2021

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS and Switch

Genres: Open World, Role-Play and Simulation

Developer: Bandai Namco US (@BandaiNamcoUS)

Players: You can play this by yourself or as a 1-player online game

Disney Magical World 2: Enchanted Edition is an open world full of Disney characters and locations. It is a huge universe, full of mini-games to play, characters to meet and things to craft, which gives any Disney fan can enjoy for hours.

Exhausted Man

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC

Genres: Creative, Narrative, Puzzle and Simulation

Developer: Candleman Games (@CandlemanGames)

Players: This is a single-player game

Exhausted Man is a puzzle game where you play an ordinary, but clinically exhausted, person who must complete everyday challenges, and earn a better life. The twist is that you have to do all this with your character lying down.

Miska

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Simulation

Accessibility: 27 features

Developer: Umbrella Party Co (@UmbrellaPartyCo)

Players: This is a single-player game

Miska is a relaxing narrative adventure game about the flora and fauna of Australia. Rekindle your connection to family and nature through acts of restoration.

Pocket Oasis

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC, Switch and iOS

Genres: Creative and Simulation

Developer: Knit Game (@KnitGame)

Players: This is a single-player game

Pocket Oasis is a gentle horticulture simulation where you care for plants and pets on your balcony. It's a meditative experience where the end goal, rather than being a defined objective, is simply to create a beautiful balcony with an array of...

Dr Umgebung's School of Life (Sokpop)

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 31/01/2018

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Puzzle, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 1 feature

Developer: Sok Pop Co (@SokPopCo)

Players: This is a single-player game

Dr Umgebung's School of Life is a strategy simulation game. The life it simulates is a sealed terrarium that you must maintain by completing certain tasks. It's an unusual combination of science, gardening and pet simulation that educates as well as...

Winding Worlds

Release Date: 14/05/2020

Platforms: iPhone, iPad

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Accessibility: 5 features

Developer: Ko Op Mode (@KoOpMode)

Players: This is a single-player game

Winding Worlds is a colourful puzzle game played in a mythic world where you solve your way through the afterlife. The characters you meet don't always want to help, but you can help them deal with their problems and find peace. The puzzles are logic...

Soulitaire

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC and Switch

Genres: Narrative, Role-Play and Sequencing

Pieces: Cards

Developer: Wolkilula (@Wolkilula)

Players: This is a single-player game

Soulitaire is a solitaire puzzle game where you play cards to get a peak into the future of the people you play against. However, play is as much about interpretation of the cards as which cards they get. It's an unusual game about the impact of others...

16 Video Games Like Cozy Grove Based on Genre

These are games of a similar genre mix to Cozy Grove. This includes games from the Role-Play, Puzzle, Simulation, Strategy, Open World and Narrative genres. We pick out games of a similar PEGI rating to further hone these generated suggestions.
 

15 Video Games With More Documented Accessibility Features than Cozy Grove

If you like the sound of Cozy Grove but it doesn’t offer the accessibility you require, the games in this section offer a similar experience but with more Accessibility Features. You can view a full breakdown in our Cozy Grove Accessibility Report.
 

Cozy Grove is in These Lists

In addition to the similar games listed above, which have been linked to this game specifically in the database, you may find games with a similar theme to Cozy Grove in the following lists:

Transgress Intended Play

Video games are a great way for children to play. However, they are also contested spaces often created with profit as well as play in mind. How do we empower children to play, break the rules and self-determination in light of other pressures and owners of these digital spaces?

We worked with Sara Grimes on this list of games that offer new and emergent ways to provide play possibilities to children. Her book, Digital Playgrounds explores the key developments, trends, debates, and controversies that have shaped children’s commercial digital play spaces over the past two decades.

The politics of children’s play aren’t something we often talk about. This is more than decrying big business muscling in on childhood. It’s about understanding digital play in a holistic sense so it can be all it needs to be in the life of a child. Sara describes this as an embrace of the complexity of children’s online playgrounds, virtual worlds, and connected games.

It comes down to something at the heart of our database: seeing games more than mere sources of fun and diversion. “Games serve as the sites of complex negotiations of power between children, parents, developers, politicians, and other actors with a stake in determining what, how, and where children’s play unfolds.”

We’re excited about games in this list as they are not only digital spaces where these things meet, but that children use them in ways they weren’t intended. These games can be places where children push back at the powers-that-be and take ownership of these digital public spheres in unexpected ways.
  • Metaverse rule making and breaking in games like Roblox and Fortnite, where the context offers more than competition. Children often invent their own rules and ways to play not instigated by the developer.
  • Citizenship their own way in games like Alba, Cozy Grove or Unpacking where children have agency to influence and contribute (or not) to public spaces. Then there's games like and Please Touch The Artwork and Sloppy Forgeries that invite usually discouraged behaviour.
  • Undirected play can lead to unintended scenarios in games like Pok Pok Playroom, Kids, A Short Hike or Townscaper where play isn’t directed or capitalised upon, but left alone to be an end in its own right.
  • Purposeless Exploration in games like , Proteus and Ynglet can be used as a way to waste time, not progress and refuse direction.
  • Misbehave in games like Untitled Goose Game, Donut County, Carrion, Fable, Scribblenauts and Beholder is expected. But how children stretch and reinvent (or refuse to partake in) this usually frowned on behaviour opens unexpected possibilities.

The Let's Game It Out YouTube channel is a great example of games you can play in ways (very) unexpected by the developers. These aren't all child friendly, but are fascinating examples of play transgressing intended rules.
 

Pastoral Playtime

Cottagecore is an online term celebrating an idealised rural life. Although games are usually considered to be hard, harsh and technological, many of them play to this aesthetic that is sentimental about traditional skills and crafts such as foraging, baking, and pottery.

Games sometimes use these rural pursuits as play mechanics, like Stardew Valley, Potion Craft, Terraria and Fantasy Life. Others use Cottagecore as a guide to how they look and feel, like Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, The Stillness of the Wind and Mutazione.

However it plays out in the game, Cottagecore aims to satisfy a desire for aspirational nostalgia and an escape from stress or trauma. The New York Times described it as a reaction to hustle culture and the advent of personal branding. The Guardian called it a "visual and lifestyle movement designed to fetishize the wholesome purity of the outdoors."

These games emphasize simplicity and the slow pace of pastoral life as an escape from the modern world in favour of the bucolic. Unsurprisingly this has become more popular on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. In some ways the resurgence of retro games could be seen in a similar light, although here the sentimental nostalgia is for virtual entertainment rather than rural lifestyle.
 

Space For Patience

Video games are often thought to be about the quick hit or instant rush of dopamine gratification. In fact, many video games take a long time before they are enjoyable. It takes patience and investment of effort to start making an impact in the game world, and in many ways is actually hard, slow work.

Some games double down on this mechanic, using, as Brad Gallaway recently said "using the real passage of time passing as a way to progress the story or game mechanics. Without cheating a system's clock, they're meant to play out over long periods. Seaman was something like a month, and The Longing can be as much as 400 days."

The games in this list are designed to be played slowly over a large number of days. This includes games like Animal Crossing, which requires regular visits at particular times of day to progress your island. But it also includes games like The Longing, that test the player's willingness to wait long periods of time and limit their ability to accelerate progress. Or there are games you can play quickly, but require the real passage of time for certain aspects, like Nier Replicant, forcing you to wait 24 real hours between planting a crop and harvesting it
 

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.
 

Find Calm From The Storm

These games offer ways to consciously step outside the day's stresses and pressures to create space for self-care. This may be to distract yourself with calming unpressured tasks or to visit a world that is tranquil and relaxing or maybe just spend time reflecting on your emotions in a safe space.
 

Space For Grief

Games include interactions, narratives and characters dealing with all aspects of life (and death). This means that some care is necessary if players are sensitive to losing significant people. But also, games can provide a helpful space in which to process, consider and understand death and loss.

Image 162 I've come up with some games that explore this topic, along with help and suggestions from Gaming The Mind (Twitter), an organisation of UK-based mental health professionals who aim to promote positive mental health within the gaming community. By focusing on the intersection between gaming and mental health, they want to raise awareness of mental health challenges and reduce the stigma surrounding these issues.

"We express grief in different ways depending on our age," they said. "To help children cope with loss, it is important that they receive honest explanations about death, appropriate to their level of understanding. With these games, players may find valuable space in which to acknowledge grief as a completely normal reaction to bereavement."

"The games we have selected don't necessarily offer an ideal way to cope with death but tackle the topic of death openly and with a positive attitude. They can help show the player that they are not alone in what they are going through. Playing these games with young people, and answering questions they might have along the way, can be a useful starting point for important conversations about grief."
 

Game Time Uses Real World Clock

Video games create fantasy space in which we play. These are often enjoyable because they are an escape from everyday life. Some, however, want to become a part of our day. One way they do this is to make things happen in the game in accordance with the time (and sometimes date) in the real world.

This can be games like The Longing or Animal Crossing that tie events in the game with the passing of real world time. Maybe you have to wait for a certain number of hours, or maybe you need to come back at a certain time of day. Either way, your in-game play is linked to the real world by the hands of time.

Other games use the real clock to reward you for not playing. Neo: The World Ends With You for example, offers certain types of pins (upgrades) that level up the longer the game has been off. Games like Pokemon have creatures that change form based on the season on your DS clock. Cozy Grove is synced to real world time, and provides 30-60 minutes of new quest content each day.

Mario Party 6 has certain mini-games and game boards that are different in day and night. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker's start-up screen varies depending on the time of day you were playing. In Simpsons Hit and Run, during Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year in the real world you get game characters dressed up in a special outfit. Simpsons Hit and Run also has a different start screen depending on whether it's Christmas or another holiday. Finally, how about Superbrothers Sword & Sworcery EP that uses the real world lunar cycle so that certain puzzles can only be completed during a full moon, and other elements only during a new moon.

This is a novel thing for games to do. It's also quite useful for families as it means you are usually limited in what you can do in a game in any one day. These games encourage players to pop in for 30 minutes or do, do their tasks for the day, and then leave until tomorrow.
 

Commit No Violence

While a significant portion of video games focus on combat and competition, these titles offer a less aggressive way to progress and win. None of these games enable or require the player to cause harm to another living thing -- even Mario's merciless campaign to stomp on every Goomba he meets bars him from this list. Or then there's catching and selling fish in Animal Crossing that rule that one out.

Many of them are aimed at children and families, but you'll be surprised how many explore deeper, more mature themes in their narratives, or require just as much skill as a fast-paced first-person shooter. This means there's plenty of offer for parents who might lack the reflexes (or interest) to survive a round of Fortnite.

We've focused on the games you might not expect to be played non-violently here, but you can find the full list at Non-Violent Games Of the Day curated by James Batchelor.
 

Digital Toy Boxes

Video games and toys are two separate things in a child's life. Online and in stores they are sold separately. At home, however, children will move from toys to video games without such strong distinctions. This list draws together all the games that cross over with toys in this way.

Very young players are often drawn to games with toy-like play. Whether Toca Boca or Sago Mini offer video game interactions but without missions, tasks or scores. They are games that create space, characters, locations and items for children to make up their own fun.

Then there are games that import physical toys into the play-process of the game. Sometimes this is to have a figure unlock items and save progress like in Skylanders or sometimes this is to create new ways to interact like Tori, Hotwheels id or Anki.