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45 Great Games Like Mini Metro

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

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 running smoothly as the numbers of passengers increase.

Unfortunately, Mini Metro is not available on PS5, Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S. However, we recommend the following games that offer a similar experience or theme:

DetailsGame Details

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

Costs: Purchase cost

40 Hand Picked Games Like Mini Metro

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

Wilmot's Warehouse

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 29/08/2019

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

Genres: Puzzle

Accessibility: 18 features

Developer: Finji Co (@FinjiCo)

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

This is a game for people who like to organise things. You are in charge of a warehouse and must manage 100s of items of stock. These identical square boxes are labelled with rudimentary icons. On your own or with another player, you must decipher what...

Loop Hero

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 03/02/2021

Platforms: PC and Switch

Genres: Puzzle, Role-Playing and Strategy

Accessibility: 17 features

Developer: F Qteam (@_FQteam)

Players: This is a single player game

Loop Hero is a dungeon exploring adventure game where you use cards to create a world for your character to survive. Rather than control the hero yourself, you take the role of designer (or Dungeon Master) who use cards to create a world that is hard...

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 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...

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.

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.

Islanders

Content Rating: PEGI 3

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

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

Genres: Creative, Open World, Simulation, Strategy and Turn-Based

Developer: Grizzly Games (@_GrizzlyGames)

Players: This is a single player game

Islanders is city-building game where you carefully place structures to earn points from their geographic location and relation to other features and buildings on your islands. Earn enough points and you unlock new buildings and eventually the chance to...

Dorfromantik

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 25/03/2021

Platforms: PC

Genres: Creative, Puzzle and Strategy

Accessibility: 2 features

Developer: Toukana (@_Toukana)

Players: This is a single player game

Dorfromantik is a peaceful village-building strategy puzzle game for one player. It's inspired by tile-based board-games like Carcassonne and Tantrix.

Mini Motorways

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Release Date: 04/03/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and iPhone, iPad

Genres: Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 1 feature

Developer: Dinopolo Club (@DinopoloClub)

Players: This is a single player game

Mini Motorways is by the same developer as Mini Metro but tasks you with planning a road network rather than subway. You lay down roads, traffic lights and motorways to ensure enough cars can get to the buildings that pop up in your city as time passes....

A Little To The Left

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 5-12 year-olds

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: Max Inferno Games (@MaxInfernoGames)

Players: This is a single player game

A Little To The Left is a puzzle game where you are tidying a house into meticulous order. Each puzzle presents everyday objects and some evidence of how they should be organised. The challenge is you have to deal with the mischievous cat who likes to...

Traffic Jams

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 08/04/2021, updated in 2021

Platforms: Oculus, PC, PS4 and PS5

Genres: Action, Physically Active and Puzzle

Accessibility: 11 features

Developer: Vertigo Games (@VertigoGames)

Players: You can play with 5 players in the same room

Traffic Jams is a puzzle party game where you direct traffic in VR using just hand gestures. It looks like a Pixar movie when you put the headset on, but the fun here is controlling the chaos (or often not controlling it). Along with the single-player...

Zoo Tycoon (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 17/10/2001, updated in 2017

Platforms: DS, PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Creative, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Asobo Studio (@AsoboStudio)

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 4 players online

Zoo Tycoon is a zoo simulator series where you take charge of a zoo business, build the park, care for animals and attract visitors. You can build, expand, and upgrade the zoo by purchasing animals, creating suitable animal habitats, and allocate staff...

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...

Dwarf Fortress

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 08/08/2006

Price: Free

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure, Open World, Role-Playing and Strategy

Developer: Bay 12 Games (@Bay12Games)

Players: This is a single player game

Dwarf Fortress is a longstanding strategy game set in a fantasy world where you control a group of dwarves wanting to construct a wealthy fortress. It's unusual not only for it's text-based appearance but for it's expansive scope, and intricately...

Balance - Power Grid

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 05/08/2016

Price: Free

Platforms: Android, Mac and iOS

Genres: Puzzle, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Hyper Games (@HyperGames)

Players: This is a single player game

Balance - Power Grid is a puzzle game about power grids. You place cables, pylons and power generators to make sure there are no blackouts. Through a series of challenges you build power grids that are functional, and that produce the right amount of...

Buildings Have Feelings Too

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 22/04/2021

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...

Democratic Socialism Simulator

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 20/02/2020

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Molle Industria (@MolleIndustria)

Players: This is a single player game

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...

112 Operator (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 23/04/2020, updated in 2020

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

Genres: Role-Playing, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 21 features

Developer: Jutsu Games (@JutsuGames)

Players: This is a single player game

112 Operator and its predecessor, 911 Operator, are strategy games that put you in control of the emergency services as they fight natural disasters, crime and terrorism. You choose how to deal with each scenarios and work your way up the chain of...

Tren (Dreams)

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 6-11 year-olds

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PS4 and PS5

Genres: Platform, Puzzle and Simulation

Developer: Johnee B (@Johnee_B)

Players: This is a single player game

Tren is a puzzle platform game where you explore a hand-crafted world as a wooden train, sailing boats and helicopters. You control points, shunt trucks around, operate cranes and generally move cargo from one location to the next. Like an escape room...

Factorio

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 14/08/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Creative, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Factorio Game (@FactorioGame)

Players: You can play this with 700 players online

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).

Traffix

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 08/07/2019

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Puzzle

Accessibility: 22 features

Developer: 8 Infinity Games (@8InfinityGames)

Players: This is a single player game

Traffix is a puzzle game that puts you in charge of traffic lights on different road systems. By changing the lights to red, orange and green you work to get traffic to flow on increasingly complex and busy roads. It sounds complex, but with simple...

Unrailed!

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 23/09/2020

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

Genres: Creative, Puzzle and Strategy

Accessibility: 22 features

Developer: Indoor Astronaut (@IndoorAstronaut)

Players: You can play with 4 players in the same room and up to 4 players online

Unrailed! is a co-op strategy game where you work with friends to build a train line across endless landscapes. Along with finding the resources to build track, bridges and tunnels you need to deal with local inhabitants, upgrade your train and watch...

Death Crown

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 23/08/2013, updated in 2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Puzzle and Strategy

Accessibility: 5 features

Developer: Co 5 monaut (@Co5monaut)

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

Death Crown is a minimalist strategy game where you play Death commanding her legions and punishing humanity. You play in a world of hexagons to place buildings and send troops to attack or defend as you try and defeat the opposing castle.

Suzerain

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 04/12/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Role-Playing, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 25 features

Developer: Torpor Games (@TorporGames)

Players: This is a single player game

Suzerain is a role-play strategy game where you are the president of the fictional country, Sordland. By choosing conversations and life path you use your skills of persuasion and political values to reform your country after the downfall of a dictator.

Timberborn

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 15/09/2021

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Creative, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 20 features

Developer: Mechanistry (@Mechanistry)

Players: This is a single player game

Timberborn is a construction strategy game where you control a population of beavers, building a civilization and preparing for drought. You build waterways, storage houses, dams and more in a densely packed city as you manage resources, allocate...

Tint

Release Date: 13/09/2019

Platforms: iPhone, iPad

Genres: Puzzle

Accessibility: 5 features

Developer: Lykke Studios (@LykkeStudios)

Players: This is a single player game

Tint is a puzzle game you solve by painting. You mix watercolours to match the colour of the origami. The aesthetic and the low-pressure puzzles make for a soothing experience. There are no timers, no countdowns, no points and certainly no rush,...

Fly Together

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 29/04/2021

Platforms: Switch

Genres: Action, Puzzle and Strategy

Accessibility: 1 feature

Developer: Hey North Play (@HeyNorthPlay)

Players: You can play with 8 players in the same room

Fly Together is a strategy puzzle game where you need to direct planes to different airports so passengers can get to their destinations. You do this against the clock, by drawing flight paths and avoiding collisions in increasingly challenging...

Please, Touch The Artwork

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 26/01/2022

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Accessibility: 32 features

Developer: Studio Waterzooi (@StudioWaterzooi)

Players: This is a single player game

Please, Touch The Artwork is a puzzle game that tells a story with real abstract paintings. Unconventionally it asks, what would happen if we did touch the artwork in museums? The answer is revealed over three stories each focusing on a different...

Spring Falls

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 17/11/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Platform, Puzzle and Simulation

Developer: Sparse Game Dev (@SparseGameDev)

Players: This is a single player game

Spring Falls is a puzzle where you erode a geometric landscape to let water flow down the mountain and help plants grow. Along with the low-pressure puzzle play, the game offers a calming experience with soft visuals, ambient music and interactive...

Subdefuge

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 07/03/2017

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Open World, Puzzle, Simulation, Strategy and Turn-Based

Developer: Ron Carmel (@RonCarmel)

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room and up to 10 players online

Subterfuge is a strategy game played with human opponents. The game is designed to be played over a week or so, to give players time to talk between goes. This encourages players to team up, trick or double-cross other players to get them to make the...

Golf Club: Wasteland

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 11-14 year-olds

Release Date: 16/06/2021, updated in 2021

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

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle, Simulation and Sports

Accessibility: 28 features

Developer: Demagog Studio (@Demagog_Studio)

Players: This is a single player game

Golf Club: Wasteland is a golf game in an unusual setting. You play on an earth decimated by an environmental catastrophe. Through beautiful visuals and eerie audio, you piece together what has happened to the planet to cause such devastation. It's an...

Against the Storm

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 18/10/2021

Platforms: PC

Genres: Creative, Simulation, Strategy and Turn-Based

Accessibility: 19 features

Developer: Eremite Games (@EremiteGames)

Players: This is a single player game

Against the Storm is a construction-based strategy game where you build outposts, towns and villages in an eternally rainy world. Unlike other city builders, this is a game where you attempt and fail over and over. Each run you use intricate gameplay...

Chezzle

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 05/10/2021

Platforms: PC

Genres: Puzzle and Turn-Based

Accessibility: 19 features

Developer: Game Dollar (@Game_Dollar)

Players: This is a single player game

Chezzle is similar to chess, but here you only have one piece that changes to whatever you take. It features a relaxing soundscape and encouraging messages, and allows you to get the grips of the rules of chess at your own pace while also creating a...

Clawfish

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 3+ year-olds

Release Date: 11/06/2021

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Puzzle and Simulation

Accessibility: 19 features

Developer: David Czar (@DavidCzar_)

Players: This is a single player game

Clawfish is a puzzle game with a strong focus on relaxation rather than skill or difficulty. Similar to an arcade claw machine, you try and catch fish from various fish tanks, collecting all the different types, before putting the fish back into the...

Gorogoa

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 14/12/2017, updated in 2018

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

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Accessibility: 20 features

Developer: Rebuscube (@Rebuscube)

Players: This is a single player game

Gorogoa is a puzzle game where you rearrange and resize tiles to make a singular picture. It appears to be simple, but to solve the puzzles you need to play close attention to how they interrelate. This Matryoshka Russian-Doll puzzle combines with...

Little Fox Train Adventures

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 2-5 year-olds

Release Date: 29/10/2018

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Narrative and Simulation

Developer: Fox and Sheep (@_FoxAndSheep)

Players: This is a single player game

Little Fox Train Adventures is an interactive narrative game about a fox who drives their train to pick up and deliver different items.

Not Chess

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 15/11/2020, updated in 2021

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Genres: Puzzle and Turn-Based

Accessibility: 26 features

Developer: Ovidiu Tepes (@OvidiuTepes)

Players: This is a single player game

Not Chess is a puzzle game similar to Chess, but you only have one piece, which morphs into whatever piece you take. It's a simple way of getting to grips with some of the basic rules of chess in a low-pressure, single-player environment, while also...

Rip Them Off

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 24/03/2021

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

Genres: Puzzle and Simulation

Accessibility: 23 features

Developer: Lozange Lab (@Lozange_Lab)

Players: This is a single player game

Rip Them Off is puzzle game where you build businesses to attract customers. It's an economic management version of tower defence. Rather than stopping soldiers by shooting them, you are stopping citizens by selling them things. You choose locations,...

Sound Shapes

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 8-13 year-olds

Release Date: 07/08/2012, updated in 2013

Platforms: PS Vita, PS3 and PS4

Genres: Creative, Platform, Puzzle and Rhythm

Developer: Mango Lychee (@Mango_Lychee)

Players: This is a single player game

Sound Shapes is simple rolling and jumping game where you make music by completing the levels. It features music from artists such as Beck and visual elements from other games and game makers. Originally on the Vita, it uses that systems touch screens...

Train Valley 2

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Release Date: 15/04/2019

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Creative, Puzzle, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Flazm Games (@FlazmGames)

Players: This is a single player game

Train Valley 2 is a toy train puzzle game where you build a railroad company from the days of the Industrial Revolution into the future. It looks like a kids train-set but simulates real economics of the valley's cities and industries. The result is a...

Starship Patrol

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 18/12/2009, updated in 2011

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS and DS

Genres: Puzzle, Shooting and Strategy

Developer: Pixel Junk News (@PixelJunkNews)

Players: This is a single player game

Starship Patrol (Starship Defense) is a shooting game where you defend your ship from waves of enemy attackers. You have a combination of static guns and defence ships to form an efficient strategy. It's well executed, but most unusual for its hand...

5 Games Like Mini Metro Based on Genre

These are games of a similar genre mix to Mini Metro. This includes games from the Simulation and Strategy genres. We pick out games of a similar PEGI rating to further hone these generated suggestions.
 

3 Games With More Documented Accessibility Features than Mini Metro

If you like the sound of Mini Metro 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 Mini Metro Accessibility Report.
 

Mini Metro 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 Mini Metro in the following lists:

Independent Games Festival Awards

Independent Games Festival (IGF) was founded in 1998 to promote independent video game developers, and innovation in video games. It cultivates innovation and artistry in all forms of interactive media. This aims to uncover how games are rich, diverse, artistic, and culturally significant.

It chooses games in a series of categories: Grand Prize, Innovation, Visual Art, Audio, Design, Technical Excellence, Best Mobile Game and Audience Award. This list highlights the games that were nominated and/or won.
 

Bend Time To Your Advantage

Time in video games is a valuable thing. Unlike in the real world where it proceeds in a linear fashion, in a game it may speed up, slow down or even go backwards. There are some games where controlling time becomes a crucial and fascinating game mechanic. The best of these integrate your time travelling powers with both characters and narrative to create a compelling experience.
 

Get Children Listening

Of the different senses, it's easy to overlook the importance of hearing. We encourage children to read, watch and observe. But just as important is to develop more than just cursory listening.

Despite their name, video games use sounds just as much as visuals to create their worlds. As well as this, audio is often a crucial aspect of interactions and clues for puzzle solving.

Because of this, video games (like walking in nature) are a powerful way to learn to notice and use the sounds around us. Playing a game with headphones helps the player focus on the sound. Doing this intentionally can help younger players discover a new world of sound in the games they play.

There are games like Limbo, Hellblade, Overboard and Super Mario Odyssey that use sound to set the mood and aesthetic of the play. This is more than just background music as it reacts and integrates with the sounds the player is making while they play.

Then there are games like Uncharted, Alba, Fortnite and Sea of Thieves that use audio to indicate things happening in the game. Not only what is happening, like the sound of someone boarding your ship, but where that is happening in relation to your character with spatial audio.

There are games where you create the audio with your actions. Touching petals in Flower adds notes to the classical music. In Mini Metro you add to the ambient sounds as you place stations and new tube lines.

Finally, there are games where sound is your main way of navigating the world. Games like The Vale and Frequency Missing can be played with just sound. This not only offers an accessible experience to those without sight but a chance to engage with a virtual world using just our hearing.
 

Happy Brain With Serotonin Games

You can aid the happiness of your brain by taking on activities that generate key experiences and chemicals:
  • Dopamine for motivation, learning and pleasure.
  • Oxytocin for trust and building relationships.
  • Serotonin for significance and importance.
  • Endorphins for euphoria and elation.

Without serotonin you can feel unstable and find your mood changing rapidly. It's a chemical that helps us with routines where we accept ourselves and find calm. With low serotonin it is hard to feel confident in who we are. This can mean that we worry more and find it harder to learn and remember things.

Along with getting outside for exercise, eating well and nurturing conversations, video games can also help. Games that generate serotonin are those that give to regular simple activities you can complete each day. Games that help build routine are helpful. We may not play these games for long, but they help structure other things around them. Fitness games also complement this, particularly those games that give us a reason to get outside.
 

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.”
 

Fidget Toys

Fidget spinners burst into the hands of children a number of years ago. While that initial trend subsided, the interest and enjoyment of tactile objects to fiddle with are very much with us.

Fidget toys are like the yo-yo or Rubik's cube but without the focus on skill. The enjoyment comes from doing something that isn't learning or achieving anything. It's no surprise that there are a number of video games that have picked up on this style of play.

Some games, like The Longing, Animal Crossing and Adopt Me, simple slow down the need to progress, so all you do is check-in, fiddle around with the game world and then leave. Then there are other games, like Townscaper and Pok Pok Playroom, that let you craft your own structures but with none of the usual video game emphasis on score and winning. Other games, like Everything and Proteus, offer a huge world to poke and prod without getting embroiled with progression.

Even games that do offer a strong sense of story and development often include post-game play or side-quest distractions that are simply there for you to spend time fiddling with rather than winning or losing. Games like A Short Hike, Alba A Wildlife Adventure or even No Man's Sky.
 

Gaming 101: Your First Video Game

These games are perfect if you’ve never played one before, opening the door to the gaming world for non-gaming parents and carers. They are short, straightforward and easy to understand, so you don’t need to commit hours to learn to play them, and they are played on technology you probably already have in your pocket or in your home. They address mature themes such as love, hope, power, homelessness and even traffic planning by inviting you to interact and play a part in these worlds and stories.

We've found that it's not just parents who have enjoyed the way these games let them in on the world of gaming, but grandparents, uncles and aunts. In fact it's a great list for anyone who's never played a game and wants to know what all the fuss is about.
 

Wield Absolute Control

Things don’t stay put. You’re the only one keeping the ship afloat. You can’t get people to do what you tell them. The effort you spend doesn’t produce the results it deserves. Well, in these video games you get to wield complete control over people, things, situations or even whole worlds.

If games offer an escape from chaos, these games are particularly good at granting a sense of satisfying agency and power as they do that. Whether it’s ordering the perfect stock room in Wilmot’s Warehouse, organising your island in Animal Crossing, perfectly controlling the flow of traffic in Mini Motorways or even build civilisation just the way you want it in Civilization the sense of satisfaction and calm from the achievement is second to none.
 

Designed for Autistic Diversity

Autism affects the way people communicate and experience the world around them. It is a spectrum of developmental conditions, including Asperger’s Syndrome. Many autistic people play games to have fun, relax, connect with others and build skills. This is a list of games we have put together with some of Autistica’s Autistica Play Ambassadors, to highlight games that have been enjoyed by autistic people.

Autistica is the UK’s national autism research charity. It focuses on giving autistic people the opportunity to live long, happy, healthy lives. It does this by funding research, shaping policy and working with autistic people to understand their needs.

Cognitive Pressure: Some autistic people may take time to process information and could feel pressured by time limits. Games like A Short Hike or Roki let you progress at your own speed, without being on the clock. Other games, like Townscaper or Stardew Valley, help here by not making game tasks time-limited or requiring quick reactions. Then there are games, including Rocket League, Celeste and Eagle Island, that let you adjust the overall speed of play.

Difficulty Settings: Autistic people may prefer to tailor their experience based on how they are feeling. Some days they may want more of a challenge than others. Adjust how hard the game is. Some games like Subnautica or Bad North let you set the overall difficulty. Others, like Mario Kart or The Last of Us Part II let you adjust specific aspects of difficulty. Then there are games like Marvel’s Spider-Man or Immortals Fenyx Rising, that allow you to adjust the difficulty as you play.

Sense of Control: The real world can be an overwhelming place with constant change and unpredictable situations. Games like Viva Pinata, Civilization or The Sims let you play in a world where you control the variables. Other games, like Mini Metro, Traffix or Mini Motorways offer a chance to work with systems and see how changes impact outcomes. Then there are games that magnify this, like Factorio or Planet Coaster, by letting you create interconnect systems and tweak for the desired result.

As Autistica helpfully highlights, every autistic person is different. While many autistic people are able to learn, live and work independently, some have learning differences or co-occurring health conditions that require specialist support. Finding a game that can be a positive experience can therefore take some time and investigation.
 

Gaming 101: Strategy Games

In this series, we are learning how different aspects of video games work by playing games that offer an easy introduction to this one concept. This is designed for people new to gaming, and aims to identify games with the least barriers. In this entry we are looking at Strategy games.

Strategy games may include other aspects but the main focus is on collecting materials and making careful decisions about how you use to generate and deploy resources. Build armies before heading in for an offensive, planting a farm to generate the best crops, planning a network of roads or laying out an amusement park.

Strategy games have in common the focus on making premeditated decisions to gain the outcome you need. These games are further divided between those that are turn-based and allow the player as much time as they need to make decisions, or real-time where you have to make decisions with limited delay.
 

Games Picked For Taming Gaming Book

When we wrote the Taming Gaming book we packed the second half with full colour game ‘recipes’ as a resource for parents and families. They are grouped in categories depending on the style of game you are looking for, whether you want to play on your own, or with your family and friends.

The Family Gaming Database grew out of the book. At first it was just going to be a way to search the 60 or so games in the book. With 1000’s of parents soon using the database it became clear we should grow it to cover more games. So, today we have 1721 games.

Here are all the games from the book:

Games for non-gaming grown-ups

These games are perfect if you have never played one before. They open the door to the gaming world for non-gaming parents and carers.

Nurture child-like imagination

These games are for children under seven years old who will, with some help, discover activities they want to try that will expand their imaginations, while establishing the role of your guidance and engagement as part of the gaming world as they grow up.

Nourish Youthful Ambition

As children get older, they develop stronger ideas of what they want to play. Friends at school and YouTube stars create popular gaming fabs for the latest titles. The games suggested here go beyond the usual suspects.

Laugh at Silliness

Video games have their roots in fun and play. This makes them an excellent way to forget the worries of the day and dive into some silly fun together. The games on this list have been selected because they get players doing absurd activities and chuckling together.

Inhabit Another World

The games in this list invite you to spend time in spaces that have a sense of place, life and character.

Compete on the Couch

Raucous, unbounded, exuberant all-age, competitive fun is something video games are known for. These games can play a bit-part in raising children to be magnanimous in victory and generous in defeat.

Work Together to Thrive

Play is more fun when it’s shared. Along with team work the games on this list use the fact that the players are all sitting next to each other. The fun is often as much about the conversations (and arguments) that happen in the room as what’s happening on the screen.

Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes

While many games include characters to interact with, some are specifically designed to make relationships a central element. These games offer a unique way to think deeply about how we relate to each other to the games people play.

Wake up Your Emotions

Video games are known for high-octane, adrenaline fuelled entertainment, but there are many that address the players emotions as much as their dexterity. The games in the following list create emotionally rich spaces in which to explore scenarios with feelings rather than facts.

Matinee Fisticuffs and Shoot-outs

Sometimes you just want to play the hero. These games are violent and include shooting but as with B-movies and 1980’s TV series, it’s as much about the quips, characters and fantasy settings as it is about the killing.

Face Tough Decisions

Games create virtual worlds where you can experience life from another perspective. This can be lighthearted but also presents ethical scenarios that require you to think carefully about consequences. These games each place you in a challenging situation to give you a first hand experience of what it’s like.

Solve a Mystery

Like a good crime drama or whodunnit, solving mysteries and puzzles is a good way to engage in a story. The following games present you with a mysterious scenario to be solved. Whether with direct puzzles, locations to investigate or crime scenarios to deduce, they offer a unique first-hand sleuthing challenge.

 

Get Children Making Music

Many games use rhythm as a mechanic to involve the player. But this list is devoted to the games that go one step further, and make you feel like you are creating music while you interact with the game. This may be the singing to other characters in Wandersong or Fe, or be contributing to the orchestral soundtrack in games like Flower or LocoRoco.

These are games that almost feel like you are playing a music album. They invite you to spend time in a meditative musical state that leaves you with their songs and rhythms in your head for the rest of the day - Pata Pata Pata Pon.
 

Playful By Design

The Digital Futures Commission's A Vision of Free Play in a Digital World report that outlines the key qualities of "free play" for what "good" looks like in a digital world. The team from 5 Rights Foundation and Digital Futures LSE set out ambitious expectations for children’s free play in all contexts. To claim the label ‘Playful by Design’, digital products and services should adopt seven principles:
  • Be Welcoming: Prioritise digital features that are inclusive, sociable and welcoming to all, reducing hateful communication and forms of exclusion and reflecting multiple identities.
  • Enhance Imagination: Prioritise creative resources and imaginative, open ended play over pre-determined pathways built on popularity metrics or driven by advertising or other commercial pressures.
  • Enable Open-Ended Play: Provide and enhance features that offer easy-to use pathways, flexibility and variety as these support children’s agency and encourage their imaginative, stimulating and open-ended play.
  • No commercial exploitation: Reduce compulsive features designed to prolong user engagement or cultivate dependency on games, apps or platforms, so children’s immersive play is intrinsically motivated and freely chosen.
  • Ensure safety: Ensure children’s play in online spaces is safe, including by giving them control over who can contact them and supplying help when needed.
  • Allow for experimentation: Recognise that exploration, invention and a degree of risk taking is important in children’s play and that the burden should not fall on them always to be cautious or anxious, or to follow rules set by others.
  • Be age-appropriate: Respect the needs of children of different ages by providing age-appropriate opportunities for play, while also allowing for safe intergenerational play.

I asked Sonia Livingstone, lead researcher and report author, whether there were many games that already met this criteria. "Children bring a lot to their play that for them is imaginative and sociable. Where it's more difficult is in the voluntary and intrinsically motivated play. Games very rarely leave children to play at their own pace and rate. The freedom for risk taking is sometimes present but here, children themselves take on the safety burden from society at large and limit play themselves."

Inspired and challenged by the report, we searched our database to identify games that came closest to meeting these high standards. Like the report, this aims to concentrate energy on identifying opportunities for free play that should be enriched and expanded to make play online more child-centred.

In the report, children identify their need to play in ways that perhaps adults don’t understand or that some digital designs deny. They don't want a completely "whole-food experience", nor to turn back the clock to an offline world. They want digital products designed to enhance the qualities of play and at the same time want those aspects of design that are exploitative or invasive to be dialled down.

Examples on this list include playful offline video games. Games like Lonely Mountains Downhill and Microsoft Flight Simulator offer open-ended play where you can go where you want and make your own fun. Spelunky 2, Mini Metro and Teardown enable free-play that is intrinsically and experimentally motivated without commercial exploitation. Then games like A Short Hike and Wilmot's Warehouse offer play that is welcoming for newcomers and specifically age appropriate. Risk taking and rule breaking play that doesn't become a burden on the child is found in games like Untitled Goose Game and The Longing.

Examples on this list also include playful online video games. Games like Journey and One Hour One Life offer a welcoming experience by encouraging (in some cases requiring) other players to help newcomers. Phantom Abyss offers an unusual competitive play space that celebrates experimentation and is safe by design through minimal communication. Sea of Thieves and Valheim offer age appropriate play for older teenagers that is built around experimentation and discovery through risk taking that is lead by imagination. Stormworks combines open ended play like Minecraft, but offers a context more age appropriate to ambitious teenagers through its float-mechanics and boat design. Sky Children of the Light combines many of the criteria, offering a welcoming experience for newcomers, imaginative play. It subverts the commercial feel of other app games by focusing purchases on items that are primarily to give away to other players.
 

Educational Games That Are Also Good Games

These games have an educational element to them, but also offer experiences that are good games in their own right. This isn't busywork to trick you into learning, but clever and innovative ways to encounter history, physics, engineering, maths, geography and language subjects without feeling like you are in school. They also teach softer, deeper skills like long term strategy, planning, balancing systems, emotional intelligence, compassion, team-work and self-care.

Some of these games are aimed at younger players to play on their own, but others (as indicated by their PEGI ratings) are better for teenagers or played together in a family. Find some games that pique your interest, read through the details and decide how your child might benefit from playing them.
 

Play At Working

Video games and work don’t usually go together. Not, that is, unless you work in the video game industry. The Safe In Our World charity addresses this world of work and video games to foster positive mental health wellbeing and deliver support for players, developers, publishers and retailers.

Image 244“The worlds we create are a refuge for many,” they say about video games, to highlight the importance of also looking after those people who make these amazing spaces. They have some excellent resources available for free and global helplines for a range of emotions and stresses people might be feeling, not to mention some great training resources for companies. Most recent is their Level Up campaign that challenges businesses within the video games industry to unite and commit to change.

The games in this list offer space to reflect and escape work for a while. But not only to get some distance, but to play something that shines a light on why we do what we do. Some address the world of work directly, while others enable us to consider our choices about how we spend our working hours.

Whether it’s escaping for a lunchtime walk with A Short Hike. Trying to manage crunch time with Going Under, or not succumbing to Tom Nook’s invitation for ever bigger mortgages in Animal Crossing, there are lots of games that can help us find some balance.

Other games, like Coffee Talk and Neo Cab help us consider the people we serve at work. This might be conversations with customers, but also the other people we work with in the office or workplace we find ourselves in. Like the game Good Job encourages us to do.

Then there are games that make us aware of our co-workers. Whether it’s collaborating to identify and store stock in Wilmot’s Warehouse or getting the furniture into the van neatly in Moving Out, how we work together and treat the people around us is important.
 
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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