Subnautica 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 Subnautica in the following lists:
is a podcast about video games with a focus on a Game of Year format. Although episodes do cover new games like other podcasts, much of the content builds towards yearly Game of the Year shows, and head-to-head showdowns for best games in a series (Zelda
, Grand Theft Auto
and so on).
"It's Game of the Year meets King of the Hill as four of Earth's best friends – Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Chris Plante, and Russ Frushtick – rank and review their favorite video games. Because shouldn't the world's best friends pick the world's best games?"
This is a list of the games that they have picked for their final game of the year show from 2014 to 2021. In some cases we didn't have the game on the database, but generally this is a good representation of their picks over the time of the show.
There's a gap when children are starting to outgrow PEGI 12 rated games but aren't necessarily ready for PEGI 16 rated shooting and fighting experiences. The games in this list offer some options that are genuinely exuberant and exhilarating but with lower levels of violence.
It's important to say that parents should take a close look at the rating information for these games and make their own judgement on appropriateness for their child.
These are intended as good first steps into older rating games, when you think your child is ready. We go through some really good examples of these exciting, fast-action game for a range of ages. They are mostly all PEGI 12 or under, apart from games like Halo
or Jedi Fallen Order
, which we have included as this is a lower ESRB TEEN rating in the US.
Children talking to people they don't know in a video game rings alarm bells. In fact, even if they do know online friends, it can still feel a bit worrying what might be said. Worrying headlines about these conversations going wrong or being co-opted by adults means we rush to limit them.
While it's important to ensure our children are safe, the rush to lock down communication can limit the freedom they would have had to express themselves and make sense of the world with their peers. With digital spaces becoming increasingly important, the UN has recently stated that the Rights of the Child apply to the digital environment
Sara Grimes Digital Playground
book has a chapter on this topic. "Often safety manifests as programmed design limitations and systematic restrictions on children's freedom of expression. While such mechanisms are described largely as in children's best interests, in any other context they would almost certainly be classified as censorship".
Reading Sara's chapter led to this list of games that avoid the usual curtailment of children's speech with limitations, allowed phrases or the absence of verbal interactions. We wanted to highlight, as Sara puts it, "opportunities for children to construct types of secret spaces that once characterised childhood," rather than "adult-made embodiments of idealised visions of what children's play space should be".
These are games that provide a "forum for engaging with the exceptional, the repulsive, the taboo, the dark, transgressive play" and a break from "the beautiful, the sanctioned, and the sacred". This is uncomfortable ground for parents and guardians, but as Sara puts it, "provides valuable space for processing and rejecting social roles and expectations." "Within the secret spaces of childhood, children exercise their agency and authority, experiment with ideas and social norms."
Proximity Chat in games like Roblox, Sea of Thieves and Ark Survival Evolved offer players a way to communicate without censorship, and is usually accompanied by tools to ensure they are actually children talking rather than interloping adults.
Text Chat in games like Stardew Valley and Grounded, where it is not heavily filtered for phrases and terms that limit self expression and collaboration. Or games like Valheim that offer both whisper (to players following you on your team) and shout (to everyone and appears above your head) chat options.
Letters can be a way for children to speak to unknown others. This can be specific part of the design like in Kind Words, or as a message left for other players in The First Tree or Animal Crossing. Or naming planets for other players to discover in No Man's Sky. Then there's leaving time capsules with items and message for others to discover in Subnautica.
Science can be a subject that many of us see as something for other people. Physics, Chemistry and Biology is something for the nerds, geeks and highly intelligent children at school and not for us or our children.
"Science is an incredibly important subject that many students never fully grasp. Knowledge of chemistry or other sciences is necessary to solve many real-world problems, but the way it's taught now often fails to capture students’ imaginations, discouraging experimentation and discovery."
That quote from the creators of Happy Atoms
inspired this list of games. It's true not just about their game that unlocks the wonder of chemistry, but about many other games that often get children doing science without even realising it.
This can be the simple chemical puzzle-solving of a game like Sokobond. It can be the embodied understanding of gravity and momentum in real-time physics games like Portal
. It can be the way different elements combine properties in games like Zelda Breath of the Wild
. It can even be gaining a sense of scale of the universe in a game like Everything
It’s easy to assume that video games are all about building big cities or running successful economies. There are, however, many games that offer quite the reverse. These games encourage players to consider the impact of their actions on the environment, as well as their interconnectedness to the world in which they live.
The games in this list take inspiration from Alenda Chang’s Playing Nature book
. They offer a chance to consider play from an ecological perspective. As she quotes, “games of environmental responsibility animate our capacity to respond, to affect and be affected, to engage with others: other species, other people, and the otherness of our own planet.”
This might be how a game like Terra Nil
makes the land itself a character in the experience. Or it can be how a game like Eco
establishes the connection between your actions and the other aspects of the environment. Other games, like The Wandering Village
underline how our location in the world impacts on us and others. One family told us about Final Fantasy 7 Remake's
commentary on corporations and ecology. Then there are games of dire warning that let us step into a future where humanity is all but disconnected from the wider environment and hangs on just by a thread.
Other games let us experience our connection to the environment by adventuring in it. From getting lost in Shadow of the Colossus
to finding our way in Journey
, games underline the importance of the spaces in which we play. Experiences like Cloud Gardens
or Viva Pinata
extend this by using play to put us in charge of tending to the natural world. Games like Eastshade
or The Long Dark
invite us to linger in these places and gain an understanding that is crucial to our survival.
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 endorphins we can struggle to cope with pain and stress. We also need endorphins when we want to push ourselves beyond our discomfort in chosen activities. They are also needed to help with sleep, particularly when there is anxiety or worries on our minds.
Along with getting outside for exercise, eating well and nurturing conversations, video games can also help. Games that help create endorphins are those that let us experience excess emotions. Video games that make us laugh or cry do this. Also, games that let us feel the exhilaration of creating something beautiful or being part of that creative process help generate endorphins. Horror games can do this for some, offering the stress of fear and jump-scares before the euphoria of escape and mastery of both the situation and our fears. Extreme racing games can also generate endorphins as you narrowly escape a catastrophic crash, or if you take on a super long challenge like Le Mans 24 Hours.
In a culture that often assumes that the route to happiness is with another person, it can benefit us to acknowledge that being alone is not always a bad thing. We teamed up with Courtney Garcia’s Screen Therapy channel
to curate a list of games that give us a chance to experience being alone in different ways.
Garcia’s Screen Therapy
project employs Positive Media Psychology research to highlight and interpret meaningful experiences with games and movies. “With mindfulness, there are even more benefits to gain from intentional consumption of media,” she says, “games can be tools we use to recover or grow, psychologically, and our time with them isn't wasted if they provide us insights or rest we need.”
This list was inspired by the experience of playing the unusually solitary (and long) game The Longing
and the Twitter thread
that followed. In it, you spend 400 elapsed days waiting for the King to wake up and living at a slow pace. The other games offer their own lens on loneliness and solitary seasons of life. These games offer us insight into the benefits of appreciating time alone, such as opportunities for self-reflection, self-discovery, and the chance to curate enriching experiences or environments for ourselves.
Some of the games, like Never Alone
and The Long Dark
place you in a harsh environment that emphasises your diminutive size when faced with the expanse of nature. Other games in the list, like Thomas Was Alone
and Bird Alone
offer you the chance to reflect on friendship and the need to nurture relationships. Then there are games we included like Shadow of the Colossus
that let you get lost in the vastness of its landscape. Finally, a few of the games like The First Tree
invite you to make a connection to other players, once you have come to terms with a journey on your own.
The British Academy Games Awards are presented annually to recognise, honour and reward outstanding creative achievement in Games. The awards categories reflect the wealth and diversity of the games sector.
The awards started in 2004 and are presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). For parents, they are a great way of discovering brilliant games to play in their family. The games included here are from these categories:
The Family Games Award highlights games that will work really well for parents and children. These often include multiplayer features and feature a cast of family-friendly characters.
The Games Beyond Entertainment award is also of interest as this highlights more unusual games with an emphasis on storytelling that addresses topics that parents may find appealing themselves.
Games use the spaces they create to tell stories. Some games do this by locking you in a key moment where the time of day doesn't change. Other games let you explore and revisit places at different times of day.
These day-night cycles invite players to explore at different times not only to find different things to do but to see how different locations change visually and audibly at different times of day.
Some games, like The Long Dark
, do this to offer a different environmental challenge at night, when the sun is in and the cold wind really affects your character. Other games offer more unusual ways to tie in-game light levels to the real world, like Unmaze
that uses your smartphone's camera to determine how much light there is in the game.
Surviving in games is often a key element. Some games, however, make it the main focus. With minimal resources and little light can you make it through to the morning? Can you prepare a shelter as the daylight dwindles in time for you to cope with the lurking creatures of the dark?
Whether this is as simple as closing the door to keep the zombies out in Minecraft
or as complex as crafting food, clothing and medicine to cope with the freezing blackness of The Long Dark
, these games are exhilarating as they pose a strategic puzzle with personal consequences.
Many of these games offer an open world in which to survive, which opens up more ways of preparing for and then making it through the night time. This, of course, leads to another day where you need to spend time and resources wisely while exploring your surroundings.
How hard a game is considered to be depends on who is playing it. A three-year-old tackling Zelda will struggle. But equally a new-to-games-parents will find Mutant Mudds
quickly gets beyond them. The games in this list are known for being difficult. They wear the difficulty as a badge of honour. "None shall pass," except this with the will, time and belligerence to get good enough at this particular activity to beat the high bar the game sets.
This might be grappling with the flying mechanics in Rocket League
, getting endlessly lost trying to find the next guardian in Shadow of the Colossus
or coming up with the right tactic to get enough money for the ship you need in Elite
. Of course, some of these games can be made easier, but to play them at their best is to ramp up the difficulty to max (crushing on The Last Of Us
for example) and let them give you all they've got.
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.
Video games take you to virtual worlds for adventures, challenges and stories. Virtual Reality games extend this experience by putting the world right in front of your eyes and then matching your motions and head movements with the game.
VR is an experience that's hard to describe. Putting the headset on is like stepping into another room. This not only makes existing games more immersive but also opens the door to new types of experience.
While this can be quite expensive, it has become more affordable over the years. The main options for VR are as follows:
Oculus Quest 2 - Is self-contained so doesn't need lots of wires or setting up. You can also purchase a (costly) cable to tether the Quest to a PC for more demanding games.
HTC's Vive Cosmos - Is a PC-tethered system that supports motion controls. It supports games on SteamVR as well as its own Viveport online store.
Valve Index - Is a high end PC-tethered system with more advanced controllers.
PlayStation VR - Uses PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 hardware to offer a wide range of interesting highly polished experiences.
Online games are often about immediate communication either spoken or typed in the heat of battle or survival. There are some online games that encourage communication much more like writing a letter to someone.
These games offer players the chance to write a note and then place it in the game world for others to discover. They can also, of course, also read messages and notes from other players.
With a little guidance it can be a lovely way to introduce children to the skill of letter writing, as well as engaging with other players online without the usual bad language (although that can happen here too).
Games like Subnautica
, offer the ability to leave time capsules for others, that include a handful items, a short text message and a screenshot. Similarly, games like, Dark Souls
and Demons Souls
enable you to leave messages for other players to help them with tips. In Nier Automata
you find the bodies of other fallen players that have a customized message left on them when they met their end.
Other games weave the letters and messages into the gameplay. Kind Words
, for example, is a game all about responding to letters that other people have sent. The Things We Lost In The Flood
, builds its play around the ability to send and find messages in bottles. In Animal Crossing New Horizons
on the 3DS you can also put messages in bottles for other players to find.
Whether it’s a simple puzzle grid, a battlefield or a universe of planets to visit, all games create virtual spaces in which to play. Some of these are simply the background to a campaign - the game’s unfolding drama, missions or challenge. But others invite you to invest in the worlds they create, move in, tend to and inhabit in fantastical ways.
The games in this section invite you to spend time in spaces that have a sense of place, life and character. Worlds that hold history and lore in their landscapes, flora, fauna and inhabitants; environments that respond to your presence and invite you to restore them to their former glory.