Ctrl Alt Ego 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 Ctrl Alt Ego in the following lists:
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.
Video games offer an opportunity to inhabit another body. Whether we step into the powerful frame of a trained marksman or brave adventurer, while we play we have a different sense of our physicality.
This is not only an enjoyable way to escape the reality of daily life but a chance to reflect on and understand ourselves, and our bodies, better. Stepping into the shoes of a vulnerable, small or endangered character can help us understand for a short while some of what it is like to be someone else.
Whether this is into the awkward teenage years of Mord and Ben in Wide Ocean Big Jacket
, the grandparent-escaping Tiger and Bee in Kissy Kissy
, the fractured heartbroken body in Gris
or the haphazard movement of Octodad
we have a chance to reassess our own physicality and how we respond to and treat other people's physicality.
More specifically, to use body therapy language, games offer us a chance to discover the inviolability of our bodies, personal autonomy, self-ownership, and self-determination. In travel, as Andrew Soloman says, we go somewhere else to see properly the place where we have come from. In video games, we step into other bodies so we can better understand our own and those of the people around us.
Games tell stories about people and places. This can be similar to books and films, offering snapshots, flashbacks and poignant scenes that form a life. Because we can explore the spaces where games happen, they can also tell stories by the things we find.
Games often use their character's possessions to tell us about them, as much as what they say or look like. Favourite toys, carefully written letters, hurried notes, pictures on the walls, dilapidated architecture, menus, vehicles, ticket stubs. The objects of our lives tell a story about who we are and what is happening to us.
Games like The Sims
or Animal Crossing
enable us to use possessions to create spaces that reflect the character we are playing. In
, we are given a prized camera and bird book from our grandparents to tell the story of their bond and trust.
Some games let us get to know characters solely through their possessions. In Unpacking
we spend hours placing and arranging someone's things, and as we do we get to know them (and their hopes, loves, losses and travels) deeply. In The Last of Us
we find people's notes and possessions abandoned. In this we find the story of a world in panic, but also of the people's lives before everything went wrong.
Other games use possessions as an important part of how we interact with the world. In Overboard
, for example, we need to use medication, ear rings and clothing to tell a story that the other characters in the world believe (one where we didn't murder our husband).
Finally, games use possessions sentimentally to connect us to the past of characters. In Hindsight
we are asked to decide which objects to keep and which to let go of. In Before I Forget
, possessions offer a gateway to our own fraying memories.
However games use these possessions to tell stories, it's always worth slowing down, noticing the objects we are rushing past and reading the literal and metaphorical notes about the world in which we are playing.
Like a good crime drama or whodunnit novel, solving mysteries and puzzles is a good way to engage in a story. However, rather than just watching these mysteries while someone else does the heavy lifting, these video games place you firmly in the role of the detective. Gathering statements, sifting evidence and making intelligent leaps of deduction requires care and attention. These investigations makes these games slower than others, but it’s worth the effort each time you find the correct conclusion and move the story on.
These 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.
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
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
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.
Automation is hailed as the future of work and industry is set for economic rebound. As a result, growing, managing and relating to machines are and will be important skills for children to develop.
The good news is that the process of transferring work tasks to computers and automated mechanisms is something they can try their hand at in the games in this list. Organising tasks and distributing work in the name of efficiency and effectiveness is also a common feature of many games.
We've worked with Game Academy
on this list of games that help prepare players for an era where organisations are being rewritten daily, business processes reimagined and the labour market is driven by fusion skills - humans and machines coming together to form new kinds of jobs and work experiences. Game Academy is a tech venture that helps game players make the most of their in-game talent out of game. Using new game analytics, online courses and bootcamps, they help players identify their game and life skills, develop them and link game players to new work and educational opportunities.
Some games like Factorio
look like crafting sandboxes but soon become much more than that. You discover that it will take a very long time to extract and craft the necessary resources manually, and the surrounding monsters are not ready to wait. Automated extraction/production lines come to the rescue and their creation is the main mechanic of the game. Learning Factory is a more peaceful version of factory building. You just need to repair the Martian factory to make goods for cute cats. It also provides some links to machine learning.
Other games provide you with tools to minimise your manual labour. In a game like Stardew Valley
, players spend a lot of time watering plants. A lot! But automatic sprinklers save on the grind, greatly simplifying the whole game.
At the other end of the life - and emotional scale - is Graveyard Keeper
where you manage a medieval graveyard to get your character to open a portal back to his old world. You have a dozen different activities: gathering resources, brewing drinks, farming and carrying out autopsies - hilarious rather than gruesome tasks, we can assure you. But this is all hard, hard work. Fortunately, there’s a moment when you get the opportunity to create zombies and give them the hard labour. It changes the gameplay dramatically, as well as your fortune and fate.
These games offer worlds you explore in unusual ways. Maybe it’s hard to put one foot in front of the other, or maybe you get a chance to climb and jump athletically. These games put you in touch what it’s like to move more easily or more difficulty than real life.
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.
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.