This is the heart of our database: a list of lists. Each one is hand picked to help a family we’ve worked with and aims to bring together a collection of games around an unusual theme. You can refine these lists on the search page by clicking the headings and then using filters:

All Lists Sorted Alphabetically

(Order by Most Recent)

Attempt The Impossible

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 Collosus 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.
 

BAFTA Nominated Games

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 the:
  • 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.
 

Barclay's Staycation Games

Barclays have put together a brilliant list of games it thinks are perfect to play at home with family, online with friends, or solo for some well deserved me-time. "So get comfy, reserve some time for yourself, and play some games."

It's a great list with something for everyone in the family and plenty of games you can play together as a family. If you want more lists of games to try you can visit the list of lists page that outlines a wide range of themes and categories, or visit AskAboutGames for advice on setting up technology with sensible limits.
 

Be A Good Neighbour

In this list, provided by the LTN (Love Thy Nerd) editors, we bring together video games that have the potential to offer more than entertainment. It starts with 12 with a challenge us to be a good neighbour, and follows with others added over time. LTN exists to be the love of Jesus to nerds and nerd culture, you can read more about them on their website.

"What if video games have more to offer than just an exciting diversion into a digital battlefield, fantasy war, or alien invasion? While these types of games are certainly the loudest and most financially successful, there are a growing number of games asking important questions about life, the human condition, and even God."

"Our list is not 'Christian' games, but rather a list of games that pose important spiritual questions to those who play them. These are games that provide us with the opportunity to consider what a truly 'spiritual' life looks like by encouraging us to have empathy for the suffering, love for our neighbours and our enemies, and an imagination vivid enough to contemplate a better world."

Journey's understated yet deep mythology, lack of guidance and mysterious ways it brings players together will have players thinking about the course of their own lives. Dropsy is, on the surface, a silly point-and-click adventure game about a creepy but misunderstood clown, dig deeper and you’ll see this a game that challenges players to love everyone, even their enemies. Kentucky Route Zero is at its core, about rediscovery, of adventure-game mechanics and modernist aesthetics, of a more spiritual outlook on the physical world.

Gris is a platformer about the stages of grief that highlights the indelible impact of our most sacred relationships. That Dragon, Cancer is a game where Ryan and Amy Green share their grief and their hope by drawing us not only into their lives but into the common grace of the Christian faith. Myst, one of the best selling titles of all time, is a puzzle game about the beauty and mystery of creation. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a game about the spiritual impact our most precious relationships have on us. Wandersong is a game about transforming the world with music. Heroism isn’t measured in bulk or recognition but in the melodic tones of compassion and kindness. The Last Guardian confronts us with our own self-centeredness and challenges us to give rather than merely take.

Pyre is a game about mercy that deconstructs player’s perceptions of winning and losing, encouraging them to see and meet the needs of those who are oppressed. My Child Lebensborn is a game that challenges players to care for a child born into a fascist regime--this is a game about the power of empathy. Celeste strikes at the centre of what it means to be a person in all of our messy humanity a wonderful reminder that even when we fall, we are lifted up again through redemptive love, forgiveness, and grace—both for ourselves and for one another.
 

Be The Bad Guy

Video games usually let us step into the role of the hero. Sometimes our heroics result in many henchmen or even innocent bystanders getting killed. But our hearts are thought to be in the right place.

The games on this list, however, are all great examples of where you intentionally ruin other people's days. Whether that's playing the blood sucking alien in Carrion or just stealing, breaking and hiding things in Untitled Goose Game it's both intriguing and entertaining to not play by the usual moral rules of the game.

Then there are games where you think you are doing things for the right reason but this turns out not to be the case, like Braid or Spec Ops The Line. Or games where the slow drip of doubt builds until you regret your actions, like Shadow of the Colossus.
 

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.
 

Big Budget Popular Games

These games are big, brash and popular. They have big budgets which means the visual and interactive quality is particularly high. They also have strong and wide ranging player communities.
 

Branching Stories With Multiple Endings

All games offer you agency. You can win or lose. You can complete them or stop at any time. But there are some games that offer a story that genuinely branches. Where you end up will be different from other players. This not only makes your actions really matter but also gives you a reason to play them again.

Setting aside games that evolve through simulation, or games where once you die it's game over, these branching narrative games tell a story that ends in a certain way because of the choices you made.
 

Build Personal Resilience

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves "bouncing back" from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.

Games, by design, present players with adversity and much of the joy of gaming comes from taking on and overcoming unnecessary obstacles. Whether you’re saving the universe from an alien invasion or tending crops in your animal community, playing games mimics the process of resilience.

Image 163 This list of games that can help foster various forms of psychological resilience is compiled with the expert help of Take This. They aim to decrease the stigma, and increase the support for, mental health in the game enthusiast community and inside the game industry. They encourage a game community that welcomes and supports people experiencing mental health challenges, and that recognizes the humanity and mental health of game creators.

The Portal series tell a narrative that you are going to fail. You’re told to give up, but if you ignore this barrage of discouragement you can use it as a way to strengthen your resolve and complete the puzzles even if you have failed twenty times in the process. The Stanley Parable is all about trying again. You can try and re-try your decision making, reaching a variety of different endings.

Dark Souls is a hallmark for a punishing challenge that require resilience. You journey through elaborate lands to adventure, explore, and take heed lest they encounter a battle with a boss or enemy. Celeste is the story of Madeline and the enemies she overcomes while climbing Celeste Mountain. The game specifically calls out that Madeline has anxiety, and the challenges she faces in the environment reflect her own internal struggles and triumphs. Cuphead challenges players to battle relentless bosses in combat-heavy play. Cartoonish and playful, it balances challenging players to grow in skill and offers plenty of entertaining environments and aesthetics to keep you playing.

In Kingdom Hearts you meet many characters that need help - and many boss battles feel almost insurmountable. With help from friends like Donald and Goofy, the player character Sora overcomes the darkness to save his friends and bring hope back to the world. Death Squared is a co-op puzzle game where one player’s mistake makes everyone else lose. You learn cooperative resilience in trying again admits humorous judgments from the unseen “hosts” of the game.

In Animal Crossing you get help from the animal neighbours. You learn to lean on this social and environmental resilience to persevere at building social connections with computer villagers and friends online. Stardew Valley’s farming is about growing and maintaining a homestead. Interweaving the busy work are relationships with the other villagers, many of whom are social models for resilience in their storylines.
 

Come To Terms With Ageing

In a culture that holds up youth as an ideal rather than a stage of life, it can be hard to embrace our ageing lives, bodies and dreams. The games in this list offer a chance to step into the shoes of older protagonists as well as spend time with people coming to terms with the ticking clock themselves.
 

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.
 

Compete In Esports

Some video games require a high amount of skill and experience to play. These have developed into competitive sports with high profile competitions and big prize money. Although it can seem a little strange to think of a video game as a sport, the challenge, focus, training, instinct and skill required means that players at the top of these leagues and competitions have approach the pastime like athletes approach sporting prowess.

Image 165 Less obvious than the big prizes and high profile winners are the aspects of esports that can lead to a diverse set of skills suitable for a range of digital careers. Digital Schoolhouse, a not-for-profit programme delivered by the UK games industry trade body Ukie (The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment), has been using an annual e-sports schools tournaments to teach technology and digital skills.

Students aged 12-18 years participate as players or fulfil professional roles crafted by the video games industry, for educational purposes. They manage the event itself, photograph the action, organising production logistics, referee, commentate on live match streams, manage team community, logos and branding and even deal with most of the paperwork themselves.

Whether it’s the Digital Schoolhouse programme or something similar, finding a way to inspire and cheer on children towards a career in video games not only opens a door to their future, but creates a healthy understanding of the industry today.
 

Compete on the Couch

Raucous, unbounded, exuberant, all-age competitive fun is something video games are known for. Find the right games for your family and you can create important and healthy ways to let off steam, excel and persevere as you sit next to each other on the sofa. These games can play a big part in raising children to be magnanimous in victory and generous in defeat. Kids love competing online, but the games here focus on battling in the same room. Played with multiple controllers and a shared screen, they offer challenges that require real skill and give everyone a chance to rise to the top of the family pile.
 

Create An Attraction

Many games let you create your own items, object or levels. But some are specifically designed for you to do this in order to attract characters and visitor to your creation in the game.

Whether it's the perfect garden in Viva Pinata, the ideal visitor island in Animal Crossing or the most thrilling ride in Planet Coaster, these games are fun because they combine creativity and management.

Then there are games where your attractions are more understated. The ideal home and live to keep your Sims happy. Or maybe create something that doesn't impact the environment negatively like in Eco.

Whatever you create, as well as attract characters in the game, the creations you make are ideal to share with other people (parents and carers maybe) to show them what you've been doing.
 

Designed For Easier Play

These games go above and beyond just adding a few difficulty settings. They consider a wide range of ability and accessibilities by offering customisable difficulty settings as well as special low pressure or assist modes that aid progress.
 

Designed For Reduced Motor Function

These games’ mechanics and options make it possible to adapt the experience to be accessible for people depending on your physical capabilities.
  • Remap Controls: Remapping buttons and swapping joysticks (like Fortnite) help customize the player’s way to interact with the game, also helping players that use only one hand.
  • No Holding: Some games (like Moving Out) also offer the option to avoid having to hold any buttons down for actions like aiming, opening or equipping. You can use simple taps or toggles instead to reduce muscular fatigue.
  • Sensitivity: Some of these games (like Fortnite) also enable you to adjust control sensitivity as well as controller vibration if that is present.
  • Fewer Buttons: Simpler controls (like FIFA) are good to consider, as well as those that offer extensive difficulty settings.
  • Speed: Reducing how fast a game plays (like Eagle Island) is a helpful setting.
  • Difficulty: Offering customisable difficulty, like how fast a game plays (like Eagle Island) or adding invincibility (like Celeste), and other features allow tailoring the game to the player’s needs.
This list and accessibility details in each game was compiled the help of Antonio Ignacio Martínez and Kyle “onehandmostly”. Please be aware that options may vary depending on the platform you choose to play. Also there is no game that works the same for everyone, so be mindful of your own needs when considering this information.
 

Designed To Be Easier To See

These games, compiled by Christy Smith, have graphics styles or options that make the games easier to see for people with impaired vision. Many of these games include
  • Fonts: Larger, scalable font sizes and bold fonts, like Moving Out.
  • Zoom: Ability to increase the size of all objects on the screen such as in Untitled Goose Game's zoom feature.
  • Contrast: Settings to adjust contrast and brightness, as well as distinct colours with good lighting, like Splatoon.
  • Non-Visual Cues: Sounds and haptic feedback that help direct the player, like Lego games.
  • Colourblind: Modes that invert colours or change colours to accommodate different types of colourblindness, such as in Hue.
  • Screen Readers: Functions that read text and menus as they are highlighted and appear on the screen, such as in Eagle Island.
In addition, there are other ways to make games easier for people with low vision to play. Some offer modes that lower the difficulty, like the Assist Mode in Super Mario Odyssey. Playing with a sighted friend or family member can make things much easier.

Some platforms provide system-wide accessibility features that help. The Nintendo Switch offers a built-in zoom function, while the Xbox offers co-pilot mode that allows two people to play as a single player. Such features create necessary flexibility for players.

There are many different types of visual impairments, and no two people ever see things the exact same way. Because of this, games that are accessible for one person may not be accessible to all low vision gamers. For gamers who find visual games too cumbersome, audio-only games may provide a solution.

Image 164 It may be difficult for parents and caregivers who are fully sighted to understand which games will be easier to see. The best way to learn about what works and what doesn’t is hearing from people with impaired vision themselves. Can I Play That? has a variety of reviews discussing accessibility of games for people with disabilities, by people with disabilities.
 

Designed With Deaf and Hard of Hearing Features

Video games are a medium that can be enjoyed by a diverse audience, but sometimes, Deaf or hard of hearing players can struggle to enjoy a game due to information not being conveyed to them properly. Audio cues without visual indicators or captions, spoken narrative or direction without subtitles, for example.

However, games that include well-illustrated subtitles or captions can enable these players to understand what's being spoken through dialogue, and what's going on in the surrounding area.

Providing subtitles and captions is a good first step. But also important is that subtitles are readable and stand out from the game. Some games do this by adding a background, or a heavy drop shadow behind the text while others use colours to separate different meanings. Metro Exodus, for example, will inform the player where an enemy is located in the world through captions.

Where audio is used to locate events in the game world, a visual representation of this information is helpful. Games such as Fortnite have an audio visualiser ring that identifies where key audio (and the related event) is coming from. Assassin's Creed Odyssey uses a similar feature to indicate nearby dangers.

Games that enable Deaf and hard of hearing players with subtitles, captions and visual indicators are hugely welcomed by the community, with wider accessibility benefits for other players who can opt to benefit from these interface enhancements as well.
 

Digital Toy Boxes

Video games and toys are two seperate 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 game/Anki.
 

Ease Loneliness With Intergenerational Games

There are many reasons, stages of life and circumstances that can leave us feeling isolated and lonely (and of course at the moment this is intensified with the virus lockdown). Being unable to be in the same place as loved ones. Not understanding the modern world. Barriers of mobility or impairments. Social anxiety and other mental health issues.

Video games are one way that we can reconnect with each other, without needing to be in the same place. Finding games to play online with grandparents and carers is not only a good way to keep in touch but a lot of fun.

Image 171 The games on this page are part of the PLAY&TALK Weekend, which has launched in time for National Loneliness Awareness Week, aims to reduce feelings of isolation by getting people to talk with friends or family safely online. Backed by over 30 companies in the games industry, the Play&Talk weekend hopes to initiate 10,000 extra conversations across the UK through the power of games. All the games have been select to be easy to play for new gamers and many of them have been used in a broad range of cultural settings, being incorporated into Cathedral services, arts festivals, well-being retreats and educational contexts.
 

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.
 

Embrace Silliness

The games in this section have been selected because they get players doing absurd activities and chuckling together. It’s tongue-in-cheek entertainment with challenges that don’t take themselves too seriously – not seriously at all, in fact. 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.

Whether it's the crazy puzzles in Baba is You or Twister-like contorsions of Fru or stomach churningly difficulty of walking in Octodad Deadliest Catch, these are games that will make you shreek and laugh together. Then there are silly multiplayer games like Super Pole Riders, Heave Ho or Wii Party where parents, carers and children take on bizarre or precarious challenges. The play often descends into giggling and laughter.
 

Expand LEGO Style Play

These are games that involve actual Lego bricks or offer an experience that has the same plug and play building and creating as the classic toy.
 

Exuberant Games For Pre-16 Year-Olds

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.

We go through some really good examples of these exciting, fast-action game for a range of ages. They are all PEGI 12 or under, apart from Halo, which we have included as this is a lower ESRB TEEN rating in the US for the latest release and mostly features space-themed rather than realistic violence.
 

Face Tough Decisions

Games create virtual worlds where you can experience life from other perspectives. This can be entertaining and light-hearted, but also presents ethical scenarios that require you to think carefully about consequences.

The games selected here each place you in a challenging situation to give you a first-hand experience of what it’s like. It may be nail-biting, heart-breaking or desperate, but often, through all the trials and tribulations, there is still hope. Either way, unlike reading books or watching films about these subjects, here you are emotionally implicated in the choices you are faced with.
 

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.
 

First Steps Into Online Video Games

One of the most exciting aspects of modern video games is playing with other people online. It's a big step from playing something like Mario Kart with family and friends in the same room to going online to play with people you don't know.

The games in this list offer small steps to go from local play to online play. Some games, like Roblox are designed for young players with lots of special safety settings. Other games, like Sky, are designed to lead players into co-operating with each other with in-game purchases you give away, and interactions that start limited and expand as you gain experience. Then there are co-operative games like Ibb and Obb where you work together and communicate with gestures on the screen.

You can use Family Settings and Parental Controls on your system to limit how your child interacts with other players online. As well as finding the right games to get them started, it's also important that you play with them and keep game screens in shared family spaces so you can see what they are doing.
 

Free Multiplayer With Nintendo Download Play

The Nintendo DS and 3DS/2DS offers a feature for some games where you can play on multiple systems with one copy of the game. This is a great way to save money for multiplayer games.

The main player has the game in their DS, the other players go to the Download Play option in the menu of their DS. The game then downloads a small version to each player so everyone can play.

Some games limit this to just one other player, but games like Mario Tennis allow for 4 players to compete, and Mario Kart allows for up to 8 players to race against each other with just one copy of the game. Other games, like Luigi's Manion: Dark Moon offers special download multiplayer modes where you can compete against each other.

Here is a list of the top Download Play DS and 3DS games. Or there is our full list of great Download Play games.
 

Free with Apple Arcade

These games are free to play on iOS if you have an Apple Arcade subscription. These games have been supported by Apple, are all family appropriate, have no in-app purchases and be played on or offline and let you jump from iPhone to iPad. One subscription can be used for up to six family members.
 

Free With EA Access

This is a subscription service for PlayStation or Xbox that gives you access to EA games. It also offers trial access to the newest EA games not included in full. Although not comprehensive some in-game purchasable content is also provided for free.
  • Monthly (£3.99)
  • Annually (£19.99)
For families, the trial access to new games is actually a great feature. You get 10 hours which in many cases enables you to play the game as much as if you purchased it -- either from children getting bored of the game, or adults not having enough time to finish them. If you do want to carry on you just pay for the game (with 10% discount) and your progress is kept.

It's worth noting that there are differences in the games for PlayStation and Xbox. On Xbox you can access titles like the original Mass Effect trilogy that are supported on that system's backward compatibility.
 

Free With Google Play Pass

Google Play Pass is an alternative way to access video games on your Android smartphone or tablet device. Currently available in the US, it offers over 350 apps and games. Of these, there are around 100 or so games, that are selected to be family-friendly.
  • Gives access to a curated catalogue of premium apps and games.
  • No ads or in-app purchases.
  • Share access with up to 6 total family members.
 

Free With Origin Access

Origin Access is a subscription service for PC, smartphones and tablets, offering access to games include all those published by EA.
  • Basic (£3.99/Month) grants access to games but not other in-game purchases. Very new games are sometimes restricted to a demo.
  • Advance (£14.99/Month) grants access to even the newest EA games and includes in-game purchases.
 

Free With PlayStation Now

PlayStation Now is a subscription service that provides hundreds of PS2, PS3 and PS4 games to play on demand. The games are streamed to your PS4, or Windows PC like a Netflix film but with interactions. Because of this you need a fast internet connection of about 5Mbps. Additionally, PlayStation Now also lets you download some PlayStation 4 games to play locally on your system without streaming.
  • PlayStation Now costs £8.99/month
PlayStation Plus is the other subscription service and is required for most online games. It also offers discounted and a two free games each month. It also grants discounts on games, add-ons and pre-orders. PlayStation Plus also enables you to backup your progress to the cloud.
  • PlayStation Plus costs £6.99/month
With PlayStation Plus you can also share your games in more ways with friends and family:
  • Screen Share – Let's someone in another place watch your game on their PlayStation. PlayStation Plus is not required for either party
  • Pass the Controller – Let's someone in another place take turns on a game you own, without owning the game themselves. PlayStation Plus is required for the host, but not for the guest
  • Playing Together – Let's you play local co-op or split screen games with someone in another place who has a PlayStation. PlayStation Plus is required for both players
 

Free With Xbox Game Pass

Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service that provides 100 top-tier games. Once subscribed you can download the game at no extra cost. Of the 100 games available the ones in our recommended database are listed below.

You cannot play games you install when your Xbox Game Pass expires, although you do keep any games you have purchased at a discount with your membership. You will need to purchase any in-game extra content in addition to the subscription, although some games include this content for free.
  • Xbox Game Pass £7.99/month
  • Xbox Game Pass Ultimate including Xbox Live Gold for online play £10.99/month
  • Xbox Game Pass PC £7.99/month
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also enables you to stream over 100 Xbox Game Pass titles, similar to the service offered by PlayStation Now, on mobile devices.

Xbox Live Gold usually costs £6.99/month and is the Xbox service that lets you play with others online. It also offers a few free games each month and substantial discounts.