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 the filters.

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Free With PlayStation Plus Collection

These games are free on PlayStation 5 when you subscribe to PlayStation Plus. This subscription also enables you to play games online, offers two free games each month and 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
 

Play The Seasons: Fall Into Autumn Tales

Video games create spaces for us to go and play. These spaces are sometimes an escape from the real world. Equally, games can help us revel and celebrate the real world.

Inspired by an article written by Keith Stuart about autumnal games, this is a list of games that are played while the leaves are falling.

These games offer, rather than escapism, unique ways to appreciate the season we are living in. They are an exercise in the present moment, where we find writ large, the joys of harvesting apples, warm fires, crisp walks and the breathing in before the long dark of winter.

Here are our lists of games that invite you into different seasons:
  • Play The Seasons: Soak In Summer Sun
  • Play The Seasons: Fall Into Autumn Tales
  • Play The Seasons: Wrap Up For Winter
  • Play The Seasons: New Life Of Spring
 

Mechanical Challenge

Games offer us challenges on many levels. When someone plays a game too much it’s easy to think they are taking an easy route to something entertaining, like junk food. But video games are generally hard work. It takes time to understand their systems, mechanics, objectives and worlds.

There are a small group of games that hone this challenge down to the mechanics of moving around the environment. Whereas many games simplify getting around, these games make the complexity and depth of their movement systems part of the joy of playing them.

Rather than relying on the stats of your character or player, you have to execute the moves yourself with timing proficiency and instinct. Rather than offering assistance, these games leave you to it. Whether you rise through the league tables, or just improve compared to your family, the satisfaction or getting to grips with something so monumentally challenging is really satsifying.

This might be understanding how the propulsion of your car lets you take to the air and hit a perfect shot in Rocket League. Or, perhaps, it’s using the limited running and jumping slightly better than other players to get a win in Fall Guys. Maybe it’s learning the perfect combinatino of angles and trajectories in Video Ball. Or it could be learning the complex move lists in a game like Street Fighter.

These games all have in common, a complex control system that can be put to use in imaginative and creative ways to get the edge over your oppoenents.
 

Get Children Talking

It can seem that all children do these days is stare at their screens and play video games. We worry about screen time and what the violence, addiction and gambling is doing to their brains.

However, along with screen time comes many other things we can celebrate. All kids do these days is talking to other. All kids do these days is learn the skills of rhetoric and debating. All kids do these days is develop their social confidence.

It sounds a little far fetched, but watching my kids play the new “hit” game Among Us I’ve realised these are exactly the sorts of things they are really developing when they are sat staring at their screens.

Here are some great examples where you need to talk, and talk intelligently and intelligibly, to do well in the game.
 

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.
 

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.
 

Outwit The Crowd In Online Battles

Battle Royale games are played online against 100's of other players. They blend different genres of games: survival, exploration, adventure, shooting and scavenging while introducing the last-man-standing gameplay.

They are usually played in an arena where players start with basic equipment and aim to kill all the other players. The arena area shrinks as play proceeds to bring the game to a crescendo.

"The name for the genre is taken from the 2000 Japanese film Battle Royale, itself based on the novel of the same name, which presents a similar theme of a last-man-standing competition in a shrinking play zone." - Wikipedia
 

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.
 

Get Children Reading

Image 221We have partnered with the National Literacy Trust to create this resource of video games that encourage and enable reading and writing skills.

The National Literacy Trust is a charity dedicated to improving the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of children and young people who need it most, giving them the best possible chance of success in school, work and life.

Video games have significant benefits for children who are reluctant or struggling readers. They give them access to stories through interaction and world building which they may not have been able to read in print. Video games also have benefits for families where parents may not be confident readers, meaning that sharing stories as a family is still accessible to all. The rise of video games on smartphones and tablets, as well as more affordable game consoles has made the sharing of interactive stories easier.

Image 241There are different ways that video games create this kind of collateral reading and aid literacy:
  • Reading In Games: Video games offer all sorts of reading at all levels. This can be from simple narrative in a game like Florence to dialogue in a game like Mutazione or even just identifying useful items and game mechanics with in-game descriptions in a game like Zelda Breath of the Wild. Then there are games like Thousand Threads that help players think about the power and the consequence of words.
  • Reading Around Games: Video games create worlds that often spawn secondary texts. This can be official novels that expand the world or guide books that offer instructions and help. Knights and Bikes, for example, has spin off books, a cartoon series and recipes to read.
  • Routes Into Books: Many popular book series, such as Beast Quest, offer a range of video games as an easy first step into those worlds that lead to then reading the books themselves.
  • Communication Around Games: As well as reading, games encourage all sorts of creative output. This can be to contribute to the many online forums and message boards to talk about the game. This can also be to write fan-fiction after being inspired about a game world or character. The Sims, for example, has an avid community writing and creating all kinds of content online.
 

Persevere After Losing

Video games where you adventure into a harsh setting, try your hardest to survive and slowly develop your abilities but then inevitably die are often called Rogue-likes. This is because one of the first games that offered this style of play was called Rogue.

These are interesting games for families, not only because their difficult nature leads to shorter sessions, but also because they foster perseverance and coping with losing. After dying you are sent back to some sort of central village where you can choose upgrades for your next attempt. The incentive to play again once you have been killed is usually that you start with some more equipment or skills.

In this way, by belligerence and a slowly learned understanding of how the game world works and how best to survive, you incrementally get a bit further each time you play. Here are some really good roguelike games for families:
 

Motion Plus Wii Games

The Wii created a new genre of motion-controlled video games. But it's initially Wii Remote controller was a little limited. Nintendo shortly brought out addition that added more one-to-one detection of movement: Motion Plus.

You could purchase the Motion Plus block and plug it into existing Wii Remote controllers, or purchase updated Wii Remote controllers that included Motion Plus. These newer controllers are indicated by the Motion Plus nomenclature on the bottom. This nuanced motion-controlled continued on to the Wii U in games that used the Wii Remote controls and needed extra fidelity for the player.

Wii U Party minigames, Nintendo Land, Table Tennis and Archery in Wii Sports Resort as well as the exploration and combat in Zelda Skyward Sword each stand out as really good use of this extended Motion Plus controls.
 

Remote Play Together With Steam

Some games are designed with online play. For those that only have local multiplayer, you can use a feature on Steam called Steam Remote Play Together to play these games with a friend in another place as if they were sat next to you. You can use online chat pass the controls back and forth or each control different players to co-operate or compete.

Not all games support these feature but for those that do, listed here, all you need is one copy of the game for the two of you, an account on Steam and a PC to play on in your separate locations and a good internet connection.

You can also use the Steam Remote Play Anywhere feature to stream your games from you PC to another device like a smartphone or tablet. This enables you to play in a different room of the house or on the go.
 

Know Your Body

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.
 

Survive The Night

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.
 

Make Your Own Video Games

It can seem like making a video-games is only possible with a degree and lots of complicated equipment. The games on this list let you design and share your own levels just using your controller and tools like Scratch.

Image 174You can unleash your creativity with these games that enable you to make your own games. Start with something familiar and try making your own levels in Mario Maker or get to grips with building in Minecraft. Build your confidence and creativity and soon you’ll be creating more complicated games in Dreams or LittleBigPlanet.

We put this list together with the help of the brilliant National Videogame Museum, (NVM). The World's First Fully-Playable Cultural Centre Dedicated to Games. If you want more information about making your own videogames, the NVM has free resources to get you started.
 

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.
 

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.
 

Reimagined Retro Classics

Growing up playing video games creates a strong sentimental connection to the sounds, sights and feeling those experiences gave you. Returning to these games in adulthood is a un diversion, but often the experience doesn't live up to the memory.

The games in this list have been recreated (sometimes officially and sometimes unofficially) by developers who love and respect the original while also wanting to update it for modern technology and players.
 

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.
 

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.
 

Tell White Lies

Video games often place you in positions of power, saving the world, righting the wrongs and bringing justice. Of course, real life isn't neat and tidy like that. There are many games where you are challenged to make difficult decisions and some of those put you in situations without power, where the kindest thing to do is to lie.

Whether it's not telling Ellie the truth about her unique response to the infection so she can have a "normal" life in The Last Of Us, lying about who's drugs they are to save a friend in Life Is Strange, deciding not to be honest with friends to save their feelings and avoid confrontation in Oxenfree or rearranging an old man's memory so he thinks he's made it to his dream in To The Moon, telling lies is sometimes the right thing to do.

The games in this list challenge our neat conceptions of right and wrong. Playing them, we face the messiness of real-world justice and consider the power of withholding the truth. We might not always agree with the reasons or ethics, but we have a chance to revisit our values as we play.
 

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.
 

Tend and Befriend

Video games are usually thought to be about fighting, shooting and adrenaline. As regular readers will know, there are video games about everything. Recently I've been noticing games that combine the stewardship of the land and the nurturing of resources.

These games, like Animal Crossing, present an "ambience of bucolic" and a "reassuring mix of the pastoral and the industrial," wrote Simon Parkin recently. They offer an escape to simpler times, that provides meaningful work along with the possibility of also working at friendships.

The games collected in this list each offer the chance to escape and absorb yourself tending to a plot of land and nurturing often surprisingly moving relationships. Whether you are diligently cleaning someone's empty flat as in Sunset, setting up a farm after retiring from your adventures in Littlewood, reconnecting with grown-up children in The Stillness of The Wind, nurturing a musical garden in Mutazione, establishing a coffee shop in Coffee Talk or even eeking out provisions while you care for children in This War Of Mine all these games have something to tend to and people to get to know while you do it.
 

Hide and Seek

Some forms of play are timeless. Running around with a stick pretending to be in the army. Chasing each other in games of tag. And, of course, hide and seek. The games in this list offer digital ways to play hide and seek with a variety of different twists.

Hide In A Crowd: There are games like Spy Party, Thief Town, Hidden in Plain Sight and Buissons, that let you play as a range of characters and then challenge another player to find you amongst a computer-controlled crowd, from what way you move and interact. The Fruit game in Game and Wario on Wii U has the same mechanics, with one person trying to steal fruit without the other players working out who they are. Wii Party offers hiding in its Spot the Sneak mode where one player has a secret advantage in the mini-games that the other players have to spot. Another great example is Wii U Party, Lost and Found Square mode. One player stands in a crowd of identical people and uses the Wii U gamepad to look around and describe their location to other players, who use the TV to explore and find them. At the end, you see a map of where the players had run.

Prop Hunt: There are games with "Prop Hunt" modes where you can change into the items in the world to hide. Fortnite has a great Prop Hunt mode, as does Minecraft. Then there are games like Witch It designed around this idea of transforming into normal items and hiding in a game world.

Separate Screens: There games like Mario Chase and Luigi's Ghosthouse in Nintendoland, or Pac-Man Vs where one person has their own screen while the others team up to hunt for them use the main TV screen. Or games you play online where everyone has their own screen and try to hide from a particular character like in Secret Neighbor. Screencheat is a twist on this, where you share the same screen and try to shoot each other, but your characters are invisible.

Hidden Objects: Or there are hidden object games where the computer hides things that you have to find, like Hidden Folks and Hidden Through Time. There's a hidden object mode in Mario Odyssey where you hunt online player's hidden balloons. A twist on this is Here Kitty where one person hides a phone that then makes cat noises until the seeker has found it.

Open World Hiding: You can use pretty much any open-world game to make your own hiding fun. You can hide in Minecraft (having turned nameplates off), sneak around on public transport in or simply count to 10 while visitors hide in Animal Crossing New Horizons.
 

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.
 

One Button Games

The games here can be played with a single button. Although ranging in difficulty they are a good place to start for those needing simpler controls.

It should be noted that many of these games need to be started with more than one button. Some are played by tapping at a fixed point on a touchscreen.

For those needing alternative access there are many possibilities with an accessibility switch. These "switches" come in many shapes and sizes including jumbo buttons, super-sensitive finger switches and sound sensors. In some cases, the spacebar or a Bluetooth keyboard can work just fine. If the player can activate the control and if it can be connected to the games machine, then one-button play becomes a possibility.

This list was compiled with the help of Barrie Ellis, who runs One Switch. On that site you can find equipment to enable a far wider range of games to be played by accessibility switch users. OneSwitch also supports a range of other accessible gaming solutions.
 

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.
 

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.
 

Get Fit Playing Great Games

There are lots of games that help you exercise and stay fit. We've pulled together a list of the best of these; games that don't just incentivise activity with on-screen rewards but that integrated the workout into the gameplay. We all know about Wii Sports but there are so many other ways that video games can help you stay healthy and active while you can't get out as much.
 

Space For Grief

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

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

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

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

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.
 

Play And Connect

Online games are great because you have a world of opponents to take on and defeat (or be defeated by). But beyond the competitive element of these games are often a strong sense of community and camaraderie.

Players enjoy making new connections in these games, as well as connecting with wider family and friends. Listen to the chatter while children play these games, and you hear as much talk about homework, television, YouTube or what's happening in the world as who to shoot in the head next.
 

Interpret Deeper Meaning

Image 159The games in this list have been the subject of a series of articles I have written about video games and faith. Firstly, from 2013-2015 for ThirdWay magazine, and more recently for Youth and Children's Work (YCW) magazine.

These are two publications for Christian audiences, that have invited me to shed light on what a range of video games might mean for those communities. I aim to make connections with faith, the bible and the experience of these video games. This is one way to interpret them which of course invites further and possibly counter interpretations from other perspectives.

YCW articles:
Firewatch | Everything | Bury Me My Love | Abzu | Wilmot's Warehouse

Thirdway Articles:
Proteus | Joust | Uncharted 3 | Alan Wake | This War of Mine | Journey | Limbo | Spaceteam | A Dark Room | Altos Adventure | A Year Walk | Bioshock Infinite | The Last of Us | Disney Infinity | Everybody's Gone to the Rapture | That Dragon Cancer | Spec Ops The Line | Papo and Yo
 

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.
 

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.
 
Game image Thousand ThreadsEditor's Choice

Thousand Threads

Make Music While You Play

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 to 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.
 

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.
 

Play With People On Different Systems

Most online games only work if the person you are wanting to play against has the same system that you have, console, PC or smartphone. There are, however, a growing library of games that offer what is often called cross-play. This lets you play with people on different systems.

These games are a good way to extend the list of friends and family that you can play with. It also makes it less critical which system you have in your home, even if your friends have a different one.
 

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.
 

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.
 

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.