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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.

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.

This list includes 174 games from the last 27 years, with 2,035 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to build resilience.

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DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3 to PEGI 18
ESRB Ratings: ESRB EVERYONE to ESRB MATURE 17+
Australian Ratings: G to R 18+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Brain Game, Collecting, Communication, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Physically Active, Platform, Point-and-Click, Push-Your-Luck, Puzzle, Race, Rhythm, Role-Play, Shooting, Simulation, Sports, Stealth, Strategy and Traversal
Total Likes: 2,035
 

 

Ico

Release Date: 24/09/2001, updated in 2011

Platforms: PS2 and PS3

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Ico is a running, jumping and exploring game where you rescue a princess from her evil mother. You take her hand to help her escape, guiding her along the pathways and protecting her from the hordes of enemies. Together, you jump chasms and scale walls...

Wildermyth

Release Date: 15/06/2021

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Wildermyth is a medieval role-playing game about diverse heroes and themes. You take on evil in a number of stories, each with different heroes and settings. The focus is on the characters as much as their adventures, who are believable, diverse and...

Boomerang X

Release Date: 08/07/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Boomerang X is a shooting platform game where you explore worlds and fight enemies with a boomerang-like shuriken weapon. Unusually, you can warp to your boomerang once thrown meaning you can slice, fly, and blast through arenas swarming with evil...

The Crew 2 (Series)

Release Date: 02/12/2014, updated in 2018

Platforms: PC, PS4, Stadia and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

The Crew is a series of open-world racing and exploration games set in a scaled down version of the United States. The emphasis is on enjoyable and exciting driving more than realism. It's a lot like Forza Horizon, although can be played on PlayStation...

Cuphead

Release Date: 29/09/2017, updated in 2019

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

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Cuphead is a running, jumping and shooting game that looks like an old Mickey Mouse cartoon. You play on your own or with someone else and work across the screen, jumping gaps, shooting enemies and avoiding projectiles.

Five Nights at Freddy's (Series)

Release Date: 23/07/2014, updated in 2019

Platforms: Android, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Five Nights at Freddy's (FNaF) is a series of puzzle horror games with jump scares rather than blood and gore. You play the night-guard at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza and have to survive the night while in your office, checking the cameras and closing the...

Pokémon (Series)

Release Date: 27/02/1996, updated in 2019

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS and Switch

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Pokémon Sword and Shield are role-playing games where you explore a fictional world and collect different creatures called Pokémon. You progress through the game by exploring the world, talking to characters and winning turn-based battles with the...

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Release Date: 21/08/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an adventure about a young girl who travels to an abandoned village in the hope of finding a sacred mountain shrine. To get there she must find and grow a team of charming spirit companions called the Rot, enhancing their...

It Takes Two

Release Date: 26/03/2021, updated in 2022

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

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

It Takes Two is a running, jumping and exploring game that tells a story of a young girl, Rose, whose parents are divorcing. The girl creates two dolls to represent her parents, which unexpectedly trap the clashing-couple in them. You and a friend...

The Last Guardian

Release Date: 28/10/2016

Platforms: PS4

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

The Last Guardian is a running, jumping and exploring adventure about a boy who befriends a giant half-bird, half-mammal creature, Trico. You work together to navigate the world, solve puzzles and reach new heights. Unusually, you have to build trust...

Stardew Valley

Release Date: 26/02/2016, updated in 2018

Platforms: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Stardew Valley looks like a farming simulator. That’s partly what it is, but you must also develop relationships with the other townsfolk and delve deep into the mines. Its quirky labyrinthine attention to detail is as inviting for young players to...

Animal Crossing (Series)

Release Date: 14/12/2001, updated in 2020

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS, GameCube, Switch and Wii

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

You live on a small island teeming with life. Insects, fish, trees, vegetation and fossils are represented with cute cartoon visuals. Rather than the scale or grandeur of other game worlds, it’s the interconnected drama of the world and characters...

The Forgotten City

Release Date: 28/07/2021

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

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

The Forgotten City is a mystery adventure. You explore and relive the final days of a cursed Roman city, where if one person sins, everyone dies. It starts as a bewildering array of characters, locations and information but over multiple goes your...

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Release Date: 11/06/2021

Platforms: PS5

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a running, jumping and shooting game. The latest in the series, Rift Apart focuses on jumping between parallel worlds.

Call of the Sea

Release Date: 12/08/2020, updated in 2020

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

Call of the Sea is a narrative adventure set in the 1930s. You explore an island in the Southern Pacific to find your missing husband. As you do you discover what happened and revisit memories of being there before.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Series)

Release Date: 11/03/2015, updated in 2020

Platforms: PC, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Both Ori and the Blind Forest and Ori and the Will of the Wisps place you in control of a diminutive elfish spirit called Ori. You run, jump and solve platforming challenges to progress through the world. As you do new powers are unlocked that allow you...

Roki

Release Date: 23/07/2020

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

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Röki is a Scandinavian folklore point-and-click style adventure game where you play Tove on a journey to save her family. As you help her to come to terms with loss, you explore deep into a snowy fairytale landscape with strange locations and creatures.

Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach

Release Date: 16/12/2021, updated in 2022

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

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach is a survival-horror game where you explore a vast pizzeria and shopping centre while hunted by a murderer. In addition to continuing the intricate and multi-layered story of the previous games, this is the first...

Rust

Release Date: 08/02/2018

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Rust (also, Rust: Console Edition) is an online survival game set the wilderness. You explore, gather and craft materials to manage hunger, thirst, health and protection. The preparation is to ward off the threat of bears, wolves and (more commonly)...

Portal (Series)

Release Date: 10/10/2007, updated in 2011

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS3, Switch, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

You are in a science laboratory where you seem to be being tested. Watched by the artificial intelligence GLaDOS, you have a gun that can create a pair of magic portals on any surface: one is an entrance and the other is an exit. Through a series of...

Season: A Letter to the Future

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC, PS4 and PS5

Season: A Letter to the Future is a narrative adventure where you take a bicycle road trip game. You play as a young woman leaving a secluded community, exploring the world for the first time. Collect artefacts and memories as you explore because soon,...

Brawl Stars

Release Date: 14/06/2017, updated in 2018

Platforms: Android and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Brawl Stars is a fighting game where you battle the computer or other players in all against all and team matches. You can play as any of the game's 50 plus characters, called "Brawlers", in an arena. The cartoon style lends the game a more lighthearted...

Celeste

Release Date: 23/01/2018, updated in 2018

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

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Celeste is a platform game that requires players to use jumping and climbing moves to ascend an increasingly challenging two-dimensional mountain. You play Madeline, who is, perhaps unsurprisingly, haunted by self-doubt at the task in hand. She presses...

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Series)

Release Date: 15/07/2003, updated in 2021

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

The Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) is a series of hard narrative-driven role-playing and combat games set in the Star Wars universe, 4000 years before Luke Skywalker and the Empire. You fight enemies and discover secrets by talking to the...

There Is No Game

Release Date: 06/10/2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension is a comedic adventure with a strange twist. From the outset the game’s narrator insists that there is no game to play. As you inevitably ignore his instruction you go on a journey through silly and unexpected video...

Skyblock

Release Date: 01/01/2011, updated in 2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Skyblock is a game played on Minecraft servers where you start on a bare island floating in the sky and must gather resources to thrive and reach other players. It's the Minecraft equivalent to being washed up on a desert island and is hugely popular....

Shady Part of Me

Release Date: 10/12/2020

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Shady Part of Me is a narrative platform game where you play as a young girl and her shadow. You help her overcome emotional struggles through solving 2D and 3D puzzles. The game world is based within the young girl's dreams. The young girl is afraid of...

Sable

Release Date: 23/09/2021

Platforms: PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Sable is an adventure game where you play a young girl, Sable, alone in the world, but bravely exploring ancient monuments, ruined architecture, and fallen ships to uncover her place in it. It's an adventure without combat that calls you to find your...

Adventures With Anxiety

Release Date: 10/12/2019

Platforms: Web

Adventures With Anxiety is a mini-adventure where you play, as a red dog who is the inner protective voice of a young person. Your role is to guard them against danger, although as you do you cause them anxiety in different ways.

Forgotton Anne

Release Date: 15/05/2018

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

Forgotton Anne (Forgotten Anne) is a hand-animated adventure that combines cartoon (Ghibli-inspired) storytelling with running and jumping puzzles. You play as Anne, the enforcer who keeps order in the Forgotten Lands, as she sets out to squash a...

The Cost of Recovery

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC and Switch

The Cost of Recovery is a narrative adventure where you play as four different people, one of whom has a stroke. How this impacts each of them is experienced first hand. Can they all get through this together or will everything start to fall apart?

Bird Alone

Release Date: 15/06/2020

Platforms: iOS

Bird Alone is a narrative game where you befriend a bird. Your feathered companion encourages the conversation in the direction of real life worries while you make music, draw pictures and write poetry. It’s a slow game that unfolds in real time with...

The White Door

Release Date: 09/01/2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

The White Door is an adventure that you play by exploring each room, finding and interacting with items and people. Along with its unusual black and white visuals, The White Door is also notable for the topic of mental health and memory loss it takes on.

MultiVersus

Release Date: 26/07/2022

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

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

MultiVersus is a fighting game like Smash Brothers where you team up with or against other players. The novelty is this teamwork and the deep catalogue of characters you can fight with. Batman, Shaggy from Scooby Do, Superman, Bugs Bunny and so on.

Dwarf Fortress

Release Date: 08/08/2006

Platforms: Mac and PC

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

Death's Door

Release Date: 20/07/2021

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

Death's Door is a noir adventure game where you play a crow whose job it is to reap the souls of the dead. When one goes missing you must fight, run and jump through a fantasy world to get it back. It's a simple combat game at heart, but the unusual...

Deep Sea Adventure

Release Date: 01/01/2014

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Pieces: Dice and Placeables

Deep Sea Adventure is a pocket-sized strategy game where you dive into the sea to bring back treasure. It’s unusual because although you compete with other players for treasure you share the same limited air supply.

Kingdom Hearts (Series)

Release Date: 28/03/2002, updated in 2019

Platforms: PS2, PS3, PS4 and Xbox One

Kingdom Hearts is a series of action role-playing games that combine video game and Disney characters in popular adventures. You play Sora, as he journeys with various Disney, Square Enix and Pixar characters and fight multiple incarnations of games...

Persona

Release Date: 20/09/1996, updated in 2017

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, PS5 and Switch

Persona 5 (also known as Shin Megami Tensei: Persona) is the latest game in a series of role-playing games that focus on a group of students. You explore the world and take on enemies like other role play games. Here though, you manage relationships...

Pokémon Unite

Release Date: 21/07/2021, updated in 2021

Platforms: Android, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Pokémon Unite is an online fighting game where you battle Pokémon in an arena and try and score points against an opposing team. Its short, frenetic matches are similar to DotA or [link to game/League+Of+Legends League of...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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