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Designed for Autistic Diversity

Autism affects the way people communicate and experience the world around them. It is a spectrum of developmental conditions, including Asperger’s Syndrome. Many autistic people play games to have fun, relax, connect with others and build skills. This is a list of games we have put together with some of Autistica’s Autistica Play Ambassadors, to highlight games that have been enjoyed by autistic people.

Autistica is the UK’s national autism research charity. It focuses on giving autistic people the opportunity to live long, happy, healthy lives. It does this by funding research, shaping policy and working with autistic people to understand their needs.

Cognitive Pressure: Some autistic people may take time to process information and could feel pressured by time limits. Games like A Short Hike or Roki let you progress at your own speed, without being on the clock. Other games, like Townscaper or Stardew Valley, help here by not making game tasks time-limited or requiring quick reactions. Then there are games, including Rocket League, Celeste and Eagle Island, that let you adjust the overall speed of play.

Difficulty Settings: Autistic people may prefer to tailor their experience based on how they are feeling. Some days they may want more of a challenge than others. Adjust how hard the game is. Some games like Subnautica or Bad North let you set the overall difficulty. Others, like Mario Kart or The Last of Us Part II let you adjust specific aspects of difficulty. Then there are games like Marvel’s Spider-Man or Immortals Fenyx Rising, that allow you to adjust the difficulty as you play.

Sense of Control: The real world can be an overwhelming place with constant change and unpredictable situations. Games like Viva Pinata, Civilization or The Sims let you play in a world where you control the variables. Other games, like Mini Metro, Traffix or Mini Motorways offer a chance to work with systems and see how changes impact outcomes. Then there are games that magnify this, like Factorio or Planet Coaster, by letting you create interconnect systems and tweak for the desired result.

As Autistica helpfully highlights, every autistic person is different. While many autistic people are able to learn, live and work independently, some have learning differences or co-occurring health conditions that require specialist support. Finding a game that can be a positive experience can therefore take some time and investigation.

This list includes 26 games from the last 30 years, with 1,879 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to play games good for autistic diversity.

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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, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Platform, Point-and-Click, Puzzle, Race, Rhythm, Role-Play, Sequencing, Shooting, Simulation, Sports, Stealth, Strategy and Traversal
Total Likes: 1,879
 

 

Immortals Fenyx Rising

Release Date: 03/12/2020

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

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Immortals Fenyx Rising is a mythical adventure game where you play Fenyx, exploring the huge open world, solving puzzles and fighting evil fantasy creatures. Fenyx is a newly winged demigod, who was prophesied to be the one to save the Greek Gods' home...

Rocket League

Release Date: 28/08/2018

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

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Drive futuristic cars to score goals with an oversized football. It’s another game that sounds ridiculous but is actually a huge amount of fun to play and requires a lot of expertise. What’s not obvious from the start is the level of control that...

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Series)

Release Date: 27/08/1992, updated in 2018

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

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Mario Kart is a go-kart racing game on Nintendo systems. You race against other Nintendo characters around different circuits, picking up power ups, attacks and speed boosts. It is frantic and chaotic, but still requires skills to do well at.

Rainbow Billy

Release Date: 05/10/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is a role-play adventure where you save the world from a colourless darkness. Unusually, battles are won through listening and conversation rather than traditional attacks. It combines the excitement and...

Mini Metro

Release Date: 06/01/2015

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

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Create an ordered, efficient underground train system. It sounds like hard work, but the simple Tube-map visuals, calm music, and streamlined interactions make this relaxing, like sudoku. Dip your toe in this strategy challenge and keep the system...

The Last Of Us Part II

Release Date: 19/06/2020

Platforms: PS4

Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds

The Last of Us Part II is an action-adventure game set five years after The Last of Us. You control two characters in a post-apocalyptic United States. Ellie is out for revenge after suffering a tragedy, and Abby is a...

Marvel's Spider-Man (Series)

Release Date: 07/09/2018

Platforms: PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Marvel's Spider-Man is a series of superhero adventures where you swing through an open-world city fighting crime and advancing a film-like story. There are also many side quests and missions you can take along the way.

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...

Factorio

Release Date: 14/08/2020, updated in 2022

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Factorio is a construction strategy game where you crash-land on an alien planet and must harvest resources to create industry to build a rocket to escape (or fall in love with running your factory and stay on longer).

Sid Meier's Civilization (Series)

Release Date: 21/10/2016, updated in 2019

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Civilization is a long running strategy game where you develop a society from hunter gatherer to space travel. There are many ways to approach this challenge; socially, militarily, politically or perhaps building wonders to impress other nations.

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...

A Short Hike

Release Date: 05/04/2019, updated in 2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

In A Short Hike you play penguin-like character Claire, who needs to climb a mountain in a beautiful national park to receive an important phone call. Presented in cute pixel graphics, the game invites you to explore the park, help other animals, find...

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...

Townscaper

Release Date: 30/06/2020, updated in 2021

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch, Web, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Townscaper is a town building toy. You pick colours from the range available and click to put down a house in the sea. As you continue to add houses of different colours the game automatically orientates the architecture for 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.

Mini Motorways

Release Date: 04/03/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and iPhone, iPad

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Mini Motorways is by the same developer as Mini Metro but tasks you with planning a road network rather than subway. You lay down roads, traffic lights and motorways to ensure enough cars can get to the buildings that pop up in your city as time passes....

PowerWash Simulator

Release Date: 19/05/2021

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

PowerWash Simulator is a puzzle game where you clean different objects and locations using a pressure washer. It's designed to be soothing with sounds of high-pressure water and satisfyingly clean results as you blast away every speck of dirt and grime.

Viva Pinata

Release Date: 09/09/2006

Platforms: DS, PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

This game is a fantasy garden-simulation game where your tending and care encourages one of 60 different piñata animals to make it their home. You use gardening tools to plough, sow seeds, create ponds and sculpt the land. Do this well and more animals...

The Sims 4 (Series)

Release Date: 04/02/2000

Platforms: Amazon Fire, Android, PS3, PS4, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

The Sims puts you in charge of a world of characters living normal lives. By providing a home, a job, leisure, friendships and even love interest, you work to make them happy. It’s an open-ended game as well, although the altruism is focused on...

Planet Coaster

Release Date: 17/11/2016

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

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Planet Coaster Console Edition is a pleasure park construction and management game. It draws on games like Theme Park and RollerCoaster Tycoon. You build different theme park rides and roller-coasters in considerable detail, to score design points and...

Wavetale

Release Date: 10/11/2021

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

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Wavetale is a surfing and jumping adventure in a world of sunken cities and fog. It wasn't always like this, and you help restore the decaying archipelago as Sigrid, a young girl who befriends a mysterious shadow that provides her with the power to walk...

Cloud Gardens

Release Date: 09/09/2020, updated in 2021

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

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Cloud Gardens is a puzzle game where you grow vegetation over a dilapidated post-apocalyptic world. It's a low-pressure puzzle, from the team behind Kingdom. It has the same pixel-art style, but here you are left to take your time...

Traffix

Release Date: 08/07/2019

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Traffix is a puzzle game that puts you in charge of traffic lights on different road systems. By changing the lights to red, orange and green you work to get traffic to flow on increasingly complex and busy roads. It sounds complex, but with simple...

Tetris Effect: Connected

Release Date: 09/11/2018, updated in 2021

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

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Tetris Effect is a tile-matching puzzle game (just like the original Tetris) but with a surprisingly powerful aesthetic twist. The game places each level in a themed area and ties gameplay to the beat of the music across its thirty different stages.

Eagle Island

Release Date: 18/07/2019, updated in 2021

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

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

This is a running and jumping adventure where you play Quill and his owl companion Koji as they uncover the secrets of Eagle Island. You work your way through levels using falconry-inspired attacks to take down enemies.

Ekstase

Release Date: 01/10/2020

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Ekstase is a puzzle game like Tetris. Only here the falling shapes are more varied and when they hit the bottom they fall apart into their constituent parts. This creates a novel puzzle challenge requiring forward planning, quick reactions and skill....

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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