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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 20 games from the last 29 years, with 903 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+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Platform, Puzzle, Racing, Role-Playing, Shooting, Simulation, Sports, Strategy and Turn-Based
Total Likes: 903
 

 

A Short Hike

Rating: PEGI 3+

Release Date: 05/04/2019, updated in 2020

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch and PC

Genres: Adventure and Open World

Accessibility: 16 features

Developer: @Adamgryu

Players: This is a single player game

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)

Rating: PEGI 3+

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

Price: 26% off

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

Genres: Open World and Simulation

Accessibility: 27 features

Developer: @NintendoAmerica

Players: You can play with 4 players in the same room and up to 8 players online

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

Rating: Not rated by PEGI

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

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch and PC

Genres: Creative, Puzzle and Simulation

Accessibility: 17 features

Developer: @OskSta

Players: This is a single player game

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

PEGI Rating 12+ for Roki

Roki

Rating: PEGI 12+

Release Date: 23/07/2020

Platforms: Nintendo Switch and PC

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Accessibility: 30 features

Developer: @PolyTreehouse

Players: This is a single player game

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.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Series)

Rating: PEGI 3+

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

Price: 26% off

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

Genres: Action and Racing

Accessibility: 22 features

Developer: @Nintendo

Players: You can play with 4 players in the same room and up to 16 players online

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.

The Last Of Us Part II

Rating: PEGI 18+

Release Date: 19/06/2020

Price: 36% off

Platforms: PlayStation 4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Role-Playing and Shooting

Accessibility: 45 features

Developer: @Naughty_Dog

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Rocket League

Rating: PEGI 3+

Release Date: 28/08/2018

Price: Free

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action and Sports

Accessibility: 33 features

Developer: @PsyonixStudios

Players: You can play with 4 players in the same room and up to 6 players online

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...

Stardew Valley

Rating: PEGI 12+

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

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 24 features

Developer: @ConcernedApe

Players: You can play this with 4 players online

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...

Immortals Fenyx Rising

Rating: PEGI 12+

Release Date: 03/12/2020

Price: 51% off

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Adventure, Fighting and Open World

Accessibility: 42 features

Developer: @Ubisoft

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Marvel's Spider-Man (Series)

Rating: PEGI 16+

Release Date: 07/09/2018

Price: 35% off

Platforms: PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Open World

Accessibility: 19 features

Developer: @Insomniacgames

Players: This is a single player game

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.

Celeste

Rating: PEGI 7+

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

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Platform

Accessibility: 26 features

Developer: @Exok_Games

Players: This is a single player game

This 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 on...

Viva Pinata

Rating: PEGI 3+

Release Date: 09/09/2006

Platforms: Nintendo DS, PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Genres: Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @RareLtd

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room and up to 4 players online

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...

Sid Meier's Civilization (Series)

Rating: PEGI 12+

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

Price: 67% off

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Fighting, Open World, Strategy and Turn-Based

Developer: @Sid_Meier

Players: This is a single player game

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.

Mini Metro

Rating: PEGI 3+

Release Date: 06/01/2015

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and iOS

Genres: Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 27 features

Developer: @Dinopoloclub

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Mini Motorways

Rating: PEGI 3+

Release Date: 04/03/2019

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and iOS Apple Arcade

Genres: Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @Dinopoloclub

Players: This is a single player game

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....

Planet Coaster

Rating: PEGI 7+

Release Date: 17/11/2016

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Creative, Puzzle and Simulation

Developer: @FrontierDev

Players: This is a single player game

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...

The Sims 4 (Series)

Rating: PEGI 12+

Release Date: 04/02/2000

Price: 75% off

Platforms: Android, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Narrative and Simulation

Accessibility: 7 features

Developer: @EA

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Traffix

Rating: PEGI 3+

Release Date: 08/07/2019

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Puzzle

Accessibility: 22 features

Developer: @8InfinityGames

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Factorio

Expected Rating: PEGI 7+

Release Date: 14/08/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Creative, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @FactorioGame

Players: You can play this with 700 players online

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).

Eagle Island

Rating: PEGI 7+

Release Date: 18/07/2019

Price: 33% off

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch and PC

Genres: Action, Fighting and Platform

Accessibility: 17 features

Developer: @ScreenwaveMedia

Players: This is a single player game

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.


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