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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.

Autonauts

Platforms: Mac and PC

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

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

This is an adventure game where you tame new worlds. You start with a blank slate similar to Sim City, but her you must build each dwelling, tool, vehicle yourself. It’s a task that’s too complex for any one person to handle. You are soon forced to...


Signs of the Sojourner

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch and PC

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Signs of the Sojourner, an introspective narrative where you interact with characters by solving puzzles with cards that represent emotions. It's a coming-of-age story set in the near-future and explores how relationships form, break, and mend in the...


The Pedestrian

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Platform and Puzzle

Duration: Between 3 hours and 4 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Free-to-start.

The Pedestrian is a puzzle game where you control a stick man navigating a series of road signs around a virtual city. It sounds a little odd and quite simple, but by layering its interconnected sign-based puzzles it creates an experience that is both...


Mini Motorways

Platforms: Mac, PC and iOS Apple Arcade

Genres: Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Duration: Between 20 minutes and 1 hour to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

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....


Mini Metro

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

Genres: Simulation and Strategy

Duration: Between 10 minutes and 20 minutes to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

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...


Sizzle And Stew

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Action, Puzzle and Simulation

Duration: Between 5 minutes and 15 minutes to play a round.

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room, but you can’t play it online.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Sizzle & Stew is a cooking game where you don’t have to follow the rules. It’s a lot of fun and works well in the two-player split-screen mode. Experiment as you explore all the kitchen gadgets to make a meal, or just see what happens when you put a...


Dragon Box

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Puzzle

Duration: Between 2 minutes and 5 minutes to play a round.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

DragonBox is an educational series of games that teaches young children maths, such as algebra using pattern matching with symbols. Unlike other educational games, the fun is in the doing in DragonBox, rather than incentivising learning with separate...


Super Mario Maker (Series)

Platforms: Nintendo 2DS/3DS, Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Wii U

Genres: Action, Creative and Platform

Duration: Between half an hour and 1 hour to play a round.

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

Costs: Purchase cost.

Super Mario Maker is a game-making system. It’s simpler than tools like Dreams or Roblox, but still offers a huge array of ways to create running and jumping platform games that can then be shared online. You can play hundreds of games that other...


Old Man’s Journey

Platforms: Android, Nintendo Switch and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Platform and Puzzle

Duration: Between 2 hours and 3 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Old Man’s Journey is a game about memory and old age. You help a grandfather-figure traverse the countryside by raising and lowering the landscape. Along the way he visits places that evoke the story of his life: a wife, a child and a love of the sea.


Spaceteam

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Action, Physically Active, Puzzle and Strategy

Duration: Between 5 minutes and 15 minutes to complete.

Players: You can play with 8 players in the same room, but you can’t play it online.

Costs: Free. In-game purchases.

Players pilot a spaceship, each with their own control panel on their smartphone or tablet screen. The switches, dials, sliders and levers are labelled with randomly-generated peculiar names: ‘Astral Synth’, ‘Gripvent’, ‘Starmesh’,...


Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Platforms: PlayStation 4

Genres: Puzzle

Duration: Between 20 minutes and half an hour to complete.

Players: You can play with 10 players in the same room, but you can’t play it online.

Costs: Purchase cost.

In this game you’re confronted with a bomb on the screen that has to be defused, requiring a series of modules to be disarmed. The bomb defuser player can see and operate the bomb but the other players, who have the defuse instructions, can’t. The...


Heave Ho

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch and PC

Genres: Action, Platform, Puzzle and Simulation

Duration: Between 4 hours and 5 hours to complete.

Players: You can play with 4 players in the same room, but you can’t play it online.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Heave Ho is a game where up to four players try and swing themselves across a level. But you can only hang on to certain points and must dangle and swing with both arms to progress. The twist is that you can also hold hands with other players and make...


The Witness

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Open World and Puzzle

Duration: Between 18 hours and 30 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

The Witness combines maze puzzles in an abandoned world with its own mythology, secrets, themes and story. It’s a game with puzzles at the core, but the real mystery is solving what has happened in the world you find yourself in.


Endless Ocean

Platforms: Nintendo Wii

Genres: Adventure, Open World and Simulation

Duration: Between 8 hours and 9 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Endless Ocean (Endless Ocean: Blue World in the US) and its sequel Endless Ocean 2: Adventures of the Deep are versions of a diving adventure game where you explore the Manaurai Sea to identify different fish and recover artefacts. As experience is...


39 Days to Mars

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

Genres: Puzzle

Duration: Between 1 hour and 2 hours to complete.

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room, but you can’t play it online.

Costs: Purchase cost.

39 Days to Mars is a game where players cooperate to build and fix a nineteenth-century steam-powered spaceship en route to Mars. With another player, you play one of two full voice-acted characters and solve puzzles by interacting with switches, levers...


Baba is You

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch and PC

Genres: Puzzle

Duration: Between 5 hours and 8 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Baba is You requires some lateral thinking. Each level is controlled by rules written on the screen, such as ‘Lava is Hot’, ‘Wall is Stop’ and ‘Flag is Move’. By moving the words around with your pixilated character, you subvert the...


Wilmot's Warehouse

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch and PC

Genres: Puzzle

Duration: Between 9 hours and 11 hours to complete.

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room, but you can’t play it online.

Costs: Purchase cost.

This is a game for people who like to organise things. You are in charge of a warehouse and must manage 100s of items of stock. These identical square boxes are labelled with rudimentary icons. On your own or with another player, you must decipher what...


Everything

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and PlayStation 4

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Open World and Simulation

Duration: Between 3 hours and 7 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

This is an unusual game that simulates a world where you can become any object. It sounds strange and not much fun, but the enjoyment is in discovering how small or how big a thing you can become. From tiny atoms to whole planets and everything in between.


Hidden Through Time

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

Genres: Creative and Puzzle

Duration: Between 3 hours and 4 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

This is a spot the item game that also takes you on a journey through different time periods. You are task with finding specific items and must zoom, interact and uncover things to find each one.


Manifold Garden

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and iOS Apple Arcade

Genres: Open World, Puzzle and Simulation

Duration: Between 6 hours and 10 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Manifold Garden is inspired by Escher drawings and the reality-bending moments in the film Inception. You play from a first-person perspective and explore a beautiful, and what seems to be an abstract world, bereft of colour. It takes time to master and...


Teach Your Monster To Read

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Platform and Puzzle

Duration: Between 5 minutes and 15 minutes to play a round.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Teach Your Monster to Read is a game about phonics, letters and reading. Children create a monster for a journey through three games. The combination of colourful well-animated characters and proper reading learning is both fun and powerful.


Kerbal Space Program

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Creative, Open World and Simulation

Duration: Between 105 hours and 205 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Kerbal Space Program is a space flight simulation game. You direct a space program, staffed and crewed by aliens. It looks like a cute game for kids, but under its comic exterior is a hugely complex and engaging space simulation.


Pocket City

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Creative, Open World and Strategy

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Free-to-start.

You build your own living breathing city by creating residential, commercial, and industrial zones, as well as placing special buildings. In addition to this Sim City style play you earn points to upgrade by competing missions.


Beyond Blue

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and iOS Apple Arcade

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Open World and Simulation

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Beyond Blue is an underwater exploration game where you play Mirai, a deep-sea explorer and scientist. You see, hear, and interact with the ocean and the creatures in it as you discover an untouched world.


Subdefuge

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Open World, Puzzle, Simulation, Strategy and Turn-Based

Duration: Between half an hour and 1 hour to play a round.

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room and up to 10 players online.

Costs: Free-to-start. In-game purchases.

Subterfuge is a strategy game played with human opponents. The game is designed to be played over a week or so, to give players time to talk between goes. This encourages players to team up, trick or double-cross other players to get them to make the...


Koral

Platforms: Nintendo Switch and PC

Genres: Adventure, Open World and Simulation

Duration: Between 2 hours and 3 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Koral is a diving exploration game where you play the sea current. This sounds a little odd, playing a flow of energy, but works brilliantly.


Bury Me My Love

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

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Turn-Based

Duration: Between 2 hours and 4 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Free-to-start.

Don’t be put off by the name and theme of this intriguing game, an adventure played by choosing responses in what looks like a messaging app. You take the role of the husband of a Syrian migrant travelling to Europe. As the game unfolds in real time,...


Professor Layton

Platforms: Android, Nintendo 2DS/3DS, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Switch and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Puzzle and Turn-Based

Duration: Between 12 hours and 30 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Professor Layton is a puzzle-game series. In different locations, you must solve brainteasers with maths, logic, maze-solving and lateral-thinking skills to move the story on.


Gris

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

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Platform

Duration: Between 4 hours and 6 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Gris is a platform game where you guide a young girl through a crumbling world. Through beautiful metaphoric landscapes and soaring music, the game touches on emotions of loss and longing but doesn’t resolve to a firm narrative. Although not hugely...


Minecraft

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo 2DS/3DS, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Creative, Fighting, Open World, Platform and Shooting

Duration: Between 5 minutes and 10 minutes to play a round.

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

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Although Minecraft – where players place blocks to build structures, sculpt the landscape and create adventures – is the best-selling game of all time, some of the best aspects of it are little known. Along with the exploration, building and...


Eco

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Creative, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Duration: Between 20 hours and 50 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 100 players online.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Eco extends the resource-collecting and building of Minecraft by introducing environmental implications to your actions. Using resources like trees will erode the soil; mining might pollute the river; and each animal depends on another.


Heaven’s Vault

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC and PlayStation 4

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Duration: Between 18 hours and 22 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

In Heaven’s Vault you play an archaeologist translating an ancient alien language whose decrypting weaves through an unfolding drama. While doing real linguistic work you interact with companions and locals. Your choices can open or close vast swathes...


Affordable Space Adventure

Platforms: Nintendo Wii U

Genres: Action, Adventure, Puzzle and Shooting

Duration: Between 7 hours and 10 hours to complete.

Players: You can play with 3 players in the same room, but you can’t play it online.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Three people work to pilot a diminutive spacecraft through a hostile environment. One player uses the Wii U game tablet to control engines, power and shields. A second player controls lights and weapons. A third player steers the craft through the...


Stardew Valley

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

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

Duration: Between 51 hours and 75 hours to complete.

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room, but you can’t play it online.

Costs: Purchase cost.

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...


One Hour One Life

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative, Fighting, Open World, Simulation and Strategy

Duration: Between 1 hour and 1 hour to complete.

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 100 players online.

Costs: Purchase cost.

This is a civilisation survival game where each player lives a whole life in an hour of play and then passes away. Born as a baby into the care of anonymous other online players, you initially depend on them for food. Quickly growing, you can soon fend...


Celeste

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

Genres: Platform

Duration: Between 13 hours and 30 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

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...


Lego Worlds

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

Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative, Open World and Simulation

Duration: Between 10 hours and 15 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Lego Worlds takes virtual building back to the classic bricks with familiar figures, buildings and challenges from other Lego video games in an open world where your imagination can go wild in a bottomless bucket of bricks.


Crossout

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Racing, Shooting and Simulation

Duration: Between 10 minutes and half an hour to complete.

Players: You can play this with 16 players online.

Costs: Purchase cost. Season pass and in-game purchases.

Crossout is an online vehicle combat game set in a Mad Max, post-apocalyptic world. Players design modular vehicles combine weapons, armour and engines. As you progress in the game you earn currency to upgrade components and access more powerful parts....


Astroneer

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

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

Duration: Between 14 hours and 40 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Astroneer is an open-world space adventure where you colonize planets by creating habitable structures, farming and mining resources. There is no specific story, although the challenges of each planet give rise to struggles of achievement to placate the...


TerraTech

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

Genres: Action, Creative, Open World, Shooting and Strategy

Players: You can play this with 16 players online.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

TerraTech is a construction game where you create vehicles to explore the environment, find resources and craft upgrades. It includes a modular building element where your decisions affect the performance of what you make. Each building block has its...


Stacking

Platforms: Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Duration: Between 4 hours and 6 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Stacking is puzzle game where characters are Russian stacking matryoshka dolls. Controlling the smallest doll in the game, Charlie Blackmore, you go on an adventure. Your main ability is that you can stack and unstack into larger dolls and gain their...


Curious Expedition (Series)

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and PlayStation 4

Genres: Adventure, Open World, Puzzle and Strategy

Duration: Between 1 and a half hours and 105 minutes to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Curious Expedition is an expedition simulation, in the late 19th century. You join historical people to explore a world map to gain fame, science and treasures. Each time you set out the world is different, with unique challenges requiring particular...


My Child Lebensborn

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle and Role-Playing

Duration: Between 4 hours and 6 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

You nurture a Lebensborn child in Norway after World War II who faces a hostile community because they’ve been born to parents of both occupied and occupying forces. With meagre resources yourself, you must feed, clothe and bathe the child, but more...


80 Days

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

Genres: Adventure and Turn-Based

Duration: Between 3 hours and 5 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

80 Days is a travel and culture discovery game set in 1872, where decisions about your journey around the world impact the course of the story and characters.


Civilization (Series)

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

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

Duration: Between 20 hours and 40 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

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.


Valiant Hearts The Great War

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative, Platform and Puzzle

Duration: Between 7 hours and 9 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Free-to-start. In-game purchases.

Valiant Hearts is an adventure game set during World War I. You play four characters who help a young German soldier find his love in a story about survival, sacrifice and friendship. This is achieved by solving puzzles and interacting with various...


Age of Empires (Series)

Platforms: Mac, PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox One

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

Duration: Between 20 hours and 30 hours to complete.

Players: You can play this with 8 players online.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Age of Empires is a strategy game where you command an ancient civilisation in real-time and must develop from hunter-gatherers to advanced forms of defence and war. This is similar territory to Civilization but focus on...


Discovery Tour (Series)

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure and Simulation

Duration: Between 10 hours and 15 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Discovery Tour uses the worlds created for the main Assassin’s Creed games to offer an educational exploration experience.


Papers, Please

Platforms: Mac, PC, PlayStation Vita and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle, Strategy and Turn-Based

Duration: Between 5 hours and 9 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

You play the role of a border-crossing immigration officer in the fictional dystopian Eastern Bloc-like country of Arstotzka. You review each immigrant’s and returning citizens’ passports and paperwork according to an increasing list of changing...


This War Of Mine

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

Genres: Narrative, Role-Playing, Shooting, Simulation and Strategy

Duration: Between 10 hours and 16 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Inspired by the 1992–96 Siege of Sarajevo, this is a war game where you play the civilian trying to survive during the fighting. You face tough decisions on how to spend time and resources each day to maintain health, hunger and mood levels until a...


Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Platforms: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting and Narrative

Duration: Between 8 hours and 14 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

This is a dark fantasy adventure, drawing on Norse and Celtic mythology, where you play a young female Pict warrior, Senua. You explore and fight your way to Helheim to rescue the soul of her dead lover. As you play, though, you hear multiple voices in...


Assassin’s Creed (Series)

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii U, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Open World, Shooting and Simulation

Duration: Between 30 hours and 40 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. Season pass and in-game purchases.

Assassin’s Creed is a game where you enter a past civilisation and explore pseudo history of real events and locations from the past. You can climb the environment extensively, interact with different characters, collect items to unlock more the...