These games are perfect if you’ve never played one before, opening the door to the gaming world for non-gaming parents and carers. They are short, straightforward and easy to understand, so you don’t need to commit hours to learn to play them, and they are played on technology you probably already have in your pocket or in your home. They address mature themes such as love, hope, power, homelessness and even traffic planning by inviting you to interact and play a part in these worlds and stories.We've found that it's not just parents who have enjoyed the way these games let them in on the world of gaming, but grandparents, uncles and aunts. In fact it's a great list for anyone who's never played a game and wants to know what all the fuss is about.
Platforms: iOS Apple Arcade
Duration: Between 5 minutes and 20 minutes to play a round.
Players: This is a single player game.
Costs: Purchase cost.
Patterned is a puzzle game where you piece together beautiful patterns. It's a bit like a jigsaw but without the stress of forever finding more blue sky pieces. Each pattern begins as a sketch and you use visual clues to reassemble its scrambled pieces.
Duration: Between 5 minutes and 10 minutes to play a round.
Tint is a puzzle game you solve by painting. You mix watercolours to match the colour of the origami. The aesthetic and the low-pressure puzzles make for a soothing experience. There are no timers, no countdowns, no points and certainly no rush,...
Platforms: Android and iOS
Duration: Between 1 hour and 2 hours to complete.
This is a little puzzle game that tells the story of a relationship, following the usual stages of loneliness, meeting, dating, falling for and moving in with another person. At first, the puzzle interactions seem trivial and the game doesn’t change...
That Dragon, Cancer
Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS
Genres: Adventure and Narrative
Duration: Between 105 minutes and 3 hours to complete.
A game about a family with a young son who has terminal brain cancer. It sounds off-putting and morbid but this living biography invites you to join the family and find hope, faith and love in the face of an insurmountable challenge. It’s a unique...
Platforms: Mac, PC and iOS Apple Arcade
Genres: Open World, Simulation and Strategy
Duration: Between 20 minutes and 1 hour to complete.
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....
Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and iOS
Genres: Simulation and Strategy
Duration: Between 10 minutes and 20 minutes to complete.
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...
Genres: Platform and Puzzle
Duration: Between 2 hours and 3 and a half hours to complete.
Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.
Monument Valley and Monument Valley 2 are puzzle mazes made from optical illusions. You interact with each level to change the pathway and get your character to the exit. Its striking, calm visual theme is used to build atmosphere and slowly reveal a...
Old Man’s Journey
Platforms: Android, Nintendo Switch and iOS
Genres: Narrative, Platform and Puzzle
Duration: Between 2 hours and 3 hours to complete.
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.
Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch and PC
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.
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...
The First Tree
Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and PlayStation 4
Genres: Creative, Narrative, Open World, Platform and Puzzle
The First Tree is an exploration narrative game. In a dream, you explore a forest wilderness as a mother fox looking for her cubs. Simultaneously, you revisit childhood memories in spoken reflection from two lovers remembering the dream and their...
Genres: Action, Platform and Racing
Duration: Between 1 minute and 20 minutes to play a round.
Descend beautiful mountains, dunes and canyons on a snowboarding journey full of serenity and secrets. All you have to worry about is tapping to jump to avoid chasms, rockfall and other hazards. It’s simple and moreish due to the stunning landscapes...
Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS
Genres: Puzzle and Turn-Based
Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room and up to 4 players online.
Costs: Free-to-start. In-game purchases.
In Peggle, you fire a small ball into an array of pins that are triggered and disappear when the ball touches them. It's like a bright, saccharine pachinko game. But. being electronic you can earn all sort of bonus balls and abilities by hitting...
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.
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,...
Platforms: Mac, PC and PlayStation 4
Genres: Adventure, Creative, Narrative, Open World and Role-Playing
Duration: Between 13 hours and 20 hours to complete.
Eastshade is a slow exploration game in a world you explore by walking around. Here, though, you play as a travelling artist capturing the grand flora and fauna on canvas as you go. It’s another game that places you with purpose and responsibility in...
A Dark Room
Platforms: Nintendo Switch and iOS
Genres: Adventure, Open World, Strategy and Turn-Based
Duration: Between 4 hours and 5 hours to complete.
A Dark Room is an adventure where you try and survive in the wild. It has a similarly simple start – a single option to stoke a fire – but also evolves into an incrementally complex system of resource management as a larger story unfolds.
Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Puzzle and Strategy
Duration: Between 10 minutes and 1 hour to play a round.
Take charge of a kingdom, one decision at a time. Each choice is presented to you as a playing card with some advice or a question from one of the 38 different characters. Swipe left or right to make a decision that will impact the church, people,...
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.
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.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Abzu is an adventure in a lush underwater world. You descend into the heart of the ocean to find ancient secrets and encounter majestic creatures. This combines the beautiful weightlessness of diving with an ancient story of meaning and place in the world.
My Child Lebensborn
Genres: Narrative, Puzzle and Role-Playing
Duration: Between 4 hours and 6 hours to complete.
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...
Genres: Adventure and Turn-Based
Duration: Between 3 hours and 5 hours to complete.
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.
Thomas Was Alone
Platforms: Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Xbox One
Genres: Action, Narrative and Platform
Duration: Between 3 and a half hours and 6 hours to complete.
Control different-coloured rectangles in this simple running, jumping and puzzle solving platform game. It sounds boring and derivative but each of the distinctly coloured shapes comes to life in the game as a character embroiled in this escape story...
Age of Empires
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.
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...
Wide Ocean Big Jacket
Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and iOS
Genres: Narrative and Open World
This is a game about camping. Or rather, it's a game about the conversations you have while you are camping. You follow 13-year-old teenage friends Mord and Ben who recently started dating. The camping trip is with Mord’s Uncle Brad and Aunt Cloanne.
Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Open World
Duration: Between 4 hours and 7 hours to complete.
Firewatch is an explorative adventure where you play a fire lookout in America’s Shoshone National Forest. It has a relational and conspiracy undertone similar to the podcast/radio drama and Netflix show [link to...