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Your First Video Game

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.

Patterned

Rating: Not rated by PEGI or ESRB

Release Date: 15/09/2019

Platforms: iOS Apple Arcade

Genres: Puzzle

Players: This is a single player game

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.


Townscaper

Rating: Not rated by PEGI or ESRB

Release Date: 30/06/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Creative, Puzzle and Simulation

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.


Florence

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 14/02/2018, updated in 2020

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Narrative

Players: This is a single player game

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

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 12/01/2016, updated in 2016

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Players: This is a single player game

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...


Mini Motorways

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 04/03/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC and iOS Apple Arcade

Genres: Open World, Simulation and Strategy

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....


Mini Metro

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 06/01/2015

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

Genres: Simulation and Strategy

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...


Monument Valley (Series)

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 11/05/2018

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Platform and Puzzle

Players: This is a single player game

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...


Alto’s Adventure (Series)

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 19/02/2015, updated in 2018

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

Genres: Action, Platform and Racing

Players: This is a single player game

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...


The First Tree

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 11/10/2018

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

Genres: Creative, Narrative, Open World, Platform and Puzzle

Players: This is a single player game

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...


Wilmot's Warehouse

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 29/08/2019

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and iOS

Genres: Puzzle

Developer: @FinjiCo

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room

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...


Old Man’s Journey

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 17/05/2017

Platforms: Android, Nintendo Switch and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Platform and Puzzle

Players: This is a single player game

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.


Breath of Light

Rating: PEGI 3+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 25/03/2015

Platforms: iOS

Genres: Puzzle

Players: This is a single player game

Breath of Light is a meditative puzzle game where you guide the breath of light through sand and water. With no score or time-limits and with all levels unlocked from the start, the focus is on relaxation and breathing rather than the challenge and its...


Bury Me My Love

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

Release Date: 26/10/2017, updated in 2020

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

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Turn-Based

Players: This is a single player game

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,...


Eastshade

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

Release Date: 14/08/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC and PlayStation 4

Genres: Adventure, Creative, Narrative, Open World and Role-Playing

Players: This is a single player game

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

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

Release Date: 10/06/2013, updated in 2019

Platforms: Nintendo Switch and iOS

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

Developer: @continuities

Players: This is a single player game

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.


Reigns (Series)

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 11/08/2016

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

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Puzzle, Strategy and Turn-Based

Players: This is a single player game

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,...


Professor Layton

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

Release Date: 07/11/2008

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

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Puzzle and Turn-Based

Players: This is a single player game

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.


Abzu

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB EVERYONE

Release Date: 02/11/2016, updated in 2018

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

Genres: Adventure

Players: This is a single player game

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

Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 08/05/2018

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle and Role-Playing

Players: This is a single player game

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

Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

Release Date: 31/07/2014, updated in 2019

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

Genres: Adventure and Turn-Based

Developer: @inkleStudios

Players: This is a single player game

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

Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB EVERYONE 10+

Release Date: 18/04/2013, updated in 2014

Platforms: Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Narrative and Platform

Players: This is a single player game

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 (Series)

Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 02/02/1998, updated in 2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox One

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

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

Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 07/02/2020

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and iOS

Genres: Narrative and Open World

Developer: @_TurnFollow

Players: This is a single player game

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.


Firewatch

Rating: PEGI 16+, ESRB MATURE 17+

Release Date: 20/09/2016

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

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Open World

Players: This is a single player game

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...


Lifeline (Series)

Rating: PEGI 16+, ESRB MATURE 17+

Release Date: 16/04/2015, updated in 2016

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Developer: @3MinuteGames

Players: This is a single player game

Lifeline is a narrative adventure where you interact with am astronaut, Taylor via text messages. You help him return home after crashing his aircraft on a foreign planet.



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