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85 Great Games Like The Last Of Us

Our experts have spent time searching for great games similar to The Last Of Us. We also offer games selected by matching genre and age rating.
 

You play a father, Joel, whose daughter was killed during the early stages of a deadly fungal outbreak. It’s now 20 years later, and he has clearly suffered from the loss. When Joel is given charge of a girl, Ellie, about the same age his daughter was, he is resolute that he won’t be the father figure she clearly needs. Equally, the girl is independent, angry and scared, and won’t admit her need for his care. As the game proceeds through its 18-or-so hours of shooting, exploration and city traversal, you see this dysfunction soften both ways as they slowly gain deep understanding, appreciation and care of each other.

If you enjoyed The Last Of Us, there are other games in the The Last of Us series you should try. Unfortunately, The Last Of Us is not available on Android, Mac, PC, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S or iOS. However, we recommend the following games that offer a similar experience or theme, and at a lower age rating:

DetailsGame Details

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 14/06/2013

Platforms: PS3 and PS4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Accessibility: 22 features

Developer: @Naughty_Dog

Players: This is a single player game

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases

Hand Picked Games Like The Last Of Us

These are our hand-picked games similar to The Last Of Us. We don't use automatic matching, instead, we identify games that are good to play if you have enjoyed The Last Of Us, or as younger rated alternatives for players not ready for PEGI 18 or ESRB MATURE 17+ games. These selections also include games that offer a different experience but address a similar theme or topic.
 

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 14-18 year-olds

Release Date: 13/10/2009, updated in 2015

Platforms: PS3 and PS4

Genres: Action, Adventure and Shooting

Accessibility: 20 features

Developer: @Naughty_Dog

Players: This is a single player game

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is an action-adventure game that puts you in the role of treasure hunter Nathan Drake. You head to Nepal looking for the lost city of Shambala, unfortunately, you're not the only one looking for it. On your journey, you'll...

The Last Of Us Part II

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 19/06/2020

Price: 36% off

Platforms: PS4

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

Accessibility: 49 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...

The Long Dark

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds

Release Date: 22/09/2014

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

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

Accessibility: 18 features

Developer: @HinterlandGames

Players: This is a single player game

The Long Dark is a thoughtful exploration-survival game where you have crash-landed in the icy Canadian wilderness after a global disaster and must find a way to survive. Through exploring, crafting and fighting you must look after your body...

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 14-18 year-olds

Release Date: 19/11/2016, updated in 2017

Platforms: PS3 and PS4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Accessibility: 32 features

Developer: @Naughty_Dog

Players: You can play this with 10 players online

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is an action-adventure game set several years after the events of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. You play Nathan Drake, a happily married former treasure hunter coaxed out of retirement by his brother. This leads into...

Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 11-16 year-olds

Release Date: 15/02/2012

Platforms: PS Vita

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Accessibility: 24 features

Developer: @Naughty_Dog

Players: This is a single player game

Uncharted: Golden Abyss is an action-adventure game. It's a spin-off of the Uncharted series, although also a substantial experience in its own right that features the series protagonist, Nate. As with the other games you explore, run, jump and shoot...

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 14/05/2019

Price: 75% off

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

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative and Shooting

Accessibility: 25 features

Developer: @AsoboStudio

Players: This is a single player game

A Plague Tale: Innocence follows Amicia and her little brother Hugo as they use stealth to escape soldiers and swarms of rats. Against the stark threat and darkness of the world, the sibling relationship develops as the two learn to trust one another....

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 14-18 year-olds

Release Date: 01/11/2011

Platforms: PS3 and PS4

Genres: Action, Adventure and Shooting

Accessibility: 20 features

Developer: @Naughty_Dog

Players: This is a single player game

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is an action-adventure game and the third entry in the Uncharted series. In Uncharted 3 you once again take the role of Nathan Drake, treasure hunter, in the hunt for the lost city Ubar (also known as Atlantis of the...

Unturned

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 08/07/2014

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4 and Xbox One

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

Developer: @Sdgnelson

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room and up to 100 players online

Unturned is a strategy survival game where you are in a Minecraft and Roblox-style world filled with zombies. You have to carefully explore the world, gather resources and craft weapons. You might go in guns blazing, sneak around making use of...

Outward

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 26/03/2019

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Role-Playing and Simulation

Accessibility: 8 features

Developer: @NineDotsStudio

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

Outward is a fantasy adventure focused on an ordinary character surviving against the odds. There's a focus on realism rather than superpowers or magical abilities. You have to look after your warmth, hunger, fatigue, illness, and thirst as well as the...

Plants vs. Zombies (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 8-14 year-olds

Release Date: 04/09/2019

Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Fighting, Shooting and Strategy

Developer: @PopCap

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room and up to 24 players online

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare is a series of third-person shooting games about the battle for supremacy between weaponised plants and attacking zombies. It's good for families because the comedic zombies and funny plant powers keep things away from...

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 14-18 year-olds

Release Date: 19/11/2007

Platforms: PS3 and PS4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative and Shooting

Accessibility: 20 features

Developer: @Naughty_Dog

Players: This is a single player game

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is an action-adventure where you, treasure hunter Nathan Drake, follow in the footsteps of your ancestor Sir Francis Drake in search of El Dorado. You run, jump, fight, shoot, and explore a rich world that unfolds a film-like...

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 08/08/2017, updated in 2018

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting and Narrative

Accessibility: 22 features

Developer: @NinjaTheory

Players: This is a single player game

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...

A Way Out

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 23/03/2018

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting and Shooting

Accessibility: 24 features

Developer: @HazelightGames

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

From the same developer as Brothers A Tale of Two Sons, this is another game centred around two playable characters simultaneously. With another player, you control Leo and Vincent, two convicted prisoners who...

Batman: Arkham Knight

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 23/06/2015

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

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Open World, Role-Playing and Shooting

Accessibility: 20 features

Developer: @RocksteadyGames

Players: This is a single player game

Batman: Arkham Knight is the final installment of the Batman: Arkham series. Nine-months after the events of Batman: Arkham City, Gotham seems safer as crime drops significantly. All good things must come to an end, as it is Halloween night and the...

Resident Evil Village (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 22/03/1996, updated in 2021

Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Action, Narrative and Puzzle

Accessibility: 19 features

Developer: @CapcomUSA_

Players: You can play this with 6 players online

Resident Evil Village is a survival horror adventure. It follows on the narrative of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and the first person perspective. As in the other games, you play Ethan Winters who is searching for his kidnapped daughter in a village...

Dysmantle

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 06/01/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Action, Adventure, Open World and Strategy

Developer: @10tonsLtd

Players: This is a single player game

Dysmantle is a survival strategy game where you play a character emerging after the apocalypse. The world is now inhabited with dangerous creatures and you only have your bare hands to survive. It's novel because most items in the world can be destroyed...

Tomb Raider (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 09/11/2015, updated in 2019

Price: 72% off

Platforms: GameCube, Mac, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, Wii, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

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

Accessibility: 1 feature

Developer: @Ubisoft

Players: This is a single player game

Tomb Raider is a longstanding series that has been rebooted in recent years. This means it not only gets a fresh coat of paint like a re-release but is built from the ground up. All the games feature Lara Croft as the titular hero. She shoots, runs,...

Way To The Woods

Content Rating: Not rated by PEGI

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC and Xbox

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: @Tamagotchi44

Players: This is a single player game

Way to the Woods is an adventure game where you play a fawn and a deer trying to survive their long journey home after human civilization has collapsed. Interacting with the world and exploring both urban and barren landscapes leads you to discover the...

Assassin's Creed Origins

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 26/10/2017

Platforms: PC, PS4, Stadia and Xbox One

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

Accessibility: 28 features

Developer: @UbisoftMTL

Players: This is a single player game

Assassin’s Creed Origins is an adventure set in Ancient Egypt near the end of the Ptolemaic period (49–44 BC). This game in the series goes back to the start of the centuries-long conflict between the Assassins (who fight for peace by promoting...

Bioshock (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 21/08/2007, updated in 2016

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Accessibility: 18 features

Developer: @GhostStoryGames

Players: This is a single player game

Bioshock is a first-person shooting game set in a fantastical underwater city. A dark story unfolds about the misuse of surgery and gene therapy. Players must make a decision about whether to save the children they find or harvest their energy for the...

Dishonored (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 09/10/2012, updated in 2017

Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Puzzle, Shooting and Simulation

Accessibility: 19 features

Developer: @ArkaneStudios

Players: This is a single player game

Dishonored is an adventure game series set in the fictional, plague-ridden industrial city of Dunwall. You play Corvo Attano, bodyguard to the Empress of the Isles. But you are framed for her murder and forced to become an assassin.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 12/08/2015, updated in 2016

Platforms: Mac, PC and PS4

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Open World

Accessibility: 15 features

Developer: @ChineseRoom

Players: This is a single player game

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture lands you in a fictional deserted English village in 1984. As you walk the streets of another era you discover bright human forms who re-enact events like a radio play. Through their eyes, you see a web of fear,...

Journey of the Broken Circle

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 18/09/2020

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Platform and Puzzle

Developer: @NakanaGames

Players: This is a single player game

Journey of the Broken Circle is a rolling and jumping game about looking for a life partner. You play as a simple circle with a piece missing. As you progress by making jumps and solving puzzles, you meet partners who slot in specific abilities and...

Over The Alps

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 31/03/2020

Platforms: PC and iPhone, iPad

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Puzzle and Turn-Based

Developer: @StaveStudios

Players: This is a single player game

Over The Alps is an adventure with intrigue and espionage set in 1939 Switzerland. Designed to look like retro photographs. The story unfolds as you select stamps to indicate how your character should approach interactions. Discover a secret history in...

Papo and Yo

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 14/08/2012

Platforms: Mac, PC and PS3

Genres: Narrative, Platform and Puzzle

Developer: @We_are_minority

Players: This is a single player game

Papo & Yo pits you as a young boy, Quico, exploring a Brazilian city slum. As you solve puzzles and perform well-timed jumps to progress through the city, you must also deal with a monster – both real and metaphorically representing your alcoholic...

The Walking Dead (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 24/04/2012, updated in 2018

Platforms: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Narrative and Point-and-Click

Developer: @TelltaleGames

Players: This is a single player game

Walking Dead is a survival adventure game series. You explore locations and gather a ragtag group of survivors. How you interact with each of them and make decisions about various dangers results in a branching story where no one is guaranteed to survive.

Gears 5 (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 07/11/2006, updated in 2019

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

Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative, Narrative and Shooting

Accessibility: 37 features

Developer: @CoalitionGears

Players: You can play with 3 players in the same room and up to 10 players online

Gears of War is a series of shooting game about a conflict between humanity, the subterranean reptilian hominids known as the Locust Horde, and their mutated counterparts, the Lambent. It's a big brash game franchise with six games, a comic book series...

Dragon Age (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 03/11/2009, updated in 2014

Platforms: Android, PC, PS3, PS4, Web, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

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

Accessibility: 20 features

Developer: @Bioware

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 4 players online

The Dragon Age series are narrative-driven role playing games with an emphasis on combat and player choices. You play the hero in the medieval fantasy world of Thedas, exploring the world and using your power to stop the impending darkness spread across...

Days Gone

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 26/04/2019

Price: 63% off

Platforms: PS4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Open World, Role-Playing, Shooting and Simulation

Developer: @BendStudio

Players: This is a single player game

Days Gone is a survival adventure game set in a post-pandemic Oregon. You roam an open world pulsing with life (and zombies). It's unusual for its scale and sheer number of enemies. Add to that the changing light and weather and Days Gone creates a...

Dead Containment

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Release Date: 01/11/2021

Platforms: PC

Genres: Action and Shooting

Accessibility: 31 features

Developer: @GrumpDogGames

Players: You can play this with 2 players online

Dead Containment is a shooting game where you only control the aiming. It's inspired by on-rails shooting games found in 90's arcades, played with light guns. You use your weapons to fend off the undead as they race towards you in city locations.

Minute of Islands

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 13/06/2021

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

Genres: Platform and Puzzle

Accessibility: 4 features

Developer: @MinuteofIslands

Players: This is a single player game

Minute of Islands is a running, jumping and exploring game where you play Mo, a skilled tinkerer living in the dilapidated poisoned ruins of an ancient race of giants. You scavenge parts from their strange machines to get them running and clean the air....

Aliens: Fireteam Elite

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 15+ year-olds

Release Date: 24/08/2021

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

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative and Shooting

Developer: @ColdIronStudios

Players: You can play this with 3 players online

Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a cooperative shooting game set 23 years after the original films. Unlike the stealthy Alien: Isolation, Fireteam Elite draws on Aliens: Colonial Marines' breathless shooting and racing pulse.

Redfall

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Action, Fighting and Shooting

Developer: @Bethesda

Players: You can play this with 4 players online

Redfall is an open-world team shooting game set in a Massachusetts town under siege by a legion of vampires. You work with a handful of survivors to purge the town. It's a cooperative experience with diverse characters and wide-ranging ways to approach...

The House of the Dead (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 01/01/1996, updated in 2018

Platforms: PC, PS2, PS3, Switch, Wii and Xbox

Genres: Action and Shooting

Players: You can play this with 4 players online

The House of the Dead is a horror-themed shooting game where you control the targeting but not the movement. Unlike general on-rails shooting games, this was controlled using a light-gun pointing at the screen (or similar controller). This gives the...

Games Like The Last Of Us Based on Genre

These are games of a similar genre mix to The Last Of Us. This includes games from the Fighting, Action, Adventure, Shooting and Narrative genres. We pick out games of a similar PEGI rating to further hone these generated suggestions.
 

The Last Of Us is in These Lists

In addition to the similar games listed above, which have been linked to this game specifically in the database, you may find games with a similar theme to The Last Of Us in the following lists:

Inhabit Another World

Whether it’s a simple puzzle grid, a battlefield or a universe of planets to visit, all games create virtual spaces in which to play. Some of these are simply the background to a campaign - the game’s unfolding drama, missions or challenge. But others invite you to invest in the worlds they create, move in, tend to and inhabit in fantastical ways.

The games in this section invite you to spend time in spaces that have a sense of place, life and character. Worlds that hold history and lore in their landscapes, flora, fauna and inhabitants; environments that respond to your presence and invite you to restore them to their former glory.
 
Shu
PEGI Rating 7 for Shu
Fuel
PEGI Rating 7 for Fuel
Haven
PEGI Rating 12 for Haven
Ete
Pine
PEGI Rating 12 for Pine
Fe
PEGI Rating 7 for Fe

Interpret Deeper Meaning

Video games aren't high on the list of most people's spiritual spaces. However, many games offer experiences that invite you to explore buildings, worlds, cities and the countryside full of potential for spiritual reflection.

Games offer a unique way to encounter what is beyond us: other people, the world and possibly even the divine. They include themes of hope, loss and love. They invite us to reconsider how we see the outsider and the marginalised. They offer a chance for response and emotion to grow.

The games in this list have been the subject of a series of articles I have written about video games and faith. Firstly, from 2013-2015 for ThirdWay magazine, and more recently for Youth and Children's Work (YCW) magazine.

These are two publications for Christian audiences, that have invited me to shed light on what a range of video games might mean for those communities. I aim to make connections with faith, the bible and the experience of these video games. This is one way to interpret them which of course invites further and possibly counter interpretations from other perspectives.

YCW articles:
Firewatch | Everything | Bury Me My Love | Abzu | Wilmot's Warehouse

Thirdway Articles:
Proteus | Joust | Uncharted 3 | Alan Wake | This War of Mine | Journey | Limbo | Spaceteam | A Dark Room | Altos Adventure | A Year Walk | Bioshock Infinite | The Last of Us | Disney Infinity | Everybody's Gone to the Rapture | That Dragon Cancer | Spec Ops The Line | Papo and Yo
 

Big Budget Popular Games

These games are big, brash and popular. They have big budgets which means the visual and interactive quality is particularly high. They also have strong and wide ranging player communities.
 

Space For Grief

Games include interactions, narratives and characters dealing with all aspects of life (and death). This means that some care is necessary if players are sensitive to losing significant people. But also, games can provide a helpful space in which to process, consider and understand death and loss.

Image 162 I've come up with some games that explore this topic, along with help and suggestions from Gaming The Mind (Twitter), an organisation of UK-based mental health professionals who aim to promote positive mental health within the gaming community. By focusing on the intersection between gaming and mental health, they want to raise awareness of mental health challenges and reduce the stigma surrounding these issues.

"We express grief in different ways depending on our age," they said. "To help children cope with loss, it is important that they receive honest explanations about death, appropriate to their level of understanding. With these games, players may find valuable space in which to acknowledge grief as a completely normal reaction to bereavement."

"The games we have selected don't necessarily offer an ideal way to cope with death but tackle the topic of death openly and with a positive attitude. They can help show the player that they are not alone in what they are going through. Playing these games with young people, and answering questions they might have along the way, can be a useful starting point for important conversations about grief."
 

Grandparent Heroes

Video games are often considered to be a young person's pastime. These days though, people of all ages play games. The average age of a video game player is late 30's and 31% of 45-64-year-olds in Europe play games regularly.

It's therefore, no surprise that games are made to appeal to a wide range of ages and address topics that are important at different stages of life. There are some games that specifically star older characters as the main protagonist.

This may be because of the stage of life they are at, or because of a role they play in the game's narrative. Either way, these games offer a chance to step into the shoes of a senior character.

This includes games where an older character has a heroic role, like Joel in The Last of Us or Corvo Attano from Dishonored 2. There are other games where the character has a mythic quality that disguises old game, like Geralt in Witcher 3 or Kratos in God of War.

There are other games where you create your own character and it enables you to choose someone who looks older. Games like Watchdogs 3, Red Dead Redemption, Sea of Thieves and Fallout.
 

Walk in Someone Else's Shoes

While many games include characters to interact with, some are specifically designed to make relationships a central element. Whether this is during the rounds of a puzzle game amidst a zombie outbreak or as we race cars around a circuit, they can offer a unique way to think deeply about how we relate to each other and to the games people play.

In contrast to films or books, characters and relationships in video games need to be discovered by the player. Some of my favourite relational moments in games happen amidst other action. Often these other actions – whether shooting, puzzle-solving, or fetching and carrying – serve to underline the difficult, awkward and snatched nature of interpersonal interactions.
 
Ete
198x
PEGI Rating 12 for 198x

Games from Taming Gaming Book

When we wrote the Taming Gaming book we packed the second half with full colour game ‘recipes’ as a resource for parents and families. They are grouped in categories depending on the style of game you are looking for, whether you want to play on your own, or with your family and friends.

The Family Gaming Database grew out of the book. At first it was just going to be a way to search the 60 or so games in the book. With 1000’s of parents soon using the database it became clear we should grow it to cover more games. So, today we have 1390 games.

Here are all the games from the book:

Games for non-gaming grown-ups

These games are perfect if you have never played one before. They open the door to the gaming world for non-gaming parents and carers.

Nurture child-like imagination

These games are for children under seven years old who will, with some help, discover activities they want to try that will expand their imaginations, while establishing the role of your guidance and engagement as part of the gaming world as they grow up.

Nourish Youthful Ambition

As children get older, they develop stronger ideas of what they want to play. Friends at school and YouTube stars create popular gaming fabs for the latest titles. The games suggested here go beyond the usual suspects.

Laugh at Silliness

Video games have their roots in fun and play. This makes them an excellent way to forget the worries of the day and dive into some silly fun together. The games on this list have been selected because they get players doing absurd activities and chuckling together.

Inhabit Another World

The games in this list invite you to spend time in spaces that have a sense of place, life and character.

Compete on the Couch

Raucous, unbounded, exuberant all-age, competitive fun is something video games are known for. These games can play a bit-part in raising children to be magnanimous in victory and generous in defeat.

Work Together to Thrive

Play is more fun when it’s shared. Along with team work the games on this list use the fact that the players are all sitting next to each other. The fun is often as much about the conversations (and arguments) that happen in the room as what’s happening on the screen.

Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes

While many games include characters to interact with, some are specifically designed to make relationships a central element. These games offer a unique way to think deeply about how we relate to each other to the games people play.

Wake up Your Emotions

Video games are known for high-octane, adrenaline fuelled entertainment, but there are many that address the players emotions as much as their dexterity. The games in the following list create emotionally rich spaces in which to explore scenarios with feelings rather than facts.

Matinee Fisticuffs and Shoot-outs

Sometimes you just want to play the hero. These games are violent and include shooting but as with B-movies and 1980’s TV series, it’s as much about the quips, characters and fantasy settings as it is about the killing.

Face Tough Decisions

Games create virtual worlds where you can experience life from another perspective. This can be lighthearted but also presents ethical scenarios that require you to think carefully about consequences. These games each place you in a challenging situation to give you a first hand experience of what it’s like.

Solve a Mystery

Like a good crime drama or whodunnit, solving mysteries and puzzles is a good way to engage in a story. The following games present you with a mysterious scenario to be solved. Whether with direct puzzles, locations to investigate or crime scenarios to deduce, they offer a unique first-hand sleuthing challenge.

 

Get Children Listening

Of the different senses, it's easy to overlook the importance of hearing. We encourage children to read, watch and observe. But just as important is to develop more than just cursory listening.

Despite their name, video games use sounds just as much as visuals to create their worlds. As well as this, audio is often a crucial aspect of interactions and clues for puzzle solving.

Because of this, video games (like walking in nature) are a powerful way to learn to notice and use the sounds around us. Playing a game with headphones helps the player focus on the sound. Doing this intentionally can help younger players discover a new world of sound in the games they play.

There are games like Limbo, Hellblade, Overboard and Super Mario Odyssey that use sound to set the mood and aesthetic of the play. This is more than just background music as it reacts and integrates with the sounds the player is making while they play.

Then there are games like Uncharted, Alba, Fortnite and Sea of Thieves that use audio to indicate things happening in the game. Not only what is happening, like the sound of someone boarding your ship, but where that is happening in relation to your character with spatial audio.

There are games where you create the audio with your actions. Touching petals in Flower adds notes to the classical music. In Mini Metro you add to the ambient sounds as you place stations and new tube lines.

Finally, there are games where sound is your main way of navigating the world. Games like The Vale and Frequency Missing can be played with just sound. This not only offers an accessible experience to those without sight but a chance to engage with a virtual world using just our hearing.
 

Tell White Lies

Video games often place you in positions of power, saving the world, righting the wrongs and bringing justice. Of course, real life isn't neat and tidy like that. There are many games where you are challenged to make difficult decisions and some of those put you in situations without power, where the kindest thing to do is to lie.

Whether it's not telling Ellie the truth about her unique response to the infection so she can have a "normal" life in The Last Of Us, lying about who's drugs they are to save a friend in Life Is Strange, deciding not to be honest with friends to save their feelings and avoid confrontation in Oxenfree or rearranging an old man's memory so he thinks he's made it to his dream in To The Moon, telling lies is sometimes the right thing to do.

The games in this list challenge our neat conceptions of right and wrong. Playing them, we face the messiness of real-world justice and consider the power of withholding the truth. We might not always agree with the reasons or ethics, but we have a chance to revisit our values as we play.
 

Gaming Projects: Photography

The spaces and places that video games create are often designed with a particular interaction or way to progress through them. However, because games are open to the player, how you play, the direction you move and what you do in the game is up to you.

This means that you can often put video games to unusual uses. Photography is one aspect of this as Paul Buttle recently highlight on Twitter. All modern video game consoles enable you to capture an image of the screen. At a rudimentary level this allows you to take pictures of your adventures. Beyond this, many games offer a Photo mode that allows you to freeze the action and take control of the camera -- even letting you control effects, depth of field and shutter speed in some cases.

This means you can take really beautiful and engaging pictures in the games you play. Some families have tasked their expert players with capturing a certain type of photograph as they play:
  • Portraiture - capture images of the people you meet.
  • Photojournalism - create a photo diary of the events of the game to be annotated later.
  • Fashion - document the different outfits and wardrobe styles your character chooses.
  • Sports - capture sporting moments, including not only players, but the crowd and coaches.
  • Still Life - capture the inanimate, mundane and overlooked elements that make the game world what it is.
  • Architectural - find ways to photograph the buildings in various states of build, decay and renewal.

Some examples of these projects include:
 

Rearrange Your Mental Furniture

We are used to books, films and radio programs challenging our assumptions on subjects. Adam Curtis, Louis Theroux and David Attenborough have powerfully used film to change perspectives and values.

Less well known is how many video games tread a similar furrow. These are games that not only tackle difficult subjects, but get beneath the usual binary perspectives to create new ways of thinking about these themes.
 

Get Children Into Architecture

We spend our lives in buildings every day. Our homes, offices, shopping malls, cathedrals, stations, bridges and even public toilets have all been designed. Video games mirror and magnify this built environment in different ways.

Some, like Assassin's Creed, Grand Theft Auto and Forza Horizon recreate virtual versions of familiar places. Others, like The Witcher, Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess and Eastshade, create their own cities and buildings. Then there are games like The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Biomutant, Enslaved or The Last Of Us that drop you in a once-great but now ruined architecture.

Along with these pre-built spaces, there are also games that invite you to affect and rebuilt the architecture of a world. Games like Townscaper allow you to easily create series of buildings and consider how one structure relates to those around it -- like a street-scene generator. Then there are games like Animal Crossing, that offer a social context in which to apply your architectural and landscaping skills.

Then there are games that build spaces that would be impossible in real life. From the Escher-like Manifold Garden to the scale-confounding Superliminal, these games can play with perspective and movement to not only confuse the player but open new possibilities in perceiving buildings.

Finally, there are games with breathtaking architecture. Whether it's the atmospheric lighting of Control, the climbable buildings of the Uncharted series or Shadow of the Colossus vast cathedral-like structures, video games often create original spaces that stop you in your tracks.

The video games in this list create space to notice, reflect and try your hand at architecture. They are fun, but they are also important because the design of the spaces we spend time in have profound effects on how we feel, think and move.
 

Designed For Easier Navigation

We invited visually impaired video gamer, activist and campaigner Dr Amy Kavanagh to compile a list of games with helpful, well thought out and intuitive navigation. As a streamer and disability consultant, Amy passionately advocates for gaming to be accessible for everyone...

One of the joys of gaming are the places you get to explore that you would never be able to visit in real life. This is particularly important to me as a low vision gamer. I often face barriers when navigating the world, so it’s thrilling when I get to experience driving a fast car in the dystopian London of Watch Dogs Legion, swinging through New York as Spider-Man or climbing a mountain on a secret pirate island as Nathan Drake in Uncharted 4.

Studies have shown that gaming improves both spatial awareness and navigation skills. However, getting unintentionally lost in a game is an all too common and very frustrating experience. Not knowing where to go or feeling confused about how to move from one location to another can be a challenge for many gamers, including new or younger players, low vision gamers like me and those with cognitive impairments.

The games in this list make exploring a virtual world smoother and finding your next mission fun rather than frustrating! There are some important factors that make games easier to navigate and can support you to improve your way-finding skills:
  • Maps: A great starting point for being able to find your way around a game is a clear and detailed map. As in games like Spider-Man, it’s important that the world map is available from the beginning and supported by an easy to follow mini-map permanently on screen.
  • Head Up Displays: Heads Up Display or Navigational Display provides information about the relationship between your character or avatar and the space they are existing in. As in games like Horizon Zero Dawn features like a compass, distance counter or radar can all be used to indicate in which direction an objective is.
  • Objectives: Giving objectives, missions, collectables or even key interactions different colours or symbols means you can learn your way around a game quickly. As in games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, it’s even better when you can customize these symbols so they are larger or appear more frequently. Alternatively, making objectives obvious using lighting, key colours or camera views can make a game more navigable without adding complicated HUD mechanics.
  • Directional Cues: Once you have reached your destination, prompts or clues about where you might find what you are looking for are also important. As in games like The Last of Us Part II this can include a camera view that will snap in the right direction, arrows or pointers, haptic feedback, audio cues or dialogue.

Some of my favourite games bring together these elements to make exploring a virtual world a treat rather than a chore. The standout example has to be The Last of Us Part II, designed with blind and low vision consultants, the game is possible to find your way through even with no useful vision. The combination of audio cues and haptic feedback means you can enable constant prompts to help you navigate a dystopian and sometimes terrifying world.

A game that combines a range of directional information into a fun experience is Spider-Man and the sequel Miles Morales. From the option to swing through the city in high contrast mode, to the large objective icons and pinging backpacks, it’s easy to find your way around the richly detailed environment of New York city. So now it’s time to voyage into the digital unknown, here are some easier to navigate game to help you on your way.
 


Image of the cover of the hardback edition of the Taming Gaming book  by Andy Robertson Image 311 Thank you for using our resource, supported by AskAboutGames, ParentZone and PlayAbility Initiative. We are editorially independent, written by parents for parents, but welcome sponsorship, partnership and suggestions. Email our editor for details on these opportunities.

The information on this database is designed to support and complement the in-depth discussion and advice about video game "addiction", violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. If you have any concerns or questions in these areas, email our editor who is quick to respond or can arrange for a one-to-one conversation.

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