Wholesome video games for kids

The world of video games is dynamic – developing constantly as technology evolves. Loved by children and adults across the globe, the gaming industry is the largest in entertainment, with predictions the market is set to reach $294 billion in 2024 (Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade).

Children of the 2020’s are digital natives. Unlike older generations, our children only know a world filled with technology and using it comes naturally to them. They also game more than any other generation.

Whilst video games are undoubtedly entertaining, we must not overlook the values games foster in evoking creativity, problem solving, teamwork and even empathy. Of course, gaming can also open players up to negative online experiences, for example, cyberbullying, grooming, addiction and scams. Microtransactions (low-cost purchases within games) are pervasive, providing revenue for game developers but providing financial risks for families.

Luckily, there are wholesome video games out there – games designed to be family-friendly, free of violence and low-risk that leave you feeling positive. Here are our top ten favourite wholesome games for the young (and not-so-young) gamers in your family.

You’ll also find our recommendations below to ensure these early experiences teach safe gaming techniques that can be used across all platforms. And, most importantly, ways you can use these games as an opportunity to set your young gamer up for a cyber-safe life.

Toem

The lowdown:

A sweet adventure game in greyscale animation promoting kindness and helping others, as well as diversity and curiosity.

Recommended for:

Ages 5+

Available on:

Mac, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 5, Windows

Blanc

The lowdown:

A puzzle adventure game starring a wolf cub and a fawn, featuring beautiful hand drawn, greyscale images.

Recommended for:

Ages 8+

Available on:

Nintendo Switch, Windows

Cyber Safety Project Top Tip

One of our commonly used strategies here at Cyber Safety Project is “think about how you feel”. Encouraging your young person to consider their emotions before, during and after gaming can help them remain safe online. Heavy feelings, such as anger, fright or sadness, usually mean it’s a good idea to stop the game, take a break and play something else for awhile.

Beyond Blue

The lowdown:

Bring ocean exploration and conservation to the forefront of your young person’s mind as they navigate this underwater adventure.

Recommended for:

Ages 8+

Available on:

Apple Arcade, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Windows, Xbox One

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

The lowdown:

Live out your island dreams in a little slice of heaven where slow, stress-free living is the norm and players are able to be creative, cooperative and adventurous.

Recommended for:

Ages 7+

Available on:

Nintendo Switch

Cyber Safety Project Top Tip

Animal Crossing can be played online or offline, as can many games your child may come across. We always recommend offline play as the safest option to avoid interactions with people with malintent. Explore the game settings with your child and explain why you have selected particular options. Ask, “Why do you think this is the safest choice?”

Gigantosaurus

The lowdown:

An adventure game featuring small puzzles to solve and races to complete using charming cartoon dinosaur characters.

Recommended for:

Ages 6+

Available on:

Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows

Super Mario Series

The lowdown:

Mario has come a long way since the original Super Mario Bros was released in September 1985. Today, kids can practise a variety of skills across all kinds of Mario games, including Mario Kart 8, Super Mario Maker 2 and Super Mario Bros. Wonder.

Recommended for:

Ages 7+

Available on:

Nintendo Platforms

Cyber Safety Project Top Tip

Gaming can be so much fun, but it can also be addictive. All those stars and mystery boxes are appealing and you can find yourself being drawn into play for longer or more often than planned. Set up some family expectations to help put healthy boundaries in place. This might look like a daily time limit. But, in some cases, it can be difficult to simply stop a game when the timer goes off – imagine having to end your play while you’re in the middle of a Mario Kart race. Sometimes a more reasonable limit might be a particular number of races or battles. Use our free Family Digital Use Agreement to set up some fair and reasonable expectations for everyone to follow.

Disney Dreamlight Valley

The lowdown:

Land in a world where you are the Disney hero, teaching players kindness, collaboration social skills and creativity.

Recommended for:

Ages 5+

Available on:

Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Playstation, Windows, Mac

Bluey the Videogame

The lowdown:

A fun, simple game for all the family which, like the popular TV series, promotes teamwork and family values.

Recommended for:

Ages 4+

Available on:

Xbox, Playstation 5, Nintendo Switch, Windows

Cyber Safety Project Top Tip

Playing games with the whole family builds relationships through a common goal and sharing of each other’s interests. Just like watching an episode of Bluey all together (We admit to it, we’ve even watched it without our kids. I mean, who doesn’t love the Heeler pups?) we recommend you play video games together too. It opens up conversation, builds trust, and can be a lot of fun.

Tchia

The lowdown:

A single-player game where you take on the role of a young girl on a mission to save her father, requiring exploration, discovery, bravery and compassion in order to succeed.

Recommended for:

Ages 11+

Available on:

Playstation, Windows

Dragon Quest Builders 2

The lowdown:

Foster imagination, strategise, cooperate and develop teamwork skills while constructing worlds and combatting dragons.

Recommended for:

Ages 8+

Available on:

Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Windows, Xbox

Cyber Safety Project Top Tip

Keep the conversation open. Whether you’re playing a video game with your child, or they are playing nearby while you get some chores done, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Asking questions and showing interest in your child’s hobbies builds a strong relationship where your child will feel comfortable approaching you to talk about their gaming if they do come across a problem online one day. Remind your child they can always come to talk to you about problems they may face while gaming and you won’t get angry (even if the situation does bring on anger, showing this will only stop your child from confiding in you again in the future). Not too sure where to start? Our free Conversation Checklist has lots of suggestions.

 

We hope you can enjoy some of these games as a family. Do you have another wholesome video game your family loves to play together? Drop us a line and let us know.

Happy and safe gaming everyone!

 

Author: Jaclyn Tasker | Strategic Content Creator, Cyber Safety Project