Buying video games as gifts can be a touchy subject for some…because as much as we’d like our children to lead active lives outside the digital worlds of Xbox, PlayStation, Wii and other handheld devices – video games play a significant role in the lives of many youths. In an effort to cut down on the violence and adult content found in some of the most popular game titles around, you can still choose fun options that not only entertain, but also sneak in a little education here and there. Below are a few video games that you don’t have to feel guilty giving as a gift:
1. Zoo Tycoon
Full of positive messages, Zoo Tycoon blends animals and business simulation within a zoo-management theme that is fun for all ages. Players develop a better understanding on how zoos operate, as well as increase an appreciation for all creatures big or small. Since basic economics play a role in the game, you may want to save this title for ages 10 and up. Players also spend their time designing animal enclosures, learning about their basic needs… and with the Kinect sensor (which is required for play) – interaction can also take place with animals.
Ideal for an animal lover, this game is available for Xbox 360 and Xbox One game systems.
Classic games make ideal gifts that the entire family can enjoy, and Scrabble not only enhances the spelling and vocabulary capabilities of players, but also involves a bit of mathematics and strategic wordplay. Up to four players can engage in head-to-head competition with various game mode options and levels of difficulty.
Kids can compete against friends and family both in person and online, with a multiplayer experience that connects players with opponents demonstrating similar skill levels. To elevate the gameplay, three different modes are available: Classic; Time Attack (45-second timed turns); and Score Rush (the first player to reach a specific score wins).
Most recently, the game has become available for download in the U.S. through the Hasbro Game Channel, Xbox Live for Xbox One, and on PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 4.
3. Family Game Night 4: The Game Show
To enhance family game night, an oldie but goodie is Family Game Night 4: The Game Show, which is sold on Amazon.com. Two-person multiplayer allows family members to go against one another, as they compete in five different Hasbro-branded games:
- Connect 4 Basketball
- Yahtzee! Bowling
- Scrabble Flash
- Bop It Boptagon
- Sorry! Sliders
Those with an existing PlayStation Move system can connect to enjoy an elevated level of play. Winners receive trophies, which are applied online to profiles set up on the PlayStation Network. Participants also have a chance to win Monopoly Crazy Cash upon completion of each game.
This title is available for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii.
4. Project Spark
Catering to the 10-year-old age range, Project Spark offers a game builder platform that encourages kids to explore the depths of their imaginations. Players work on creating their own virtual ‘worlds’ and games within a space-and-alien theme, which introduces young minds to simple programming, tech skills, and realistic game design. In the meantime, they’ll use problem-solving skills, logic, and smart decision-making to advance.
Young players can interact with remote users and their content. Parents also have the option to modify the settings of the game to restrict a child’s access to only developer-moderated content.
This game is available for Windows, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
5. Monopoly Family Fun Pack
Based on the classic board game that never goes out of style, the extra modes for this version of digital play Monopoly especially increases the fun, which is geared towards 8 year olds and up. The overall game is easy to get the hang of, and offers plenty of helpful tutorials along the way. While younger kids might need the help of parents and older siblings to purchase and rent properties, it’s a game that appeals to all ages.
You can feel good about gifting Monopoly because it encourages kids to exercise their critical-thinking skills, and sees youths learning how to strategize, negotiate, and take on the role of entrepreneur.
This game is available for PlayStation4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
For a thrilling experience, consider purchasing this roller coaster sim. Players participate in a game that promotes the design, building and testing of their roller coaster creations. A blend of construction and destruction takes place because poorly built structures may bring chaos and people can get hurt – carts can go off the rails. However, it’s a game that utilizes and strengthens both math and science skills. Players feel challenged to build the best and most efficient roller coaster – something that also incorporates architecture, physics, tech skills, and engineering.
As far as privacy and safety goes, ScreamRide ranks high for parents who would like to limit the amount of online mingling their child engages in. There are no concerns in this department. This game is geared towards 10-year-old players and up, and is available for Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
7. LittleBigPlanet Game Series
Available exclusively for PlayStation 3 and 4, the LittleBigPlanet game franchise currently has three installments that follow a puzzle format, with the latest being released in November 2014. Allowing single play and multi-players, LittleBigPlanet 3 has new characters, tools and power-ups backed by inviting graphics that encourage creative pursuits. Players assume the role of Sackboy or Sackgirl, a creature that resembles a plain-looking stuffed-animal. Kids can customize their character by selecting costumes and various features.
The game also involves user-designed worlds, which can be shared with other online players. Puzzle-solving plays an important role in LittleBigPlanet 3.
8. Any LEGO Video Game
From Batman to Marvel Super Heroes, the LEGO video game franchise has a knack for offering kid-friendly action fun associated with significant pop culture characters, cartoons and movies. The games are released for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and other older platforms.
Do you have any video game recommendations for kids?