The Best Multiplayer Games for Your Child
It is fun to play games with your child, but in the end you will have to face how far they lag behind. Children’s developing brains can’t cope with the complexities, their immature nervous systems don’t react fast enough to get dirty with zombies, and their fine motor skills are just rubbish.
But don’t worry, parent. There are tons of super fun video games out there that smooth out the difference in skill levels between adults and kids for everyone to have fun. Below is my list of ideal games for kids of all ages.
Age 0-1: Guitar Hero or Rock Band
The World Health Organization recommends waiting until children are at least two years old to allow them to play any video game, but that’s only because they don’t understand the joy and affection of playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band with a newborn.
Here’s how you do it: strap your baby into one of these baby sling, plug in a guitar controller, and rock the hell out of it. Babies love to be gently taken to bed, snuggled up against their mom or butt, and playing the guitar while you do it takes away a ton of childish boredom.
Age 2-4: Open World Games (Dad Mode Only!)
When your child is old enough to be interested in games, you may think that all your games will be reduced to horrible, boring games designed for toddlers. Not this way! After completing as many Elmo’s Happytime Alphabet Adventures as you can digest, have your child sit next to you on the couch and play an open world game like Grand Theft Auto 5 or Red Dead Redemption. Games like this can be incredibly, horribly violent and socially irresponsible, but only if you choose this path.
Nothing stops you from setting a good example by obeying every traffic light in Liberty City or riding horses through the Old West picking flowers with your child. (Check out my Dad Mode guides for Red Dead Redemption 2 and Far Cry New Dawn for more instructions.)
Age 4-6: New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
When your child is four years old, you can play real games, and there is no better place to start than New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe . The Nintendo 2D Platformer on Switch isn’t just an awesome game; it has a variety of options that smooth out the difficulty for different levels of experience.
The game’s five playable characters include Toadette, whose smooth jump makes things easier, and Nabbit, the purple bunny, who lets really bad players skate through challenging levels. Nabbit is invulnerable to enemies, so as long as you showcase the platforming skills you’ve acquired since playing Popeye in the arcade in 1982, your toddler can join you in Easy Mode with Nabbit.
Even if Nabbit is too difficult for your child – it can still fall into pits and the like – New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe gives players the ability to press a button to hide in a small bubble and become completely invulnerable while a parent helps you level. It’s so easy, sometimes even the wife doesn’t die. (Sorry Robin.)
6-8 years old: Mario Kart
Once your kid is functional enough to grasp the controller, it’s time to introduce competitive play, and Mario Kart is the perfect series for that.
These wild racing games are designed so that anything can happen, and it’s so ridiculously over the top that no one gets mad (unless someone deliberately chooses the Rainbow Road map). The last-placed riders receive more powerful items than the race leaders, so the winner and loser often switch places.
There are enough skills here so that this is not a random outcome either; and by now, your child should have learned to play well enough for that to matter.
Age 8-10: Lara Croft and the Guardian of the Light
My son was so crazy about this co-op, arcade spin-off of the Tomb Raider franchise that he dressed up as Lara Croft for his third class, Favorite Fictional Character’s Day.
The Guardian combines fast-paced and bloodless combat with puzzle solving and exploration. Each player’s characters have different abilities, so in order to solve puzzles together, you have to help each other, and combat allows the best player to cover and protect the worst, but this is not too obvious.
It’s scary, but not too scary, and difficult, but not too difficult. In short: the perfect game for a young teenager.
Ages 10-12: Halo 3
When my child was 11 years old, I realized that he was good enough at games for us to play a first person shooter. I chose Halo 3 because it’s great and not too violent.
Initially, I directed it through the main storyline of Halo 3, played in a cooperative style; and then we threw ourselves into several deadly one-on-one duels. Of course, at first I let him win, about half the time. But soon I stopped letting him do anything, and he still sometimes managed to beat me.
Soon he was winning almost every time we played. I mean, like shutting me off completely, shooting me on the other side of the map, hitting me with that horrible gravity hammer, etc. But in the end I took up the challenge and became good enough to win about half the time. I was very proud of myself … until I realized that now he allows me to win! It was like the Cat in the Cradle with a tea bag.
Then I stopped playing Halo with him because it pissed me off too much.
Ages 12 and up: Jackbox Party Kit
When your kid turns 12 or so, they can probably beat you in any game and they’ll grasp the controls faster than you and they’ll grab all the damn bonuses, even if you need machine guns ! Plus, they’ll want to play some damn thing that you don’t even understand.
So, it’s time to reassert your parental superiority. There are two ways to do this. You can download any game you played in the arcade as a child. For me it is Joust. You will still be good at it and your baby will get tired of playing with you before his / her skills surpass yours.
Alternatively, include something like the Jackbox Party Pack , a simple You Don’t Know Jack game that contains five shared lore minigames. Your child will only play with you out of pity, but you will excel at these games because you are old, and remembering random little things and watching NCIS are now your life.