5 Games to Play with Your Non-Gaming Parents
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So you want to introduce your parents to video games? Here are a few places to start!

Show, Don’t Tell

Conventional wisdom would have you believe that all gamers are antisocial, potentially violent young men who live in their parents’ basements. However, it is becoming abundantly clear that this stereotype is no longer true, if it ever was to begin with. Gaming is becoming as acceptable and universal a pastime as reading or film. As Joel said in his article on gamer myths 3 Lies About Gamers That People Still Believe 3 Lies About Gamers That People Still Believe The word "gamer" comes with a lot of baggage -- and the truth is, gamer stereotypes are no longer true. Indeed, "gamers" are now the minority! Read More , many people who play games are in their late twenties and thirties, and almost half of them are women.

Still, for every fifty of us who have families that appreciate our love of games or who play games themselves; there is at least one of us who has a parent, grandparent, or guardian that believes these myths and doesn’t “get” our favorite hobby. Maybe they think video games are too frivolous and we should read instead. Maybe they don’t like the way games depict women 3 Ways Game Studios Still Reinforce Negative Body Images For Women [Opinion] 3 Ways Game Studios Still Reinforce Negative Body Images For Women [Opinion] It’s 2012. It’s been four decades since video games first began to emerge as a form of entertainment for consumption. In those decades, game complexity has improved, massive online worlds have been constructed, and 3D... Read More or minorities. Or maybe they even believe we’ll become violent The Neurology Of Gaming [INFOGRAPHIC] The Neurology Of Gaming [INFOGRAPHIC] I am not that much into gaming but I know a lot of people who are, and after showing them today's infographic, all of them had very mixed reactions. One wanted to shoot me with... Read More if we play violent games.

My parents were a little shocked that I wanted to play Assassin’s Creed in 2008, since they assumed that a game with that title must be one of “those violent games” and thought I wasn’t a very violent person. Now, seven years later, they actually take an interest in my games and want to watch me play them. How did I change their minds? Simple: I showed them what games looked like.

So here are a few games that might change your parents’ minds about video games.

Note: I use the term “parents” for the sake of brevity, but this could just as easily apply to stepparents, grandparents, relatives or anyone else in your life who doesn’t understand gaming.

For the Parents Who Like Puzzles: Portal

Games that are based primarily around solving puzzles can be pretty addictive, and the first Portal game is about as basic as they come while still having a story. Everyone I know loved the game’s simple yet mind-bending central mechanic.

This is the game for the sort of parent who loves a challenge and won’t stop working on a puzzle until they’ve solved it. They’ll like a game that rewards wit, logic, and critical thinking. As a bonus, both Portal games are tame, and the sequel offers co-op for you so that you can play with your parents… or shoot portals above their head and below their feet so they fall endlessly. Your choice.

For the Artistic Parent: Journey

The idea that video games are not “art” is pervasive and one with which I vehemently disagree. But it’s hard to change someone’s mind about that when you show them the violence of GTA or Sleeping Dogs. Journey is another game that rewards wits and smarts, but has an additional perk in that it is beautiful and moving.

Journey is pacifistic and teamwork-based, but the art and music of the game are just as, if not more important than the actual mechanics of the game. If there’s any game that can change your parents mind on the aesthetic value of games, it’d be a game like this.

For the Competitive Parents: Super Smash Bros

I feel as though there is at least one person in every family who revels in competitive games. For some of us, that relative is the same person who sees games as violent. They’d be appalled if they were introduced to Mortal Kombat. But the bloodless, cartoonish fighting in a game like Smash Bros. is sort of above reproach.

It doesn’t matter that they will only recognize half of the characters. How many of us knew who Marth or Shulk were before we played SSB for the first time?

For the Creative Parents: Minecraft

Minecraft is the ultimate playground. If your parent is always building or creating something, Minecraft might be a revelation for them. It’s addictive and nearly infinite. It requires strategy and forethought. It even has the capacity to be a teaching tool Why Games May Become the Education of the Future Why Games May Become the Education of the Future Parents and teachers are often wary of letting kids spend time playing video games, but a number of developers are introducing mods of popular games into the classroom and re-imagining how video games can support... Read More . What’s not to love?

For the Parents with a Sense of Humor: Saints Row IV

When I asked my mother for input, she surprised me by giving me this suggestion. At first I wasn’t sure if I should include it. My mother shares my sense of humor, so it’s no surprise that she would also enjoy a game I find to be hilarious. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.

Games are meant to be fun, and there’s fun to be found even in violence. If you have a parent who has enough of a sense of humor to not take offense at some of the topical satire, you might find them amenable to this particular sandbox crime game. Though I do recommend that, even in the most fun, laid-back families, this game should be restricted to the teenagers-and-up crowd.

If you are facing the opposite problem, check out this article on games parents can play with their kids. If you are a parent and you want to understand more about your kids’ favorite pastime, check out this article on how you can do that as well as these YouTube channels for parents.

And when Mother’s Day rolls around, you and mom can stay entertained with a movie 10 Netflix Movies to Watch With Mom on Mother's Day 10 Netflix Movies to Watch With Mom on Mother's Day Netflix boasts some great movies to watch with mom on Mother's Day. Here are the best Netflix movies to watch on Mother's Day. Read More after your game.

Image Credits: Father and his son playing Via Shutterstock

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  1. Luna
    January 2, 2018 at 1:40 am

    I think the sims 4 or the sims 3 would have been a great choice. My mom is not a gamer whatsoever but she enjoys the sims 4, She actually thinks it’s a good game for the mind. You can build and express your imagination. She especially likes CAS where she can let her creativity fly with outfits and makeup.

  2. Alex
    August 3, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    What about "Heavy Rain"?

  3. rock
    April 20, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    mister michel portal has no violence at all
    tell me what part of the portal game was violent?

    • Uncle Know-it-all
      February 20, 2016 at 6:09 pm

      "Tell me what part of the portal game was violent?"

      How about that one part where THE ENTIRE GAME has a robot that's not only designed, but actually loves to torture and kill you (and your clones) over and over again. And inside the factory, just because the thing crushing the robot is another robot, doesn't mean it isn't violent. And that's not even talking about Portal 2 CO-OP where the traps and hazards are even more crazy then anywhere else. And on top of all of that is the game's humour of which 90% falls in the categories of either shadenfraude, slapstick or downright dark humour involving the torture of the Aparture Science employees.

      "The game doesn't have guns or organs being ripped out, that means it isn't violent!"

      Buy a dictionary. Or better yet, take 5 seconds to think about something before you post.

    • Mate
      September 25, 2016 at 1:41 am

      The first portal (I only own the first one) has some minor blood physics when shot at by turrets, some people find this "violent"

  4. Gendo Ikari
    February 24, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    "Conventional wisdom" suggests gamers are violent?

    That's an odd way of saying "neofeminists and con artists..."

  5. Garville
    February 10, 2015 at 8:45 am

    My mom is 88, and her eyesight means she doesn't play many games these days. She used to be quite fond of Elite, a sci-fy type shoot-em-up. I enjoy a mix of first person shooters and strategy games such as Astro Galaxy. My 9 year old either plays minecraft or watches videos about it. It's good for learning about cooperation and I value that, but that is only one skill, and there are so many more that are being missed because of the addictiveness of this single game.

    I look forward to the day I can compete with my child in a computer game, and even more so the time when they have developed their skills far enough that they can beat me consistently. That is when I know they are ready to meet and take on their peers in the real world.

    Gaming can offer an emotional preparation for the real world. Last's face it - if you can't frag your loving dad's avatar five times in a row, how are you going to take on someone who is aggressive and antagonistic towards you?

  6. McFuzz
    February 9, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    "Super Smash Brothers."

    Yes. I am sure that parents, who are inept at videogames, would LOVE to play a HIGHLY skill-based, fast paced fighting game. If you wanted a Wii-U game on the list, why didn't you say Mariokart. Sure, it's still competitive, but 'skill' doesn't measure much with red shells on the menu. My dad still comes last every race anyway, but he doesn't seem to mind. Lol :3

    SSB shouldn't be here at all.

    • Rachel K.
      February 10, 2015 at 6:35 am

      "Parents, who are inept at videogames..." Not all of them are. And there's no reason they should be. Studies have shown that playing games can reduce the risk of dementia, improve focus and build up lasting hand-eye coordination in adults of all ages. So there's no reason why people like our parents can't take up a challenging game and actually become as good at it as we are.

      I chose Smash mostly because I have met many people of my parents' generation who love to compete and don't mind putting up a good fight to get in first. Trust me, if your dad doesn't care that he comes in last in Mario Kart, he wasn't the sort of player I had in mind.

      Besides, the beauty of Smash is that to some players it is a skill-based and competitive multiplayer game, while to others it is that button masher played with a bunch of friends for a laugh. (And before you ask, I fall somewhere in the middle; and yes, you could probably beat me.)

  7. Anonymous
    February 7, 2015 at 3:14 am

    I don't think putting portals on walls and accidentally destroying a box is violent. U might be better off not leaving your home, and watching teletubbies.

  8. mike
    February 6, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    See that? Moronic social justice warrior. Dipshit doesn't even realize that the world he perceives is just the inside of his colon. All that violence can only lead to hemorrhoids.

    • michel
      February 7, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      Yeah, insults really make your point intelligently. I supplied an authoritative dictionary definition of violence for those of you who don't understand the word. Speaking of the world you perceive.

    • michel
      February 7, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      Rachel, your introduction strongly implied to me that you were going to present games that were specifically not violent. You used the word Violence or Violent five times, always in a context that implies someone else thinks games are violent - and you want to change their minds. Besides which, everyone should calm down. I never once said I was against these games or insulted anyone.

    • Sjael
      February 7, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      Who is the social justice warrior? If it is me I apologize that my comment made me look that way. That was not my intention. Honestly all I wanted was a intelligent discussion about violence in culture.

  9. michel
    February 6, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    [ ?v?(?)l?ns ]
    behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.
    synonyms: brutality · brute force · ferocity · savagery · cruelty · sadism · More
    Powered by OxfordDictionaries · © Oxford University Press

    Why are you for game violence? Can you really not see any alternatives?

    That's the problem with this lowest common denominator pop culture: the total reliance on violence as entertainment. It's so pervasive, you don't even see it anymore. Does constant exposure to simulated violence lead to real violence? I don't know.

    Does advertising sell products? The amount of money spent on it would suggest yes. Does propaganda work? Why else would hundreds of millions be spent on electing a president?

    • Sjael
      February 7, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      I am not for nor against game violence. I think it can be used to much, and too little given the situation. There are games that are non-violent, like the Sims and Journey. I find that both are fun.

      I have to ask what alternative are you talking about? If you mean non-violent games than I just mentioned two of them that I like. The way you write your responses it seems that you think violence is a black and white issue. If this isn't your stance I apologize and ask what is.

      Violence to me is like an ingredient. Whether or not it is a healthy one is based on how much is put in. In some stories just the right amount can lead to a greater experience than it would have been with out it. In other stories too much of it can dull the other ingredients making the whole experience not enjoyable. It is all about how much of it we use as opposed to the ingredient itself.

      Everything in the world exists on a spectrum. EVERYTHING. Nothing is ever as simple as black and white.

    • Rachel K.
      February 10, 2015 at 6:23 am

      If your complaint is with this list, I'd be happy to hear it. But if you take issue with violence being omnipresent in popular culture, I'm afraid you'll have to take that up with the entirety of human history, not me.

      World mythologies, folk stories, gladiatorial combat, animal baiting, opera, theater, Gothic novels, American football, superhero films . . . video games are hardly the first popular activity to be associated with violence, simulated or otherwise.

      I did not intend to create a pacifistic list, and I'm sorry if I led you to think that's what you'd be reading. I like to think this list covers everybody. Some of us, myself included, have parents who take no issue with fictional brutality at all.

      Oh, and @Sjael? The Sims is supposed to be nonviolent? Ahem. *hides dozens of burned Sim corpses under the floorboards*

  10. michel
    February 6, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    As against the implication in your introduction to these games, all but one are violent. Even the first puzzle game uses guns to solve the puzzles.

    • Ben S
      February 6, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Portal really isn't violent. Sure it uses guns (really, the portal gun is just a tool and a way to make the game first-person) but it's a puzzle game, not a shooter. The only violence occurs if you die.

    • michel
      February 6, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      You're so immersed in the culture of violence you don't see the violence? I realize the gun is a tool - that's what a gun is - and I said so - "uses guns to solve the puzzles." How is it not violence to blast your way out of a problem? Or blast anything? Aside from that, there's a lot of smashing and destroying in the short clip provided. It's all violence.

    • Sjael
      February 6, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      How is "shooting" a portal and walking through it violence? We shoot pictures, are they violent? To be violent one has to inflict harm on someone else. In the game only the antagonist can act violent towards the player. The crushing violence you are talking about is the antagonist. Her goal is to prevent the player from reaching the end. The only mandatory violence the main character does is redirecting missiles in the boss fight back at the boss. If anything it is self-defense.

      Also it is not all violence. Like Ben said the crushing only happens when you lose, and only in certain places. It is possible to make it through the entire game without being crushed. Most of the time The player just walks around and through portals. thinking about when and where to put the next portal. And listening to whatever dialogue happens to be going on.

      I do have to ask. Why are you against game violence? And what would be your alternative?

    • Jason
      February 6, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      The actual name is "Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device". The term "Portal Gun" is just a common name, like calling a bar-code reader a "Price Gun". T

    • Rachel K.
      February 7, 2015 at 2:27 am

      I don't believe I implied I was against violence, or that I was going to write a non-violent list. I just said that some parents might be turned off by the violence inherent in some of our major titles, and included a game in the list specifically for such parents (Journey).

  11. Matt
    February 6, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Lol, Saint's Row is the last game I would want to play with my parents.

    • Rachel K.
      February 6, 2015 at 7:17 pm

      Why would you NOT want to see their faces when they discover the superpowers in Saints Row IV?

    • dragonduder
      February 6, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      "Oh that? That's a...uhh, giant dildo bat."

    • Rachel K.
      February 7, 2015 at 2:28 am

      Maybe I just have unique parents. My mom's the sort of person who says "Fatality!" when she finishes a steak.