Games for children need to meet two important criteria. The content must be suitable and the game must not be too difficult. Anyone who’s played a game on Xbox Live knows that teenagers require no handicap, but young kids often have trouble with complex titles.
What’s a parent and Mac owner to do? Direct your child towards one of these seven titles.
This colorful action-RPG is probably the most mature title on this list. It’s based around combat, so there’s technically a lot of violence, but the cartoonish style and typically non-human enemies blunt this title’s edge. There are also some very mild references to drinking (you can make certain drinks that buff up the main character). Think of it as a family-friendly version of Diablo.
Most parents will find that skill, not content, is this game’s accessibility roadblock. It starts out easy but gradually becomes more difficult. Each level introduces new gameplay concepts that must be quickly adopted to beat the game. I recommend only giving it to older children for this reason.
I consider this game to be a Popcap classic. It’s almost ten years old yet remains one of the best games for family members of old ages and, unlike many titles, this one has some serious education value.
Bookworm is essentially a word-based puzzle game. Players must form words to beat levels, and longer words provide a higher score. This goes a long ways towards helping kids play at their own pace, though certain game modes are quite difficult for anyone, regardless of age.
Cut The Rope
This popular mobile game is now available on Mac. Players attempt to feed a little monster candy by – you guessed it! – cutting the rope.
It sounds easy and it is, at least at first. As levels progress new obstacles and gameplay mechanics are introduced, providing additional challenge. Like all good puzzle games, this one tasks the player’s critical thinking skills. Combine that with cartoonish graphics and you have an excellent title for children.
The LEGO Series
The LEGO series of games has been promptly ported to OS X for years. There are now seven games from the franchise available on the Mac App Store. They include two LEGO Star Wars titles, two LEGO Harry Potter games and LEGO Batman.
All of the games, though they take place in different settings, have the same adventure-RPG feel. Players have to defeat enemies, solve puzzles and occasionally do some old-fashioned platforming. Most levels have secrets and bonuses that can be unlocked by particularly skilled play.
Most of the games are $29.99 on the Mac App Store. LEGO Batman is $24.99.
When I was a kid, I loved pinball, and so did many of my friends. This makes sense when I think about it. Pinball is fast-paced and challenging, yet it is also easy to understand.
Pinball HD is arguably the best modern pinball title available on any platform. It has beautiful graphics, quick gameplay and three unique tables. The developer also offers a similar game called War Pinball HD, which isn’t as violent as it sounds. It’s just like this game but features tables that pay tribute to old action films. There’s even one that features Chuck Norris.
The Sims 3
The Sims franchise has always been kid-friendly. Although the title technically deals with adult topics like relationships and work, it’s all very hands off. Even language is entirely implied – players can tell when characters are happy, sad or angry by tone of voice, but nothing intelligible is said.
And that’s assuming a child plays the game like it is intended. The Sims 3 is open-ended. While adults may play it as a time-management strategy game, kids can spend time designing for hours, playing songs for money or dressing up new characters. There’s a lot to do, and the game rarely punishes players for doing something “wrong.”
Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey
If you want a game for a very young child, look no further. Where’s Waldo is perfect. There’s no surprises here, really – the game focuses on finding Waldo and other characters (and objects). As in the books, characters are hidden in colorful scenes that include thousands of people and objects.
Unlike the books, objectives are pre-determined and must be completed within a time limit. Players also must find the devious Odlaw, who can temporarily block parts of drawing using various techniques, like splashing paint across it.
I would have liked to include more games but I had difficulty thinking of titles that were fun to play, suitable for kids and available on the Mac. What do you think? Do you know of an excellent game the whole family can enjoy? Tell us in the comments.