Playing video games together as a family

Video games are an inevitable part of childhood these days.

At times, this can be difficult for parents. You might have worries about online gaming and whether it is safe for your child. It can be tempting to lock away the games, turn off the WiFi, hide the power cable or ban gaming altogether. But this only solves the problem in the short term.

It’s important to keep calmly commuicating with your child. Try to be honest and open about gaming. Playing video games together can be a good way to encourage this.

Photo credit: Andy Robertson

mum and child playing video games

Why should we play video games together?

  • Like with all forms of entertainment, video games aren’t themselves good or bad. It depends on the context in which they are played.
  • You have a powerful role to play in encouraging healthy gaming habits.
  • Playing together means you can understand the fun and frustrations of video games.
  • It stops gaming being just an activity they do in their bedroom and becomes part of family life.
  • It helps keep the conversation going about gaming and what they’re doing when they’re playing.

Five games you can play together

  • Overcooked is a game where four people work together to create plates of food in a restaurant. You soon realise that you need to work together to complete the dishes in time. Perhaps dad could wash up, mum could chop vegetables, and the kids assemble and deliver each order to the customers.
  • Knack is an adventure game where two players take on the role of a hero robot. You use various items and junk you find to grow in size and gain powers. It’s like playing a Pixar cartoon, complete with great characters and a strong story.
  • Conduct Together is a game where you control the trains and points of a pre-made toy train set. The challenge is to collect and deliver passengers without crashing into each other. It encourages communication and team work.
  • Castle Crashers is a game where four people play knight heroes. It’s one for older teenagers and is a lot of fun. You work together most of the time, but there is some healthy competition as well.
  • Knights and Bikes is an adventure game staring two children. Although light hearted and fun (in the style of The Goonies), it also has a more serious story of the young girl coming to terms with the loss of her mother. It is a game which two people can enjoy together. It also has a series of books children can read alongside.
You can search for more video games to suit the age and tastes of your family on the Family Video Game Database.
You can also find lists of games which can develop literacy and emotional intelligence. Some games can help to calm anxious feelings, as well as offering some escapism or silly fun.
Andy Robertson is a video game journalist and father of three. He created the Family Video Game Database and wrote the parenting book, Taming Gaming.
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