Mama’s Top 4 Video Games for the Whole Family

Math is not my favorite subject. My brain adores words but shies away from numbers. And that’s cool until I’m faced with a situation that requires actual math.

However, this is a math problem I can solve.

One woman enjoys video games. She marries one man who loves video games. What happens when you combine two chromosomes from Mama and two from her husband?

Correct! Six years later, you get one little boy who loves video games!

(Even though we’ve been married for more than a decade [and I should know this by now], I did confirm this with my geneticist husband. He frowned at my word-problem example, but it does work.)

For Christmas, I started a new tradition. I gave both of kiddos four gifts: Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. For George’s “something he wants,” I chose the video game Mario Party for the Nintendo Switch.

This has led to a new version of family game night, one where we gather around the TV and play a digital board game together. No, it doesn’t fit the traditional mold, but it works for our family.

A few years ago, I wrote about video games to play with your spouse/significant other, even if you’re not a gamer. Now, I thought I’d pull together a list of good games for families with little kiddos.

  1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
    I have a serious question. Can Nintendo predict the future? The latest Animal Crossing game was released March 20, 2020, which was, what? Two weeks after all Covid-19 craziness broke loose? And honestly? It was a beautiful relief.

    Pros: Each family member creates his/her own character, and we all pick fruit, catch bugs, fish, and shop on this little idyllic island full of anthropomorphized critter-neighbors. You can also invite your real-life friends to visit your island, so it was a sweet way to connect with friends during the height of lockdown. The fish/insects change each months, so there’s always something new to discover. The game also updates with new activities, like scuba diving or fun holiday festivals.

    Cons: If you’re more, uh, particular, it may be difficult to watch your 3-year-old chop down trees and dig random holes around your island.

2. Mario Party
Like I said, George received Super Mario Party for Christmas. He hadn’t asked for it, though he’d watched enough YouTube videos about the game to know what he unwrapped. Basically, everyone picks a character and plays a board game together. There are numerous minigames that require different skills, but nothing is too difficult.

Pros: You can either play on a team or individually. The game is easy enough for our 4-year-old to enjoy, but challenging enough to keep the grown ups interested. You try to buy stars during gameplay, and the person with the most stars at the end wins. However, there are also bonus stars after the game ends, so even the person in last can come back in a miraculous victory!

Cons: This isn’t really a “con,” but it can feel that way. This, and any board game, is a good way to teach children about losing. I don’t enjoy having to deal with 6-year-old emotions when there has to be a winner and a loser. However, they are good, necessary life lessons, so we embrace them.

3. Untitled Goose Game
OK, to appreciate the brilliance of this very simple concept, please watch this trailer. As you can see, it’s a lovely day, and you are a horrible goose. I mean, who doesn’t love to be annoying? And what’s more annoying than an aggressive goose?

Pros: It’s just hilarious. You’re given a checklist of things to do. Steal a man’s hat. Put glasses on a statue. Prune the roses. But the way you make these things happen is just delightful. You can also download the game’s update for the Untitled Geese Game, which makes it two-player (and a lot easier). The entire game is fairly short, so you only need an evening to get through.

Cons: I’d say elementary-age children (and older) would be a better fit than small children. My kids would get too stressed (the humans hate the goose and try to chase it/you away) to enjoy it.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate should make this list as well. There are so many characters from which to choose, and each character has a costume change, which delights our daughter. Basically, you can play on teams and set the difficulty level of your opponents. So, if you’re fighting two level-one computer opponents and put a level-nine computer ally on your team, it makes life easier for the kiddos. The only con? I mean, you’re fighting each other, so you may see a bit of play-fighting repeated in real life.

Do you have any more games to add to my list?

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Currently Reading:
Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason – I’m attending a writers’ weekend with Lynette Eason in a few weeks. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about her books, so I wanted to fly through one before I get to meet (and learn from!) her. The whole crime fiction genre isn’t usually my normal fare, but I’m enjoying these characters so far.

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