Podcast: What do we play with our kids?


The dadification of games continues. So we’re going full Dad this week on the RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show, as we’ve been asked to talk about the games we play with our children.

Alec’s daughter is excited by the unlockable characters in Rayman Legends (and she’s also strangely fascinated by Battletech). John’s son is a bit younger and likes to watch his dad diving in Abzu and Subnautica (but also manages to sneak glimpses of God of War’s quiet moments on the TV – naughty!). Brendan doesn’t have children, only a cat. She can’t stand games and thinks they are a waste of time.

We also test the dads’ ability to protect their children from violence and bad language with ‘PEGI, Steady, Go’, a brief quiz about European age ratings. It’s a very fun week here.

Thank you to listeners Jon and Andy for submitting the topic. If you want to write in with questions or suggest a theme for a future episode yourself, just email us at podcast@rockpapershotgun.com.

You can listen above, or go straight to Soundcloud where you can download it for later.

You can also get the RSS feed here or find it on iTunes, Stitcher or Pocket Casts. Music is by talented non-dad Jack de Quidt.


Battletech is good but perhaps not for 5-year-olds

Connie also likes Rayman Legends

Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 is great but also not great

Can I bring a chair in?

Have you played… Trackmania Turbo?

Proteus is good for kids

Abzu is good

Fe is good

SteamWorld Dig 2 is good

Hidden Folks is good

The Binding of Isaac is NOT GOOD


  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    But BoI is a cartoon game about babies. It’s plainly for kids.

  2. vahnn says:

    My niece loved watching my bro play Insurgency. If you haven’t played it, the guns are ferociously loud, especially when you crank up the volume. She was scared every time he fired, but she never stopped watching. She also liked MechWarrior Online.

    Nowadays she plays Flee the Facility in Roblox, which is like a kid-friendly version of games like Dead By Daylight. Then I showed her Dead By Daylight. She cried and ran out of the room and said I’m never allowed to play that game again.

    She’s almost 5.

  3. Someoldguy says:

    Mini-me is addicted to Geometry Life and similar platformers on the iPad that I don’t have the hand-eye coordination for any more. My only involvement there beyond watching playbacks was to recognise the adapted manic miner music on one level and boast that ~35 years ago I was able to lap its entire 20 levels without losing a life. We’ve played some Roblox together, which is more to his taste than mine. Lego games are where we are most sympatico.

    He’s enjoyed watching me blow mechs up in Battletech but wouldn’t have the patience to play it.

  4. Thankmar says:

    My almost six-year old is an avid fan of hearthstone, to the point where can read the board and decide whether it does look good for us or not, or remembers certain card effects. He also likes to command me to build rollercoaster mine tracks in minecraft. Also racing games.

  5. jssebastian says:

    The Nintendo Switch is where it’s at… mario cart with 4 kids is always a blast, rayman legends is a bit shallow for me but accessible to kids and fun to play coop (and includes a basic football minigame that is probably a gateway drug for rocket league…). Daughter also loves watching me play Zelda and has started her own playthrough as well though it’s a bit on the complicated side for her. And now Nintendo Labo: building a motorbike-shaped controller with working accelerator and brake out of a bunch of cardboard and a rubber band was great, even though the mini-game that comes with it is pretty basic. And on any platform, Minecraft is still a great option.

    She’s still in a phase where she likes to watch me play pretty much any game so long as it’s not “too scary” (or I decide it’s too violent or dark). Then there have been some games that are a bit too complicated for her but she can enjoy some bits if I hand her the controller, like Ni No Kuni or Child of Light (both have environments that are a pleasure to explore, but combat is a bit too complicated unless you’re overleveled).

    What about rocket league? Had a blast playing it with my nephew but he’s a bit older, how accessible is it to younger kids?

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      My son (5) loves Mario. He can just about play the “normal” level bits of the games, but needs my help from time to time with tricky bits, and with the boss fights.

      I’ve not tried him with MarioKart for a while – last time we tried it was a bit hard for him, but his coordination has improved a lot the last few months.

      In terms of PC games – Roblox is where its at. It’s mostly awful, but it’s free and there is lots of it.

  6. Provender says:

    Overcooked, Gang Beasts and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime provoke the most hilarity in our household – with the 7 and the 11 year old mostly.
    We call the 13 year old in to help when we get to tricky levels.

  7. Viral Frog says:

    My oldest son (7) and I don’t tend to play a lot of games together anymore. He has a wildly different taste in games than I do, and most of the ones he enjoys are singleplayer. My (almost) 4 year old son gets too frustrated to play anything besides a few racing games where he mostly likes to do donuts and crash. My 2 year old son doesn’t play games yet. :P

    When I do play games with the oldest/middle, it’s usually Castle Crashers, Battleblock Theater, Minecraft (on PS4), and… that’s actually about it. Even though we don’t play together much, I still love any second I get to spend with them while they play, or when they come sit on my lap while I play. It’s always fun.

  8. 1Derby says:

    More suggestions please!
    I have a 4 and 8 year old.
    They like Rayman Legends and Plants vs Zombies on the Xbox.

    Any PC suggestions?

    Which soccer, er, football game is the most accessible?

    • brucethemoose says:

      Rocket League?

      I like Minecraft modpacks as a good goto. They have infinite kid appeal because Minecraft, but the mods add enough depth to keep a hardcore engineer entertained (and blow the munchkins’ minds once they see the absurd constructs).

      Cloning Clyde is a personal favorite. Kids seem to love it, but it’s an old game now.

    • pfm says:

      Most accessible soccer game for kids on PC i would say:
      Sensible Soccer 2006 (although it is a crap game for grownups, in my experience kids have fun with it)

      In general here are my standard suggestions for kids by age group:

      From 3yo:
      – ItSpringAgain
      – Metamorphabet
      – Ojoon a visual instrument (FREE TOY-like link to jukio.itch.io)
      – Planet by Oskar Stålberg (FREE TOY-like link to oskarstalberg.com)

      From 4yo:
      – CHUCHEL (supervised play for help with puzzles)
      – Super Sea Serpent Simulator (Disclaimer, the theme may be considered violent for young children. You control a Sea Dragon Snake that goes around throwing people over board and eating them. I used this game as the perfect intorduction to human / animal cruelty / hunting / species extintion . as “the bad monster” in the game you terorize the humans, but at the same time you are the last animal of your species and have to fight and kill to survive. Great story to show how there are always 2 sides to any situation… link to cosmicadventuresquad.itch.io)

      From 5yo
      – Richard Scarry’s Busytown (on Sega Genesis Megadrive, you would need to get an emulator. This was probably my Daughters favourite game for a while.)
      – Spore Creature Creator

      From 6 yo:
      – Gorogoa
      – Powder Toy
      – Proteus

      From 7yo:
      (at this age you can really start having fun together with some co-op games)
      – Pitfall Planet (2players co-op same keyboard possible, isometric view will be a challenge for the young one!! But I think its great for gaining spacial awareness. link to pitfallplanet.com)
      – ibb & obb (2players co-op same keyboard possible. great fun platformer where you need to help each other, has some tricky sections but you can always help)

      Some that are on my radar for older ages when my kids get there:
      – Rayman Legends
      – Sonic Generations
      – Overcooked
      – Little Big Planet
      – Kingdoms and Castles (A simple settlers type game with a Zen mode with no combat)
      – Sokobond
      – Portal 1 & 2
      – Tryne series
      – Worms series (to introduce when she shows some interest in violence)…
      – Tetris

  9. juan_h says:

    My daughter, now age 9, will sometimes watch me play video games but generally isn’t interested in playing them herself. She’s quite happy to discuss them with me though. If I happen to mention, for example, that I recently conquered Burgundy in Crusader Kings II the odds are pretty good that I’ll get a hug for it. She usually prefers watching games where you control some on-screen figure to watching strategy games, so Street Fighter is more popular in these parts than Civilization.

    The reason she doesn’t play much herself is that she gets frustrated easily and hates to lose. At various times, she’s tried Crypt of the Necrodancer (as the Bard), Bastion (with infinite continues), and Lego Batman (with me as Robin). At a certain point, however, the game gets too complicated, too fast, or too stressful and she loses interest. She managed to finish the first few levels in Bastion (I had to do the bosses for her) but gave on Lego Batman in less than five minutes after missing the same jump for the fourth consecutive time.

    The bizarre thing is that her favorite game, the one game she will play, the game she liked so much that she, on her own volition and of her own free will, took notes as she played is XCOM. She just really loves aliens. (Long before I bought XCOM, she used to ask me to tell stories about aliens or super-villains kidnapping children. It’s like XCOM was made just for her.) She also likes choosing silly color schemes and haircuts for her squaddies and also giving them silly names. Her first few sessions were an intensely frustrating experience–for both of us!–but to my surprise she stuck with it. Sort of. She’s started several campaigns over the last year or so, but always quits when she gets to the first terror mission.

    I would love to play more games with my daughter, but I try not to be a jerk about it. Whenever I ask if she wants to play something or invite her to play something with me, it’s clear–or so I hope–that she can refuse. As I said earlier, she usually isn’t interested. But sometimes I get lucky. Our happiest co-op gaming sessions have been in Sid Meier’s Pirates!, where she is the gunner during the naval battles and handles everything in port. I serve as the navigator and helmsman and do all the fencing.

  10. DrJ3RK says:

    I play a lot of Terraria, Borderlands, and Street Fighter with my daughters. However, things like Abzu and Subnautica are also among their favorites (and Minecraft of course). I run a LAN server for Minecraft, so my kids and their friends can all hop on sometimes and play together.

    There are some others though that we REALLY have fun with.

    Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is one daughter’s favorite with me. Excellent co-op, needs a touch of brain-power, strategy, and action reflexes. This is a really cool game.

    Another one is CRAWL. It even has arcade support by default, so you can use things like an X-Arcade dual stick, or a four player setup, or any combination. This game really couldn’t be more fun with either your kids, or (one of my favorites) some friends and maybe a little whiskey :D Four players is just fantastic! I really can’t recommend it enough for some classic local multiplayer fun.

  11. khamul says:

    At the moment, me and my boys (7 and 10) are playing XCOM2 together. The first Firaxis XCOM would mostly have been okay, I think, but had a few moments that were quite child inappropriate. XCOM2, so far, has been fine – though we haven’t met the Crysalids yet.

    Playing XCOM2 with children is a *very* different experience. Um. Our reaper, Sgt Cuddles, is sporting a fine pink overcoat covered in hearts, whereas Pratal Mox, courtesy of the random mission codename generator, is now known as ‘Pungent Jester’. And the poster generation stuff is something they could play with all day.

    With my eldest, I’ve also been playing a lot of Total Warhammer, and he’s loving Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic. My youngest loves puzzle games, and watching him progress through The Talos Experiment has been awesome… though he’s given up for the moment, as he was finding it becoming tough going.

  12. rangerfall says:

    My dear daughter is 7 now and we have had many fun adventures with PC games. While I encourage her to take the controls, she often would rather sit and watch me play and it’s a form of parallel play where she brings in her stuffed animals and toys(or makes/draws something to ‘use/help’) and engages her own imagination into what is happening on-screen. Most of the games we play are fairly low-stress adventure types with usually some cartoonish characters she can relate to. Going through my steam list below, lots of good memories for the following in addition to what has been mentioned.

    slime rancher
    school of dragons(educational missons, use paypal to control credit charges)
    sonic all-star racing transformed
    world of goo
    botanicula(any game by amanita design,wonderful art/sound,watch walkthroughs if stuck)
    orcs must die
    ori and the blind forest(difficult, but great game)
    rock of ages
    a matter of murder
    the deadly tower of monsters
    dragon’s lair
    goat simulator
    minecraft – story mode
    nuclear throne
    pac-man 256

    Also overwatch and guild wars 2. We started with the free version of GW2 and she enjoyed the story and while I do most of the playing she enjoys coloring/dying the gear choices and looking over whatever cosmetics are for sale in addition to as a ranger class acquiring pets or with ‘path of fire’ expansion acquiring mounts. On her own she enjoys browser/flash-based point/click ‘animaljam’ which I will occasionally help her get past harder adventures, but that’s mainly her solo thing.

  13. Don Reba says:

    Not to be confused with dadaification.

  14. somnolentsurfer says:

    Mario Kart is the most consistently requested game in our house. Otherwise, Pokemon Go, and the Pokémon TCG on line, and some Lego Jurassic World. We do get the odd request for ‘the cooking game’ (Overcooked), but that mostly gets refused these days, as they just want to spin around with the fire extinguisher, and it’s absolutely maddening!

    At 7 and 9 they’re getting toward the point I’d love to play Day of the Tentacle with them, but for the one single swear. Does anyone know a way to mod it out?

  15. specialsymbol says:

    The best games so far I know of for kids are:
    Transport Fever (I didn’t know before that you can build roller coasters out of bridges) and OpenTTD.

  16. stomponator says:

    I bought the SNES Mini for my son and me. It doesn’t see much use these days, because my son ist only two years old and I am simply to bad to play most of the games on this thing. He does enjoy watching me failing at Super Mario, however.

    Recently I got Yonder, which he really likes to watch. Together, we are mostly bothering animals and go jumping off cliffs, so I can’t do any quests or crafting while he watches. It’s nice, though. He sits on my lap, presses random buttons on the controller and correctly identifies flowers, groffles and foxes. We do that once or twice a week for 15 to 20 minutes.

  17. Blackrook says:

    I have a 14 year daughter and she’s had her own pc (well my old ones) for about 5 years now.

    Together (coop) we have played and enjoyed Terraria, Starbound,
    Ark, 7 Days to Die (not very child friendly now), The Crew, Steep.

    We also have played single player Stardew valley, Subnautica simultaneously sort of at the same time together.

    Might give Stardew another go in the multiplayer together, and we are looking forward to the Crew2.

    I don’t think she ever actively watched me play stuff except maybe when I used to lull her to sleep on my knee when she was a baby and I was playing UT2004 with a clan.

  18. alexnode says:

    With a 5 year old boy my greatest hits are.
    A.Sonic Racing Transform (playing)
    B.Chuchel (watching)
    C.Abzu (Watching)
    D.In (tiny indy puzzle game) (watching)
    E.OWW (a free art gallery building game ) (playing)

  19. Pink Gregory says:

    I really enjoyed this podcast; it feels as if games aren’t discussed in these kind of contexts enough, there are so many knotty issues and different philosophies, and as an adult you don’t realise how different the gaming landscape is for children a few generations ahead.

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