Do your parents play videogames? Mine don’t. They never have and they likely never will. I once asked my mam if she’d play through Dark Souls so I could write about her struggles with Ornstein and Smough. It was a hard pass.
I’ve since devised a new plan of attack, though. I searched far and wide across the dark web in order to assemble the ultimate list of the 10 most parent-friendly games I could think of. All so that you can give them to your folks as gifts this Christmas. I took the liberty of considering both price and platform in order to accommodate maximum accessibility. Most of these games are relatively inexpensive and four out of ten are available on mobile, making it even easier to convince your parents to give them a go.
So without further ado, here are the 10 games to get your parents this Christmas.
For those who haven’t played it themselves, Stardew Valley is Farmville on steroids. You micromanage a farm in the aesthetically wonderful eponymous Stardew Valley, taking care of crops, livestock, and all that other farming jazz. The more money you earn, the more legit your farm will become.
However, if you get this for one parent, be sure to get it for the other one too, lest they get a little too Stardew pally with a virtual neighbor. Also, this way you can feed two birds with one scone, as PETA would have you say. Both of your parents are now gamers. Mission accomplished.
Fun for all of the family - or so they say. Overcooked 2 actually won “Best Family Game” at The Game Awards 2018 and it’s definitely deserving of that accolade. What do they say again, though - too many chefs spoil the broth? If you get this for your parents, you’ll likely be playing with them, working together to prepare Michelin Star meals in the most absurd restaurants ever conceived.
Portals and moving floors are just two of the obstacles between you and the conveyor belt that brings your gourmet meals out to your hungry customers. You’ll need to work together by tossing bizarre ingredients at one another in order to keep the kitchen running smoothly, but you’ll likely get annoyed at each other after one too many collisions. Remember, you’re trying to get them into games. If they’re annoyed at you, bite your tongue. Being annoyed is a sign of having fun, remember?
Assassin's Creed Origins
You might be thinking “what’s Assassin's Creed Origins doing on this list?” Bear with me. The Discovery Tour DLC allows players to roam freely through the vast expanses of Ancient Egypt seeking out guided tours about the history of the civilization. When the Discovery Tour is enabled, all the traditional aspects of gameplay - side quests, combat, story - are disabled, allowing players to traverse the landscape without having to worry about failure or setbacks.
Drawing from institutes such as the British Museum, the Discovery Tour’s guides are based on the work of renowned historians and they’re actually curated by real life Egyptologists. If one of your parents is a history buff, let them take a walk through the Valley of Kings and show them just how educational video games can be.
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
You see, Uncharted is perfect for parents. It’s narratively-driven, as is the case with most Neil Druckmann games, so the story will likely reel them right in. It’s pretty straightforward when you drop the difficulty to the lowest setting, too, so it’s not inaccessible for newcomers. Also, parents love Tomb Raider. That’s actually a fact.
The Uncharted series allows you to plunder ancient caves in the same way that Lara Croft does, except it’s way funnier - and much better. Also, if they like one Uncharted game then you can get them to play through the other ones, too. You might as well buy them the entire Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection which includes games 1-3. Three birds with one scone. Take that, PETA.
I’m 23. Of my 23 years on this planet, I’ve bought my dad golf stuff for Christmas probably eight or nine times. I’ve never bought him Golf Story, though, as it used to only be available on the GameBoy Color. Not anymore, though.
If you’ve got a Switch, get Golf Story and lend the console to your dad. He’ll quickly realize that he’s playing a golf game, but might not know what’s up immediately. In Golf Story, your dad makes you play golf. That much is obvious. The problem is that you’re absolutely rubbish at it. It’s a charming RPG and it will show your dad that golf not being for you was alright. Take Golf Story off him, play a blinder, and your newfound gamer dad will be crazy proud of how good at games you are.
Golf Story is available to download from the Nintendo Store (opens in new tab).
Florence is probably the best pick on this list if I’m honest. It’s a mobile-exclusive game that has next to no dialogue. It’s narratively-driven and features such little input that it’s actually more like a light visual novel than a game. However, it tells a wonderful story and requires just enough engagement for it to be a great introduction into the world of games.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but just know that you should play this game too if you haven’t yet. Maybe buy it for your parents and play it before you give it to them at Christmas. You can pretend you played it ages ago.
Florence is available to download for iOS (opens in new tab) and Android (opens in new tab).
This one’s a great choice for sheer comedic value alone. Imagine telling your parents that they’re playing as a hole in the ground controlled by a raccoon. Now imagine their face when they realize that two hours later you’ve caught them having fun doing so. Priceless.
Donut County is a really charming game. It looks amazing, features a killer soundtrack, and is funny in a really goofy yet sincere way. The puzzles are pretty easy, as the aim is always just to suck everything on the map into a gigantic hole in the ground. However, there’s something strangely satisfying about swallowing houses, caravans, trees, and even the residents of Donut County themselves. “That’s a ridiculous game!” says your mam, two hours before she’s cackling in the corner because she’s figured out how to use the Quadcopter.
Jonathan Blow’s The Witness is one of my favorite games ever. Set on a mysterious island with no other characters, the game has the player progress through hundreds of seemingly arbitrary chessboard grid puzzles with little to no explanation as to why they’re doing so. It’s infuriating most of the time, but the feeling of accomplishment you get after solving a puzzle you’ve been stuck on for ages is unparalleled.
Also, the open world map is just gorgeous. I spent hours just walking around, not solving puzzles. Your parents will probably do the same, but not by choice. If your parents like puzzles and brain teasers, they’ll love The Witness. If not, don’t buy it - if you do, you’ll likely be getting them a new phone for their birthday.
Tetris is not a new game. In fact, it’s 30 years old, so there’s a decent chance your parents might have been crazy about the game at some point in their lives. If so, they might wonder why Tetsuya Mizuguchi made a Tetris game in 2018.
Tetris Effect is only on PS4 and PSVR, so if you’ve not got those to lend your parents, this one isn’t for you. If you have, though, prepare to offer your parents one of the most affecting audiovisual experiences they’ve ever had. Tetris Effect isn’t an ordinary Tetris game; it’s so much more. My only worry is that you’ll snatch the controller from them once you see how great this game is. Again, you’re trying to get them to understand why you like games so much. Let them have their fun.
I’ve snuck yet another one of my personal favorites in. Firewatch tells the story of a man who moves to the Rockies in order to escape from everything. (Actually, he’s running away from his sick wife, which is awful and a huge obstacle preventing me from empathizing with him, but anyway). Over the course of several months, the man, Henry, goes about his daily routine of looking after the forest while developing a friendship with his supervisor, Delilah. Using walkie-talkies, the two converse almost every day, learning more and more about each other.
This narratively-driven game is easy to play and available on most platforms. It’s also something that you should play yourself, which gives you even more of a reason to get it as a gift for your parents. You can even race them to see who finishes first.