In this period where we can't see each other face-to-face and need to minimise personal contact, video games can offer an interactive and positive way to stay connected with each other.
- This could be school friends who are now studying from home and need something to stay in touch and connect as they used to in the playground.
- This could be grandparents who aren't able to spend time with grandchildren like they used to.
- This could be siblings or even parents and carers who aren't able to be in the same place as loved ones.
In this post, I'm going to offer a range of video games that connect people, in play, in adventures and in collaboration. This not only keeps us in touch but creates a space where we can find relief from the worries of the day and reconnect with each other in new ways.
Firstly, there are many video games on social networks you already use that enable these kinds of interactions.
Facebook Instant Games
Facebook Instant games are a good example of this and a great way to stay in touch. Navigated to the Facebook Instant Games tab and simply click Play to choose which Facebook friends to play with. These are simple drawing and word guessing games along with the usual card games. For younger children, you may need to use your Facebook log-in for them and pick which games they play as well as play with them. These games can include in-app purchases.
As many of us will have more time at home over the coming period we wanted to find some really good games for you to play together. Today we are looking at games you play with people in the same room and later this week we'll look at online games.
Caribu is another useful tool to stay in touch by interacting and playing games. This is a video calling app designed specifically for parents, carers, grandparents and children to use. You just download the Caribu app, set-up a user account, add family and away you go.
You have the usual two-two video conversation but at the same time you can share and read books and play games together. Along with some suggested games, because you can draw on a shared whiteboard you can also use this for any written games you might play in the same place, like Noughts and Crosses.
Console Online Game Sharing
As well as these more general experiences there are some specific online video games that are a great way to stay in touch with each other. It's worth noting that on these systems there are often features that help you share games with others.
Play Share on the PlayStation, for instance, enables you to play couch co-op with people who aren't in the same place. Or you there is the PlayStation pass the controller option to take turns on single-player games even when you aren't in the same place. (Here's how to set it up)
On the Xbox there is a Game Share feature where you can share your games with other Xbox friends and family who don't own it themselves. You can also share your Xbox Live account. (Here's how to set it up)
On Nintendo Switch you can subscribe to a Family Nintendo Online option that enables you to access online game features at a greatly reduced price. This also grants you access to a ready library of retro games to play on your Switch. (Here's how to set it up)
Great Online Family Video Games
We'll now go through some specific game suggestions, by the different PEGI ratings, of the best games to play online in the family.
Feather (Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac)
This is a game you play with other people you may or may not know. It's a calming meditative experience where players show each other where to go even though they might not have met in real life. Along with the gentle online interactions, it's a great game to play together in a family over the weeks and compare your progress.
Horizon Chase Turbo (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One)
This is a great way to stay in touch with each other as you can compete with friends in different places without having to be online at the same time. You see friends and family's fastest laps as ghost cars that you can compete against. You can also play this together in the same place with 4 players in the split-screen mode.
Rocket League (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac)
Rocket League is a competitive team game where you control futuristic cars to try and get an out-sized ball into the goal. It sounds silly but requires a huge amount of skill and practice. You can chat while you play with up to a total of 6 players online. In a family, you can practice together and then go head to head online against other families you know.
Tick Tock: A Tale For Two (Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and iOS)
This unusual game is played simultaneously with a friend. It's a narrative-driven puzzle game where you must escape an eerie world created by a clockmaker. It's unusual because each player's game is slightly different and must be combined to solve the puzzles. Through talking (on the phone or over Skype) and teamwork you must work together to progress before the time runs out.
Crossout (PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One)
Crossout is an online vehicle combat game set in a Mad Max, post-apocalyptic world. Players design modular vehicles combine weapons, armour and engines. As you progress in the game you earn currency to upgrade components and access more powerful parts. You can also craft new items for your vehicle from collected scrap and earned blueprints. You can compete online with friends and family, and also collaborate on building your different vehicles for the battle.
Minecraft (Android, Mac, Nintendo 2DS/3DS, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS)
Minecraft is one of the best-known games for families. But it's a game that continues to improve with each update. You can now compete in competitive online games as well as collaborate in building projects. If you have a headset mic on a console, this is a really good way to stay connected to friends and family online.
No Man's Sky (PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One)
This game invites you to take your spaceship to explore and colonise a universe rich with diverse planets, creatures and fauna. Facing so vast a space is daunting at first, but a rhythm of survival, combat and trading draw you into a space drama of your own making. Choose a home planet and join other players to subdue the wilds of this breathtaking universe. After its initial release, No Man's Sky: Next and No Man's Sky: Beyond free updates substantially expanded the depth and features of the game. You can play online with up to 8 people in your game on consoles and up to 32 players on PC. Of these players, you can play together directly in a party of 4.
Roblox (Android, Mac, PC, Xbox One and iOS)
Roblox offers a whole wealth of games in its own right. These are varied and crafted by young creators so they feel like the sort of games kids play in the playground. Online you can collaborate and compete with friends and family. Or just reconnect with the wider pool of people playing together online.
Dauntless (Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One)
This is a game where you team up with others online and go hunting for monsters. It's a great way to go on an adventure together to reconnect with friends and forget about the world for a while. Four of you can join a single party to go and hunt, and you can collaborate across different consoles as well.
Sea of Thieves (PC and Xbox One)
Take to the high seas with friends and family in the co-operative open-world pirate adventure. The fun is going on quests and missions together as well as what happens along the way. Perhaps you'll find an unexpected ghost pirate ship, or stumble on an unmarked island. It's a great way to reconnect with the family online as well as make new pirate-y friends in a community that loves to help newcomers.
Worms (Mac, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS)
There is a version of Worms on pretty much every platform. It's a turn based battle game you can play with family online. What's good about it is that it doesn't depend on a fast internet connection. The game waits for you to take your turn before moving on to the next person. This also means there's plenty of time to chat while you play, either via PlayStation or Xbox parties or Skype or phone if you are playing on an older system.