Close search results
Layout - grid Layout - list

Games Like Adventure Playgrounds

That video games can be like playgrounds for children is clear from even briefly observing how children move and interact in online play. Hone in on Adventure Playgrounds specifically and there's a deeper match in how children used fixed equipment for imaginative play, made-up games and (sometimes) its intended purposes. Go further to consider their history in Junk Playgrounds and the ongoing role of Playworkers and we are way beyond a qualifying metaphor to a new way of valuing play(-frames) in video games.

Talking about playgrounds and video games in the same breath can seem like a category mistake. The former we are used to feeling good about. The latter, not so much. But if we are to credit children with the ability to direct their own play and respect their choices, then video games are very much front and centre alongside adventure and junk playgrounds.

In a world that often neglects to offer play sufficiency to each child, many children are solving this problem (in part at least) with video games.

A set of Playwork principles (created by the Playwork Principles Scrutiny Group and then ratified by SkillsActive) are a useful guide on how adults might support children to gain the "broadest range of environments and play opportunities" that might guide how we support children's video game play:

  1. All children and young people need to play. The impulse to play is innate. Play is a biological, psychological and social necessity, and is fundamental to the healthy development and well-being of individuals and communities.
  2. Play is a process that is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. That is, children and young people determine and control the content and intent of their play, by following their own instincts, ideas and interests, in their own way for their own reasons.
  3. The prime focus and essence of playwork is to support and facilitate the play process and this should inform the development of play policy, strategy, training and education.
  4. For playworkers, the play process takes precedence and playworkers act as advocates for play when engaging with adult-led agendas.
  5. The role of the playworker is to support all children and young people in the creation of a space in which they can play.
  6. The playworker's response to children and young people playing is based on a sound up-to-date knowledge of the play process, and reflective practice.
  7. Playworkers recognise their own impact on the play space and also the impact of children and young people's play on the playworker.
  8. Playworkers choose an intervention style that enables children and young people to extend their play. All playworker interventions must balance risk with the developmental benefit and well-being of children.

Of course, this raises a number of questions. How do you support a child's play when they determine the content and intent of their play is on a screen or online? How do you apply these principles to virtual play rather than physical play? Who and where are the playworkers in this space? Which games offer the best chance for children to be able to freely choose and direct their play?

This list aims to offer some answers to that last question. We have collected together a range of games that offer similar opportunities to those found in junk or adventure playgrounds.

This list includes 36 games from the last 10 years, with 2,904 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to make your own playground adventure. We break them down into the following areas:

Play YouTube video

DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3 to PEGI 16
Australian Ratings: G to MA 15+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Brain Game, Collecting, Communication, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Platform, Puzzle, Race, Rhythm, Role-Play, Sequencing, Shooting, Simulation, Sports, Stealth, Strategy, Traversal and World Building
Total Likes: 2,904

Den Building and Breaking


Minecraft is an open-world adventure where you collect, craft and construct structures and items. Play involves exploring the world to find resources and good locations to build. Some of the best aspects of the game are less well known; along with the...


Teardown is a strategic game where you plan and execute a heist in fully destructible environments. Your objective is to claim the key cards that are hidden around the map. However taking one triggers the alarm, giving you only sixty seconds before...

BedWars (Roblox)

BedWars is a game played on Minecraft (since 2017) or Roblox servers (since 2021). It's a team game where you start on an island and must protect your bed and build bridges to attack other teams' beds. The trick is the ecosystem of items and crafting...


Terraria looks like a 2D, lesser, version of Minecraft. However, this is a game every bit as complex and creative as the better-known block-building game. To the world-crafting and survival, it adds hundreds of items to collect, characters to defeat and...


Rust (also, Rust: Console Edition) is an online survival game set in the wilderness. You explore, gather and craft materials to manage hunger, thirst, health and protection. The preparation is to ward off the threat of bears, wolves and (more commonly)...

One Hour One Life

One Hour One Life is a civilisation survival game where each player lives a whole life in an hour of play and then passes away. Born as a baby into the care of anonymous other online players, you initially depend on them for food. Quickly growing, you...

High Jumps

Rocket League

Rocket League is a sports action game where you drive futuristic cars to score goals with an oversized football. It's a game that sounds ridiculous but is actually a huge amount of fun to play and requires a lot of expertise. What's not obvious from the...

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy is a strange game about movement and momentum. You are tasked with climbing a mountain. However, your only means of locomotion is a hammer that can stick to objects and drag you forwards.

Tower of Hell (Roblox)

Tower of Hell is a Roblox game about navigating a vertical obstacle course without falling off. You play by moving and jumping your way across gaps, travelators and avoiding lasers in a similar fashion to Total Wipeout TV show. It stands out because of...

Loose Parts

Stormworks: Build and Rescue

Stormworks: Build and Rescue is an open-world adventure where you design, build and pilot your own air-sea rescue service. You create programmable vehicles using its block-building system and pilot them into dangerous situations to rescue stricken...

The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild departs from the previous Zelda formula with the scale and depth of its world. You walk, fly, ride and climb your way through a landscape that varies in climate, terrain, inhabitants and vegetation. Weather and...

Totally Accurate Battle Simulator

Totally Accurate Battle Simulator (known as TABS) is a fighting game where you choose different armies and troops to battle each other in an automatic simulation that models their offensive and defensive abilities. Once set up, the fight is largely...


Everything is an unusual game that simulates a world where you can become any object. It sounds strange and not much fun, but the enjoyment is in discovering how small or how big a thing you can become. From tiny atoms to whole planets and everything in...

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is part of a long series of Zelda adventure games. As well as exploring Hyrule you can also take to the skies in an expanded world full of secrets. The game stands out for how heavily it leans into crafting and...


Unturned is a strategy survival game where you are in a Minecraft and Roblox-style world filled with zombies. You have to carefully explore the world, gather resources and craft weapons. You might go in guns blazing, sneak around making use of...

Henry Halfhead

Henry Halfhead is a traversal game where you move around by possessing and controlling any object within your reach. You move around the world freely, but to get where you need to go you need to become the objects around you to use their abilities. It...

Goose Goose Duck

Goose Goose Duck is a strategy communication game where you work with your fellow geese while completing missions. While you do, try and spot the malicious mallards who have infiltrated your team to stop you. Then, after the task, you get to vote out...

Nour: Play With Your Food

Nour: Play With Your Food is an experimental music game where you create different dishes and plates of food. Unusually, the focus is on sound rather than just visuals. As you add ingredients and food elements they each add sounds.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 (Series)

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is an open-world base-building adventure that takes the popular Minecraft idea in a role-play direction. Play involves exploring the world, crafting equipment and buildings and developing your character as they fight ever more...

Trackline Express

Trackline Express is a strategy game where you build and resource a train on an adventure through an unforgiving desert. Play involves running around to gather scarce materials to create the resource you need - coal, ore and wood for starters. It...


BeamNG is a super realistic vehicle simulator where individual car components rather than just the driving experience are modelled. Play involves selecting a car and a location and then exploring how the vehicle copes with different environments. It's...

Mosa Lina

Mosa Lina is a platform brain game where you are granted three random abilities to complete each self-contained level. You can always walk and jump around the level, but this is aided (and sometimes hindered) by the selected abilities at your disposal....

Pick Up Where You Left Off

Adopt Me! (Roblox)

Adopt Me! is one of the most popular Roblox games. In a rudimentary way, it simulates daily life. You can build a home, look after pets and make friends. Like many Roblox games, it's the combination of an avid community of players...

Roblox (Series)

Roblox is a series of games where amateur game-makers create simple online games that often mimic real-world grown-up scenarios, like working in a pizza restaurant, surviving natural disasters, escaping prison, scuba diving or playing hide-and-seek. The...

Don't Starve

Don't Starve is an open-world survival game. Here it’s the environment and enemies, rather than other players, that you work with. You need to find and develop food, weapons and shelter to survive. It’s enjoyable because it’s hard, so repeat-plays...

Play with Fire


Noita is platform adventure game in a world where each and every pixel is physically simulated. This means that the tiny elements that make up the landscape and characters have their own properties that: melt, burn, evaporate, explode, flow, float,...


Wildfire is a running, jumping and hiding game where you hide from (and distract) enemies to get through levels and complete missions. You have specific powers to start fires, freeze water, and move earth that offer different ways to solve the puzzle of...


Embr is an action-fire-fighting game. You join the Emergency Services Revolution and respond to fires to make money, climbing the ladder of success and scoring points.

Nuclear Blaze

Nuclear Blaze is a running, jumping and fire extinguishing game from the same developer as Dead Cells. You put out fires and dodge explosions, debris and fiery chasms. Along with its uniquely intricate levels, there are...

Zip-Line Around

The Alto Collection

The Alto Collection is a series of games including Alto's Odyssey and Alto's adventure. Both are action traversal games where you explore beautiful mountains, dunes and canyons on a snowboarding journey full of serenity and secrets. All you have to...

Lonely Mountains Downhill

Lonely Mountains Downhill is a racing game where you traverse a mountain on a bike. Make your way through thick forests, narrow trails and wild rivers. Race, jump, slide and try not to crash all the way from the peak to the valley. You choose your route...

Exo One

Exo One is a surreal exploration game where you guide a small transforming object to drift, flow and soar across enigmatic landscapes with a gravity-based movement system. The game aims to create an out-of-body other-worldly experience with atmospheric,...


Wilderless is a traversal and exploration game where you are left to discover a fantasy world at your own pace without the usual hindrances. You run, jumping and glide your way around the landscape that unfolds beautifully before you. It stands out not...

Haste Broken Worlds

Haste Broken Worlds is a super fast racing and reaction game where you guide a running character through a changing landscape. You play by directing your character to avoid running into things, using boosts and gliding to find the best way forward. Like...

Laya's Horizon

Laya's Horizon is a traversal and collection flying game where you plunge from mountains, weave through forests and glide down rivers to unlock new abilities and discover a huge tranquil world. Coming from the people behind Alto's Odyssey it's no...

Rusted Moss

Rusted Moss is an exploration traversal game where you swing your way to finding a balance between human and fae realms. You play by shooting and grappling your way through witches and rusted machine enemies. It stands out from other Metroidvania games...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

Subscribe to our free newsletter

Carina Initiatives
Contact Us