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First Steps Into
Online Video Games
 

One of the most exciting aspects of modern video games is playing with other people online. It's a big step from playing something like Mario Kart with family and friends in the same room to going online to play with people you don't know.

With the benefits and opportunities of online play come the issues and potential dangers of children interacting with people they don't know. We've worked with the Breck Foundation to create this list of games that are great for parents, carers and children to take their first steps online together.

The Breck Foundation is a charity founded by Lorin LaFave after the tragic murder of her 14-year-old son, Breck Bednar, in 2014, through online grooming. Breck was groomed while enjoying his passions for computing and gaming. The foundation aims to ensure that no child is harmed through grooming and exploitation while enjoying their time on the internet.

After speaking with Lorin on BBC Radio, together, we hatched an idea to offer this resource to help anchor online gaming as a part of family life. By playing online with your child from an early age you create a context where mistakes are made together. This establishes an open conversation where your child is more likely to tell you if something happens online that doesn't feel right, and more likely to listen to your ongoing advice and guidance.

This works with Breck Foundation's, ‘Play virtual, Live real’ motto that reminds children to never meet up alone in a private place with someone they have met only online, to ensure that online play is safe, enjoyable and connected to attentive adults.

The games in this list offer small steps to go from local play to online play. Some games, like Roblox are designed for young players with lots of special safety settings. Other games, like Sky, are designed to lead players into cooperating with each other with in-game purchases you give away, and interactions that start limited and expand as you gain experience. Then there are cooperative games like Ibb and Obb where you work together and communicate with gestures on the screen.

You can use Family Settings and Parental Controls on your system to limit how your child interacts with other players online. As well as finding the right games to get them started, it's also important that you play with them and keep game screens in shared family spaces so you can see what they are doing.
 
This list includes 76 games from the last 31 years, with 2,926 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to dip your toe into online games.

 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Release Date: 25/04/2020

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night, Open World, Persistant World and Weather

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a role-play collecting game where you live on a small island teeming with life. Insects, fish, trees, vegetation and fossils are represented with cute cartoon visuals. Rather than the scale or grandeur of other game...

Journey

Release Date: 14/03/2012, updated in 2019

Out Now: PC, PS3, PS4 and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Journey is an adventure game set in a desert. Exploring the eerie sandscape, you discover a world abandoned by the race that created it. The sense of space and scale evokes feelings of aloneness and being lost. But then the game pairs you with other...

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Release Date: 28/04/2017, updated in 2022

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a go-kart racing game where you race against Nintendo characters around different circuits, picking up power-ups, attacks and speed boosts. It is frantic and chaotic but still requires skills to do well.

Apico

Release Date: 20/05/2022, updated in 2022

Out Now: Mac, PC, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Grid and Pixels

Apico is a simulation game where you play a beekeeper and conservationist. You explore environments, breed rare bees and release them into the wild while growing your business. There are no enemies, time constraints or set objectives so you can focus on...

The Crew 2

Release Date: 02/12/2014, updated in 2018

Out Now: PC, PS4, Stadia and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Open World

The Crew 2 is the latest in a series of open-world racing and exploration games set in a scaled-down version of the United States. The emphasis is on enjoyable and exciting driving more than realism. It's a lot like Forza Horizon, although can be played...

Ibb and Obb

Release Date: 01/08/2013, updated in 2020

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS3 and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Ibb and Obb is a puzzle game where you run, jump, land on enemies and solve momentum puzzles. The novelty is that it's a game designed for cooperation. One player controls the green creature, Ibb, and the other controls the pink creature, Obb. The world...

The Tomorrow Children

Release Date: 06/09/2016, updated in 2022

Out Now: PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night, Open World, Persistant World and Weather

The Tomorrow Children is an online strategy game where you collaborate with other players to build, explore and develop communities. Unusually, it uses social economics and a Soviet Union-themed post-apocalyptic dystopia as the setting. You play a clone...

Flock

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Open World and Weather

Flock is a cooperative traversal and collecting game where you take on the role of a flying shepherd. To play you move around the world tending to your unique herd of flying creatures. It sounds complicated but really it's just a big wild place on the...

Lego 2K Drive

Release Date: 19/05/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Blocks, Cartoon and Open World

Lego 2K Drive is an open-world racing game made out of Lego. There are races, as you'd expect, but you can also freely explore each of the worlds, collect parts and upgrade your cars. It stands out for updating the popular Lego destruction and...

Orchids to Dusk

Release Date: 03/12/2015

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Orchids to Dusk is a short wandering adventure. You are an astronaut stranded on an alien planet, with only a few minutes of oxygen. You explore the world and discover fantastic gardens on the planet.

Sticky Terms

Release Date: 01/03/2020

Out Now: Android and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On and Text

Sticky Terms is a puzzle game where you construct words from other languages with portions of letters. You rotate, drag and overlap the different elements to create words, once you do you are rewarded with a drum hit and a definition of the word.

Big Walk

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night and Open World

Big Walk is a traversal game where you head into a wide-open world with online friends. You decide where to go together by following your nose while taking on challenges, puzzles and making discoveries. It stands out for its focus on the journey and the...

Wobbly Life

Release Date: 09/07/2020

Out Now: PC, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: Cartoon and Open World

Wobbly Life is a lively open-world game where you explore an island with your friends to find quests, mini-games and earn money. Play involves finding jobs to do, earning money and buying lots of everyday things - but the real play is around the edges...

Chessplosion

Release Date: 21/09/2021

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Chessplosion is an action, puzzle game where you drop chess pieces on a board to trigger bombs in the shape of their related chess moves. Your aim is to use the different pieces (and bomb attacks) to trap opponents like Bomberman. No prior chess...

Rekt 2

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Rekt 2 is a stunt racing game where your car works like a skateboard. Play brings the previous game's fast action jumps, tricks and battles to 16-player online matches. It stands out for the simple joys of landing jumps and bumping other players off...

Sky Children of the Light

Release Date: 18/07/2019

Out Now: Android, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Open World and Persistant World

Sky Children of the Light (Sky Children of Light) is a huge open-world online game designed to create altruism between players. From the developer of Flower and Journey, it takes you on a social adventure in an ever-expanding world with up to 8 other...

Sonic Superstars

Release Date: 17/10/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Sonic Superstars is a running, jumping and zooming game that updates the classic platform action game for 4 players. You rush through levels, collecting rings and bouncing on enemies. It stands out for the frantic 4-player cooperative challenge that...

EA Sports FC 24

Release Date: 28/09/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

EA Sports FC 24 is a sports game designed to simulate the players, tactics and crescendo moments of top-flight football. Play involves picking players and setting tactics before controlling each of your team in turn on the pitch. Its simulation is...

Roblox (Series)

Release Date: 15/06/2016, updated in 2022

Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

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...

Minecraft

Release Date: 23/11/2017, updated in 2019

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, 3D Third-Person, Blocks, Day and Night, Open World, Persistant World and Weather

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...

MeepCity (Roblox)

Release Date: 23/02/2016

Out Now: Android, PC, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World

MeepCity is a popular Roblox Game. It's a social game where you role-play a character to interact with other people and customise their looks. Like Toontown Online or the now-defunct Club Penguin, MeepCity is an evolving virtual space for players to...

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

Release Date: 04/08/2020

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a whacky obstacle race where up to 60 people compete to get to the end of the course and advance to the next round. Drawing on TV shows like Takeshi's Castle, Wipeout or It's a Knock Out, you have to control top-heavy...

Royale High (Roblox)

Release Date: 04/10/2017

Out Now: Android, GBA, Mac, PC, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Royale High Roblox is a role-play game about a fantasy school. You dress up, visit differently themed realms collect items and interact with other people. It draws inspiration from the pageantry world and integrates it with different locations to...

Splatoon 3

Release Date: 21/07/2017, updated in 2022

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Cartoon

Splatoon on the Wii U, Splatoon 2 and Splatoon 3 on the Switch are games where you shoot ink rather than bullets in this deeply skilled combat game. As well as taking out opponents, teams work together to cover the arena with their colour of ink. This...

Farm Together

Release Date: 25/02/2018, updated in 2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night, Open World and Persistant World

Farm Together is a low-pressure farm simulator. You develop your farm by yourself or cooperate with your friends. Starting with an empty plot you can grow crops, plant trees, take care of the animals, add buildings and facilities, and unlock new items...

Gang Beasts

Release Date: 12/12/2017, updated in 2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Gang Beasts is an over-the-top brawling game where you play wobbly characters who kick, throw, push, pull and pummel up to seven other rivals to win. The game models real physics so you have to work with the grappling and jelly-like bodies to both get...

Super Mario Bros. 35

Release Date: 01/10/2020

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Super Mario Bros.35 is Mario combined with Fortnite's battle royale online competition. You play a Mario game, but as you score points you send one of the other 35 players enemies and hazards. Jump on a Koopa and send it to the leader on points or...

FIFA (Series)

Release Date: 15/12/1993, updated in 2021

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, Android, DS, Mac, Megadrive, PC, PS Vita, PS2, PS3, PS4, Stadia, Switch, Wii, Wii U, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, 3D Third-Person and Cards

FIFA is one of the two main football video games (the other being Pro Evolution). Each year it's released with improved visuals, more realistic physics and enhanced competitive play. For those who follow the game closely and play it a lot, it offers a...

Skyblock

Release Date: 01/01/2011, updated in 2020

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Blocks

Skyblock is a game played on Minecraft servers where you start on a bare island floating in the sky and must gather resources to thrive and reach other players. It's the Minecraft equivalent to being washed up on a desert island and is hugely popular...

Just Dance 2022 (Series)

Release Date: 17/11/2009, updated in 2020

Out Now: Android, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Stadia, Switch, Web, Wii, Wii U, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 3+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Just Dance 2022 is part of a physically active rhythm game series. Dancing in front of each other isn’t something we often do in families. Just Dance is released with new songs and features each year. It gets parents, carers, children and even...

Horizon Chase 2 (Series)

Release Date: 20/08/2015, updated in 2022

Out Now: Android, Apple TV, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, iOS and iPhone, iPad

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Day and Night

Horizon Chase 2 is the latest game in the Horizon Chase series of arcade racing games with a focus on competitive fun rather than realism; its graphics make it look like it was plucked from the nineties’ arcades, with a nod to Outrun and Lotus Turbo...

Star Stable

Release Date: 01/01/2011, updated in 2022

Out Now: Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night and Open World

Star Stable Online is a hugely popular adventure game where you care for horses, take on daily challenges, solve mysteries and explore a fantasy online world. Originally only available for PC and Mac, it's recently come to mobile devices. Star Stable...

Feather

Release Date: 05/04/2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Feather is an adventure traversal game that brings you, as a bird, to a beautiful island. You can explore freely, collecting items and soaring on the breeze. Often, other players will join you to create a flock of birds to fly together, making music on...

Hotshot Racing

Release Date: 10/09/2020

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Hotshot Racing is a simple and fast racing game where you have to drift around corners and hit the apex on razor-sharp bends in coastal, jungle, alpine and Las Vegas desert environments.

Bad Business (Roblox)

Release Date: 29/05/2019

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Xbox One and iOS

Components: 3D First-Person

Bad Business on Roblox, is a first-person shooting game. It's similar to Call of Duty and Battlefield with shooting, running and sniping with different weapons.

Build A Boat for Treasure (Roblox)

Release Date: 02/11/2016, updated in 2022

Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Blocks

Build A Boat for Treasure (Roblox) is a strategy game where build your ship (or anything else) from different materials and set sail for adventure. Doing this successfully earns new items and materials for your next build. Although this churn does...

Railbound

Release Date: 06/09/2022, updated in 2022

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Railbound is a track-bending puzzle game where you lay track, switch points, and use tunnels to get the carriages to the engine in the right order. Although it's the puzzles that keep you playing, there's also a real joy in connecting tracks and seeing...

PK XD

Release Date: 15/07/2019, updated in 2022

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World

PK XD is an online open world game where you connect with other players as you build houses, choose your appearance and play mini games. Like Roblox, it's a social-first experience driven by ever changing content and seasonal themes. It creates an...

Unrailed!

Release Date: 23/09/2020

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Blocks and Grid

Unrailed! is a co-op strategy game where you work with friends to build a train line across endless landscapes. Along with finding the resources to build tracks, bridges and tunnels, you need to deal with local inhabitants, upgrade your train and watch...

Hypercharge: Unboxed

Release Date: 31/01/2020

Out Now: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Hypercharge: Unboxed is a shooting game where you play a small toy from the 1990s in human-sized arenas like a toy shop, back garden and a garage. It combines base defence play with exploration and collection running and jumping in a wide range of...

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.

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