Video Games That Won't Rot Their Brains

Kids Playing Video Games


Do your kids play a lot of video games in the sum­mer?  What video games do you allow in your home?
Here are 5 video games that won’t rot their brains this summer.



5 Great Games That Won’t Rot Your Kids’ Brains

This PlaySta­tion 3 title harkens back to old-school games like Myst, where the jour­ney truly is the point. Your goal is both incred­i­bly sim­ple and extremely dif­fi­cult: to make your way on foot through a burn­ing, sprawl­ing desert to the moun­tains in the dis­tance. “It’s an incred­i­bly evoca­tive world, a sense of mys­tery you want to unravel,” says Tan­ner Hig­gin, senior edu­ca­tion man­ager for Com­mon Sense Media, which rates and advo­cates for kid-friendly media. “You end up think­ing a lot about life and death, but with­out the trap­pings of games like life points, quests, or items.”

See also: Can Video Games Teach Your Child to Be a Bet­ter Person?

Sim­C­i­tyEDU: Pol­lu­tion Challenge!

Based on the incred­i­bly pop­u­lar series of Sims games, this award-winning title makes your child the mayor of a small city, try­ing to pro­tect the envi­ron­ment while bal­anc­ing the needs of its cit­i­zens. Can you cre­ate new jobs yet still reduce pol­lu­tion? What are the most effi­cient routes for pub­lic trans­porta­tion? Aimed at mid­dle school­ers (and often used in class­rooms), Sim­C­i­tyEDU gives your child the chance to deal with com­plex data sets and make dif­fi­cult deci­sions. The $20 game is avail­able in a free single-user trial ver­sion for Mac or PC.

Mis­sion US


This ongo­ing mul­ti­me­dia project con­veys key peri­ods of U.S. his­tory through the eyes of a child. In Mis­sion 1, you play Nat Wheeler, a 14-year-old printer’s appren­tice in pre-revolutionary Boston. Mis­sion 2 casts you as Lucy King, a teenage run­away slave in 1848 Ken­tucky. In Mis­sion 3, you are 12-year-old Lit­tle Fox, a Cheyenne boy watch­ing his world crum­ble as the rail­road comes to Mon­tana in 1866. Each mis­sion is filled with sim­ple ani­ma­tion, nar­ra­tion, evoca­tive music, and oppor­tu­ni­ties to empathize with the char­ac­ters and the dif­fi­cult deci­sions they must face. The game is avail­able free via the Web or as a down­load­able file for PC or Mac. More mis­sions are planned for later this year.

Project Spark

Project Spark isn’t a game so much as the gate­way to an infi­nite num­ber of games. This cod­ing plat­form lets wannabe devel­op­ers build their own Xbox and PC games, choos­ing every­thing from char­ac­ters, props, and ter­rain to worlds, mis­sions, and game logic — which they can then share with the world to let oth­ers play. Want to cre­ate a bet­ter ver­sion of Super Mario or recre­ate the Death Star from Star Wars? Bet­ter get cod­ing. Project Spark is now in open beta, which means any­one with an Xbox One or a Win­dows 8 machine can down­load the free tools and cre­ate the next Call of Duty or Angry Birds.

Thomas Was Alone


In this min­i­mal­ist game, you play a lonely rec­tan­gle whose job is to guide other geo­met­ric shapes, each with their own dis­tinc­tive per­son­al­i­ties, through a series of shift­ing 2D land­scapes. Nar­rated by an actor with a plummy British accent and accom­pa­nied by a Philip Glass-esque sound­track, Thomas feels less like play­ing a game and more like being inside a piece of dig­i­tal per­for­mance art. “It’s a great exam­ple of how a single-player expe­ri­ence can still build social and emo­tional intel­li­gence,” Hig­gin says. The $10 game is avail­able for PC, Mac, or iPad.


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