Forget God of War and Elden Ring. When kids are looking for a game to play, they’re not looking for atmospheric challenge or symbolic stories. They’re looking for fart jokes, viral dances and a good time.
The criteria for what makes a really great game for children is drastically different from those that are going to win a traditional Game of the Year Award. Accessibility, approachability, licences they already know and love – they’re all more important than mechanical complexity or deep storylines. My own brood of 5 kids would take Knack 2 over Portal 2, Minecraft over Final Fantasy and Roblox over Journey.
We’ve had our say as a website, but I thought it would be fun to ask my kids what they thought were the best games of 2022. The results? Well… they were too good not to write down.
So here they are – The Best Games of 2022, As Decided By A Bunch of Kids
Felicity, Aged 5 – PAW Patrol Grand Prix
At 5 years old, you’d maybe think that my daughter Felicity wouldn’t be much of a gamer. Well, being surrounded by her brothers whom are all big players, and of course me who writes about games in my spare time, means she has picked it up pretty quickly. This year she developed a love for My Friend Peppa Pig, a game so accessible that she can play it totally unassisted.
That’s a trend, because it’s one of the reasons she loves PAW Patrol Grand Prix. While it may be formulaic from my perspective – it’s basically every Kart racer since Mario Kart – Felicity has adored playing this game since it released. That’s once again primarily because it’s easy for her to play: there’s an assist mode, activated via the pause menu, that accelerates and corners for her. This means she gets to concentrate on firing off the powers or activating the pup’s signature ability when she can. It helps that she has beaten her elder siblings a few times, whom I accidentally, maybe-on-purpose neglected to inform about the assist mode… they just think she’s a Kart racing savant. It also helps that PPGP is absolutely smothered in the Paw Patrol characters, locations and voice acting. Every time you pull off something impressive, your chosen racer spouts off an iconic line, something which Felicity took to copying.
The only other game that Felicity has enjoyed in 2022 is Bunny Park from Cozy Bee Games and SOEDESCO. While this game is too mechanically complicated for her to control herself, we’ve had more than a few Daddy & Daughter evenings where she has guided me through where she wants things to go. While I’ve been in control, Felicity has been jumping up and down on the couch (despite my requests not to do that) and telling me where to place everything. If you and your little one like rabbits, this game is worth a look.
Quinn, Aged 8 – Sonic Frontiers
“Minecraft”. That was Quinn’s answer when I asked him which game of 2022 he enjoyed the most. After reminding him that Minecraft originally launched more than a decade ago, he said “Gang Beasts?”. Ah well. So, we sat down with a list of the games that have released this year so he could pick out his favourite and there was one game that stood out to him more than the rest – Sonic Frontiers.
Quinn is the rarest of Sonic fan. He likes Sonic Forces. I know. I know. I think he really enjoys creating his own Sonic character and the bite sized level structure fits with his attention span. On the other hand, he also likes open world games – He really enjoyed the most recent Ben 10 game and, as already mentioned loves Minecraft. He loves a world where he can just go and mess around and do cool things on his own.
It feels like a no brainer that Quinn would love Sonic Frontiers then. There’s a few big open worlds to explore and muck around in and when he’s bored, there’s little levels, the structure and flow of which he is accustomed to because of his love for Sonic Forces. All of this while controlling one of the coolest characters in video games, even if he is a bit grumpy this time around. While Frontiers definitely wasn’t for me, it’s impossible to deny the joy that it has brought to my 8 year old. Maybe I’ve just aged out of Sonic’s demographic, but Quinn is definitely square in the middle of it. When he pulls together a rail ride that spans the whole of an open world map, there’s immeasurable pride on his face. I imagine he’ll still be playing it long into 2023.
Harry, Aged 10 – Goat Simulator 3
I asked Harry what his favourite game of the year was while he was playing Goat Simulator 3. He didn’t even have to think about it. “This one”. There really was only one choice for Harry. Ever since Goat Sim 3 landed a few short weeks ago, he has been hammering it with any spare moment he has. Despite playing a lot of Kirby, LEGO Star Wars, and Mario Kart, nothing has tickled his funny bone quite like those damn goats have.
Watching Harry play Goat Simulator 3 is like jumping into a puddle only to realise it’s 5 foot deep. The game genuinely feels like a reward for those players who really delved into the previous Goat Simulator title and all its DLC. Harry is one such person, so is constantly excited about finding something old that’s new again. The first time he strapped on that rocket pack that was made so iconic by the first game? He giggled for 10 minutes straight.
We’ve played a lot of Goat Simulator 3 together too, Harry and I, because the co-op in this game is incredibly well put together. All players can have separate active objectives, which means that all players can be plugging away at the far more structured progress and missions this time around. And of course, while there are a lot of pop culture references that fly over my son’s head, the rag-dolling slapstick comedy and general absurdity is enough to keep Harry laughing.
Archer, Aged 10 – Stray
2022 was the year that Archer, the biggest gamer in my family, broadened his gaming horizons. Until now, his games of choice have been primarily Fortnite, Minecraft and Among Us, and it has almost always been a social experience. It has always been with friends and mostly because they asked. That changed earlier this year when he played, completed and then Platinumed Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales. It was like it lit a fire in his belly for single payer games. He’s played and completed The Eternal Cylinder, Webbed, The OG Spider-Man, Toem, LEGO Star Wars and a lot more ever since. His favourite though? Stray.
I imagine that Stray is going to be that game that Archer looks back at fondly years from now, kind of the way I look back at the likes of Abe’s Oddyssey or Monkey Island. He adored this game while playing it, totally absorbed in a world I personally found just as charming. He would cuddle up with his own cat, Winnie, and explore that dilapidated sci-fi world at his own pace. Of course, when ever he got in a bit of trouble with the Zurks, his legs would get all tense and Winnie would usually make a run for it.
The proof for me was when Archer would excitedly meet me at the door when I got home from work to tell me what he had seen in Stray that day. The almost exclusively non-verbal story telling of the game drew him in more than any game I’ve ever seen him play. It inspired him – I had hand drawn pictures of ginger cats stuck to the fridge for months.
BlueTwelve Studios – If you’re reading this, I have a request. As soon as Archer finished Stray, he started it again. After his second completion, he asked me when the next one was coming. I know that Stray took a long time to make, and you’ve not spoken about making a sequel, but if you do decide to make one, you’d make one little boy really happy.
Logan, Aged 13 – MultiVersus
After managing to convince Logan that he couldn’t choose Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 as the best game of 2022 (because he’s not actually supposed to be playing it yet and it would make me look like a terrible parent), Logan settled on a bit of a surprise – MultiVersus.
Despite always having a version of Smash Bros in our house, we’ve never been a Smash Bros family. I think that’s perhaps because, aside from a few characters – Mario & Luigi, the Pokémon, Pac-Man and Kirby – my wife and kids have no emotional connection to any of the fighters. They have no history with them, or even know who some of them are. That’s certainly not the case with MultiVersus. Aside from Arya Stark and Reindog, my brood of kids have grown up with these characters. They might only know of LeBron because of Space Jam 2 – shamefully – but they do know who he is.
It also helps that MultiVersus is just a really great party fighting game. Whether it’s my kids taking it far too seriously as Archer tries to combat Logan’s spam of Rick’s dash attack, or me letting Felicity trash my Iron Giant, it’s just a lot of fun to play. Logan is undoubtedly the best at the game from our family and wins a surprising amount of matches online. I wish those players that he whoops could see him playing, wide eyed with concentration, his tongue sticking out. He really gets into it.
It’s great to have a game like MultiVersus to play together. If Warner Brothers continue to supply new fighters to it, I imagine my brood and I will be having ever-so-Spicy battles on it long into 2023 too. Much to the chagrin of our neighbours I imagine who will have to put up with all the yelling, screaming and laughing.
The likelihood is that your own little ones have their own favourites. If you feel like sharing what they thought were the best games of 2022, head to the comments section. We’d love to read about them.
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