My Top Ten: Games You Want Your Kids to Play

I don’t have any children, despite my age and my wife’s ever-increasing broodiness. I just like having what little money I do and I know that once there’s a child on the scene I will have to stop buying Grand Theft Auto and start buying Hannah Montana. I have had a quick think though, what games I’d like to pass on to my children, should I ever become a breeder.

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  • Elite (BBC Micro et al.) – This is the most epic game ever. You start as a simple trader with a small space ship and a never-ending expanse of space to explore and build your empire by trading and engaging in combat (for good or evil purposes) or mining asteroids. There was no end to this game, you just got to be the best at the various career paths. Teaches commerce, life-skills and interstellar travel.
  • ToeJam & Earl (SMD) – Two aliens from the planet Funkotron who just want to rebuild their spaceship and find their way home. Avoid weird earth-folk and collect gifts to power-up (or harm you – it’s like a lottery) whilst listening to the Funky Jazz soundtrack and admiring the SoCal fashion and culture references. Teaches self-depreciation, thoroughness and “The Funk”.
  • Banjo-Kazooie (N64) – You get an amusing sidekick, there is magic involved and you have to defeat an evil witch using jigsaw pieces and musical notes to save your little sister. This game is like every Disney movie ever but good. Teaches compassion, friendship and shamanic magic.
  • The Neverhood (PC) – It’s not often that you find a video game where the animation aspect is taken so literally. This game was all stop-motion animated with clay models and speaks of a simpler time in game design. It was a point-and-click adventure with a sense of humour almost as big as its sense of style. Teaches investigation, craft and animation.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island (PC) – This is probably the funniest video game ever and you’d want your kids to have a sense of humour wouldn’t you? The swordfights aren’t done with swords but by hurling insults at your foe. Brilliant! This is soon to be re-released on XBLA and PC in a special edition. I really hope they put the “stump joke” back in. Teaches humour, honour and the recipe for a potion to destroy ghosts.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) – A timeless tale of resisting oppression with a mixture of intelligence, wit and resilience. This game is the blueprint for a decent citizen. Well, without all the hitting-people-with-swords. Teaches honesty, vigilance and music.
  • LittleBigPlanet (PS3) – There are no bad men to kill and no evil seductresses trying to get inside your zipper with this game. It’s just good, clean fun dressed in a cute costume. The create side of things is like the technology department of your local high school but with less knives and more education. Teaches creativity, engineering and knitting. Sort of.
  • Gran Turismo 4 (PS2) – This game taught me how to drive. Seriously, I played it lots while I was learning how to drive. I even had a little steering wheel and whilst it wasn’t exactly the same (my instructor resolutely refused to trade in his dual-peddle Corsa for a Pike’s Peak Escudo) it was enough to teach me the basics of steering and pedal control. Teaches mechanics, driving, physics.
  • Flower (PS3) – To put it simply: Everyone should play Flower. There is an emotional process throughout the course of this game that I still don’t fully understand but I know it’s what we like to call “A Good Thing”. Teaches aerodynamics, environmentalism and botany.
  • Braid (Xbox360) – A simple story of one man’s quest to find a princess who has been kidnapped by an evil monster. This has an ending which is both expertly done and unbelievably unexpected but I won’t spoil that for you. The key mechanic is the manipulation of time and the ability to try again if you make a mistake. Teaches forgiveness, perseverance and perspective.

Credit goes to Gastos84 for the idea for this list… and the next…

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