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Which family-friendly video games are best?

It’s almost Christmas, and with it comes the season of not understanding the video game-related gift requests of your young child. And it’s much harder when they’re young to get them a game that’s appropriate. Once you figure out what game to get them, you also have to ensure you get it for the right video game player. Furthermore, many games today are digital only, meaning you can’t just buy a game in a box. You have to get special currency.

In this article: Pokemon Violet, Madden NFL 23 and Stray

What does family-friendly mean?

Games that are family-friendly don’t mean that they’re childish. It means they don’t contain the violence, sexual situations and other adult content of games meant for mature crowds. Mature here is used instead of older, as your intended recipient may be on the younger side, let’s say 12, but you or their guardian may feel they can handle harsher content.

Putting aside the issue of maturity, the best way to gauge if a game is family-friendly without knowing what the game is about is to check its Entertainment Software Ratings Board rating. There are six ratings:

  • Everyone: Games with an “E” rating contain, at most, mild violence that’s usually on the cartoonish or fantasy-related side and infrequent use of mild language.
  • Everyone 10-plus: Games with an “E10+” rating contain, at most, slightly more inoffensive violence, some mild language and minimal suggestive themes. These games also tend to be slightly more mechanically complex.
  • Teen: Games with a “T” rating are specifically meant for kids at least 13 years old. They contain violence similar to a PG-13 movie, infrequent strong language and crude humor, among others. These games can still be family-friendly, if only just, depending on the family.
  • Mature: Games with an “M” rating are meant for adults at least 17 years of age, and cannot be legally purchased by anyone younger. They are never family-friendly.
  • Adults Only: Games with an “AO” rating are exceedingly rare. The last game released with this rating was in 2015. They can contain brutal violence, graphic sexual content and real-world gambling. 
  • Rating Pending: Games with an “RP” rating have yet to be rated or released. However, you may find your recipient has requested you pre-purchase one of these. In these cases, you need to do your own research as to the kind of content it might contain.

Where video games are played

Video games are played on many devices, the most popular of which include:

  • Nintendo Switch: This is Nintendo’s current console. Many family-friendly games are found on it. Its digital storefront is called the Nintendo eShop.
  • Xbox family: There are currently four Xbox consoles commonly available. The most recent are the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S. The previous generation includes the Xbox One and the Xbox One X. Its digital storefront is called the Xbox Marketplace.
  • PlayStation family: There are currently four PlayStation consoles commonly available. The most recent are the PlayStation 5 in both a standard and a digital-only version. The previous generation includes the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 4 Pro. Its digital storefront is called the PlayStation Store.
  • PCs: Any PC is capable of playing games, though typically only the most committed gamers play on one because maintaining a current-specification computer can be prohibitively expensive. There are multiple digital storefronts, and precious few PC games are available physically.
  • Mobile devices: Any phone or tablet has access to games, though what games they can play are restricted to the type of phone you have. Most phones have access to either Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store.


Most new video games cost $60, though with recent economic factors $70 games are becoming more common. This is before tax, so if you’re buying digital currency make sure to buy $5-$10 extra.

Best family-friendly video games

Best Gran Turismo 7 - 25th Anniversary Edition

Gran Turismo 7 (25th Anniversary Edition)

For racing simulation fans, only two series sit atop the very best. Gran Turismo is one of them. This is the most recent version and in a special edition that includes a wealth of extra content. It’s for PlayStation only.

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Best Kirby And The Forgotten Land

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Kirby celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, and this game is among its very best. It features an open world to explore, a first for a Kirby game. It’s for Nintendo Switch only.

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Best Lego Star Wars- The Skywalker Saga

Lego “Star Wars”: The Skywalker Saga

This game brings together Lego-ized versions of the entire nine-episode Skywalker Saga, and it’s a brand new adventure, not just a repackaging of the last “Star Wars” Lego games. It’s available on Xbox, PlayStation and Switch. 

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Best Madden NFL 23

Madden NFL 23

This is the latest edition of the king of football sports games. It features upgrades and new techniques for your sports fan to master. It’s available on Xbox and PlayStation.

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Best Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

The Mario Kart series has been a group gaming activity for decades, and this edition features more racers, courses and vehicles than ever before. It’s for Nintendo Switch only.

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Best Mario Party Superstars

Mario Party Superstars

Another group gaming mainstay, this edition of the Mario Party series brings together a collection of boards from the original three Nintendo 64 games and a range of minigames from throughout the series. It’s for Nintendo Switch only.

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Best Pokemon Violet

Pokemon Violet

Pokemon is a venerated name in gaming and has been a major life influence on children since the mid-1990s. This and its sister edition, Pokemon Scarlet, are the latest. It’s for Nintendo Switch only.

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Best Sonic Frontiers

Sonic Frontiers

You may recognize the name Sonic from his recent success at the box office, and the games are just as family-friendly as the movies. This is the newest one, and it’s for Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation. 

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Best Stray


Stray is a game all about being a cat, and it’s been lauded as one of the best games of the year by many critics. It’s rated E10+ because it handles some themes better comprehended by a slightly older audience. It’s for PlayStation only.

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Best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- Shredders Revenge

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

This TMNT game is a blast from the past. Literally. Its gameplay mimics the coin-munching intensity of arcade games back in the ’80s. It’s for Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox.

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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