If you don’t think of dads as gamers, it’s probably because the dads you grew up around didn’t play video games. But things are different now, because a whole generation that was raised on video games is now old enough to have kids. Gamer dads are everywhere. When it comes time to share your hobby with your kids, it can be hard to know what games to play together. We’ve got your back. Here’s a list of father and son video games you can play together, with selections that work for kids of every age group.
1. Super Mario 3D World
If your son is old enough to handle a controller, you won’t find a more kid-friendly multiplayer game than Super Mario 3D World for Wii U. As anyone who’s played a Mario game knows, Nintendo can pack its games full of charm, and that’s precisely the case here. Up to four players can run, jump, and climb their way though the game simultaneously, so don’t be surprised if things get a little chaotic, even with only two players. Each level has its own special surprises in store, as well as secrets that only the most eagle-eyed players will discover.
If your son is too young for a controller, you and he can spend time together exploring letters in Metamorphabet. Unlike many games for young kids, it’s not annoying, and it doesn’t constantly try to sell you extra content. Better yet, it’s so simple that even a one-year-old can play it.
In Metamorphabet, each letter has its own “level” that you progress through by tapping the screen and interacting with whatever appears. For instance, tap the letter A, and it grows antlers. A voice says the word, so even kids who can’t ready yet can get something out of it. Fiddle with the antlers and the A turns into an arch. Then the arch starts walking and the word “amble” appears.
This happens for each letter, with consistently creative words and animations appearing as you play. It’s a great way for dads to help their sons learn the alphabet and get a head start on spelling or even talking.
3. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
If you have a teenage son and you’re cool with letting him hear bad words and use guns to turn enemies into Swiss cheese, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 might be a good choice. In fact, your son is probably playing this game already, so you might as well meet him where he already is.
One benefit of playing a game like this with your son is that you can show him how the proper way to act during online matches, something I wish more gamers knew how to do. Teach him it’s not OK to say racist, misogynistic, awful things to other players online. Keep it classy, deliver as many headshots as possible, and if you perform poorly, you can model how to accept defeat with grace.
4. Mario Kart 8
Each installment in the Mario Kart series is loads of fun. It’s a testament to this one’s quality that it might be the best Mario Kart game ever made. It has a huge selection of characters, a wide variety of karts, and endlessly creative levels that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. And with split-screen multiplayer races, it’s a perfect game to play with your son. Thanks to the motion controls, even fairly young kids can partake in the fun, especially if you buy a cheap steering wheel peripheral to put the controller in.
5. Halo 5: Guardians
A slightly more wholesome series of shooters than Call of Duty is Halo. Halo 5 is great, whether you’re taking turns playing the campaign with your son or you’re fighting against other players online together.
The gameplay has never felt better — which is saying something in a series that has always led the way in terms of first-person shooter controls. The game comes packed with a campaign that lets up to four players work together to take down the Covenant and a pair of extremely fun multiplayer modes. The best one is Warzone, in which two teams of 12 players start on opposite sides of the map. Each tries to conquer a central base while also fighting off Covenant forces. If your son likes shooters, this is a great one to play with him.
6. Peggle 2
Popcap, the maker of classics like Bejeweled and Plants Vs. Zombies, has a surprisingly excellent pinball-style game on Xbox One and PS4 called Peggle 2. Each level gives you a screen full of blue and orange pins that disappear when you bounce a tiny ball off of them. The goal is to clear the screen of orange pins before you burn through all 10 of your balls. It’s an easy concept that even younger kids can wrap their head around, and with the multiplayer mode, you’re in for a great time, whether your son is five or 15.