Everyone plays games to have fun, but not all games are created equal. Some games can enrich your life in other ways, like by providing you with skills or knowledge you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Below are five games that are fun to play in their own right but that can also help make you a more well-rounded person. Whether you want to brush up on history or learn to play the guitar, these games have you covered.
1. Never Alone
- Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows
Never Alone is a side-scrolling platformer unlike any other. It was made in a partnership between game developers and Alaskan Native community members, who told their handed-down stories to the developers, who then turned them into a game. You play as a girl who lives in a Northern Alaskan town that’s been hammered by nonstop blizzards. You trek out to find the source of the storms and stop them.
As you play, you unlock documentary snippets that fill you in on the real lives and culture of the Iñupiaq people, who have called Northern Alaska their home for thousands of years. Not only is the game a fun platformer, but it also teaches you about a culture you probably knew little or nothing about. It’s a remarkable game on many levels, and it doesn’t hurt that looks gorgeous and plays great, either.
2. Rocksmith 2014
- Available on PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Why break the bank on music lessons when you can grab Rocksmith 2014 and learn to play guitar from the comfort of your couch? The game comes with about 100 songs, plus an impressive library of DLC so you can learn to play the axe by jamming out to the songs you like.
Whether you’re a total newbie or a mid-tier rock god, the game adapts to your skill level, tossing you into tutorials as necessary for things like slides, bends, and chords. Each song can be played on a variety of difficulty levels, and you can hop into mini-games, lessons, and sessions on a whim. In other words, if you want to learn to play guitar, this game will show you how.
3. The Typing of the Dead: Overkill
- Available on Windows
Mavis Beacon has nothing on bloodthirsty zombies. Think about it: When you’re learning to type, what will make you improve your skills faster than oncoming zombies?
In this on-rails shooter, which is modeled after Sega’s House of the Dead, zombies approach you from all directions as you make your way through environments straight out of a horror movie. But instead of aiming a light gun at the baddies and pulling the trigger, you have to type the words that appear on the screen in front of them. Get it right, and they die. Get it wrong, and it’s you who feels the pain.
4. Dragonbox Algebra 5+
- Available on iOS
I think we can all agree that algebra can be a tough subject to wrap your mind around. This ingenious game starts off looking like a puzzle that has you manipulate shapes to progress. As you play, the idea remains the same, but the shapes are slowly replaced with symbols and numbers. Before you know it, you’re solving real algebra equations.
The game comes in two different flavors, one for kids ages 5 and older, and another for the 12 and older crowd. That’s right: DragonBox can teach your 5-year-old how to solve algebra equations. Pretty neat, right?
5. Assassin’s Creed Unity
- Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows
If you’re looking to fill yourself in on history, grab an Assassin’s Creed game off the shelf and dig in. Each game takes place during an important historical place and time, from the Italian Renaissance to colonial Boston to Paris during the French Revolution.
Not only do you get to explore impressive digital versions of the settings, but you meet many of the famous people of the era. Beyond that, the games also come with reams of historical information regarding everything from important locations to people to events. If you read each new entry as it pops up on your screen, you’ll come away knowing a whole lot you didn’t know before — and you’ll have fun doing it. That’s a win-win.
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