Not sure what to get your kids this Christmas? Maybe I can help. See,
gaming isn't a hobby just for teens and young adults. There are some
pretty fantastic games out there for children, if you know where to
look. Here are a few suggestions to that effect to get you started.
True, I've recommended this console before, but I figured it couldn't hurt to start the list off by suggesting it again. Nintendo's handheld, though a bit on the pricy side, is a perfect gift choice for a gamer of any age. Buy it for your kids, and they'll be able to play a whole host of awesome games (several of which have also made the list). Plus, it's portable, meaning they'll have something to do on long flights or car rides. (Buy here.)
The Wii U's launch wasn't exactly a triumphant one - it hit the market with a huge collection of software and hardware issues. Since then, it's received a number of patches, a huge price drop and an increasingly-impressive list of games. In other words, if you haven't yet picked up a Wii U, this Christmas might actually be the best time to buy one. (Buy here.)
Released for the Wii U, Skylanders SWAP force combines collectibles with a digital video game. The premise is fairly simple: players hook any of a number of collectible figurines into something known as a Portal of Power into the game, at which point a new character becomes playable. Swap Force, in particular, brings in the ability to customize your Skylanders by 'swapping' their top and bottom halves. (Buy here.)
Here's another item I've recommended before, and don't feel particularly concerned about recommending again. The Pokemon series may well be one of the most entertaining franchises Nintendo currently holds the rights for; a timeless series about capturing and training a colorful cast of cartoon animals and monsters. X & Y continue on with the trend of quality the series is known for. If your kid's got a 3DS, this might just be the perfect gift. (Buy here.)
Minecraft is basically what you'd get if you took Lego and made it digital: it's a game about stacking an assortment of virtual cubes into a wide array of shapes and structures. I myself have spent countless hours happily building, and countless more working on co-operative projects with friends online. If your kid's the creative sort, they might well love getting a copy of Minecraft this year. It's available on both PC and Xbox 360, with a slightly stripped down version available on mobile. (Buy here or here..)
Just Dance is an entertaining franchise which encourages gamers to get up off their feet and...well, dance. Using motion sensing technology, the game tracks how well each player adheres to the dance moves shown on-screen. Speaking from experience, I can say it's a ton of fun, especially if you're playing with friends. Plus, it'll get people exercising, which is always a good thing. There's support for up to four players, and it's also available on the Xbox 360, though you'll need a Kinect peripheral in order to play it. (Buy here.)
If you haven't heard of Nintendo's immensely popular Mario series by now, you don't know video games. 3D World is the direct sequel to 3D Land, and combines the free-roaming, open-world gameplay of 3D games like Super Mario 64 with 2D side-scrolling platforming. It's probably one of the best Mario games released in the last decade, and has received widespread critical acclaim for its sheer entertainment value. Plus, it's one you can play with the kids - it's got multiplayer support for up to four people locally. (Buy here.)
Lego Lord of The Rings is a cheerful, light-hearted romp through the plot of one of the most legendary novel and movie trilogies ever published. Based on Peter Jackson's adaptation of Tolkien's novels, Lego Lord of The Rings puts players into the shoes of a bunch of different characters from the films as they fight against the forces of the dark lord Sauron. There's no spoken dialogue, and instead, everything in the game is communicated through gestures and expressions. The whole thing's also very tongue-in-cheek, with slapstick humor around every bend. (Buy here.)
Disney Infinity is a very similar idea to Skylanders: a sandbox platformer which allows you to unlock new characters by purchasing collectible figurines. Characters and play-sets are brought into the game through the use of both discs and the Infinity Base. The game features two main play modes: Play Set unlocks new campaigns by placing a relevant play-set onto the Infinity Base, while Toy Box allows players to create their own campaign. (Buy here.)
Oh, have I mentioned that the title features a whole gallery of beloved Disney and Pixar characters from all the best recent releases?
Bringing up the rear of the list - but no less valued for it - is a mobile installment of the popular Mario Party franchise. Available on 3DS, Mario Party: Island Tour is basically a digital board game featuring every major character in the history of the Mario franchise. It's a great party game (no pun intended), and an awesome choice for anyone with a 3DS. (Buy here.)
Got any kid-friendly video games that didn't make the list? Give a shout in the comments!