Good Games for Learning 21st Skills
This page contains a curated list of games that we recommend as good games for a variety of reasons. In general they involve a variety of problem solving and collaboration skills. They span a number of genres and age ranges, so please be aware of those features. There is no corporate sponsorship with any of these games. We have played and purchased them on our own. There will be a video series about how to use games effectively in your family coming soon.
Age Rating (PEGI)
|No Man's Sky
|Be the first to land on beautiful, unknown planets teeming with life. Survive hazardous environments, where alien civilizations seek their fortune and outlaws take it by force. Team up to build anything from small outposts to complex multi-planet colonies. Farm for resources, hire helpers, or build a mobile base in your freighter.
|Near infinite space travel
|Astroneer is set during the 25th century’s Intergalactic Age of Discovery, where Astroneers explore the frontiers of outer space, risking their lives in harsh environments to unearth rare discoveries and unlock the mysteries of the universe. Players can work together to build custom bases and vehicles and use terrain to create anything they can imagine. A player’s creativity and ingenuity are the key to thriving on exciting planetary adventures!
|Planets have unique materials and biomes
|The very world is at your fingertips as you fight for survival, fortune, and glory. Delve deep into cavernous expanses, seek out ever-greater foes to test your mettle in combat, or construct your own city - In the World of Terraria, the choice is yours!
|10 (PC), 20 (Xbox/PS4), 30 (Switch), 5 (iOS Android)
|The Sims 4
|A variety of Sims are yours to personalize, each with distinct appearances, dynamic personalities, and inspiring aspirations. Use powerful customization features to bring your imagination to life. Create yourself, your favorite celebrities, your fantasy, or your friends! Change your Sims’ clothing to reflect your mood, develop stories that deepen your world, and give their lives purpose with traits and aspirations. Effortlessly build and design ideal homes for your Sims using Build Mode. Construct the home of your – and their – dreams by planning its layout, choosing furnishings, and altering the landscape and terrain. You can even add a pool, basement, and garden, or rebuild with new ideas and designs!
|sandbox, make your dream life
|Get crafty and use the surrounding environment to gather building materials—see how breaking down trees can help you create something new. It’s always best to avoid the unpredictable by distancing yourself from wandering mobs—you never know what’ll happen if they get too close! Discover all the versatile ways dust from the Redstone ore can be used to enhance your creations, bring them to life, or give them some bang.
|27 (PC), 20 (Xbox/PS4), 7 (iOS/Android), 30 (Switch)
|Imagine a place where you make the rules, filled with your favorite things and your favorite people. Claim your own personal island and start creating! Invent games with friends, and build your dream Fortnite experiences. Your island, your friends, your rules.
|Galleries and Prefabs added on a regular basis, multple biome islands to build on, community sharing/featuring system
|Create the farm of your dreams: Turn your overgrown fields into a lively and bountiful farm!
Learn to live off the land: Raise animals, go fishing, tend to crops, craft items, or do it all! The choice is yours...
Become a part of the local community: Pelican Town is home to over 30 residents you can befriend!
Meet someone special: With 12 townsfolk to date, you may even find someone to start a family with!
Explore vast, mysterious caves: Encounter dangerous monsters & valuable treasures deep underground!
Customize: There are hundreds of character & home decoration options to choose from!
|Blend with RPG
|15 (Steam/Xbox/PS4/Switch), 8 (iOS/Android)
|Roblox is a massively multiplayer online video game and game creation system that allows users to design their own games and play a wide variety of different types of games created by other users.
|Sharing premade worlds with other players
|Eco is an online game where players must collaborate to build a civilization in a world where everything they do affects the environment. All resources come from a simulated ecosystem, with thousands of plants and animals simulating 24/7. Work together through the player-run government and economy to build the technology to stop a meteor on a collision course with the planet, without polluting the world and killing it off in the process before that even happens.
|Minecraft + ecology, made with learning in mind
|Super Mario Maker (1 & 2)
|Super Mario Maker 2 is a side-scrolling platform game and game creation system developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch.
|Portal™ is a new single player game from Valve. Set in the mysterious Aperture Science Laboratories, Portal has been called one of the most innovative new games on the horizon and will offer gamers hours of unique gameplay.
The game is designed to change the way players approach, manipulate, and surmise the possibilities in a given environment; similar to how Half-Life® 2's Gravity Gun innovated new ways to leverage an object in any given situation.
Players must solve physical puzzles and challenges by opening portals to maneuvering objects, and themselves, through space.
|Portal "Gun" allows unique teleporting puzzle solving, antagonist has unique sense of humor
|10 (Portal), 10 (Portal 2)
|The Talos Principle
|The Talos Principle is a philosophical first-person puzzle game from Croteam, the creators of the legendary Serious Sam series, written by Tom Jubert (FTL, The Swapper) and Jonas Kyratzes (The Sea Will Claim Everything). .
As if awakening from a deep sleep, you find yourself in a strange, contradictory world of ancient ruins and advanced technology. Tasked by your creator with solving a series of increasingly complex puzzles, you must decide whether to have faith, or to ask the difficult questions: Who are you? What is your purpose And what are you going to do about it?
|40 (Steam), 50 (Xbox/PS4), 30 (Switch)
|Suddenly on the dock of a mysterious island, you set out to explore its beauty and mystery. The world is uncovered as you explore, revealing a family tale of intrigue and injustice, defying boundaries of space and time.
Every device, drawer, book, scrap of paper, or sound may provide the vital clues that allow hidden secrets and rich background to unfold. Each discovery you make and each puzzle you solve will lead you one step closer to reversing a wrong that has gone unchecked for ages.
|original game, puzzler classic
|Monument Valley is a surreal exploration through fantastical architecture and impossible geometry. The player guides the silent princess Ida through mysterious monuments, to uncover hidden paths, unfold optical illusions and outsmart the enigmatic Crow People. We didn’t experience a classic ‘eureka’ moment that signified the birth of Monument Valley, but it was close. Ken Wong, the team’s lead designer, created a piece of artwork, an image of a building in isometric view with a single figure, staring at its strange but completely possible architecture. The image came with no suggestion of a game design, but it was instantly arresting and it dared us to come up with something that would be as powerful as it was. The great thing about looking at the image now is just how close it looks to the finished game. It’s incredibly satisfying that we managed to realise the potential of that very pure idea.
|Uses optical illusions and geometry
|Uncertain of his sister's fate, a boy enters LIMBO
|Welcome to The Room, a physical puzzler, wrapped in a mystery game, inside a beautifully tactile 3D world. Begin a mind-bending journey filled with beauty, peril and mystery in equal measure. Be transported into a unique space that blends spellbinding visuals with intriguing problems to solve.
|clever interconnected and self contained puzzles
|1 (iOS/Android), 5 (Steam), 10 (Switch)
|Machinarium is our first full-length adventure game in which players take on the role of a robot who has been exiled to the scrap heap. Players must use logic, collect important items, and solve environmental puzzles to get the robot back into the city of Machinarium so he can rescue his robot-girlfriend, save the head of the city, and defeat the bad guys from the Black Cap Brotherhood.
|wonderful graphics, heartwarming story
|15 (Steam/Xbox/PS4/Switch), 2 (iOS/Android),
|Explore an island and solve puzzles. Inspired by Myst, the game involves the exploration of an open world island filled with natural and man-made structures. The player progresses by solving puzzles, which are based on interactions with grids presented on panels around the island or paths hidden within the environment. The game provides no direct instructions for how these puzzles are to be solved, requiring the player to identify the meaning of symbols in the puzzles. A central design element to the game was how these puzzles are presented so that the player can achieve a moment of inspiration through trial and error and gain that comprehension themselves.
|10 (iOS/Android), 40 (Xbox/PC/PS4)
|Windows/Mac (Steam), iOS, PS4, Xbox One
|An array of puzzle games, most of which involve converting or turning objects/elements from one form or location to another. Some have a very programming heavy interface (TIS-100 is a fake assembly language for an 8-bit computer). Spacechem is an interesting combination of molecular chemistry and computer programming. All of the games are free for educators (but not home schools)
|10-15 each (Steam)
|Windows/Mac, via Steam, GOG, Itch.io
|Old Man's Journey
|Old Man’s Journey, a soul-searching puzzle adventure, tells a story of life, loss, and hope. Interacting with the world around you, you'll shape the landscape to create the old man's path forward. Experience heartache and hope as you embark on a heartfelt journey through a sunkissed world.
|5 (iOS/Android), 8 (Steam), 10 (Xbox/PS4/Switch)
|World of Warcraft
|Intent on settling the arid region of Durotar, Thrall's new Horde expanded its ranks, inviting the undead Forsaken to join orcs, tauren, and trolls. Meanwhile, dwarves, gnomes and the ancient night elves pledged their loyalties to a reinvigorated Alliance, guided by the human kingdom of Stormwind. After Stormwind's king, Varian Wrynn, mysteriously disappeared, Highlord Bolvar Fordragon served as Regent but his service was marred by the manipulations and mind control of the black dragon Onyxia, who ruled in disguise as a human noblewoman. As heroes investigated Onyxia's manipulations, ancient foes surfaced in lands throughout the world to menace Horde and Alliance alike.
|massive multiplayer online game, extensive world and player community
|Subscription service, 12-15 per month
|The original Pokémon is a role-playing game based around building a small team of monsters to battle other monsters in a quest to become the best. Pokémon are divided into types, such as water and fire, each with different strengths. Battles between them can be likened to the simple hand game rock-paper-scissors.
|40 (3DS), 60 (Switch)
|Before they left the world they created, the three goddesses created the Triforce—a magical object made up of three golden triangles—and entrusted it with the goddess Hylia.
The Triforce grants a wish to those who possess the three virtues of the goddesses: power, wisdom,and courage. If one doesn’t have the proper balance of virtues, the Triforce will split into three pieces. Only by reuniting all three pieces can the true power of the Triforce be obtained. Each game in The Legend of Zelda series tells an important part of the history of Hyrule.
|tells a unique story, lots of attention paid to world design and quests
|7+ - 12+
|In this RPG, you don't have to kill anyone.
Each enemy can be "defeated" nonviolently.
Dance with a slime. Pet a dog. Whisper your favorite secret to a knight.
Or, ignore this choice and rain destruction upon your foes. But your journey will take determination.
Each adversary has unique bullet patterns that you must dodge as well. Emphasis on humor, character dialogue, and player choice.
|killing not necessary
|10 (Steam), 15 (Switch/PS4)
|Super Mario Series
|Meet Mario, the mustached hero of the Mushroom Kingdom. Using his amazing abilities, he works with his friends to keep the Mushroom Kingdom safe.
|each game brings new aspects, broad appeal
|He may only be eight inches tall, but you should never underestimate this little pink hero. On the planet Pop Star, Kirby used his elastic body and his uncanny ability to absorb enemies to save Dream Land from the mischievous King Dedede. Don’t let the adorable face fool you—this powerful, pink puff can pack a punch! Since 1992, Kirby has been battling baddies across dozens of games. With his unique abilities, Kirby is always finding new ways to take on troublemakers.
|each game brings new aspects, broad appeal
|40 (3DS), 60 (Switch)
|Sonic Mania – The ultimate celebration of past and future. An all-new adventure with Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles full of unique bosses, rolling 2D landscapes, and fun classic gameplay. Sonic Mania brings retro fast-paced platforming into the future through pixel perfect 2D graphics running at 60FPS.
|allows access to the classic sonic games
|Animal Crossing Series
|Explore your island: Collect bugs, decorate your paradise throughout the day, or enjoy sunset on the beach while fishing in the ocean. Create your getaway:
Craft everything from tools to creature comforts as you create and customize your island community. Share your paradise: Show off your island utopia to family and friends—or pack your bags and visit theirs.
|can interact with characters along with town building
|20 (3DS), 60 (Switch), Free (iOS)
|Cities: Skylines (see Building)
|Cities: Skylines is a modern take on the classic city simulation. The game introduces new game play elements to realize the thrill and hardships of creating and maintaining a real city whilst expanding on some well-established tropes of the city building experience. It also includes the ability to mod the game to suit your play style as a fine counter balance to the layered and challenging simulation. You’re only limited by your imagination, so take control and reach for the sky!
|Be the hero of your very own city as you design and create a beautiful, bustling metropolis in SimCity BuildIt, the most popular city builder on mobile, and other SimCity games. Every decision is yours as your city gets larger and more intricate. Make smart choices to keep your citizens happy and your skyline growing. Build your way to extraordinary.
|Free (iOS/Android), 30 (Origin)
|Game Dev Tycoon
|Game Dev Tycoon is a business simulation game where you replay the history of the gaming industry by starting your own video game development company in the 80s. Create best selling games. Research new technologies and invent new game types. Become the leader of the market and gain worldwide fans.
|allows you to create games within a game
|Kerbal Space Program
|In Kerbal Space Program, take charge of the space program for the alien race known as the Kerbals. You have access to an array of parts to assemble fully-functional spacecraft that fly (or don’t) based on realistic aerodynamic and orbital physics. Launch your Kerbal crew into orbit and beyond (while keeping them alive) to explore moons and planets in the Kerbol solar system, constructing bases and space stations to expand the reach of your expedition.
|rocket building and rocket piloting, kerbal characters add fun and joy
|Goat Simulator is the latest in goat simulation technology. You no longer have to fantasize about being a goat; your dreams have finally come true!
Goat Simulator is all about causing as much destruction as you possibly can as a goat. Destroy things with style, such as doing a backflip while head-butting a bucket through a window, and you'll earn even more points!
|play as a goat
|10 (Xbox/Steam/PS4), 3 (iOS/Android)
|From Single Cell to Galactic God, evolve your creature in a universe of your own creations. Play through Spore's five evolutionary stages: Cell, Creature, Tribe, Civilization, and Space. Each stage has its own unique style, challenges, and goals.
|play through different stages, each bring unique gameplaying modes
|Free, 10 (Creature Creator)
|Enter the Arena! From the creators of Clash of Clans comes a real-time multiplayer game starring the Royales, your favorite Clash characters and much, much more.
Collect and upgrade dozens of cards featuring the Clash of Clans troops, spells and defenses you know and love, as well as the Royales: Princes, Knights, Baby Dragons and more. Knock the enemy King and Princesses from their towers to defeat your opponents and win Trophies, Crowns and glory in the Arena. Form a Clan to share cards and build your very own battle community.
|relatively simple, real time battle with card collecting
|Clash of Clans
|Answer the call of the mustache! Join the international fray that is Clash of Clans. Customize your village, build an army and crush your opponents. Like using friendship to strike fear into your enemies? Join a Clan, or establish a Clashing legacy by creating your own. The choice is yours in this millions-strong community of Barbarians. Download for free and Clash on, Chief!
|simple to get started, lots of strategy
|Originally created by legendary game designer Sid Meier, Civilization is a turn-based strategy game where you attempt to build an empire to stand the test of time. The latest entry in the franchise, Civilization VI, offers new ways to engage with your world: cities now physically expand across the map; your actions help boost technology and civics research; and competing leaders pursue their own agendas based on their historical traits as you race to achieve victory.
|multiple outcomes to the same scenarios, many different ways to win
|Bloons TD 6
|The Bloons are back and better than ever! Get ready for a massive 3D tower defense game designed to give you hours and hours of the best strategy gaming available.
Craft your perfect defense from a combination of awesome monkey towers, upgrades, Heroes, and activated abilities, then pop every last Bloon that comes your way!
|very light, monkeys fight balloons
|Can you infect the world? Plague Inc. is a unique mix of high strategy and terrifyingly realistic simulation with over 700 million games played!
Your pathogen has just infected 'Patient Zero'. Now you must bring about the end of human history by evolving a deadly, global Plague whilst adapting against everything humanity can do to defend itself.
Brilliantly executed with innovative gameplay and built from the ground up for the iPhone, iPad, Android & Windows Phone, Plague Inc. evolves the strategy genre and pushes mobile gaming (and you) to new levels. It’s You vs. the world - only the strongest can survive!
|timely strategy game
|15 (Steam/Xbox/PS4/Switch), 1 (iOS/Android)
|Plants vs Zombies/PvZ2
|Meet, greet and defeat legions of zombies from the dawn of time to the end of days. Amass an army of powerful plants, supercharge them with Plant Food and discover amazing ways to protect your brain. It’s an ever-expanding universe of fun! And zombies – lots and lots of zombies.
|clever level design, light, plants fight zombies
|20 (Origin/Xbox/PS4), Free (iOS/Android)
|Factorio is a game in which you build and maintain factories.
You will be mining resources, researching technologies, building infrastructure, automating production and fighting enemies. Use your imagination to design your factory, combine simple elements into ingenious structures, apply management skills to keep it working, and protect it from the creatures who don't really like you.
|complex strategic crafting game
|Fortnite: Battle Royale
|Fortnite is a survival game where 100 players fight against each other in player versus player combat to be the last one standing. It is a fast-paced, action-packed game, not unlike The Hunger Games, where strategic thinking is a must in order to survive.
|colorful, no "death", just eliminating
|Time to BRAWL! Team up with your friends and get ready for epic multiplayer MAYHEM! Brawl Stars is the newest game from the makers of Clash of Clans and Clash Royale. Jump into your favorite game mode and play quick matches with your friends. Shoot 'em up, blow 'em up, punch 'em out and win the BRAWL.
|colorful, choose from array of characters
|Super Smash Bros
|Gaming icons clash in the ultimate brawl you can play anytime, anywhere! Smash rivals off the stage as new characters Simon Belmont and King K. Rool join Inkling, Ridley, and every fighter in Super Smash Bros. history. Enjoy enhanced speed and combat at new stages based on the Castlevania series, Super Mario Odyssey, and more!
|iconic characters bring different and unique abilities and skills
|League of Legends
|League of Legends is a team-based strategy game where two teams of five powerful champions face off to destroy the other’s base. Choose from over 140 champions to make epic plays, secure kills, and take down towers as you battle your way to victory. Whether you like to dive straight into the fray, support your teammates, or something in between, there’s a spot for you on the Rift.
|massive e-sports game, real time strategy makes it a classic in genre
|Overwatch is a colorful team-based shooter game starring a diverse cast of powerful heroes. Travel the world, build a team, and contest objectives in exhilarating 6v6 combat. When you enter a game of Overwatch, you'll need to choose a hero to play.
Maybe a cannon-toting ape from the moon appeals to you. Perhaps you prefer a time-traveling freedom fighter. Or is a beat-dropping battlefield DJ more your style? Whoever you want to be, there's an Overwatch hero for you.
|many different play styles and gamemodes, mastering each character requires different ways of thinking
|Create your own original games, import custom assets, automate games with scripting, set up complete RPG dungeons, manipulate the physics, create hinges & joints, and of course flip the table when you are losing the game. All with an easy to use system integrated with Steam Workshop. You can do anything you want in Tabletop Simulator - The possibilities are endless!
|you can flip the table. please don't.
|Windows/Mac via Steam
|800+ board games (80+ on mobile). Join and host others' games. Play board games just like in real life: little/no scripting is implemented to make sure you play correctly - you'll still need to understand the rules.
|can be played in the browser.
|Freemium: free, $4/mo, $10/mo (premium games require subscription)
|Web, Steam, iOS
|"Poptropica, a virtual world for kids to travel, play games, compete in head-to-head competition, and communicate safely."