Ready to get the family together even if you’re many miles apart? Lots of online games are out there at many levels, even for people who’ve never heard of Twitch. You don’t have to have killer hand-eye coordination to play role-playing or survival games. You just need to be willing and able to communicate with your family members so you can all work together to make good decisions. Easy? More than you think. Fun? For sure.
How to get started
You don’t need much: just a computer with a fast internet connection and a microphone for communicating. High-speed uploads and downloads are important for online gaming because most modern games are fairly graphics intensive. You’ll want the highest gig speed you can get from your internet service provider, and this means you’ll want to have fiber internet if it’s available where you live. Fiber internet bandwidth can handle the download and upload speeds you’ll need to play games without lagging.
Choosing the right games to play
Below is a list of the best role-playing games (RPGs) that are family friendly and will encourage you all to work together. RPGs for families in the survival genre typically have players start the game with very few resources and work with other people to craft tools, shelter and food, all while fending off the baddies they encounter in the wild.
Some survival games incorporate horror elements or extreme amounts of violence. Be assured, the games on this list do not. Some of the games will be better appreciated by different age groups, as indicated, but all of them are solidly family friendly.
For families with young gamers
Your youngest gamers have probably already sunk days of their lives into this game, and now it’s time for you to join them. “Minecraft” is a “sandbox” survival game that allows you to create just about anything, but you have to keep the bad guys (in the form of cartoonish monsters called “creepers” and “skeletons”) at bay when night falls.
You can play together in several modes, from easiest to hardest, and get the whole family involved in building and protecting a massive base. You can also build houses and castles with working farms and electricity generators in Peaceful Mode, which doesn’t feature any nighttime intruders.
“Minecraft” is a game that will inspire both creativity and effective communication as you’ll need to work together to gather materials and craft items quickly for the world you create.
For families with tween gamers
Another game on Steam, you and your family will love this epic adventure across the perilous seas. You’ll need to survive by gathering debris, crafting items to expand your raft and watching for sharks. You’ll start the game on a small raft with nothing but a plastic hook and no land in sight. The objective is to stay alive, gather resources and build yourselves a home in the hopes that you’ll eventually make it to shore.
Communicating with your family as you all catch debris and stave off thirst and hunger is key to success in this game. You’ll do well if you designate roles and jobs for everyone, including the always-important shark spotter.
For families with teen gamers
It’s one of the fastest-growing games on the platform Steam, and that means your kids may already be playing “Valheim” right now, so invite yourself to the next game! It’s a game inspired by Norse mythology and Viking culture. You begin by gathering resources and tools in the fairly peaceful center of Valheim. As you travel farther out, the more dangerous the world becomes, but you’ll also find more important materials for crafting sturdy armor and weaponry.
You’ll need to communicate well with your family members to take down bosses who are guarding valuable treasures. You’ll also work together to build Viking strongholds all around the world.
For families with adult gamers
“Don’t Starve Together” is a multiplayer version of the popular wilderness survival game “Don’t Starve.” With painterly graphics and unsettling audio, the game is as beautiful as it is creepy. You and your family will need to gather resources to craft items and make shelter, while unraveling the mysteries found in a strange land.
While you can play this game with your family and work together to survive, you can also step out and explore on your own. Many strange occurrences happen in the wilderness, and it’s up to you to determine if you need help create your home or solve a mystery—and, of course, not starve.
All-ages family fun
“Terraria” is a side-scrolling game with 2D graphics that is similar to “Minecraft” and fun for all ages. Players are spawned into a randomly generated world and there they can collect, build and craft items as needed.
You’ll want to work with your family to fend off dozens of enemies while also building and farming. The graphics are reminiscent of games like “Super Mario Bros.” and “Mega Man,” but the gameplay is rich and involved, and you may find yourself sinking several hours into it as game time flies.
Ready to start
Once you’ve chosen the game you want to play with your family, schedule a night together and get started on the fun! Communicating with loved ones isn’t always easy, but when everyone is working toward a low-stakes goal (like a video game), it can make “opening up” with each other that much easier.
Game features may have changed and are subject to change.