Friday, February 7, 2014

5 Mom Friendly Games

A friend of mine was bemoaning the difficulties of connecting with her increasingly distant teenage son. Then she ventured into the unfamiliar realm of Azeroth.  Yes, she joined millions of others playing World of Warcraft. “Now my son and I have something in common. He actually wants to spend time with me.”

As more non-traditional gamer types venture into the lands of computer, console and mobile games, it’s important that their first experiences be fun and welcoming, not intimidating or confusing. When recommending games to novice or non-hardcore gamers, I look for games which are easy to pick up, fun and challenging, but one which doesn’t require expert timing or complicated button pressing. The final thing I look for in games I’d recommend to newbies is community – is there one? If so, what’s it like? If I introduce my Mom to this game is she going to find a group of reasonably mature people interested in game play or will she have to deal with tons of offensive language and griefing?

PvZ2 - Egypt Screenshot
1. Plants vs. Zombies 2 (PvZ2)
This game is a great Mom-friendly game. Mechanics are simple to learn and complex to master. PvZ2 expands the wildly popular PvZ world, adding different scenarios, new zombies and of course, more plants. Plant food is a nice addition although it does take some of the challenge out of the game. Many players, myself included worried that moving PvZ2 into a free-to-play model would ruin the game, but I found it’s still fun to play without spending a lot of money on the extras. This game appeals to folks with busy schedules as each level is short, only a few minutes of play time, which lures the player into the “Just one more level” trap. PvZ2 is very repayable, and the achievements, for completeist players, actually require more than one run through. With additional features, such as mini games, one can lose a lot of time soiling one’s plants.

Fez - Rotatable Environments

2. Fez
This platform based puzzle game combines 2 dimensional puzzles with 3 dimensional space. It’s perfect for players who enjoy fun and interesting puzzles and don’t mind dedicating a lot of time and thought to solving them. Many puzzles require rotating the terrain and maneuvering through maze like structures. Because there is no penalty for falling or missing in Fez, it keeps the frustration levels low as some puzzles take several attempts to solve.

Room 2 Official Press Screenshot
3. The Room Two
The Room Two is a perfect fit for Mom. Its touch interface is simple and intuitive. There are no confusing controlers, keys or buttons to deal with. Much like the popular Myst series of days past, the Room Two relies heavily on exploration, observation and experimentation. The Room Two has a relatively short play through time, but is difficult to put down once you start. Not only are the puzzles intreging and wonderfully satisfying to solve, but the underlining story will draw players in.

Guid Wars II Official Press Screenshot
4. Guild Wars II 
Most "Gamers" won't consider an MMORPG something that's newbie or Mom friendly, but my experience says otherwise. Many non-gamers are curious and eager to try their luck in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Guild Wars II is a great way for them to get into a type of gaming they might normally shy away from. Why you ask? Guild Wars II allows players to play alone or group up, but without the heavy emphasis on raiding or group play. It's possible to advance the story alone or if you need help but don't want to ask for it from random internet people, you can use NPCs to fill out your group. There's tons of content with new stuff added all the time so players aren't stuck grinding or capped with nowhere to go.
Lego LotR Official Poster

5. Lego Lord of the Rings
This is a super Mom friendly game in that it's also suitable for younger audiences and co-op play is available. Players fight and puzzle solve their way through Middle Earth. While the game play is fun and challenging, it’s not too difficult or frustrating for novice gamers. There are tons of characters and items to unlock and manage as well.  This game combines all the joy of pervious Lego video games with action and adventure of Lord of the Rings. The key to enjoying Lego LotR is explore and unlock as many characters as quickly as possible. Some puzzles can only be solved by certain characters.

What are the games you'd recommend to your Mom or to a non-gamer friend?