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Need primer on video gaming options with family, especially young kids

jergarmarjergarmar hollow man crewgoes pew pew pewRegistered User regular
edited June 2018 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm a huge board game aficionado, and you'll usually find me over in that corner of the forums, but I've always enjoyed da vidja games, though recently it is reserved for occasional single-player PC experiences. But now my oldest is nearly 7, and though he really enjoys playing stuff like Star Realms with me, he LOVES watching Daddy play video games, and so I'm cautiously interesting in finding video games we can play together. The other kids are rapidly aging as well, so I want to eventually include them.

So here's my request: I'm looking for an easy and inexpensive way to get some video games the family can play together, including the younger kids (and their friends), over the next couple of years (I'm thinking ages like 7-10). But I know very little of the state of the console market, and my naive impression of it is that it's fairly expensive. Handheld consoles look cool, but my kids are pretty young for devices costing hundreds of dollars each, we simply don't have that kind of disposable income, and the whole point is a communal game-playing device anyway. I'm just not at all familiar with the recent generation of console options.

You CAN plug controllers into PC's, but what about MULTIPLE controllers, and games that support that? Is that even a thing, on Steam or something? I can think of Castle Crashers and Battleblock Theater, I guess, but is there much more?

Anyway, would love some suggestions.

When I was a child, I had a fever...
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  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    Lego games are my 7 year old favorite. Also minecraft but he plays that on his tablet

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  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    What are the hard limits of your budget?

    The easiest thing to do would be to buy an auction lot of a system that's a generation back. People shit on the Wii U, but my nephews got one for Christmas with a bunch of legacy wii and wiiu games, and its a perfect match. The downside is Nintendo games and peripherals actually retain their value for a while (for just this reason, really) But you can generally find used console bundles (with games) in the 300 range. You could probably go back to a wii for even less.

    I'd recommend a wii over a 360 or ps3 for the selection of appropriate games, and the general robustness. If you have gaming friends, you might be able to poach a system off someone with a decent offer and get more.

    I've not tried to do this with a PC, but for little kids I would say that the plug and play nature of a nintendo product is going to benefit you over maintaining a PC to be ready to turn on and go without some windows update bullshit getting in your way. Maybe that's just me.

  • jergarmarjergarmar hollow man crew goes pew pew pewRegistered User regular
    edited June 2018
    mts wrote: »
    Lego games are my 7 year old favorite. Also minecraft but he plays that on his tablet

    On what platform?

    Kind of a funny ancillary story: we played Pocket Minecraft together. Short story, he loved it... until he got swept down a river, down a dark hole, and got completely terrified. Like, desperate yelling until I rescued him in-game. That was the same game where even the 5-year-old was playing a little, and I swear they found the same small hole like 3 or 4 times, falling in just as I rescued the other one, like so many doomed blind kittens. It would make an epic tale.

    So I'm sure he'll come back to it, but right now he doesn't even want to play unless I can "turn off water and holes".

    jergarmar on
    When I was a child, I had a fever...
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  • jergarmarjergarmar hollow man crew goes pew pew pewRegistered User regular
    edited June 2018
    I've not tried to do this with a PC, but for little kids I would say that the plug and play nature of a nintendo product is going to benefit you over maintaining a PC to be ready to turn on and go without some windows update bullshit getting in your way. Maybe that's just me.

    Great point. I know I could shell out $50 for a couple of USB controllers (which I might try anyway, I'm not THAT strapped), but needing to have a PC set up is definitely a downside. I would love to hear what others have done, but I'll certainly look around for older Wii/WiiU bundles.

    But on that note, you would have to buy a WiiU GamePad for EACH player, right?

    jergarmar on
    When I was a child, I had a fever...
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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited June 2018
    jergarmar wrote: »
    You CAN plug controllers into PC's, but what about MULTIPLE controllers, and games that support that? Is that even a thing, on Steam or something? I can think of Castle Crashers and Battleblock Theater, I guess, but is there much more?

    Yes, absolutely. There are many options.

    My recommendation: Xbox One S controllers.

    If your PC has Bluetooth and Windows 10, you can pair an Xbox One S controller without any additional hardware required. Bluetooth supports up to 7 gamepads simultaneously.

    If your PC does not have Bluetooth, or you're on an older version of Windows, you will need the Xbox One controller adapter ($20-25). One adapter supports up to 8 gamepads simultaneously.

    Note that I'm specifying Xbox One S here for a reason. First-generation Xbox One controllers before the S version was released (2016) do not have Bluetooth. They are usable with the dongles I linked above, though.

    Xbox 360 controllers are also a good option. This requires a USB dongle, sold separately. The dongles are $10-20 each and one dongle supports up to 4 gamepads. This might be better for your budget since you might be able to find the controllers used on the cheap.

    You can also plug any of those controllers in via a USB cable if you don't want to go wireless.

    Sony Dualshock 4 (for PS4) - works with PC as long as you have Bluetooth and download the (free) DS4Windows utility. A single Bluetooth chip can support up to 7 gamepads.


    Regarding games: there are tons of multiplayer games on Steam and other distribution platforms that support multiplayer and work seamlessly with Xbox One or Xbox 360 gamepads.

    On Steam, look for the tag Local Multiplayer. (There are also tags for Full Controller Support and Shared Screen.) You've got everything from beat-em-ups like Castle Crashers, to fighting games like Street Fighter, to co-op platformers like Never Alone, to more genre-bending games like Overcooked.

    I'd also take a look at the reviews on Co-Optimus, a website dedicated entirely to co-operative gaming. Many of the games support co-op on a single PC with a single monitor - look for games tagged "couch co-op" or "splitscreen."

    Feral on
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  • jergarmarjergarmar hollow man crew goes pew pew pewRegistered User regular
    Local multiplayer. Of course. Will take a look. Thanks for the controller rundown too, super helpful.

    When I was a child, I had a fever...
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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    Disney Infinity stuff is at fire-sale-prices now that it's been discontinued. You can often find figurines, playsets, and such for really cheap, including the Base stuff that you need for whatever console you end up going with. It's a great co-op experience with kids.

    If you already have a PC (even an old or low power one), then you can probably run Steam on it and get games on sale that way. Steam often has sales (and discounts prices pretty heavily during those sales). Most games with local co-op will natively support multiple controllers.

    Previous gen consoles are extremely cheap now, as are the accessories. PS3, XBox 360, Wii, and WiiU can probably be acquired for less than a hundred dollars each at this point. Also, PS4s and XBox 1s are now in the 200-250 dollar range (used, on sale).

    Really, it depends on your budget.

    Also, don't rule out competitive games either. My roommate's son is 11 now, but he was 10 last year (obviously), and he loved playing Towerfall: Ascension and Starwhal against his friends.

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  • ShivahnShivahn Unaware of her barrel shifter privilege Western coastal temptressRegistered User, Moderator mod
    jergarmar wrote: »
    Local multiplayer. Of course. Will take a look. Thanks for the controller rundown too, super helpful.

    So, the way I did this all was: I set my computer up with an HDMI cord running around the corner to a TV, and have a USB multiplier with two Xbox 360 controllers plugged in. It was all fairly cheap, now I browse local co-op games on Steam and buy a new one for like five dollars every few months to play with my wife. Basically, everything Feral said is true, I just want to reinforce and say that I have gotten this to work really well for my (tiny) family (including the cats, who are mesmerized by Lost Castle).

  • jergarmarjergarmar hollow man crew goes pew pew pewRegistered User regular
    Hahnsoo1 wrote: »
    Also, don't rule out competitive games either. My roommate's son is 11 now, but he was 10 last year (obviously), and he loved playing Towerfall: Ascension and Starwhal against his friends.

    Just as an aside, he is SO competitive right now. He's a pretty good sport about losing, and thinks it's HILARIOUS to be "mean to Daddy". So yeah, definitely something I'm watching for, ha!

    When I was a child, I had a fever...
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  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    jergarmar wrote: »
    mts wrote: »
    Lego games are my 7 year old favorite. Also minecraft but he plays that on his tablet

    On what platform?

    Kind of a funny ancillary story: we played Pocket Minecraft together. Short story, he loved it... until he got swept down a river, down a dark hole, and got completely terrified. Like, desperate yelling until I rescued him in-game. That was the same game where even the 5-year-old was playing a little, and I swear they found the same small hole like 3 or 4 times, falling in just as I rescued the other one, like so many doomed blind kittens. It would make an epic tale.

    So I'm sure he'll come back to it, but right now he doesn't even want to play unless I can "turn off water and holes".

    we play on PC but the lego games are on everything. you can stream from a computer to TV and use controllers. we do that sometimes.

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  • TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    Don't forget about games where your kid can backseat drive. Puzzle games that don't involve falling blocks or strict timers, point and click adventure games, strategy and sim games, etc.

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  • E.CoyoteE.Coyote Registered User regular
    Would something like the super nintendo classic work? The retro consoles have simple controls and super mario world and link to the past still hold a certain charm.

  • Capt HowdyCapt Howdy Registered User regular
    edited June 2018
    Capt Howdy was warned for this.
    No one has mentioned <infraction>? I'm not going to go into the specifics, but google <infracted>.

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  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks Registered User regular
    The Lego games are a slam dunk for kids, they're available on pretty much any platform, are family friendly, have co-op, and stretch over a huuuuuuge number of franchises (so there is bound to be one that your kids like).

    If you're looking for cheap, family friendly options for PC games you could ask in the Steam thread over in G&T, you'll likely get a ton of suggestions there as well.

  • PailryderPailryder Registered User regular
    My kids enjoy the lego games for very limited time. They are much more interested in racing games or fighting games. There are plenty of options there and you can buy usb controllers that are just as good as wireless ones if you are going for PC.
    I bought this and it fits really well in my youngest's hands. (althought it looks out of stock i'm sure there are similar)
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076MQ34PQ

    Castle Crashers is probably the biggest hit with my kids. For other PC stuff, Gary's mod, or roblox can all be multiplayer.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Capt Howdy wrote: »
    No one has mentioned <infraction>? I'm not going to go into the specifics, but google <infracted>.

    good thing I read The Da Vinci Code

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • Romantic UndeadRomantic Undead Registered User regular
    Now I know you said you have a limited budget, but you did also ask about the state of the current-gen console market, so I feel we'd be remiss if we didn't talk about the Nintendo Switch.

    Yes, it's brand new, so a new console would cost you at least $350, however, that comes built in with 2 joy-con, which, depending on the game, can indeed be used as two separate controllers.

    I think it's worth mentionning that, of course, you can choose to got the route of the 1st party, expensive, games (Mario Kart comes to mind for your family), there are TONS of games available on the electronic shop that might suit your fancy, many below $15 or $20

    Off the top of my head:

    Snipperclips (co-op puzzle solving)
    Stardew Valley (co-op farming simulator)
    Minecraft (again, lol)
    Sonic Mania (co-op platforming in the classic 90s style)
    Shovel Knight (co-op platforming in the classic 80s style)
    Battle Chef Brigade (puzzle-action cooking game. Haven't played it myself but it got good reviews and I do believe it has a co-op component)

    All of these games you should be able to enjoy multiplayer, with just one system. Bonus: your kids can un-dock it and keep playing whenever you need the TV.

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  • manjimanji Registered User regular
    buy a steam link to run your PC into your TV from wherever it currently is. they're frequently on sale for next to nothing. for a family game i'll throw in a recommendation for lovers in a dangerous spacetime:

    https://store.steampowered.com/app/252110/

  • WiseManTobesWiseManTobes Registered User regular
    edited June 2018
    If you go the Wii U route, get the adapter to hardwire it because the wifi adapter in the Wii U is pretty butts.
    ( other than that tho, Wii U's are great)

    Another route right now that's crazy cheap in a lot of areas is Lego Dimensions, they are done making it, but game is offline playable, and can find a ton of the sets at 50% off or more, so not only get some games for the proper age, you get to build some legos too!

    edit: Like have seen level packs as low as 12$ canadian and character packs as low as 3$ canadian, guessing even more fire saled in the US
    ( and the character packs are 1 minifig + a 60-100 piece build, even without the game that's a steal on the legos alone)

    WiseManTobes on
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  • jergarmarjergarmar hollow man crew goes pew pew pewRegistered User regular
    edited June 2018
    So I'm asking around for old gaming systems, but I ordered a couple of Xbox 360 controllers and a wireless receiver. Pretty cheap. Castle Crashers will be the first thing we try, heh. As @SmokeStacks said, I can always hit up the Steam thread for suggestions, too.
    Now I know you said you have a limited budget, but you did also ask about the state of the current-gen console market, so I feel we'd be remiss if we didn't talk about the Nintendo Switch.

    Yeah, I was looking at the Switch, and it looked cool, but the difficulty is that very soon I'm going to have THREE game-ready kids, and the oldest is still pretty young to have a handheld gaming device. When they're all older, I'll be looking at this kind of thing MUCH more seriously.
    Another route right now that's crazy cheap in a lot of areas is Lego Dimensions, they are done making it, but game is offline playable, and can find a ton of the sets at 50% off or more, so not only get some games for the proper age, you get to build some legos too!

    Yeah, that sounds great. I told my wife about this, and she cocked her head to the side, ran into the closet, and produced the Doctor Who level pack. "I bought this two years ago as a gift and I forgot to return it." I described the starter set, and she currently has an expression on her face like a bloodhound on the scent.

    jergarmar on
    When I was a child, I had a fever...
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  • WiseManTobesWiseManTobes Registered User regular
    jergarmar wrote: »
    So I'm asking around for old gaming systems, but I ordered a couple of Xbox 360 controllers and a wireless receiver. Pretty cheap. Castle Crashers will be the first thing we try, heh. As @SmokeStacks said, I can always hit up the Steam thread for suggestions, too.
    Now I know you said you have a limited budget, but you did also ask about the state of the current-gen console market, so I feel we'd be remiss if we didn't talk about the Nintendo Switch.

    Yeah, I was looking at the Switch, and it looked cool, but the difficulty is that very soon I'm going to have THREE game-ready kids, and the oldest is still pretty young to have a handheld gaming device. When they're all older, I'll be looking at this kind of thing MUCH more seriously.
    Another route right now that's crazy cheap in a lot of areas is Lego Dimensions, they are done making it, but game is offline playable, and can find a ton of the sets at 50% off or more, so not only get some games for the proper age, you get to build some legos too!

    Yeah, that sounds great. I told my wife about this, and she cocked her head to the side, ran into the closet, and produced the Doctor Who level pack. "I bought this two years ago as a gift and I forgot to return it." I described the starter set, and she currently has an expression on her face like a bloodhound on the scent.

    Another nice thing, is we had it for Wii U, but our Wii U is on it's last legs, but the Wii U/Ps3 and Ps4 Pads are all interchangable, so all we had to do was grab a used Ps4 version of the game and we plugged the Wii U's Lego pad into Ps4 and continued on.

    (Xbox and Xbox one have a non cross compatible pad tho, go microsoft)

    Steam! Battlenet:Wisemantobes#1508
  • SanderJKSanderJK Crocodylus Pontifex Sinterklasicus Madrid, 3000 ADRegistered User regular
    Steam will have a big Summer Sale starting in 2 weekends. isthereanydeal.com is a comparison website for where you can find PC games the cheapest, and all the sites there are legit.

    One of the pickups could be Sonic All-Stars Racing transformed, which is probably the best Kart racer not featuring plumbers. Rocket League is still huge, soccer with cars. Stardew Valley has recently added 2 player coop but it's hard to judge how old you need to be to understand it is a time and energy management.
    They may be just the right age for Scribblenauts Unlimited, a game where you can input almost any noun and it interacts with the game world.

    An option if you want to test what your kids enjoy is PS Now. Unfortunately you sorta need a PS controller, but it does work on PC, and essentially is a Netflix streaming service except for games. It has a large PS3 library and an ok PS4 one. There's a trial and then it's $15/month. A big plus is no worries about system requirements, a downside is bandwidth and latency.

    EA has Origin Access, which has a trial and then is $4/month. Unfortunately the library doesn't look very good for small kids, EA makes shooters, sports games, Bioware rpgs and The Sims, and has bought a small mix of games, but you could try out 2 of the Lego games, Unravel, Peggle maybe a Fifa or Need For Speed. These are all installs so you need the hardware to run it.

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  • jergarmarjergarmar hollow man crew goes pew pew pewRegistered User regular
    SanderJK wrote: »
    Steam will have a big Summer Sale starting in 2 weekends. isthereanydeal.com is a comparison website for where you can find PC games the cheapest, and all the sites there are legit.

    One of the pickups could be Sonic All-Stars Racing transformed, which is probably the best Kart racer not featuring plumbers. Rocket League is still huge, soccer with cars. Stardew Valley has recently added 2 player coop but it's hard to judge how old you need to be to understand it is a time and energy management.
    They may be just the right age for Scribblenauts Unlimited, a game where you can input almost any noun and it interacts with the game world.

    I was actually pondering a post in the Steam thread, specifically asking for "Kart-likes". Kind of moot now, I'll put the Sonic one on my wishlist. And yeah, Scribblenauts sounds awesome for my oldest.
    An option if you want to test what your kids enjoy is PS Now. Unfortunately you sorta need a PS controller, but it does work on PC, and essentially is a Netflix streaming service except for games. It has a large PS3 library and an ok PS4 one. There's a trial and then it's $15/month. A big plus is no worries about system requirements, a downside is bandwidth and latency.

    PS Now sounds like a great thing to try, thanks for the tip! I feel like my "dad-ness" is slipping, and now I just want to play some of those for myself.

    When I was a child, I had a fever...
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  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    Dad Ness playing games is just you pre-screening to see if it's appropriate for the kiddos

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  • TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    manji wrote: »
    buy a steam link to run your PC into your TV from wherever it currently is. they're frequently on sale for next to nothing. for a family game i'll throw in a recommendation for lovers in a dangerous spacetime:

    https://store.steampowered.com/app/252110/

    Oh yeah, I got mine for like, $1 with purchase of a $7 game. When they push the Steam Links they push hard.
    SanderJK wrote: »
    They may be just the right age for Scribblenauts Unlimited, a game where you can input almost any noun and it interacts with the game world.

    This is a great suggestion. Scribblenauts is basically "What if I were an actual wizard?" simulator.

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  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    jergarmar wrote: »
    SanderJK wrote: »
    Steam will have a big Summer Sale starting in 2 weekends. isthereanydeal.com is a comparison website for where you can find PC games the cheapest, and all the sites there are legit.

    One of the pickups could be Sonic All-Stars Racing transformed, which is probably the best Kart racer not featuring plumbers. Rocket League is still huge, soccer with cars. Stardew Valley has recently added 2 player coop but it's hard to judge how old you need to be to understand it is a time and energy management.
    They may be just the right age for Scribblenauts Unlimited, a game where you can input almost any noun and it interacts with the game world.

    I was actually pondering a post in the Steam thread, specifically asking for "Kart-likes". Kind of moot now, I'll put the Sonic one on my wishlist. And yeah, Scribblenauts sounds awesome for my oldest.

    Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed is great fun, and the kiddo might get a kick out of the car->boat->airplane gameplay. It's still my favorite kart racer.

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