“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
May 28, 2020 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Why now is the time to embrace video games for kids [CNN] “Before the pandemic, video games were a weekend-only activity in our house, allowed for one hour a day, Saturday and Sunday. It was a compromise that worked for our family. My 7-year-old had a chance to dig in to his favorite games, and we parents felt like we were putting reasonable limits on an activity about which we were somewhat ambivalent. But now he's playing them daily — and I wouldn't have it any other way. In this lonely pandemic world, we still want our kids to get together to play, and they do, too. Unlike us boring grown-ups, they don't get much out of chatting in group texts or through FaceTime (or even those work Zoom meetings). They want to enter collective imagined spaces and discover the elastic possibilities that await. Only there, somewhere deep in the unreal, are they likely to start exploring, creating and, importantly, connecting. Like most kids around the world, it's been a long time since my son has been able to battle bad guys, travel to faraway lands or rescue animals with his friends in person. But, thanks to video games, all is not lost.”

• Our children play more online games than ever. Here's how you can take a more active role as a parent [The Guardian]
“Start by talking with your children about the games they play. Find out which genres and series they enjoy. Investigate other games that share similar features. Sit down and play with them. Take turns slaying a dragon and building a city. The evidence tells us that computer-mediated communication between children and their parents increases closeness. Sharing experiences in the virtual world involves first coming together in the real world. Given the enormous range of high-quality games released in recent years, it is easier than ever to find story worlds that adults and children can enjoy together. Whether you want to travel back in time in the shoes of a deadly assassin (Assassin’s Creed), discover a post-nuclear war world (Fallout 4), ride your gallant steed across the American mid-west (Red Dead Redemption 2), escape to a deserted island to catch fish and insects, and develop your ideal home (Animal Crossing: New Horizons), or create an entirely new world in a faraway galaxy (No Man’s Sky). There has never been a better time to journey to digital worlds with our children to build new stories and memories together.”
• How will children keep learning and stay in touch? Easy: with video games [The Guardian]
“And while it’s going to be important to manage screen time, to work out some form of educational routine and to get the children outside once in a while, you shouldn’t feel guilty if they’re spending more time than usual playing games. There already seems to be a clamour on social media to outdo one another in self-isolation planning. Frankly, if your kids aren’t making artisan soda bread every morning, followed by YouTube pilates, then two hours of conversational French over Skype to a family in Bordeaux than you’re not cutting it. But you are cutting it. You still have a job, you still have to provide for your family, and if that means more time for the kids on games, that is okay. It’s okay. As I have spent my career trying to get across, video games aren’t that bad. They’re not all violent. They’re not all anarchic and noisy. Some are highly creative, they teach a variety of skills, and they’re social.”
• Don’t Freak Out About Quarantine Screen Time [The New York Times]
“First, the evidence linking screens to harm is, in reality, paper thin. A review published in January by Candice Odgers and Michaeline Jensen concluded the most recent and rigorous large‐scale studies report only “small associations between the amount of daily digital technology usage and adolescents’ well-being.” These associations “do not offer a way of distinguishing cause from effect and, as estimated, are unlikely to be of clinical or practical significance.” [...] As for video games, various studies actually highlight myriad benefits to online play. Some of our own research shows that two hours a day of screen-based leisure is associated with improved peer relationships and increased sociality. Gaming meets our fundamental needs for exploration, competence and social connection. And games often improve rather than undermine our reasoning abilities.”
• Xbox Family Settings app sets limits on your kids' game time [Engadget]
“Microsoft is doing more to keep tabs on your kids’ digital habits. It just released the preview version of an Xbox Family Settings app for Android and 10,000 iOS users that manages what, when and how children play on Xbox consoles. You can set time limits on a day-by-day basis, set content filters for each child, restrict communications with other plays or review past activity. Young gamers can make requests to extend their limits if they’ve been diligent with school work. Not surprisingly, Microsoft has special controls for Minecraft. There’s a handy toggle to quickly unlock access to online play for the company’s world-shaping game without wading through the usual menus. There may be similar features for other games if feedback prompts it, Microsoft said. The finished app should be available later in 2020, and will add features like managing your child’s friend list (shown above).”
posted by Fizz (43 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
video games were a weekend-only activity in our house, allowed for one hour a day, Saturday and Sunday

I won't tell anyone how to run their family but personally I'm glad this is not how it went for me. I played a lot of videogames as a kid. I got into computers because of videogames. As an adult that became my career. Thanks for the videogames, mom.
posted by Mikey-San at 11:04 AM on May 28 [41 favorites]

As a kid who fell deep into some really well written RPG's, I'm glad it was different for me, too.

As an adult, video games have allowed me to continue to have a social life despite often living very far away from my friends.

Absolutely, thanks for video games, mom.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:09 AM on May 28 [1 favorite]

Which kind of boomer limits their kids to one hour of videogames a day?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:12 AM on May 28 [3 favorites]

Which kind of boomer limits their kids to one hour of videogames a day?

Just an OK one.
posted by Fizz at 11:13 AM on May 28 [24 favorites]

.....video games were a weekend-only activity in our house, allowed for one hour a day, Saturday and Sunday

Cancelling the virtue-signaling is the new virtue-signaling
posted by thelonius at 11:19 AM on May 28 [5 favorites]

I would be SO HAPPY if this moral panic about "screen time" died of coronavirus. I've got 2 teens and I've been the "bad mom" on the block with regard to screen time for the last decade. I think there's definitely an element of classism - I grew up in a more rust-belt middle-class environment than the schmancy DC suburb where I currently live. The venn diagram of people who look down on me for my processed food choices and my technology choices is basically a perfect circle.

Here's the thing. No matter what your kids are into, if you collaborate and participate with them, they are going to be OK. You watch movies with your kids, right? Well, games are just another form of media. You can play alongside them, or listen to them tell you things. You can teach sportsmanship and fair play. And it is actually good for the kids to take the lead on something, so if the parent is worse than the kid at the game, well that is fine.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:41 AM on May 28 [18 favorites]

Ugh. This is so hard for me to navigate. I (on the cusp between millennial and gen X) fell deep into many a video game hole from childhood through adolescence and into young adulthood, to the detriment of a lot of more important life things (namely, neglecting school work). I worry a lot about my 9 to 11 year old kids falling into the same thing, so I and my spouse have worked really hard to reasonably limit and meter game time. I had to learn self-regulation the hard way and I'm hoping we can give the kids more of basis to work with. But on the other hand, I don't want them to miss out, as so much of the shared culture they have with their peers is through games.
posted by zsazsa at 11:42 AM on May 28 [14 favorites]

At two hours a week, it would take over a year to beat a game like Final Fantasy 7 or Persona 5. Assuming you even remember enough from the last play session to figure out what to do next.

At least they're not playing manipulative free-to-play garbage.
posted by meowzilla at 12:01 PM on May 28 [3 favorites]

Some level of limiting is probably necessary, at least for the type of kid who would literally play games at all times when not sleeping, if allowed (who, me?).

An hour at a time is pure torture though. Just barely enough time to remember where you were and start getting into it again before you have to stop. It would be excruciating for me to the point that I'd probably rather not play at all, but I guess YMMV depending how your kid's brain works and how neurotypical they are.
posted by randomnity at 12:05 PM on May 28 [9 favorites]

@zsazsa Same here. On one hand video games can be considered literature now, on the other so many can become an awful time-wasting addiction.
posted by mit5urugi at 12:08 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]

I seriously wonder if there is any recreational activity children are allowed / supposed to do now that their parents are not expected to actively supervise/manage/partake in. Of course children's self-directed play needs to have some sorts of supervision depending on age and circumstances (i.e., keep them inside the property, remove sharp objects, keep an ear out for screams), and it's fun and good for parents and children to occasionally play together, but so much of this now seems like managing parents' anxieties that their children are playing in "the wrong way". They're not allowed to go off with friends any more (even pre-COVID), they're not allowed to play outside alone, and their interactions with friends are now literally monitored by parental-control software. Children are literally not trusted to amuse themselves any more.

Especially at home, parents are now expected to give much more attention to each child than a teacher could/would, which leaves less psychological space for a child to practice self-management. And I wonder, as well, whether video games are so attractive to children now because it gives them their only recreational space for child-controlled solo / peer-group endeavor, now that the fort in the woods or the pick-up baseball game seems gone forever.
posted by Hypatia at 12:17 PM on May 28 [20 favorites]

There's a difference between a 'full on' video game such as Assassins Creed that requires at least a little bit of thought and co-ordination to play and some free to play garbage clicker on a tablet.

I have no doubt that video games rot the brain (I'm a perfect example), but it can be in part mitigated.
posted by kzin602 at 12:22 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]

Every kid is different. Therefore every kid will be impacted by screen time differently. Therefore there is on one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. Therefore keep your moralizing to yourself.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:29 PM on May 28 [5 favorites]

The arguments I'm reading against video games are/were the same basic arguments I've seen against:

- Television
- Radio
- Novels
- Any other form of passive entertainment
- And many forms of active entertainment, too
posted by SansPoint at 12:44 PM on May 28 [9 favorites]

The other thing is that it's always going to be SOMETHING. If it's not video-games that are "distracting" our kids/teens, it's reading too much, hanging out with friends too much, etc. In my teens, it was reading books that were unrelated to my studies/homework. I'd read 50 novels while ignoring the 2 chapters of history that was required.

It's very much about finding some sense of balance and learning that too much of one thing can be harmful with how it impacts the other aspects of life and that carries over into our adulthood.
posted by Fizz at 12:44 PM on May 28 [8 favorites]

I'm so jealous of the games my kids get to play now Robox and Minecraft and Sims 4 are just so creative, and because I'm old I'm slogging through the original Metroid on my NES Classic where the levels are boring and indistinguishable from one another (fine they are different colors, whatever) and the enemies all travel slightly below the limited character's movement to make it more annoying than fun. And other games considered 'classics' are much worse.

Meanwhile they are playing 'adopt me' pushing friends or strangers around a huge world in silly strollers and trading pets for more amazing activities and pets or trying to keep from being 'killed' by Peppa Pig.

They also limit their own screentime, because they still like to do other things.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:45 PM on May 28

My 7 year old daughter and I play Animal Crossing for an hour or so every day, if we have time. We mostly just water the flowers, fish, and donate fossils to the museum. Every so often I'll log on to find she's bought or crafted some random item (a moss ball?). She also loves getting her character stung by hornets twice so she passes out. Kids, man. I have no concerns whatsoever with the amount of time she spends on it, it's fun and calm and something we can do together.

Meanwhile, I've used this time to burn through Horizon Zero Dawn (amazing) and start on Control (cool and weird).
posted by schoolgirl report at 12:53 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]

What was the bon mot exactly? 95% of video games are shit, but then 95% of everything is shit.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:56 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]

I would rather have my kids play DOOM Eternal than a dollhouse "educational" game with weaponized gambling tricks designed to funnel you to in-app purchases.
posted by benzenedream at 12:58 PM on May 28 [7 favorites]

Anyway mini paws isn't at this stage yet - 19mo - but he enjoys watching me mess around on Switch Fit Adventure. Even this game though, I'm sad that his fist taste of video games is just two things hitting each other. Games are so much more than that now.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:59 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]

95% of everything

Sturgeon's law - "Ninety percent of everything is crap."
posted by porpoise at 1:01 PM on May 28 [5 favorites]

Hypatia makes a good point. I am a millennial but was raised quite similarity to the younger generation— not allowed to go anywhere alone, everything was monitored, parents actively involved with every part of my life. And honestly it kinda fucked me up and probably gave me an anxiety disorder. Parents...give your kids some space, especially now that you might all be cooped up together.
posted by vanitas at 1:03 PM on May 28 [7 favorites]

Parents these days have it so easy with the fact that so much of the media our kids consume is the same media we consumed when we were kids. Like Pokemon was slightly after my time but I still remember playing the original Gameboy games on an emulator circa 2000. Maybe Fortnight wasn't around but if you've spent time in any MMORPG then it isn't all that foreign. My objection to Fortnight is that the kids I know who play it a lot don't seem to have other interests (or strengths) and are fairly boring as a result.

I try not to let my kids play games on mobile devices because they are designed to make you addicted to their microtransactions but I have no problem with them playing games on our Switch (mostly because I've bought the games so know what they're about). But my kids are small (5 and 8) so I can get away with limiting their autonomy.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:29 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]

Oh this is "fun" in our house! We have historically had screen time limits for our kids (10 and 13) but those have been both fairly loose and imperfectly enforced -- partly because limits across devices is hard, and partly because during normal times they have enough to do during most days that they just didn't typically run over those limits by too much too often.

In pandemic times, with all school happening on devices they also game/youtube/whatever on ... it's madness. They really can and do sometimes spend 10+ hours a day on a screen, and much of that might be games & Youtube because they finish their schoolwork early. (I'm much happier about games than Youtube! But most of their Youtube watching is about games, so ...). And while I totally get the urge to zombie in your room for that amount of time, especially when things are weird and stressful ... the result is that they become crabby, listless cave creatures.

The angle I think we'll use during the summer will be pushing what they should do instead rather than limits per se. Like "you must go outside for a portion of every day unless it is pouring down rain" and "you must get some physical exercise every day". Hikes will be involved. Basically the pandemic is completing my transformation into Calvin's Dad.

Video games can play all of these roles -- when my kids get on Facetime with their friends and play Minecraft together while chatting -- that's SO GOOD and SO HEALTHY given the situation. But there are some unhealthy versions we have to watch as parents as well.
posted by feckless at 1:53 PM on May 28 [3 favorites]

Which kind of boomer limits their kids to one hour of videogames a day?

Just an OK one.

So cool that everybody has kids that will willingly stop playing video games on their own; that must be nice.
posted by Jpfed at 1:54 PM on May 28 [4 favorites]

@mit5urugi On one hand video games can be considered literature now, on the other so many can become an awful time-wasting addiction.

That's a good analogy – in the 18th century reading books was considered dangerous

"A circulating library in a town is as an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge!"
posted by Tom-B at 2:34 PM on May 28 [6 favorites]

Are there any current games similar to the old Sierra or LucasArts adventure games?
posted by stopgap at 2:35 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]

It is actually possible, though, for a thing to be ba even though people once thought that other things were bad.
posted by thelonius at 2:49 PM on May 28 [4 favorites]

At least they're not playing manipulative free-to-play garbage.

One of the reasons I roll my eyes at articles like this is that many kids are spending hours and hours on manipulative free-to-play garbage. If you click through some of those articles on the benefits of games, you can see that they are talking about Minecraft or some other 'wholesome' game and not match 3 games or doll makers that mainly exists to serve ads. And they tend to leave out Fortnite, which is still wildly popular with children. I guess that one could be useful--the kids will need those survival skills in the post-Trump wasteland.

Anyway, I had a few more thoughts on the surprisingly inconsistent research around academic achievement and games, but my AP in Fate/GO has refilled, so I need to go take care of that.
posted by betweenthebars at 2:51 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]

So cool that everybody has kids that will willingly stop playing video games on their own; that must be nice.

No one is saying that parents shouldn't set a limit. Just that one hour a day on the weekends only is going too far.

There are all sorts of games. Some are downright exploitative of their players. Some require excessive amounts of time in order to make progress. Some contain content or messages that aren't suitable for kids.

But some contain amazing stories, encourage creative or social play, etc ...

Like, I remember sinking hours and hours into the Sims. I loved to build - hardly ever even made actual Sims to play with. I researched different architectural styles throughout history so I could recreate them in my towns. If I'd been drawing in a sketchbook, most people would probably consider it a healthy creative hobby. But since it was in a video game, on a screen, a lot of people would see it differently.

Sure, some video games encourage unhealthy behaviors and some people have trouble moderating their hobby. But there's also a lot of moralizing about video games that means people become Concerned even when there isn't a problem.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:03 PM on May 28 [3 favorites]

I wish I'd spent less time playing videogames as a kid, to be honest. I loved Super Nintendo RPGs, and creative games like Mario Paint. If Minecraft had existed in 1994 I would have spent every waking second there. But those hours and hours sitting in front of a screen didn't really teach me anything about how to be a human being in the world, or how to make friends, or how to be closer to my family. I've never for a second regretted reading a book, but I definitely wish I'd spent less time blocking out the world just to jiggle some pixels around on a screen.
posted by oulipian at 3:13 PM on May 28 [4 favorites]

If I'd been drawing in a sketchbook, most people would probably consider it a healthy creative hobby. But since it was in a video game, on a screen, a lot of people would see it differently.

Also this obsession with kids spending all their time on "healthy/creative/educational hobbies" or whatever. As if the adults spend all of their free time doing things like that. Things that are creative or educational take energy, focus, etc. Kids want downtime too. Maybe, they don't need to spend every moment Actively Working to Better Themselves. Maybe they can relax for a while. Maybe even for--a few hours, each day? Instead of needing to always be doing something approved to make them a Better Human (TM).

Adults don't spend every moment doing things that are "good" for them. Kids shouldn't have to either. I'd argue that's actually more likely to make a Better Human (TM) than forcing one to always be "on" and only do things that are, quote, "enriching."
posted by brook horse at 3:57 PM on May 28 [11 favorites]

There are definitely kids (and adults!) using video games to manage mental health problems. But I'm not convinced that if we limit the video games, the mental health problems automatically resolve. I feel like we should just cut to the chase and address the mental health problems themselves. There are a lot of different ways to interact with games. It's like food, or sex, or shopping, or any of the things we do -- they can be fun and creative, or they can be problematic. Some kids aren't using the games to block out the world, they're using them as a place to practice new ways of interacting.
posted by selfmedicating at 3:59 PM on May 28 [8 favorites]

I have an almost 2 year old, and I'm amazed at the quality of the Khan academy kids app. It is ad free, and just packed with good activities!

He is learning letters and numbers quickly, and in ways that are obviously being helped by the app.
posted by Acari at 3:59 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]

Hah, my parents and I fought constantly over how many hours of video games I could play per week. We ended up at 1 hour per day, more or less. I wasn't allowed to play "Diablo" because it was "demonic" and un-Christian. I wasn't allowed to play "Command and Conquer" because it glorified killing. Speaking about playing with parents, the day I beat my dad at Starcraft as a 16 year old he no longer wanted to play games with me anymore lol.

Of course once I left home I immediately played through the entirety of Diablo. What a great game. I also played games to the exclusion of most other things including my studies, so I graduated with just a pass. I actually don't have a problem playing 18 hours a day when I was between studying / jobs. It's both a symptom and a cause, a chicken and egg problem: there's nothing else I want to do, so I defaulted to playing games. But because I'm just playing games, I never developed a life outside of games. So there are likely very real benefits to artificially limiting screen time, but just to what degree is debatable.

Ok so I probably wasted a lot of my "potential" in school and social life. In contrast to my poor academic showing at school, I'm studying my MBA (paid for by my company) at a consistently ranked global top 100 MBA school, and now that I'm merely playing 2 hours of computer games per day, on top of working full time, and then studying at night, I've been the top scorer in the school for 3 out of 6 subjects I've taken so far. The stereotypically worst thing I've learned at the MBA is ironically gaming related, in the people management related module, where they talk about gambling, and how humans respond to unpredictable random rewards better than predictable rewards. Basically, if the reward is predictable, they will do the activity right up until they had "enough" while if rewards are unpredictable, they will compulsively do it beyond the point of reason. So we were unironically encouraged to think about how to structure our employee rewards and compensation programs that way too, because it's scientifically proven to work to increase motivation. Ok what the fuck lol.
posted by xdvesper at 4:41 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]

I'm doing Labo kits with my kid to teach engineering, crafting and music (there's a whole miniature digital audio workstation you build), Ring Fit is helping me exercise, we play Mario Kart with our friends on weekends, Zelda Four Swords with each other and the kid plays Mario Maker in their free time.

I struggle with how much screen time we do as well, but since we have to live our lives primarily indoors, there's no better time to relax those restrictions. And since I'm present nearly always, it's easier to curate the sort of games the kid is exposed to. No Video Games is a non-starter, it's better to just make sure the games that are played are of good quality.

Of all the various international megacorporations that are mediating my household's lives currently, Nintendo is so far providing the most benefit.
posted by subocoyne at 5:21 PM on May 28

Our Switch is our co-parent right now. We have limits, but they're generous. Kid is obsessed with Breath of the Wild, which he only started playing right before the pandemic. My husband started playing it soon after lockdown. I beat that game months ago, so I'm the household Zelda sage. We all watch each other play, and it's no different to having the tv on. Our son had been learning to not be a backseat gamer. He spent his own allowance money on a 500 page book about the making of BotW (he's not a big reader).

We have so little that is really joyful right now. Zelda makes my kid happy. His life has completely changed over the past couple of months, he's isolated from most of his friends, both his parents are working full time from home so even though we're all home together he's kind of forced to homeschool himself for eight hours a day, it super sucks for him. I'm perfectly okay letting him have Hyrule to escape to. It beats the pants off our current reality.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:43 PM on May 28 [3 favorites]

So in the spirit of nonjudgement, could anyone direct me to lists of video games for children that are rich, artistic, complex, wholesome, nonviolent, creative, and genuinely educational? I have no judgements of other parenting goals, but ours are the same we use for books -- empathetic, nonviolent, creative, etc. Our kids are currently 2 and 5, and though that's young they certainly have the necessary mental and physical capacities and I feel like there must be lots out there, but it's almost impossible to find in the torrents of dreck that capitalism tries to drown us in every time I try to google it. I don't want to derail this into an askme, but without medals and librarians and experienced parent friends, it's surprisingly hard to figure out the sorts of touchy-feely artsy-fartsy entirely-nonviolent, educational but genuinely fun video-game equivalents of the books we prefer and have so many of.
posted by chortly at 6:54 PM on May 28 [5 favorites]

I'll put forth Minecraft and whatever Katamari Damacy game you've got a platform for as suggestions but this would make (and probably has made) for a good ask.mefi question.

Side note: I have a nephew that learned to play Minecraft when he was around 5 and watched a lot of youtube videos to learn the game along with help from his parents. Since all the videos show people actively narrating what they're doing, that's just how he plays the game. While he will certainly narrate his gameplay for anyone that cares to listen he's also just as content to narrate his gameplay when all alone too.
posted by VTX at 7:46 PM on May 28 [4 favorites]

chortly, I've actually learned a lot about fish from Animal Crossing. There might be too much reading for a 5-year-old, though.
posted by airmail at 7:50 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]

because I'm old I'm slogging through the original Metroid on my NES Classic where the levels are boring and indistinguishable from one another (fine they are different colors, whatever) and the enemies all travel slightly below the limited character's movement to make it more annoying than fun. And other games considered 'classics' are much worse.

Yeah, to be honest Metroid 1 is not good. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, especially when Metroid Zero Mission, a full-scale remake of the game that plays more like the good entries of the Metroid series, exists. There's only a handful of NES games that really hold up - the Mario games and maaaaaaybe Zelda 1 and Mega Man 2 and 3.

Are there any current games similar to the old Sierra or LucasArts adventure games?

Well the 30-year nostalgia cycle has come for these games so definitely there are - Thimbleweed Park or basically anything by Wadjet Eye are good examples - but obviously since those companies' heyday there's been a lot of thought put into how to do what those games do well without some of the flaws - specifically, they were a kind of awkward marriage between puzzles and plot, a marriage that became untenable as puzzles got more demanding and plots got better. Of course, because time has marched on, some of the incredible games that have come out in recent years require the ability to move around in a 3D space. Obviously this is a huge category, so I'm just recommending stuff that I've personally enjoyed.

If you liked how these games told stories without a lot of violence or reflexes, you could look into games like Kentucky Route Zero, Mutazione, Oxenfree, Hypnospace Outlaw, Eliza or 80 Days. (If you can tolerate violence, The Walking Dead, particularly Season One, is genre-defining; if you can tolerate some light 2D platforming, Night in the Woods is also very good. If you can navigate in 3D space, you want to look out for 'walking simulators' like Firewatch and Gone Home - the genre name was an insult that developers embraced. Sunless Seas and Sunless Skies cross Elite-style trading and combat with deep storytelling.)

If you want some head-scratching puzzles with your story, I'd recommend games like the Phoenix Wright series and Ghost Trick, both of which found ways to bridge the game between good stories and puzzles by telling very specific stories with systemic puzzles. If 3D navigation isn't a problem for you, I'd strongly suggest Return of the Obra Dinn and Outer Wilds (not to be confused with the space RPG Outer Worlds).

(I do also want to recommend Baba is You, which is a puzzle game and not an adventure game, but it's extremely clever.)

Several of these games are available on mobile platforms, but the rest you probably need to purchase through Steam or the Epic Game Store.
posted by Merus at 8:33 PM on May 28 [5 favorites]

I still can’t get past “it was a compromise that worked for our family.”

In a compromise between nothing and something, I allowed my children nothing and told them it was something. Good lord, why even use a plural pronoun in that declaration?
posted by hototogisu at 11:39 PM on May 28 [5 favorites]

But if I don't limit my kid's screen time, how am I ever going to finish Breath of the Wild?
posted by eckeric at 3:45 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]

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