The 9 Best Video Games for Kids of 2021

Digital fun the whole family can enjoy

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Nintendo Animal Crossing: New Horizons at Walmart

"A role-playing game without the concepts of "winning" or "losing," players are tasked with creating a thriving island life."

Best for Online Playing: Fortnite at Amazon

"The popular game positions up to 100 players against each other in squads to see who can survive the longest against other groups."

Best Creative: Mojang Minecraft at Amazon

"The multi-platform adventure game can be enjoyed alone, with multi-players, or online with others, promoting collaboration."

Best Sports: Madden NFL 21 at Amazon

"Sports lovers can enjoy their passion virtually with this sports simulation game, compatible with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4."

Best Bang for the Buck: Nintendo Super Mario 3D All-Stars at Amazon

"The three-in-one purchase is fun for newbies or long-time Mario fans, so the whole family can get in on the action."

Best Interactive: Ubisoft Just Dance 2021 at Amazon

"Start a dance party in your home with this pick, complete with over 550 songs and kid-friendly family dances."

Best Multi-Player: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 at Walmart

"Fun for a solo player or up to four players, gamers can also compete against up to eight other people online."

Best Single Player Game: Sega Sonic Forces at Amazon

"Ideal for older kids, Sonic fans will appreciate the feature that enables them to create their very own avatar."

Best for Toddlers: LeapFrog LeapPad Academy Kids’ Learning Tablet at Amazon

"The LeapPad Learning Tablet is an educational and fun gaming option for younger kids, so long as their screen time is supervised."

Video games can be a fun, family-filled pastime for many kids and their parents. While there are many appropriate games for all levels, it’s important to have a family discussion and understanding about screen time, limits, appropriate games, gaming behavior, and more. This can be particularly tricky for those families who are currently in a virtual school situation since these kids are already working with screens throughout the day.

Here are the best video games for kids and the entire family.

Good to Know

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s important to achieve a “balance between digital consumption and healthier activities” and there are some key factors to look out for which may indicate problems with video gaming, including:

Each video game includes a rating system that ranges from EC (Early Childhood) which means it’s suitable for ages 3 and up all the way up to Adults Only. Check the ratings prior to purchasing any games. Some video games are compatible with a wide variety of video game systems while others will only work with one specific system. 

Best Overall: Nintendo Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Nintendo Animal Crossing: New Horizons

 Courtesy of Amazon

Rated E for “Everyone,” this family-friendly game is appropriate for kids ages 5 years old and up. A role-playing game made only for the Nintendo Switch, players begin the game on a deserted island and are tasked with creating a thriving life on the island. Without the concepts of “winning” or “losing,” the game is easy to grasp and quick to pick up. Reviewers and families love that there are lots of game-play options. Players can play alone, on the same system with up to four players at one time, or multi-player on the internet with up to eight friends. Parents will need to monitor their children if you allow them to play with other gamers virtually. 

Best for Online Playing: Fortnite

A polarizing game among parents, Fortnite is rated T for Teen, although can be appropriate for younger kids with parental consent, family discussions, and some oversight. A wildly popular survival action game, Fortnite can be played on a PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, and Mac. The game positions up to 100 players against each other in squads of one, pairs, or up to four players, to see who can survive the longest against other squads.

Animated with a cartoonish style, there is violence, but it’s not super bloody or grotesque. In addition to the violence factor, the “battles” can be time-consuming and many children may find it hard to walk away from the game in between what can seem like a never-ending round. If time management is not a strength in your child, this game may be harder for them to limit. 

Best Creative: Mojang Minecraft

Minecraft, rated E or E10+ for “Everyone 10+”, depending on the version, is a multi-platform adventure game. Players are invited to use the building blocks of the game to customize and create any world they can imagine. The game can be played on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, and Mac, and can be enjoyed alone, with multi-players, or online with others. While this feature can help kids work collaboratively and creatively with others, it’s also an aspect that should be monitored so young gamers are only playing with people they know.

Parents should also be aware that in addition to the game, there are tons of Minecraft-related books, toys, clothing, and more, so for kids that love accessories, a Minecraft obsession may go beyond the game. 

Best Sports: Madden NFL 21

This sports simulation game is made just for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It’s the newest iteration of the game series, which releases a new edition each year. Rated E for “Everyone,” this game does feature the violence that is part of professional football. While the football players will get hard hits and tackles, no blood or gore is ever shown. A new part of this year’s game is two game modes, which can be good for kids that want to complete games in less than 10 minutes. Both “The Yard” and “Superstar KO” modes are short burst games that are fun and quick, eliminating the need for a long session of gameplay. 

Best Bang for the Buck: Nintendo Super Mario 3D All-Stars

Nintendo Switch and Lite players rejoice. With the purchase of one game, you’ll get three classic Nintendo games in one! Fun for newbies or long-time Mario fans (hello, parents!), the three games are Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. All are rated E for “Everyone,” so the whole family can get in on the action. One aspect to note for families looking to play together is that Super Mario Galaxy can be played as a multiplayer game but the other two games are single-player only. 

Best Interactive: Ubisoft Just Dance 2021

The latest edition in this fun, ultimate dance game, Just Dance lets friends and families start a dance party in their very own home. Available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, the game has over 550 songs with built-in choreography and eight kid-friendly family dances with choreography for the whole crew. The game works for up to six players, tracks each player's dance moves, and provides a score based on how well the on-screen dancers are mimicked. Some songs have mildly suggestive lyrics but the songs are so fast-paced, it’s very likely that the lyrics will go over the kids’ heads. Impossible to sit still and play, Just Dance is a great interactive experience. 

Best Multi-Player: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Mario and Sonic Olympic Games

 Courtesy of Walmart

Mario and Sonic come together, with the help of some of their friends, to test their skills in over 30 different sports and events at the Olympic Games. Rated E 10+ for “Everyone 10+,” this game is exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. The fun lies not only with the versatility of the games and events, but also how it can be played. Fun for a solo player or up to four players, gamers can also compete against up to eight other people online. It’s easy to adjust the difficulty level for each game, so less-skilled players will still be motivated to compete and win. Parent players will appreciate the feature that allows gamers to travel back in time to the “Tokyo 64” mode and give all the Olympic events a retro look. 

Best Single Player Game: Sega Sonic Forces

Sonic the Hedgehog strikes again in this fast-moving one-person game. With options for the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Lite, and Xbox One, the game is rated E10+ for “Everyone 10+,” so it’s better suited for older kids, especially those that are accustomed to high-speed games. Sonic fans will likely enjoy the feature that enables players to create their very own custom avatar character. As players enter deeper into the game, there are more and more accessories and styles available.

Best for Toddlers: LeapFrog LeapPad Academy Kids’ Learning Tablet

It’s recommended that children between the ages of 2 years old and 5 years old limit their screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programming. While this screentime limit likely varies per household, the LeapPad Learning Tablet is an educational and fun gaming option for younger kids. The kid-friendly tablet comes pre-loaded with more than 20 educational apps and games, with over 750 videos, songs, apps, and more available from the LeapPad learning library. Intended for ages 3 through 8, parent reviewers appreciate the high-quality learning games available, especially for the younger kids. 

Why Trust Verywell Family

Maya Polton is a former marketing manager and current freelance writer who covers food, home, and parenting. She’s also the mom of a 10-year-old son, 7-year-old son, and 3-year-old daughter. While she does not consider herself a gamer (does Tetris count?), her two sons are big video game fans and sometimes consider the Nintendo Switch an appendage to their body. 

Was this page helpful?