While the debate over violent video games rages on-Do they really encourage violence? Do they allow kids to express aggression in safe ways? Are they just games after all, or do they create a culture of acceptance around guns and fighting and other aggressive acts?--Some parents who still see value in gaming may choose to opt out of the discussion altogether, allowing video games that are non-violent, or educational, or both.
Here are some video game choices that are violence free, but also contain engaging and fun game play.
Minecraft. If your kid isn't already playing Minecraft, you've certainly heard of this "sandbox" style open-platform game of blocks and creepers and zombies. But did you know Minecraft has a creative mode? With nearly limitless building choices, Minecraft in creative mode is a peaceful, zombie-attack-free digital world where kids can create to their heart's content. Bonus: In creative mode, you can fly.
Available on: Windows, Mac, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and 4, Playstation Vita, Android,
Harvest Moon: Animal Parade. A role-playing game in which players must save a community with scarce supplies by helping the Harvest Tree, growing crops, and tending to farm animals.
Available on: Nintendo Wii.
Just Dance Kids. With kid-appropriate songs and dance moves, Just Dance Kids encourages movement, cooperation and silly fun. Multiple players can get up and dance to the beat, from preschoolers to parents.
Available on: Xbox 360, Wii U, Wii, Playstation 3 and 4
Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster. This storybook-style adventure gets kids on their feet and moving to interact with their favorite Sesame Street characters. The game emphasizes working together, friendship, team work and other life lessons for the preschool set.
Available on: Xbox 360
Osmos. A physics-based puzzle game that only seems simplistic: the player starts as a single-celled organism called a "mote" that must join with other motes to grow using propulsion, but most avoid being absorbed by larger motes. Utilizing dream-like visuals and a soothing ambient soundtrack, Osmos encourages patience and logical thinking. Winner of multiple gaming awards.
Available on: Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS
Animal Crossing: New Leaf. In this life simulation game the player assumes the role of a mayor, and, along with the townsfolk, will work to make their village a better place to live. Interact with the townsfolk, customize your home, go fishing or garden or just explore this open-ended, feel-good role-playing game.
Available on: Nintendo 2DS and 3DS
Wii Party U.* Containing 80 super fun mini-games for multiple players, Wii Party U is great for the whole family, or up to four players. Promotes socialization, puzzle-solving skills and hand-eye coordination. (*Some mini-games do contain mild cartoon violence, like shooting lasers, but no one gets hurt and it is non-aggressive.)
Available on: Wii U. Wii version also available.
Wii Sports. With a wide selection of single and multiplayer sports games, this is a great choice for kids as well as the whole family. The games require movement, in addition to complex hand eye coordination, strategic planning and group participation. A couple of games, such as fencing, do involve fighting -- but as a sport only. Such games can also easily be avoided in favor of selections like bowling, archery, golfing and more.
Available on: Wii U and Wii, requires Wii motion remotes, although 1 remote can be shared for turn based games like bowling.
Toca Builders. While Toca Builders is an app, it is downloadable on multiple platforms and a great game for kids who aren't quite ready for Minecraft. Aimed at kids age 5-11, consider it an easier, gentler version of the sandbox platform games, with all the creativity and imagination intact, and for only a few bucks.
Available on: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Apps for Windows, Windows Phone.