If you have family visiting for a Thanksgiving feast and a holiday weekend of relaxation and shopping, there’s a good chance the younger demographic will be looking for entertainment. If they have their iPads, they’ll likely retreat into YouTube watching mode, but you can use that screen to bring the family together for some fun game time as well.
I rounded up a handful of games that should deliver entertainment for groups of kids and adults alike. The difficult task is finding games that are available on a wide variety of devices and offer crossplay support – meaning you can play together, even if you are on PlayStation 4 and the kids are on their iPads.
If you are just entertaining one or two kids, I also included a few games that they should get a kick out of, yet are only available on select machines. These games have different age ranges in mind, but can be fun for everyone.
The first three games I’ve selected are no-brainers, but as I’ve found, parents often don’t know that they offer crossplay and don’t need three or four of the same system to get kids playing together in their household.
I hope this list brings you some fun. Happy turkey day, everyone!
Easily the best pick on this list, Roblox offers the widest variety of experiences to all age groups and is a phenomenal cooperative experience. It’s also absolutely free! Getting the family together in any game doesn’t take much effort at all.
Here are the Roblox games my daughter and I enjoy playing together: Adopt Me, a simulation about raising pets and furnishing a house. Meep City, another robust simulation with minigames, building aspects, and deep player interaction. Ghost Simulator, a game that takes after the Ghostbusters and pushes you to battle and catch as many ghosts as you can. Scuba Diving at Quill Lake, a relaxing underwater adventure. Hide and Seek Extreme, a surprisingly fun take on the childhood game that will have the family screaming as the person approaching their hiding spots.
For the slightly older ages: Sharkbite, a game about staying alive as long as possible as a player-controlled shark hunts them. Tower Defense Simulator, a great multiplayer combat experience against waves of enemies. Jailbreak, an intense and hilarious multiplayer game that lives up to its name. Piggy, a dark yet exciting fight for survival against evil pigs. There are also a variety of fun titles based on the hit Netflix show Squid Game.
And let the kids search for games that they want to play. Not all of them will be hits, but the process of finding something new to check out is a lot of fun in its own right.
Similar in conceptual design to Roblox, Minecraft allows groups of players to journey and survive together in thousands of worlds, many are made by players. Minecraft’s basic building component tap into your creative side and embrace the true essence of teamwork as you build homes and societies together. Each player will need their own copy of the game on their respective devices, and most add-ons cost extra money. The official Toy Story, Star Wars, Magic Kingdom, and Jurassic World expansions are excellent, offering rewarding sightseeing and fun interaction points.
For any mode you are playing, if you are a newcomer to Minecraft, I recommend jumping into the settings and changing the play style to creative to remove the frustration of starting out and getting your bearings.
If you are looking to avoid violence, Fortnite isn’t the game for you. It’s a competitive shooter at heart that can be an absolute riot. I play it almost every night with my daughter, my girlfriend, and her two young sons. We’re a well-oiled unit that enjoys the four-player squads option the most, but also spends some time in other modes if we have five players. The standard 100-player battle-royale experience remains the main attraction, and the kids absolutely love the variety of licensed skins that are available – from Marvel to Naruto.
The constant flow of new content makes this a game that we can’t put down. We love being there on day one for the new seasons and enjoy seeing how they evolve every week. Ongoing games don’t get much better than Fortnite, and it’s also a great pick-up-and-play game for holidays like Thanksgiving. The one downside is it was recently pulled from iOS devices due to a legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, meaning iPad and iPhone are no longer in the mix. If you do play this game, make sure you mute other players in the options to avoid hearing random people say horrible things.
Super Mario Maker 2
This one will take some prep work, but if you have toddlers in the house or older kids who love a great challenge, you can create levels to challenge them in Super Mario Maker 2. For the toddlers, you can make death-free stages that helps them learn how to use a controller. For the older kids, seeing who can get through your creations the fastest is another fun way to pass the sticks. If you really get into this concept, you can also enter the creative mode to allow the kids to make levels for the adults to run through. Multiplayer modes for co-op and competitive play are also a part of the mix.
I am Fish
A lovingly made adventure about a goldfish exploring the world, I am Fish is a fun physics-based challenge that will put everyone watching on the edge of their seats. As the fish rolls in his water ball, he’ll often be asked to navigate thin walkways over deep pits and slopes that will make him race along the terrain.
The ball operates on real-world physics, so keeping it on those narrow ledges can be difficult, but that’s where the fun (and audible gasps) come into play. Nicely placed checkpoints relieve some of the frustration from the hard challenges, and level-based play means you’ll be moving to different environments often. It also has a weird story about bread that sets the stage for a wacky, good time.
I am Fish is only on PC and Xbox at the moment, but is a part of Microsoft’s Game Pass, so you can download it and check it out for free if you are a subscriber to that service.
Don’t be surprised if your throat is a little sore from screaming for help when playing Overcooked 2, another multi-system game with crossplay options. Four players can take to a kitchen to try to serve up tasty dishes to hungry customers. Time is of the essence, as you are racing to feed as many of these people as you can before the clock ticks down to zero.
Each restaurant is different, and all bring different challenges that will force you to run as fast as you can and even throw food all over the place. Overcooked 2’s difficulty isn’t as harsh as its predecessor’s, but it is still a challenging game that requires quick controller inputs and even quicker thinking. It can be tough for toddlers but should be a good fit for any kid who plays games often.
Hidden Through Time
Do the kids enjoy Where’s Waldo books? If you don’t mind getting fingerprints on your TV, Hidden Through Time offers up an interactive experience similar to those seek-and-find books. You can either hand the controller over to the kid to try to find on their own secrets or have them point to what they want you to interact on the TV. The levels in Hidden Through Time grow in size, change historical themes, and have plenty to look at, making for a spirited time sleuthing with the little ones.
Getting used to Rocket League’s controls (not to mention the unique concept of playing soccer in a car) takes time, but great thrills still come from the early moments, especially when you and the kids are on a team. If you don’t want to take on other players, bot matches of varying skill levels are available. After a few rounds, you’ll be hitting the ball across the field and scoring goals – feats that always bring about loud celebrations. Teamwork is everything when competing in Rocket League. Like many of the games on this list, it supports crossplay and is great on all systems.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is one of the best racing games of all time and isn’t just about Mario and his friends. From Zelda to Donkey Kong, many of Nintendo’s most popular characters are here to race. While satisfying as a single-player game, the most fun comes from the multiplayer experience. You can race or battle against each other with up to four people on one Switch. You can up that number to eight if you have two Switches and the controllers to support it. The options for all multiplayer modes are through the roof and can even stretch to a 48-race circuit if you want to play late into the night and into the morning.
Just Dance 2022
If you want to get your family moving after stuffing their faces with food, no game series accomplishes this act better than Just Dance. The newest iteration features over 40 songs, including “Don’t Go Yet” by Camila Cabello, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift (Taylor’s version), “Happier than Ever” by Billie Eilish, and more. A free trial of the Just Dance Unlimited subscription comes with the game, and ups that song total to over 700! The game shows you the dance moves, too. If you and other family members are doing them right, you end up looking like a dance troupe that has been training together for years. Odds are you won’t be doing them right and will end up looking hilarious together. Just make sure you keep some distance so you don’t accidentally punch or kick each other.