For more information about any of the items below, simply click on the fuchsia headlines. Don’t forget to explore the different tabs across the top!

iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows Phone
4+

The Toca Life games are like virtual playsets. There are lots of locations to explore and lots of characters to explore with. Little secrets and surprises are scattered through all of the worlds, which makes these games fun for parents as well as kids.

iOS
4+

Metamorphabet is an innovative app that teaches letter and word recognition by letting you interact with the letter itself. As you tap and drag on letters, they will morph into representations of different words that start with that letter.

iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows Phone
4+

Sago Mini Babies is the latest in a long line of great Sago Mini apps. In Babies, you can play the parent to animal babies by feeding, bathing, and dressing them, as well as by changing their diapers. Little surprises are all around the environment. Even as a parent, you can find some funny things to do with this game.

iOS
4+

Endless Spanish uses the tried-and-true gameplay of Endless Alphabet and Endless Reader to help kids learn Spanish. You drag letters and words to the correct places while hearing pronunciations. You then watch a cute little movie that illustrates what the words and sentences mean.

iOS, Android
4+

DNA Play lets you create monsters one body part at a time using a simple puzzle mechanic. By switching up the “strands,” kids can see how body parts change. It teaches the basics of DNA with cute monsters and interactions.

PC, Mac, iPad, Android tablet, Kindle
6+

Zoombinis is a logic-based puzzle game. The Zoombinis are on a journey to find their new homeland, and to get there you need to navigate them through a treacherous landscape. The puzzles are all incredibly clever and satisfying and come in a variety of difficulty levels.

Wii U
E for Everyone

In this family-friendly platformer from Nintendo, you play an adorable dinosaur made out of yarn who is on a mission to rescue his friends. Yoshi’s Woolly World has lots of optional collectibles, which add a level of difficulty for advanced players. It also has a casual mode that makes it a great choice for beginners.

Wii U
E for Everyone

If you love the classic Mario games, this title is sure to be a treat. Super Mario Maker gives you the power to design and play your own 2D Mario courses. You can also play courses created by other players—more than a million levels are available right now.

3DS
E for Everyone

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is a rare multiplayer Zelda game. You must solve puzzles and defeat bad guys to save a princess cursed by an evil witch. You can have a great time communicating with online teammates using only family-friendly emoticons.

Runbow

Wii U
E for Everyone

Runbow is a frantic running game for up to eight players. It has tons of different game modes, most of which are short races to get past 2D platforming obstacles. The game is vibrant, silly, and easy to learn, which makes it a great game for family gatherings or parties.

iOS
4+
Land of Venn – Numeric Defense is a riotously fun game with great character design, music, sound effects and voice-over. It’s also a great math game. (Bonus!) It gives you lots of practice adding up numbers like mad in order to protect your creature from waves of cute monsters. It may be too difficult for younger kids, but it’ll painlessly increase math fluency for older kids and adults.

PC, Mac, Linux
6+

Mini Metro is a subway-simulation game. Its visual design, audio, and gameplay really stand out. You’re given minimalist maps of 11 different world cities (from London to Sao Paulo) and you must build a subway system from scratch. Procedurally generated music created by Disasterpeace plays as you draw lines from one station to another. You have to decide where to place your trains, lines, upgraded stations, bridges, and tunnels to keep the system moving. iOS and Android versions are in the works.

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac
E for Everyone

Beyond Eyes puts the player in the place of a young blind girl looking for her cat. You must navigate the environment by sound. While the game still renders things visually, sometimes you find that what you thought was a trickling fountain is actually a sewage pipe, and other obstacles arise that you can’t “hear.”

Xbox One, Windows, Mac
E for Everyone

Cities Skylines is a city-building and planning game where players must set up roads, districts, waterways, and electricity, as well as manage taxes and debts to keep their people happy. (We promise it’s more fun than it sounds.)

Android, iOS
4+

Neko Atsume is a simple, free-to-play cat-collecting game for mobile. You must purchase toys and food to place in your garden, and eventually adorable cats will come to visit. The cats, in turn, will reward you with gold and silver fish, which you can use to purchase more toys.

Android, Android Tablet, iPad, iPhone
6+

Alphabear is a super-cute and super-challenging word game where you use bears as power-ups. Each bear has its own abilities, and each changes something about the game board. Did we mention it’s cute? It’s really cute. You really need to have an adult vocabulary to beat some levels (in terms of how many words you know, not how, uh, “adult” they are), but the game is still fun and appropriate for younger kids.

Android, Mac, PC, iPad
6+

Gathering Sky is a gorgeous, relaxing game—especially when played on a touch device. You guide a flock of birds through the sky with your finger over a series of painted landscapes. Each level has a beautiful looping soundtrack. The game poses a few dangers in the form of obstacles and strong gusts of air, but the moments of quiet outnumber those of higher concentration. It’s easy enough for any age, and is genuinely relaxing to play.

3DS
E for Everyone

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer puts you in the role of an interior decorator in the cute and cuddly world of Animal Crossing. You’ll get requests to make both home and public space designs using a variety of wallpaper, flooring, and furniture.

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
E for Everyone

Every so often, the Madden NFL series takes a big enough step forward that it can pull in new and even jaded previous players. Madden NFL 16 is one of those leaps. Expansions to existing play modes (and some all-new play modes) make this Madden worth checking out.

PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3
E for Everyone

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the soccer fan in your life, then it doesn’t get much better than FIFA 16. It’s not only one of the most realistic sports games available right now, but it’s also incredibly fun to play for kids and adults of all ages.

iOS
4+

The Minims follows a cute yellow blob-like creature as he searches for his missing wife. The gameplay is point-and-click adventure style with lots of puzzles that are the perfect combination of being challenging without being obtuse.

Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PC
E10+

King’s Quest is a reboot of the original King’s Quest series of puzzle adventure games. This one is episodic, and while only the first episode has been released, it promises a funny and heartfelt story.

PS4, Xbox One, Wii U
E10+

This toys-to-life game from LEGO combines characters and settings from 14 different games, movies and TV shows, including Ghostbusters, Portal, Doctor Who, Back to the Future, and The Wizard of Oz. You play as Gandalf, Batman, and Wyldstyle on a mission to rescue their friends and save the multiverse.

Wii U
E10+

In Splatoon, you control a fashion-savvy squid kid called an Inkling. In the online mode, you fight for turf in teams of four by shooting colored ink onto the ground. Whichever team’s color covers the most ground at the end wins. In the single-player campaign, you go up against the evil Octarian Army. Both modes are a ton of fun.

Xbox One, PC, Mac
E10+

This is one of the best co-op games ever. You and a friend control a spaceship with several terminals. Each terminal controls something like navigation, weapons, or shields. You both need to run between the stations in order to move through space, fight bad guys, and rescue adorable animals.

PC, Mac, Wii U
E10+

Human Resource Machine is an apocalyptic coding game. That’s right, you learn to code while the world collapses in the background. The game’s puzzles are extraordinarily clever and get your brain thinking in unusual ways.

3DS
E10+

This game is the sequel to Ocarina of Time, but you do not need to play that title to enjoy this one. In Majora’s Mask, Link is trapped in the world of Termina, where the moon is falling from the sky and the same three days in time are repeating infinitely. This story has amazing puzzles, complex characters, and a huge and intricate world to explore. It is a remake, and solves many of the problems that plagued the original.

Wii, Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
E10+

Just Dance 2016 is a lot like the previous and popular Just Dance games. It’s a dancing/rhythm game that lets you dance to hit songs. The newest version of the game does feature multiple modes that diversify the experience, such as the local coop Dance Party mode and Showtime mode, which allows players to record lip-syncing segments. With the Dance Unlimited feature ($6.99), you can get a month of streaming with 150 new tracks.

PC, Mac
E10+

In Mushroom 11 you play as a self-replicating fungus. You are constantly growing and shrinking, and you use this to navigate traps and hazards. The game is a challenging but rewarding puzzle-platformer.

PlayStation 4
E10+

Tearaway Unfolded is a reimagining of the 2013 Tearaway for the PlayStation Vita, and oh, what a reimagining it is. The game adds a lot of new levels, as well as new types of gameplay to make up for the lack of some of the Vita’s unique components. It’s the touching story of a paper messenger who is delivering a letter to you. You guide and protect iota or atoi on a journey through a weird and whimsical paper world. Tearaway Unfolded is touching and full of heart.

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, Wii, PlayStation 3, 3DS, iOS, Xbox 360
E10+

Skylanders SuperChargers is just as fun and well-made as its predecessors. It costs a pretty penny, but for that you get a long campaign and a full racing game. There are some barriers to entry on the racing; you’ll need some extra toys. But if you enjoy that kind of gameplay, that means you have basically all your holiday gifts sorted. SuperChargers pits the Skylanders against Kaos (again) to save the Skylands (again), with a special team of Skylanders called the SuperChargers (new!).

PlayStation 4, Mac, PC
E10+

Rocket is pure, ridiculous fun. You pilot a rocket-powered matchbox car in a game of soccer against other cars. Each team is trying to boost the ball into the other team’s goal. This game flew to the top of the sales charts last summer for one reason: it’s really fun. Cars can be modified, and the game has been continually updated with new mods, arenas, and other fun customizations for vehicles and matches.

PC (with our without VR)
10+

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a cooperative puzzle game that will truly test how well you communicate. First, print out the free “bomb manual” from Steel Crate Games’ website. One player (or players) get the manual, while the other(s) have the computer screen where a bomb covered in puzzle modules is displayed. The players with the bomb must describe it to the players with the manual. Then the players with the manual tell them how to solve the puzzles and defuse the bomb. It’s basically the best party game anyone could ask for.

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
E10+

Fans of the NBA will no doubt find NBA 2K16 to be one of the most well-rounded basketball games of all time. Though it has a bit of a steep learning curve, it’s one of the most satisfyingly realistic sports simulations ever created.

PlayStation Vita
T for Teen

Dancing All Night brings back fan-favorite characters from Persona 4 in a rhythm game. While the dialogue gets a little repetitive, the dances are a lot of fun and the free-play mode and costume changes will keep you busy. The game also touches on mature themes of self-acceptance, which are nice to see represented in a game with positive teenage characters.

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, iOS
T for Teen

The latest Guitar Hero game takes the music genre down a different path, distinguishing itself from its main competitor. With a new guitar layout, a new style of play through GHLTV, and a focus on single-player rather than multiplayer gameplay, Guitar Hero Live offers an experience for those who are tired of the basic plastic instrument formula.

Xbox One, PlayStation 4
T for Teen

After taking a break, the Rock Band franchise has returned. The gameplay is pretty much the same as any other Rock Band game. The bonus here is that most instruments and songs you bought in previous versions can be used in the new game. It’s still the perfect party game.

Xbox One
T for Teen

In Halo 5 the iconic protagonist of the series, Master Chief, disobeys orders to go off and find his AI companion Cortana, who was thought to be dead. This is the first game in the main Halo series to be rated T (previous games were M). There’s less gore than before. The science-fiction themed first-person shooter delivers the goods to long-time fans of the series, with a good story in story mode and lots of new features in competitive multiplayer mode. It’s a great game for groups of Halo fans to play together online.

PC, Mac, iOS
13+

Her Story is a murder mystery played out through full-motion video. The interface looks like a ’90s computer monitor, and through it you can type in keywords. Keywords pull up videos of a woman being interviewed by the police after the death of her husband. You can watch the videos in any order, and as you do you start to understand the mysteries surrounding the death.

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
T for Teen

When all is said and done, SW: Battlefront comes the closest of any game to making you feel like you’re actually inside the world of Star Wars. For die-hard Star Wars fans and for gamers who have been waiting for a new installment in the series, Battlefront is a must-buy.

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
T for Teen

With Destiny’s expansion, The Taken King, developer Bungie improved on a lot of the things that players had found lacking, like story development. They also made a lot of great changes to Destiny’s PvP, generally invigorating the whole game.

Xbox One
M for Mature

Rare Replay is a compilation of 30 games that have been made by developer Rare over the last 30 years. This is a great value as there are even a few full modern games included in the collection. You shouldn’t let the M rating scare you away.

PlayStation 4
M for Mature

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a story exploration game where the player awakens in a rural English town whose inhabitants have mysteriously vanished. You slowly uncover the mystery as you travel the gorgeous English countryside, listening to phantom conversations.

PlayStation 4, PC
M for Mature

Soma is one part horror game, one part psychological drama. Simon Jarrett is an average guy who finds himself suddenly transported into an underwater station far into the future. The station seems to be deserted, apart from the strange, roving robots and a mysterious woman named Catherine.

Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PC, Mac, Android, iOS
M for Mature

Tales From the Borderlands is an episodic, story-based game that revolves around choice. The game features dual protagonists, the conwoman Fiona and the corporate stooge Rhys. Rhys and Fiona, along with their friends, are trying to track down an alien Vault that may hold treasures, and must escape various enemies (and frenemies) along the way.

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
M for Mature

The Witcher 3 is a high-fantasy RPG that continues Geralt’s story where it left off in the previous games. Geralt searches for his lost daughter, Ciri, and contends with the various factions in the Northern Kingdom, as well as the forces of the Wild Hunt.

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
M for Mature

Fallout 4 is an RPG shooter starring the last living survivor of Vault 111. Your character must survive in the aftermath of a nuclear war after waking up from cryostasis. You battle strange mutant enemies in the irradiated wasteland of Boston with the help of a misfit team of friends as you try to track down a kidnapped child.

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
M for Mature

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is a return to strong story and strong gameplay for the series. The Victoria-era romp sees lots of blood spilled, but provides awesome insight into historical figures, as well as a cast of delightful main characters. Twin Assassins Evie and Jacob Frye head up the group, and are both playable characters.

Xbox One
M for Mature

Rise of the Tomb Raider builds upon the reboot that was released in 2013. The story is amazing and beautifully written. There’s a lot more combat during the main story gameplay than the last game, but lots of optional puzzle tombs and extras make straying off the beaten path and retracing your steps (even after you finish the story) a super fun and satisfying experience.

Accessories

Xbox One Wireless Controller

$55 to $150, depending on style

DualShock 4 Controller

$50 to $65, depending on style

Membership Programs

PS Plus 12 Month Membership

$49.99, or $17.99 for three months

Books

Ready Player One

$15.51 hardcover, $8.37 paperback, $9.99 Kindle

The Game Believes in You

$19.44 hardcover, $12.99 Kindle

Toys and Other Goodies

Nerdy Soaps by DigitalSoap

$5 to $45, depending on style

Amiibo Figures

$10 to $65 depending on style

Skylanders Figures

$10 and up, depending on style

Disney Infinity Figures

$8 and up, depending on style

Nerdy Dresses

$20 to $125, depending on style