We all know that feeling of wanting to spend the entire Christmas holidays gaming, but instead, your family insists on coming round and spending time with you, forcing you to stop your God of War playthrough or Red Dead Redemption exploration to socialise. It's the worst, right? Well, it turns out there are some things you can play if you want to share your love of video games with the whole family, both young and old, and we're here to give you a guide through some of the very best options.
Literally Anything on the Switch
A lot of the things we'll mention on this list are on the Switch, and that's because the console - along with the easily detachable Joy-Cons - are pretty much built for easy and accessible social play. What's more is that there are only a few buttons to remember on the Joy-Cons, so even Nana doesn't have to remember much when she's fumbling around with any of the games on Switch, from Mario Kart to FIFA, although getting her to play FIFA might be a bit of a hard task.
One such game that shines on the Switch (although it is available on other platforms) is Overcooked 2. This sequel makes the cooking cooperation even more chaotic, and all you need to know are a few buttons to interact and move. The weird and wonderful levels make getting ingredients to one another really hard as multiple obstacles start giving you more hurdles to overcome, and while you might start screaming at each other as you race to deliver each order, at least you're spending quality time together... right?
Virtual Board Games
Some of the older generation who didn't have our newfangled gadgets and gizmos might prefer a classic board game, but not to fear, as video games have swallowed that up and taken charge of this genre too. Monopoly, for example, just launched on the Switch this year, but then you've also got Hasbro Game Night mixing that in with others like Risk and Trivial Pursuit. If you want to go even more niche though, Ticket to Ride has launched on PS4 as a PlayLink title as well, giving a new way to build your locomotive empire.
Speaking of PlayLink, this is a perfect medium because all it requires is your phone, and even your gran has one of those (she might have her glasses halfway down her nose to look at it, but she still has one). Frantics is a party game that can stir a lot of hilarity in a room as you always try to one-up your pals, but Knowledge is Power is more of a traditional quiz game. If you want to really try something different though, Hidden Agenda will have you working to solve a crime, while some of you might have ulterior motives...
Super Mario Party
One hit this year for Nintendo was Super Mario Party, introducing the weird and wonderful formula to a console that was seemingly made for such an experience. It's pretty easy and forgiving, with plenty of prizes even if you come in last place, and a ton of mini-games that'll have you either working alongside or trying to beat your buddies. With simple instructions and a slow family-friendly pace, this takes the joy of Mario and creates a perfect party game for everyone to love.
This might be the most controversial entry because despite its popularity with children and simplistic visuals Minecraft can sometimes be a bit tough. If you let nana build a mud hut while you make a drawbridge out of redstone-powered pistons though, you can have a great time as everyone gets creative, although when creepers come knocking it might become less of a jolly romp and more of a nightmare. It's also the perfect chance for the older generations to comment on "how clever kids are these days" when they witness what little Billy has made.
Okay, okay, hear us out. Sure PSVR isn't for everyone and grandad might get a bit spooked with a big ol' screen attached to his face, but there are good gateway games. Tetris Effect transforms a classic game that's easy to understand with some bright colours and cool effects, and who doesn't love Tetris, right? There are also mini-games in The Playroom VR which let families play together, with just one person wearing the headset. It's also great home video material to capture people experiencing VR for the first time, although we're definitely not saying put your faint-hearted family members through a horror game. We'd never say that...
Part of the joy of Christmas for kids is building stuff, as many a Christmas morning has been spent assembling Lego towers or snapping K'nex together, and Nintendo Labo lets you build a set out of cardboard that you can use with your Switch. From a piano to a mech suit, a fishing rod to a motorbike, Labo has a lot of cool stuff to offer the kids of 2018, and considering its sturdy build and simple instructions, it might light up a lot of faces this holiday season. Just beware, that the construction of some of the models can take a fair bit of time, so factor that into your planning.
Lego games are always some of the most reliable family entertainment. There are so many major franchises to choose from that there really is something for everyone, whether that be kids simply smashing stuff or adults trying to find all the collectibles (or vice versa, who are we to say). With so many games over so many platforms and a persistent formula that still hasn't got old to this day, this is a great choice for those wanting easy, drop-in-drop-out multiplayer. Lego Dimensions is also a good shout because, like the Labo, you get to make the models while you play, so even if someone doesn't want to wield a controller, they can still get involved.
Gang Beasts, Human: Fall Flat, Surgeon Simulator
If you'd rather have some outrageous physics-based fun when you play with the family, then both Gang Beasts and Human: Fall Flat are worth a go. The former lets you battle it out with wobbly characters who can't even stand up straight, while the latter lets you try to solve puzzles (we say 'try' because it's trying to shoot pool with a rope). You can grab, hit, and fall all over each other in both of these games, producing some excellent results. We'd also like to make shout out for Surgeon Simulator, a very silly game that that should provide plenty of laughs.
Sony just released their mini PlayStation, Nintendo has two pint-sized consoles on the market, and Sega has been doing it for ages. The mini C64 is certainly too fiddly for easy family entertainment, but some of Nintendo games are accessible enough that anyone can easily pick them up and have a play. It might even be that some of your family members are lapsed gamers themselves, and so busting out a retro console and letting them relive their youth might be just the ticket to helping them rest and relax over the holiday period.
A Song and a Dance
If you're an active family then maybe it's time to bust out some of your signature dance moves with Just Dance, and maybe your little ol' nana will show you how they use to groove in the olden days. That won't be for everyone, though, but maybe We Sing or another kareoke game would help break the silence. Our pick of the bunch would probably be a Rock Band or Guitar Hero game, and thanks to the extensive libraries of both series, you should be able to find a tune or two that everyone knows.