Family Video Game System Guide with Recommended Games

Family Video Game System Guide with Recommended Games

At any given time there are 3-7 gaming systems available for your family to choose from with each having different audiences and strengths.  Here we break down each system so you can better identify which might be best for your family, which accessories you may need, and a few games that can get you started.  We will try to keep this post updated as new systems/games arrive.

The main questions I ask when parents want to know which console I recommend are:

1. What games do your kids want to play? As some systems have more games available for that type of game like Playstation has more racing and driving simulation games and Nintendo has more platforming adventure games like Mario.  

2. What systems do their friends enjoy? While you may want to get the best system for your family the call of peers is strong and won't go away.  If your kid's friends are all playing on Xbox Live they might start to hate having a Nintendo.  

If you know the answer to those two questions I think you have a decent chance at making the right call from the choices below.

Current Generation

Nintendo Switch

Pros: Nintendo is traditionally the home of family friendly entertainment and they will have the most family friendly games available compared to their peers. In addition, they are the only major console that doesn't require a monthly subscription model to access certain features like online play.  The system also works as a portable gaming system (the Switch feature) so you can kick the kids off the TV and they can keep playing their game.  Nintendo holds a high standard for quality in the majority of their first party titles (Mario/Zelda/Donkey Kong) and you can often get the classic games from their catalog to play on the system as well in digital form.

Cons: Nintendo like Apple doesn't always get along with others, so many of the popular new games will not be available on Nintendo, and because of that you will get less new games per year than the other systems. The portable version can run out of energy a bit quicker and if you break it while being mobile you have to buy a new one.  The system is also hard to get a hold of in some areas as Nintendo purposely short supplies all their system releases to ensure demand is greater than supply.  The system is not a graphics match to Playstation 4 or Xbox One. Not backwards compatible with WiiU or Wii games. Teenagers often look down on Nintendo as a kids system since most Mature games aren't available at all. Nintendo only does fake sports, you can't play Madden Football or enjoy an NBA, MLB, FIFA, or NHL title.

Recommended Games:

Recommended Accessories - A charging base for the controllers is a good thing to have. If you plan to use it on-the-go a fair amount a carrying case would be a wise investment as would a screen protector, and many people really value a stand. If you want to have the family able to play on multiple TVs you can add a bonus dock, and for adult players if you prefer a more traditional controller they offer one.

Playstation 4

Pros - Playstation is the most popular system with the largest market share so they have the largest pool of players for multiplayer games, and they have acquired a strong collection of exclusive games especially in the realm of Role Playing games and Racing simulators.  The system is touted as the best for Hard Core gamers and is the only one to currently support Virtual Reality (VR) gaming. If you pay for the monthly Playstation Plus service you will get some free games on occasion and a discount on most purchases through their store. Has some remote play options if you have a Playstation Vita handheld gaming device. If you like Baseball the best baseball game MLB The Show is only on PS4.

Cons - Requires a monthly subscription to play online games. No backwards compatibility so any PS2/PS3 games you have are unplayable although some are downloadable options through their store (hint - you have to buy it again). They are often the last system to discount their games so you may see the same game on Xbox $20 dollars cheaper at times.

Recommended Games:

Xbox One

Pros - Xbox One is designed to be an entertainment hub, and you can build your media world around it as it can connect to most cable systems and has most video services like Netflix/Hulu/Amazon available. The Xbox Gold monthly subscription offers the best assortment of free games each month and often has a game playable for free each weekend that you can try out. The Xbox One is also able to play many of the games from the Xbox 360 generation of games which neither Nintendo Switch or Playstation 4 offers. Microsoft is building more compatibility between Xbox and Windows 10 so some games can be played with friends on PC. Games are typically priced the same or cheaper on Xbox.

Cons - Their exclusive game collection is getting weaker in comparison to their peers with Halo (Rated T) being the standout game.  Requires a monthly subscription for online play. 

Recommended Games:

Hand Held Systems

Nintendo New 3DS XL - Black
By New Nintendo 3ds Xl - New Black


Nintendo owns the handheld landscape but they are confounding at the same time. They released the Nintendo 3DS several years ago followed by a bigger 3DS XL, but recently made an updated 3DS and some games work on this version and not the other and it isn't super clear which ones they are because they stuck with the same name.  THEN Nintendo made a new 2DS which plays Nintendo DS games and 3DS games, but has no 3D feature.  So you can play 3DS games on your 2DS but maybe not on your older 3DS.  It's stupid but that is Nintendo, they delight in annoying their customers but make some of the best games in the world so you can't just write them off (I have tried). If you want family games that are deeper than iPhone games you don't really have another option. It should be noted this isn't only a kids system, and there are plenty of titles to grow into or that Mom and Dad can enjoy.

Recommended Games

Recommended Accessories - Get a nice carrying case that also holds games. You have tons of options.  I own this one for my XL.

Sony PlayStation Vita WiFi
Sony Computer Entertainment

PlayStation Vita

This handheld is tied heavily to Sony fans.  In the handheld space, it also has the edge in Mature rated games and the visuals are stronger.  The system has a massive game library with access to PS One games, PSP games, and the streaming of PS3 games through the Playstation Now Streaming service. All of that on top of actual Vita games. Also, unlike Nintendo, they are more supportive of Indie game developers. This system is also more capable of watching videos and streaming music. Despite this system aiming for older gamers, it does have family titles and your kids can certainly enjoy it.

Recommended Games

Recommended Accessories - All handheld systems need a good case. Options abound. Many suggest getting grips to more closely mimic a traditional controller.


Some people aren't console gamers.  A world of games don't translate to controllers and TVs.  Computer games are often deeper, more customizable, more innovative, or more social.  World of Warcraft is a rich world unto its own, and it is one of many MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Role Playing Games).  Some games almost develop a cult following like League of Legends or Five Nights at Freddy's (those weird scary toys you see at Gamestop that you don't recognize are from this game).  If your kids are into MMORPGs, world building games like Civilization, open sandbox games like Garry's Mod, dungeon crawlers like Diablo, or large scale army games like Rome: Total War you need a PC. And when I say PC I mean a computer that runs Windows well.  Which means you probably don't want a Mac, but some people will tell you enough games work on Mac, or you can run Windows on a Mac.  Those people are defending their own choice to get a Mac and struggle through compatibility issues but they are technically right.  Either way, PC gaming is the most expensive.  The games often push the limits of technology and may require a high end machine.  You also will find you need more accessories especially if you want to do VR.  There is a service called Steam, it is the commerce hub of PC gaming and can help you navigate most game options outside the big PC franchises like World of Warcraft.

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