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Kids, Teens

To Be Or Not To Be by Tin Man Games

hamlet

Ryan North’s To Be Or Not To Be lets players answer the most famous rhetorical question ever posed, and in doing so players immediately begin the process of ruining Shakespeare’s Hamlet. By comparing their decisions to the original – via the ‘Hamlet-o-meter’ – the game deftly teaches the art of storytelling, pace and character development through increasingly farcical situations that arise directly from mischievous player choice. It’s a triumphant example of making failure fun – who wouldn’t want to try sending a central character to his death just to see what happens?

North’s writing is excellent; every scene is handled with wit and plenty of surprising chain reactions ensure that repeat play is not only highly rewarding, but irresistible! A compelling layer of strategy, built on subtle character attributes and statistics, encourages countless explorations of scene, plot and character combinations.

Why we love it:

  • Brilliant, laugh out loud dialogue
  • Makes failure fun, whilst subtly teaching Shakespeare’s craft
  • Wonderful character design and art

Buy it here

The Sandbox by Pixowl

thesandbox

The Sandbox is a free-to-play physics simulator. Players are given access to an array of materials and encouraged to experiment with them. Each material has a unique property and will react to other materials placed nearby. This allows the player to build simple machines, electrical circuits and a variety chemistry based experiments. Whilst the tutorial gently guides you through a variety of in-game possibilities it is the free play mode that offers the player long term fulfilment. The control system makes the most of the iOS touchscreen and offers a simple and intuitive interface which is perfect for experimentation.

Why we love it:

  • Learn about a variety of materials and their properties.
  • Build circuits, conduct experiments and create structures virtually.
  • Save, share and rate your best creations in the online gallery.

Play it online or get it for iOS or Android

Sticks and Stones by Littleloud & Channel 4

SticksAndStones

Sticks and Stones is a free app and web game developed by Little Loud and commissioned by Channel 4 which aims to throw some light on the murky world of bullying. The player is able to select one of four kids languishing at the bottom of the ‘social ladder’ and help them to earn Kudos to impress their peers. The games focus on different aspects of bullying – allowing the player to defend against attack or display a more aggressive attitude depending on the dice falls. Regular reminders of the real cost of bullying appear between each turn to give the player further context but it’s clearly a game of survival in this dog-eat-dog world.

Why we love it:

  • Fresh and funky art style.
  • Mario Party style mix of game board and mini games.
  • Game ideas come from real life experiences collected from school kids.

Get it for iOS

Kerbal Space Program by Squad

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Kerbal Space Program is a game where players of all ages create their own space program. The aim is to help the Kerbals to conquer space by building and flying rockets. NASA has partnered with the game on a special downloadable mission pack and KerbalEdu, a cooperative, school-friendly version of space exploration sim Kerbal Space Program, was launched late last year. KSP is still under development, but we can’t wait to see what the team come up with!

Why we love it:

  • Cute characters backed by hard science.
  • Open sandbox promotes learning through experimentation.
  • The demo version is free, and will remain so forever.

Try or buy it here

Nightmare: Malaria by Psyop

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In Nightmare: Malaria you must navigate two worlds – Blood and Brain – set inside a young girl suffering from malaria. Your aim is to kill mosquitoes and save teddy bears. It’s justifiably dark – malaria kills over a million people worldwide every year. Whilst the game is completely free, you will be prompted to donate throughout, with 100% of proceeds going straight to the Against Malaria Foundation.

Why we love it:

  • Graphic, fevered visuals add to the nightmarish atmosphere.
  • The in-game donations.
  • Featuring the voice of Susan Sarandon!

Get it for iOS or Android

The Walk by Six to Start

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The Walk is an adaptive fitness app from the makers of Zombies, Run! and the NHS. With over three month’s worth of super immersive story telling, and hundreds of miles of walking, it helps to establish long term fitness habits. Broader in its appeal than the aforementioned Zombies, Run! The Walk begins with a terrorist attack at Inverness Station. You must escape the city and walk the length of the country, deciding who to trust along the way. The app tracks your steps, how long you’ve walked for, and rewards you with adventure to keep you moving.

Why we love it:

  • Gameplay adjusts its difficulty based on the individual.
  • Motivates long term activity habits.
  • Packed with maps, collectible items and engaging characters.

Buy it for iOS or Android

Full Steam Ahead by Aardman Animations & ss Great Britain Trust

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Full Steam Ahead is a game in which you design and build steam-powered ships in the spirit of Brunel. Gameplay is goal-focussed, with the player being tasked to create increasingly complex ship designs to meet ever more challenging criteria. The game gives the player the freedom to experiment, with ‘design tips’ orientating the player towards success. A simple currency system and strong art style round-off a very solid product.

Why we love it:

  • Game rewards experimentation.
  • Tip system scaffolds learning.
  • Strong art style.

Download for free now for iOS or Android or play it online

Wuzzit Trouble by Innertube Games

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Set inside a trap-riddled castle, Wuzzit Trouble is an educational puzzle game which teaches mathematical conceptual thinking. Where other educational games use the gameplay as a mask to hide the learning, Wuzzit Trouble’s gameplay is the learning. The game introduces the idea of mathematical experimentation and encourages the idea of refining and improving your strategies for playing, all in the name of releasing the cute and fuzzy Wuzzits.

Why we love it:

  • Original gear-based mechanic.
  • Appealing characters.
  • Improves multiple skills- suitable for a variety of ages.

Buy it for iOS

Time Explorer by GR/DD & The British Museum

timeexplorer

Time Explorer is an isometric flash game which allows you to travel back in time via The British Museum. The aim is to rescue precious artefacts, and in doing so find out more about them and the civilisations that created them. There are four levels, each taking you on a treasure hunt to ancient destinations across the globe.

Why we love it:

  • Cool isometric graphics.
  • Straightforward keyboard controls.
  • Aims young but is fun for all.

Play it online (free)

Way by Coco & Co

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Way is a free downloadable co-operative 2-player game which, like other games in its genre (Portal 2, Spelunky, Ilomilo etc.), is all about cooperation and communication. The puzzles are simple, but the feeling of achievement is high as you work your way through the game with your anonymous partner. There are moments that you will have to be your partner’s eyes and communicate only through gesture, so here’s a word of warning – you’ll be screaming at the screen!

Why we love it:

  • Simple controls make it suitable for all.
  • Encourages trust and connection through teamwork.
  • A deeply ‘human’ experience.

Download it free for Mac or Windows