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50 Of The Best Non-Violent Video Games [Updated For 2023]


Best Non-Violent Video Games

50 Of The Best Non-Violent Video Games [Updated For 2023]

by TeachThought Staff

One person’s mushroom stomper is another’s person’s fungus murderer.

So it may not be absolutely correct to say that every single one of these games is entirely free from any matter of violence whatsoever. But for the most part, they are indeed non-violent games, and certainly, nothing approaching the reality of many modern ‘shooters.’ Violence is a matter of degrees if not interpretation.

In the past, many non-violent games simply weren’t fun. Today, that’s no longer the case–and the list of qualifying games is growing. Whether you’re looking for the best games for game-based learning or simply games that are fun to play, any of these games represent an impressive design achievement and are definitely worth a play.

Now, if they actually enjoy the game or not–in an era dominated by Fortnite and wildly action-packed, social, and ‘always-on’ gaming environments–depends on their mindset and what they expect from a game. Due to the nature of both video games and what’s popular with kids, this list will need to be updated intermittently, which makes including screenshots and videos and descriptions and animated images more work than makes sense for most teachers.

A Few Notes For The List

Note: The standard here is that you don’t consider games like Super Mario or Minecraft ‘violent’ even though there are technically what could be considered violent behaviors in them. It’s about tone and intent and how that ‘violence’ is framed: playfully and with a minimalist aesthetic, for example. Or almost as an afterthought if it exists at all versus a core game mechanic. This is why none of the games from the excellent Legend of Zelda series make an appearance on the list.

Obviously, check out developer websites or YouTube for gameplay videos to make sure you know what you’re getting if you intend on purchasing any of these games.

We started out with the Nintendo Switch because as of 2022, it’s likely the best major platform for non-violent video games. We also tried to focus on non-sports video games because–well, otherwise the list would likely be dominated by sports games. We did include a few obvious ones like FIFA, MLB: The Show, and NBA 2K, though each of those games has bits and pieces you may or may not find issues with as a parent or teacher depending on your context and tolerance.

We also tried to limit each game series (like Pokemon) to one game to ensure a collection of the best non-violent video games that would be usable by a wide variety of players and students.

None of the games are ‘learning games’ or related apps like Sesame Street, Dr. Panda, Toca Life: School, Marco Polo, etc.–meaning these are actual video games with (mostly) traditional gameplay mechanics.

Though this isn’t absolute, the list is created for children ages 8 and older

And finally, for some games available on multiple platforms (like Minecraft). For most, we only included them on one system even though, if available, it’s likely equally as good on another and in some cases below is included on multiple platforms.

Finally, the following links are affiliate links. You can read more about our affiliate policy here.

50 Of The Best Non-Violent Video Games [Updated For 2022]

Best Non-Violent Video Games For Nintendo Switch

1. Animal Crossing

Developer Description: “Escape to a deserted island and create your own paradise as you explore, create, and customize in the Animal Crossing: New Horizons game. Your island getaway has a wealth of natural resources that can be used to craft everything from tools to creature comforts. You can hunt down insects at the crack of dawn, decorate your paradise throughout the day, or enjoy sunset on the beach while fishing in the ocean. The time of day and season match real life, so each day on your island is a chance to check-in and find new surprises all year round.”

2. Super Mario Maker 2

Developer Description:

3. Splatoon 2

Developer Description:

4. Super Mario Odyssey

Developer Description:

5. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Developer Description:

6. Katamari Damacy Reroll

Developer Description:

7. Pokemon: Let’s Go Pickachu!

8. Just Dance 2022

Tetris Effect: Connected

9. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

10. Mario & Sonic At The Olympics 2020

11. Yoshi’s Crafted World

12. Super Mario Party

14. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

15. Super Mario 3D All-Stars

16. Donut County

17. Spirit Of The North

18. Luigi’s Mansion 3

19. Yoshi’s Crafted World

20. Kirby Star Allies

21. Paper Mario Origami King

22. Pikmin 3

23. Fez

24. Stardew Valley

25. Rocket League

26. Minecraft

27. Star Wars Pinball

28. Civilization VI

29. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 & 2

30. Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition

Best Non-Violent Video Games For PlayStation 4 & PlayStation 5

31. Gran Turismo Sport

Developer Description:

32. Rock Band 4 (also consider Guitar Hero)

Developer Description:

33. Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled

Developer Description:

34. Stardew Valley

Developer Description:

35. Flower

Developer Description:

36. Journey

37. Fez

38. Astro Bot: Rescue Mission

39. Tetris Effect

40. Dreams

41. Little Big Planet 3

42. MLB The Show

43. Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition

44. The Witness

45. Civilization VI

46. Night In The Woods

47. FIFA 21

48. NBA 2K22

49. Minecraft

Developer Description:

50. Dear Esther

51. Sackboy: A Big Adventure

Best Non-Violent Video Games For Xbox One & Xbox Series X

1Portal 1Portal 2

Developer Description:

Note: As we’ve emphasized, what constitutes a ‘violent’ video game isn’t universal–and that is especially true for the Portal series. If you play the single-player campaign, the ending boss sequence requires the player to defeat a robot/AI, in part by using portals to send its own rockets back at it. That definitely tends towards the definition of ‘violence’ but the overall theme and tone and mechanics of the game emphasize problem-solving, analysis, spatial thinking, cause-effect relationships, and so on. So while it does ‘have’ some violence, it wouldn’t fall under what we would call ‘violent video games.’

You can always check out YouTube for gameplay videos to see and decide for yourself.

2. Cities Skylines

Developer Description:

3. Assassin’s Creed: Origins or Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (Museum/Discovery modes)

These two are radically undervalued in terms of their game-based learning potential and in the above Museum/Discovery modes are simple guided tours through ancient places and cultures (in these cases, Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece).

4. Disneyland Adventures

Developer Description:

5. Zoo Tycoon

Developer Description:

6. Bridge Constructor

Developer Description:

7. Old Man’s Journey

Developer Description:

8. Super Mega Baseball 2

Developer Description:

9. Forza Horizon 4

Best Non-Violent Video Games For iOS

1. Super Mario Run

Developer Description:

2. Civilization VI

Developer Description: Students can grow civilizations across millennia as they learn about diplomacy, important historical figures, and the patterns and trends that cause societies to change.

3. Sims 4

Developer Description:

Best Non-Violent Video Games For Android

4. Democracy 3

5. Pokemon Go

More Examples Of Non-Violent Video Games

Tetris 99

Wikipedia Description: “Tetris 99 is a multiplayer puzzle game in which 99 players play against each other at the same time, with the aim to be the last player remaining.”

7. Minecraft

Our Description: Craft…

8. Never Alone

Developer Description:

9. Way Of The Turtle

Developer Description:

12. The Gardens Between

13. The Talos Principle

14. SimCity BuildIt

15. The Kids We Were

16. Sky: Children Of The Light

17. Florence

18. Harvest Moon

19. Farming Simulator 2019

20. Sonic Dash

21. Uno

23. X-Plane Starship

69. Old Man’s Journey

Cost: $7.99 (one time; no in-app purchases)

Description: Rather than include the developer description, we’ll explain why we included ‘Old Man’s Journey.’ In short, game-based learning is terribly under-utilized, and games like this are perfect examples of how far games have come. We could’ve—and wanted to—include two or three other games in this list, but using a video game for learning is difficult for many to wrap their heads around and/or get on board with, so we limited it to one. Just know that there are 100+ games that could change everything for your classroom no matter the grade level or content area, and this is just one (excellent) example.

Platforms: iOS, Android, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox, Microsoft Windows, Steam

70-80: Tumble, Amazing Alex, World of Goo, Super Monkey Ball, Puddle, Pid, Ico, Braid, Katamari Damacy, That Dragon Cancer, Inside

50 Of The Best Non-Violent Video Games [Updated For 2023]


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