This week the NYT published a great op-ed about how digital three-dimensional environments are where much of life is taking place during the pandemic.
“During the lockdowns, gaming platforms have been thriving as venues for all manner of events. Savvy teachers are holding online classes where their students are already spending their time: on game-focused sites like Twitch and Discord. People have held beach weddings inside Animal Crossing and concerts inside Fortnite. Students at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago and other universities built 3-D replicas of their school settings inside Minecraft, and some held graduation celebrations there.”
At our home, my kids have been living inside of Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox all summer. These are interactive, connective, and FUN places for our kids to play with their friends while they can’t play together.
We also have been adding to our collection of Oculus Quest VR games for when it’s more fun to transport yourself someplace new.
So I asked them what they would recommend for you, and they put together this list…
Our Top 10 VR Apps of the Summer At-Home, as ranked by my kids:
- Puppet Fever: this is like charades, with VR puppets, and you can use an iPad to see the other player putting on the performance. So much fun.
- Job Simulator: when your kids want to spend their free time staffing the counter at a gas station. Scenes from this have been shared widely on TikTok, so your kids will probably know exactly what to do.
- Bait: this is a super fun and relaxing fishing game that after you beat it, you can keep fishing to just chill out (and collect one of every fish)!
- Bogo: if petting and feeding a cute virtual animals sounds fun, it is! (Note: better for younger kids)
- Tilt Brush: a gorgeous 3D painting app from Google that truly redefines the genre of art through VR. If your kids get good enough at this, companies like mine will pay them to do live performance art in this app. Seriously.
- Space Pirate Trainer: if you like shooting robot droids, this is pretty fun. Don’t forget your shield! (Note: better for older kids!)
- Pistol Whip: a shooting game set to music that requires you to dodge, bob and weave. This game makes my kids sore! (Note: better for older kids due to violence!)
- Beat Saber: this rhythm game has you slash targets to the beat. It’s like Star Wars meets Guitar Hero.
- Cave Digger: this is a long-form mining adventure game set in the Wild West with quests, and tools, and trains. Very complex for your kids as they get more familiar with VR.
- YouTube VR: it seems like a pretty straightforward recommendation to watch YouTube videos in VR, but there’s something special about your own personal movie theater watching vids. The kids love it.
You’ll see there aren’t any fear-based games on this list, including those that use heights or jump-scares to frighten users. Those kinds of apps are highly inappropriate for all but the most experienced VR users, and certainly for children, whose brains can’t always differentiate between real and fake in virtual spaces. Practice VR safely with your family, and monitor and moderate its use just like you would with any other technology.
As always, read the reviews, check the ratings, and play the game before you let your kids use these. Every family has their own expectations and experiences, and VR is no joke.
What are the favorite online or VR games to play at your home? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear how you’ve spent your summer.