5 Video Games That Make Your Kids Think

By Mason Cohen August 16, 2018

It’s August, which means it's back to school time. But most kids don’t want to admit that summer is almost over. You can trick them into waking up that school part of their brain, though! These five video games make you think, even while you're having fun.


Terraria is a 2D survival game in which the player starts with nothing and must mine, build, and craft in order to unlock awesome items, weapons, pets, and tools. It might sound similar to Minecraft, but Terraria offers far more variety and complexity than Minecraft. 

Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating: Terraria has an ESRB rating of T for teen (mostly based on maturity of content as opposed to complexity.) 

My rating:  I would recommend Terraria for kids 13 and up because of its complexity.

Pokemon Trading Card Game

Loads of kids love collecting Pokemon cards. But these cards are for more than show. There’s a very fun game associated with them in which players use strategy and their favorite Pokemon to defeat their opponents. The game also has an online version, which is free to download and play. It also has a great tutorial to introduce new players to the game. 

ESRB rating: It boasts a modest ESRB rating of E for everyone.

My rating: I would recommend the game for players 10 and up (if your kid loves Pokemon, there’s no reason not to check it out, but there are quite a few rules). 

Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable is a very niche game I recently fell in love with. You play as a man named Stanley, who works in an office, and one day all of your co-workers disappear. It’s coated in intriguing themes of mystery, philosophy, and storytelling. It can be rather boring if you have a short attention span, but for anyone who loves storytelling as a concept, this game will give you a lot to think about. 

ESRB rating: This game has not been rated by the ESRB. 

My rating: I’d recommend this game for players ages 14 and up, but -- repeat -- it’s not a game for everyone. 

Monument Valley 1 & 2

This series of mobile puzzle games is great for all ages and my top pick on this list for adults to get into themselves. The game involves simple controls, a unique art style, and creating level design and puzzles to solve.

ESRB rating: ESRB has rated it E for everyone, safe for junior and grandma alike. 

My rating: I would recommend this game for players ages 8 and up, though some of the later levels may become difficult. 

Portal 1 & 2

This is the only game series on the list I haven’t gotten around to playing myself, but its immense sales and reputation lend itself to the title of best puzzle game ever. The player must use a multitude of tools and objects to maneuver through a science lab, while observed by robotic overseers. 

ESRB rating: ESRB gives it a rating of 10-plus for use of minor explosions and language. 

My rating: I would say, given its complexity, players 13 and up would get the most enjoyment out of this game.

Mason Cohen is a 17-year-old game enthusiast living in Sag Harbor, N.Y. He will be a senior in high school this year.