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7 Game Apps to Play with Your Kids

Jason R. Rich, author of My Digital Entertainment for Seniors, suggests seven free or inexpensive game apps for the iPhone/iPad that adults can play with their kids or grandkids, and potentially be evenly matched.
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Among kids, and teens in particular, playing videogames is a hugely popular pastime. It's easy to be immersed in a game for hours at a time, taking on superpowers, exploring imaginary worlds, conquering powerful enemies, or experiencing virtual scenarios to escape the stress of everyday life.

The iPhone and iPad have proven to be ideal portable gaming platforms, since these devices are battery-powered and Internet-enabled, can display highly detailed graphics, play music and realistic sound effects, and allow interaction with the game via the device's touchscreen. The App Store offers tens of thousands of unique, challenging, and entertaining gaming experiences.

By tapping the iPhone or iPad's Internet connectivity, some games allow players to compete against other human players (as opposed to computer-controlled opponents), who are experiencing the same game on their own mobile devices. These opponents can be located nearby, or anywhere else on the planet that offers an Internet connection. Among these multiplayer games are many that parents or grandparents can easily enjoy with their kids or grandkids, helping to bridge the generational gap.

The following sections describe (in alphabetical order) seven popular games for the iPhone and iPad that are suitable for people over the age of 10. These games offer unlimited, nonviolent playability, and most allow for players to be relatively evenly matched, regardless of age.

Candy Crush Saga

One of the great things about fast-action, arcade-style puzzle games like the free Candy Crush Saga app (see Figure 1) is that learning to play them takes just minutes, yet mastering them is relatively challenging, as each game level becomes increasingly more difficult. Games like this also offer unlimited replay.

While Candy Crush Saga is a one-player game, scores and accomplishments can be shared online via social media, such as on Facebook. The concept behind Candy Crush Saga is simple. Displayed on the screen are a series of various colored candies. Using finger swipe gestures, the player needs to line up three or more identical candies to make them disappear from the screen. Each level offers a specific goal in terms of how the game board needs to be cleared, or what objectives need to be accomplished before the timer runs out. Each level becomes increasingly more challenging.

Figure 1 Candy Crush Saga for the iPhone or iPad is a single-player game, but it becomes competitive when you compare your scores and accomplishments with those of other players.

Power-ups can be earned, purchased (via an in-app purchase), or given as gifts from other players. What's great about this game and its free sequel, Candy Crush Soda Saga, is that kids, teens, and adults can enjoy it. Either game can be played for a few minutes at a time or hours on end, without becoming boring or too repetitive.

Crossy Road

Somewhat reminiscent of the classic coin-op arcade game Frogger, the objective of the free Crossy Road app (see Figure 2) is simply to help a chicken (or another virtual character) cross a busy road that's chockfull of moving obstacles. This arcade-style game requires perfect timing and plenty of practice to master.

Figure 2 The goal of Crossy Road is to help your virtual character travel across a busy road filled with fast-moving obstacles.

A version of this game is available for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, and when two devices are linked to the same Wi-Fi network or hotspot, it's possible to play head-to-head against another person. The graphics in this game may not be as detailed and photorealistic as you'd find in other iPhone/iPad games, but the core gameplay is excellent.

Heads Up!

Based on a game created by comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, Heads Up! ($0.99) is a group game that combines trivia with charades, and it allows two teams to compete head-to-head using a single iPhone. The game begins by choosing a category, such as blockbuster movies, accents and impressions, or animals gone wild. Each category includes a "deck" of virtual game cards. There are dozens of categories, some of which cater specifically to kids, teens, and families.

As the game begins, one member of a team holds the iPhone up to his or her forehead, with the screen pointing outward (so the person can't see what's displayed). As the clock begins to count down, one word or phrase at a time is displayed for the rest of the team's players (see Figure 3).

The team's other players must use charades (body language) or give verbal clues, resulting in the person holding the iPhone guessing the word or phrase displayed on the phone. The goal is to get as many correct answers as possible before the clock runs out. Each correct answer is worth one point.

The object is to earn as many points as possible during a turn. Once the timer runs out, another team takes control of the iPhone, attempting to beat the opposing team's score.

Figure 3 One person on a team must guess the word or phrase that's displayed on the iPhone, based on clues and charades-style body movements offered by teammates.

The rules are simple, although the challenges become more difficult as teams progress through each category. The game offers many hours of playability, thanks to the many different card decks available within the game. Heads Up! is a great party game, or it can be played anytime with four or more players of almost any age (who can read).

One fun feature of this game is that you can record gameplay by using the iPhone's built-in camera and microphone. Watching instant replays provides light-hearted entertainment all by itself.

Madden NFL Mobile

The Madden series of videogames from EA Sports continues to be among the most popular and authentic NFL football-simulation games available for any videogame system or mobile device. The game includes realistic re-creations of real-life players, teams, and stats, allowing gamers to manage their favorite teams through individual games or an entire virtual NFL season.

By allowing the free Madden NFL Mobile app (see Figure 4) to access the Internet and link with an existing Facebook, Game Center, or Google account, you can compete head-on in real time against another human player, who controls his or her own NFL team.

Figure 4 Madden NFL Mobile is a realistic football-simulation game that re-creates all of the players from all of the NFL teams, allowing each gamer to manage and control a favorite team.

The more the players know about NFL football, the better they'll be at playing Madden NFL Mobile, which combines football strategy with perfect timing as you control your team's onscreen actions. Like many other realistic sports-simulation games, this one will appeal to fans of all ages.

Also available from the App Store are sports-simulation games that faithfully re-create just about every professional sport, including football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, NASCAR racing, tennis, golf, wrestling, boxing, and bowling.

Monopoly and Other Board Games

For generations, a popular family pastime was playing board games. While today's generation of kids and teens tend to prefer videogames, the iPhone and iPad have some faithful re-creations of classic multiplayer board games, such as Monopoly (see Figure 5).

The iPad edition of Monopoly ($4.99) includes a Tabletop Mode that allows one iPad to be used to experience a two- or four-player game, with all players gathered around a single tablet. Another option is the Local Network Play mode, which allows multiple players to particulate in a single game, each using their own iPad. The tablets establish a wireless link via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. If not enough human players are available, computer-controlled opponents can be created and added to the game.

Figure 5 Monopoly for the iPad is a multiplayer game that re-creates the classic board game, adding animated graphics, sound effects, and a computer-controlled banker to the game experience.

All of the rules, iconic game pieces, and famous geographic locations (Boardwalk, Park Place, Pennsylvania Avenue, and the like) are included in the game. Monopoly can be played by people of all ages. If it's been a while since you last played the board game, select the Teacher Mode, which will remind you of the rules.

Many other classic board games, ranging from chess, checkers, and backgammon to The Game of Life ($0.99), Scrabble (free to $9.99), Jenga (free), Trivial Pursuit (free to $4.99), and Yahtzee (free and up), are available as multiplayer games for the iPhone and/or iPad. All are authentic re-creations, but take advantage of the mobile device's ability to display animated graphics and play music and sound effects, bringing these board games into the 21st century.

UNO & Friends

The classic and colorful UNO card game, enjoyed by people of all ages for decades, has been re-created on the iPhone and iPad as a multiplayer game that allows people to play individual games or compete in UNO tournaments (via the Internet).

The free UNO & Friends app (see Figure 6) includes an easy-to-follow tutorial to help all players understand the rules. The game involves matching cards in your hand with same-colored or same-numbered/named cards from other players that are placed in the center of the game table. Each game can take just minutes to play, while multiplayer tournaments can keep participants challenged and entertained for hours at a time.

Figure 6 Instead of playing with a traditional card deck, UNO & friends can be experienced as a colorful and animated game on an iPhone or iPad.

What's great about UNO & Friends is that the game can be played by young children and adults alike, and the interactive elements and animated graphics offered by the iPhone/iPad edition make it even more appealing to those who have grown up playing videogames, as opposed to traditional card games or board games.

Words With Friends

One of the great things about Words With Friends (free) is that it's very much like Scrabble, but it's designed to be played against other people via the Internet (see Figure 7). This can include people you know or total strangers. Because this is a turn-based game, it's possible to engage in multiple games at once, against different opponents. It's also the perfect game to play against people you want to connect and interact with, but who are located far away. During each game, you can conduct real-time conversations with opponents via in-game text messaging.

Figure 7 Words With Friends is one of the most popular multiplayer games available for the iPhone or iPad.

Just as with Scrabble, the better the vocabulary of each player, the more points they'll potentially be able to earn by playing longer and more complicated words. As words are played, the game's built-in dictionary can display the definition of words and pronounce them correctly, giving Words With Friends an educational component.

Many More Gaming Experiences Await

By playing games with your kids or grandkids, you can partake in an entertainment-oriented experience that they enjoy. During gameplay, you have the opportunity to engage in conversation and experience quality time with the young people in your life, who might otherwise shut you out in favor of immersing themselves in digital entertainment on their own (or with their online friends).

To discover other gaming experiences for the iPhone or iPad, launch the App Store app and tap on the Featured > Categories > Games options; then choose a category of games that appeal to you. Game categories include Action, Adventure, Arcade, Board, Card, Casino, Family, Music, Puzzle, Racing, Role Playing, Simulation, Sports, Strategy, Trivia, and Word. If you're looking for games to experience with kids or teens, start by exploring what's offered within the Board, Family, Puzzle, and Word categories, although suitable games can be found within all gaming genres.

Jason R. Rich (http://www.jasonrich.com) is the author of Que's iPad and iPhone Tips and Tricks, Fifth Edition, which covers how to use iOS 9 on all of the various iPhone and iPad models, including the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, and iPad Pro. He is also the author of many other Que books, including My Digital Photography for Seniors, My GoPro Hero Camera, My Digital Entertainment for Seniors, and Apple Watch and iPhone Fitness Tips and Tricks. Follow Jason R. Rich on Twitter or Instagram at @JasonRich7.

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