Kids want all sorts of virtual reality (VR) games. Some wish to slash swords in an Oculus Rift S, like in Fruit Ninja or Beat Saber. Others may want to learn how to cook, such as Diner Duo on the HTC VIVE. From those who play VR for the first time, to those who enjoy a good puzzle, the best VR games for kids can teach new skills.
Of course, there are some restrictions to what a kid can play. Violence should not be allowed, or any other kind of explicit content. But there is a world of VR content which can help nurture, teach, and show new experiences to children playing in their headsets.
The Immersive Wire has compiled a list of experiences, based on the headsets available. And if you are interested in immersive technologies beyond VR and children, check out the free weekly newsletter. It looks at how the metaverse is impacting everything from business to the arts, investigating the area beyond VR:
Can VR be dangerous for kids?
Headset makers agree that only older children, over the age of 12, should play in VR. Scientific evidence indicates that, if children use VR for a while, it could rink long-term eye damage. In fact, HTC recommends that children should not wear the headset at all. That said, in short bursts and with supervision, younger children can play in VR as well. Like with all matters in life, small doses of strenuous activity will not lead to long-term harm.
Also, some VR headsets let children run around while swinging their arms. Fists can lunge and hit walls, controllers may fly and smash winders, and kids may fall and smack to the floor. As such, parents must clear the room before putting a headset on their child.
Once the parents take precautions for the safety of their children, then VR can be a fun bonding activity.
Which VR headset is best for kids?
Like choosing between Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, there is a choice between platforms for VR kids games. These choices usually come down to personal preference, finances, and software.
Additionally, safety is an issue. Depending on the home, some headsets are more suitable than others.
The Google Cardboard is what it says in the name. It is a very basic headset that can cost very little and can get knocked about the home without a terrible loss to the bank account. It just needs a phone slipped in, and kids can enjoy the experience.
However, since it is so cheap, then the experiences are comparatively weak when compared to other VR headsets. The lack of control method also means the only games available are passive viewing experiences, rather than interactive games. Google Cardboard is the cheapest, minimum option for immersive content.
Games available: Virtual Reality on Youtube.
The Oculus Quest is a standalone VR headset released Spring 2019. The headset requires no cables or external trackers, giving players the freedom to bring the headset anywhere for fun and games. The controls are also a step up from the Oculus Go. As a powerful PC is not required to play, it is the most accessible form of VR available.
While the Oculus Quest has a lower price-point, it sacrifices graphics for accessibility. As it runs on mobile graphics, it is not up to bar with its brothers and sisters. But for those who want an intuitive and fun experience for less cash, it does a great job.
Games available: Fruit Ninja VR, Tilt Brush, Job Simulator, Virtual Reality on Youtube, Angry Birds VR, Moss.
Oculus Rift S, PlayStation VR and HTC VIVE
All these headsets have been put together because they are very similar (at least when choosing VR games for kids). All three headsets need to be connected to PC or PlayStation to run; in turn, they provide the most compelling VR experiences available. For those who want the best graphics or virtual worlds, the Oculus RIft S, PSVR, and HTC VIVE give the power.
They are also the most expensive, as they both require expensive external computers to run the software. Some families may also not want to run games on the family computer, which is why standalone options, such as the Oculus Go or Quest, may fit families better. If that does not matter, then they provide the most in-depth experiences around.
Games available: Fruit Ninja VR (Oculus and PSVR), Tilt Brush (Oculus), Job Simulator (all platforms), Virtual Reality on YouTube (all platforms), Candy Kingdom VR (Oculus and HTC), Fantastic Contraption (Oculus and HTC), Angry Birds VR (Oculus, HTC and PSVR), Moss (Oculus and HTC).
Virtual Reality on YouTube
While not strictly a game, this is the most straightforward way for kids to enjoy VR. All that is needed is a Google Cardboard, a compatible phone, and the YouTube app. Kids can then use the device to watch immersive videos on topics from space to the human body.
Recently governments have worried about explicit content on the platform, and they are right to worry. But YouTube also features playlists of child-friendly videos designed for users to just sit back and watch. This one, in particular, has been designed for kids; turn it on, and leave it rolling.
Virtual Reality on YouTube is the simplest, most basic form of immersive content. The other items on the list take a further step.
Available on: Google Cardboard, Oculus Quest, Oculus Go, Oculus Rift S, HTC VIVE (in their respective app stores).
Fruit Ninja VR
Who doesn’t want to slice fruit with a sword? Family-friendly and fun to play, the kid takes the position of a samurai who slices fruit flung at them via a robot. The experience is great for learning hand-eye coordination, while also being a blast to play.
Notably, the gameplay leans towards fast, short sessions of slashing. This makes Fruit Ninja VR an excellent game for short bouts, making it perfect for a quick blast before taking off the VR headset. As the VR headset connects to the screen, families can watch how the kid performs as well, as a live audience.
For fruit lovers (and haters), slashing through many bananas at once is strangely satisfying. The game is a must-buy for owners of VR.
Available on: Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift S, PlayStation VR.
Some families want to cultivate an artistic flair in their kids. This can take the form of drawing, or making clay monsters at school. For others, it may be painting, from rich oils to bright acrylics. Tilt Brush, by Google, provides a 3D space for children to practice and hone their skills.
Rather than be restricted into two dimensions, users can paint in 3D. This means creations which are not usually possible, such as trees, can be brought to life. Paint is also not rigid or unmoving; it can flow, or sparkle, if they so choose.
As an engine for creativity, Tilt Brush has no equal. Because of its accessibility and fun, this is one of the best VR games for kids.
Available on: Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift S, HTV VIVE.
ASTRO BOT: Rescue Mission
To the surprise of many when it came out, ASTRO BOT is one of the best PlayStation VR games released on the console. A mix of Super Mario and Moss, the player controls a little robot searching the world for its friends and defeating evil monsters.
The game has been built for the VR headset from the ground up, fully using the DualShock controller to interact with the virtual world. From shooting objects to getting a new perspective, the game is a delight to play. Some walls are even destroyed by, well, headbutting them.
If the family owns a PlayStation 4, then ASTRO BOT is one of the best games to buy on the system. With charming visuals and fun gameplay, it is a blast for everyone, at any age, to play.
Available on: PlayStation VR.
Star Wars has crossed so many generations that, for many families, multiple members remember pretending to be a Jedi master. Whether holding torches or wearing bathrobes, Star Wars left a hefty impression.
So imagine giving a kid two lightsabers, and asking them to chop through blocks to the beat of the music. Like slicing through butter, it feels satisfying to slice blocks in half to the beat of heavy songs. Sessions are also as long as the songs themselves so kids play Beat Saber in short chunks.
In the end, wielding lightsabers is a lot of fun. But packaged with the game is a fun rhythm experience which kids can get a lot of joy out of. Beat Saber is one of the most popular VR games out there, and for good reasons.
Available on: Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift S, PlayStation VR, HTC VIVE.
One day, people will get a job. Whether it will be in finance, or retail, or coding, there will be a time when people will reach for a full-time job to pay the bills. Job Simulator is not a realistic portrayal of adult life. But it is hilarious.
In a world where robots simulate what humans do, Job Simulator provides a playground for people to play around in, whether it is cooking, typing in a (very) simple computer, or even photocopying items. The game is dumb, entertaining fun, designed for experimentation and laughs.
The game provides a variety of levels from an office to a kitchen, so kids can choose wisely. Job Simulator is for those who just want to let go of reality, and dive head-first into the wonders of absurdity.
Available on: HTC VIVE, Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift S, PlayStation VR.
Candy Kingdom VR
As sweet as the cakes that inhabit the virtual world, only with more shooting. Armed with two guns that can shoot treats, the aim is to rack up high score by shooting targets and gingerbread men. The game features no graphic violence; just chill on a train, and aim down the sights.
As expected, the game is designed for kids. Bright, colourful, and very easy to play, perhaps to the point of boredom. When players hit the targets, it makes a loud and satisfying sound, though it becomes grating as it appears each and every time an apple hits a target. Like many games, the game was designed to be entertaining for kids, but less so for other age demographics.
Available on: Oculus Rift S and HTC VIVE.
All kids like to build when they are younger. This may be with LEGO, blocks, or with sticks and glue. Then, naturally, kids want to demolish their work and watch their construction crumble. While the latter isn’t directly doable, Fantastic Contraption captures the heart of building strange things, with an added immersion.
The aim is simple; get the pink ball to the pink goal, using gravity and work to reach the end. Though simple, the gameplay keeps kids going with short, satisfying courses. It even has a pink cat which players can pet while building. Oh, and the player is a dinosaur as well, of course.
The game is not deep, complex, or ground-breaking. But it is not meant to be; it is a little bit of fun with friends and family.
Available on: Oculus Rift S, HTC VIVE.
Ever been a fan of Stuart Little, or Ratatouille? For the kids that are, Moss is a game where the player leads the hero across a treacherous landscape to safety. The game radiates Miyazaki vibes as well as cute and friendly gameplay with the scarfed hero – only with more monsters.
Start in a small, peaceful village under a leafy tree, then navigate through a river on a raft. The game oozes style and fun and is a great way to pass the time with children. The game also features bugs, so kids may want to avoid the game if they genuinely fear creepy crawlers.
Moss first appeared on the PlayStation VR, and was a great hit. Now the game expanded into other platforms, more players can play one of the best VR games for kids.
Available on: Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest, HTC VIVE.
Angry Birds VR
Angry Birds is a franchise juggernaut. Firstly it dominated mobile platforms, which people played while on their daily commute or in the bathroom. Then it becomes a film franchise, with not one, but two full-length feature films in cinemas. Now the games can be played in VR, providing fun entertainment for kids.
The game is effectively a mobile port, from a different perspective. Instead of using a finger to fling targets, players wield a slingshot to launch the tiny birds into objects. Then, players can watch with glee as structures tumble, along with the green pigs chilling on them.
Angry Birds VR is not a game that will revolutionise the VR world. But for most players, it doesn’t need to be; it is just a fun way to pass the time.
What are the best VR games for kids?
In terms of diversity, the major headsets have the advantage. The Oculus Rift S, HTC VIVE, and PlayStation VR all feature fun and entertaining games for kids and their families. Fantastic Contraptions lets kids build, while Candy Kingdom VR lets them blast away enemies.
Yet their reliance on PCs hold them back. For families who want ease of access and play, the Oculus Quest provides the software and the capabilities for fun and play. The headset also features some of the best VR games for kids, from Angry Birds VR to Moss. The Oculus Quest is much more compelling a purchase than others in the market right now.
Ultimately, the purchase of a VR headset is a significant investment. Families investigating the best purchase wants to balance price, accessibility, and safely. With the Oculus Quest, the balance can be struck.