Tip No. 1: Check the ratings
Video game boxes come with ratings designed specifically to help parents know which titles are appropriate for which ages.
Little Big Planet Karting (PlayStation 3, Rated E) — All of the LittleBigPlanet games are an absolute joy to play not to mention very family friendly.
Skylanders Giants (all platforms, Rated E10+) — There’s no other way to put it: the E10+ rated Skylanders games — “Skylanders” and the new “Skylanders: Giants” — are kid gaming genius.
Tip No. 2. Be careful when buying games based on movies or TV shows
If your kid loves, loves, LOVES a particular movie or TV show, they may think they’ll also love the game based on that movie or TV show.
Kinect Sesame Street TV (Xbox 360, Rated EC) — Talk about your beloved TV programming. “Kinect Sesame Street TV” is made for the very youngest people in your household.
LEGO Lord of the Rings (all game machines, Rated: E10+) — Like the “LEGO: Star Wars,” “LEGO: Indiana Jones” and “LEGO: Harry Potter” games that came before, this LEGO-fied action-adventure game based on the “The Lord of the Rings” movies is a ton of family-friendly fun.
Tip No. 3. Consider some of the great older games your kid hasn’t played
Your child doesn’t necessarily need the latest and greatest (and most expensive) video games to be happy this holiday.
Kirby’s Dream Collection (Wii, Rated E) — As Nintendo president Satoru Iwata told me in an interview earlier this year, the excellent and long-running Kirby game series was specifically designed as a way to open up gaming to even the youngest and newest of players.
Tip No. 4. Consider buying a used game
Speaking of saving money buying used is a great way to go when purchasing any video game.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii, Rated E) — If you haven’t had the chance (or the money) to upgrade from a Wii game machine to Nintendo’s new Wii U machine, not to worry.
Tip No. 5. Sometimes the best kid’s games are not necessarily made for kids
By this, I don’t necessarily mean you should let your children play Mature-rated games, I’m just saying that you don’t always need to shop specifically for “children’s” video games when you’re looking for a good game for your child. Some of the best games out there are enjoyable, appropriate and were made for players of ALL ages.
Journey (PlayStation 3, E10+) — This isn’t a kid’s game per se, but it’s still a great game to introduce to young players.