When you're looking to suggest games to other families, multiplayer games and co-operative games are usually the first things you reach for. All the major consoles have a great selection to choose from and they're often the best way to get families to play together. They aren't the only way to have a shared gaming experience though. More recently, my family have found single player games can offer just as much, if not more, especially when it comes to creating a dialog around games.
When members of a family share the same passion for a single player game, especially those that give you the freedom to explore a vast open world or universe, it provokes conversation around your own personal journey and experiences and how they compare.
Of course when Mum or Dad get stuck, the kids are usually on hand to give you pointers.
As games consoles and PCs become ever more powerful, the worlds they can create become ever larger and more varied and No Man's Sky is a prime example of this. While the game had it's struggles on release, it has been quietly expanded and improved, providing an excellent family friendly experience.
Primarily a space exploration game, No Man's Sky drops each player into a random solar system somewhere deep in it's vast universe. Each solar system has similar threads running through it, but each is filled with a diverse collection of planets and moons that provide their own varied challenges. It's not just a random experience however, as there is intelligence built into the game's systems that provide players with shared experiences in terms of it's story, "quests" and progression.
My son and I chose a chilled out exploration experience.
Players have the freedom, once they earn it, to go wherever they please. If you can see a star, you can fly to it. Orbit a planet you can land on it. Spot a funky looking spaceship at the local trading post, you can buy it. Of course the game limits you in how fast you can do all these things, as resources must be mined and money accrued to upgrade the various aspects of your experience. Ultimately though, the universe is your oyster and that freedom breeds conversation.
No Man's Sky can be played in a variety of ways, in much the same way as Minecraft. My son and I chose a chilled out exploration experience, but equally, a more challenging survival mode is available. Each mode will obviously bring up different talking points, but regardless of the one you plump for, you're sure to be quizzing each other on your daily progress expanding your base, getting that cool new spaceship or travelling to the centre of the galaxy. Of course when Mum or Dad get stuck, the kids are usually on hand to give you pointers, although it's usually the other way around...honest.