Non-violent PC games

by tirial

In the era of Gears of War and similar it can be hard to find non-violent games for children or simply because you don't enjoy them. Here are a few I enjoyed.

While nowadays children need to be familiar with computers, at least in the US and Europe, the content of many games can be objectionable to parents. Ratings are of limited use as what earns a 15 or 18 rating can vary significantly, and popular games are normally action adventure with shooting.

The computer games listed below will have limited or no violence, should be suitable for children and entertaining enough for adults that they managed to keep me playing until the end.

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Classifying a computer game as non-violent

Computer games without violence

Rather than listing CandyCrush, Tetris, etc. I am looking for games with plot, storyline, and characters.

My classification for non-violence is that there are no deliberate killings or acts of violence during the course of play by the PCs or NPCs. Any deaths would be of natural causes. Sadly this does rule out many of the mystery and detective genres, although I am allowing investigative titles where the player has to gather evidence.

I am also removing guns from gameplay as far as possible, and will mention when one is involved in the script - e.g. "the police officer arrests the bad guy at gunpoint, but doesn't fire".

The player will most likely be unarmed, there are no rotating auto-turrets etc. and the players and other characters will ideally have no weapons. I'm also removing games where deliberate property damage or committing crimes is the focus, so no Thief etc.

Ironcially even early games involved smashing windows - anyone else remember Paperboy?
When I Was a Kid Snorg Tees Plastic Sign
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So are even titles like this out there?

So are titles like this even out there? Yes, and if you know where to look, there are a lot. Are they worth playing? Definitely! Here are a few of the better ones.

Mortmer Beckett - an enjoyable series

Finding misplaced objects through time.

There are an entire series of these games. I have only played the first two, The Secrets of Spooky Manor, and The Time Paradox.

The secrets of Spooky Manor involves finding his uncle's mansion flooded with ghosts and finding the parts of the machine to close the door and stop them appearing, as well as finding what has happened to his uncle.

The Time Paradox leaves Mortimer thrown through time to find the parts of a Time Bomb - a device that his uncle can use to close a rift in time under the manor. The bomb is not for use against people, but might break the strict no violence rules just by being mentioned. There's no other violence.

Mortimer Beckett games for Download

Download for PC or Android
Mortimer Beckett and the Secrets of Spooky Manor - PC

After receiving a letter from his Uncle Jerome about a strange device, a missing starter unit, and an unidentified foe, Mortimer sets off on a seek-and-find adventure in his Unc...

$19.99  $3.29

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Mortimer Beckett and the Time Paradox

Mortimer Beckett's back for an all-new, eye-popping adventure in Mortimer Beckett and the Time Paradox! Join Mortimer for a wild trip through time to find a scattered Time Bomb,...

$19.99  $0.01

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Gameplay is by hidden objects - in each area there are useful items and devices hidden and you have to travel from location to location using them to solve people's problems. The time paradox is the better game, as it is slightly more refined with a better interface (they solved a few problems with the first one) and easier.

These are fun games - neither took me more than a few hours, but would take longer for a child. Hints are available to avoid too much frustration, and multiple children can play together at spotting objects. Better still, on the PC at least, they are cheap at a couple of dollars each.

Ages: Spooky Manor is rated for ages 7+. Time Paradox is for 3+. Other in the series may vary.

Platform: I have the PC versions on CD, but these are available for download on Android, PC, and even for the Nintendo Wii.

Wilkie Collins' book has been adapted to many other media, including film, although modern audiences may have different opinions of who the real villains were.
THE MOONSTONE, David Manners, Phyllis Barry, John Davidson, 1934
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The Moonstone

An Adaptation of Wilkie Collins' Novel

The Moonstone is a detective story, based on the famous novel by Wilkie Collins. The moonstone diamond Rachel Verinder inherited on her birthday has been stolen, and you are the detective brought in to find it.  By searching each area you can find evidence that leads to new suspects and eventually find the thief and diamond.

Although hints can avoid too much frustration some of these objects are well hidden, and younger children might need a hand. Also, as the item's names are written, reading skills are needed although some of the more obscure ones could e educational.

The ending has been changed so it lacks the murder mentioned in the book, making this rather non-violent, although there is - obviously - a theft, and mentions of laudnum and terminal illness.

Ages: 3+ I think slightly older children might enjoy it more...

Platform: PC.

The Moonstone

Mystery Masterpiece: The Moonstone

An ancient and priceless piece of jewelry, the Moonstone, has been stolen, and it's up to you to track it down!

eGames  / $9.99  $0.93

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Wild Earth: African Safari / Wild Earth Africa

Hunting in Africa as it should be done - with cameras!

This is an action game, set out in the wilds of Africa. Working for a magazine, you stalk, hunt and shot wildlife as any naturalist should - with a camera. 

There is natural violence in this game - lions stalk zebras, approach too close and an elephant will charge - but no gore. There's no blood, and you never see the creatures eat, but threat displays are impressive nevertheless. The voiceover (in game, your editor and driver) explain each animal's behaviour, making it a very immersive game, and it shows you your articles afterwards with your photos in place.

The only issue parents might have is that I seem to remember the birds and the bees come up on one occassion, handled and explained in a mature and educational fashion.

I've only played the PC version, but it is also available on the Wii. The PC Version gives players the ability to download and share their photos, adding a competitive option that partly makes up for its lack of multiplayer. It's a nice social bonus that gives good replay value to it.

Sponsored by Animal Planet this is a very good and largely underestimated game. It is informational without being boring, challenging without being ridiculously hard, and fun.

Age: 3+

Platform: PC and Wii


Wild Earth: Safari Africa

Wild Earth: African Safari - Nintendo Wii

Explore the wild and capture its natural beauty on film in Wild Earth: African Safari for the Wii, a unique simulation based on the hit PC game from Super X Studios. Take award-...

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Wild Earth Africa

Have you ever been worrying about computer-addicted kids playing all too realistic ego shooter games? Are you, by any chance, in a situation to have to buy a gift for these kids...

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Veronica Rivers

The Veronica Rivers series are another series of hidden object games. I played the first, Veronica Rivers: Portals to the Unknown. The lead character is a rescue pilot on the icecap, sent in to rescue a group of geologists. When she arrives, they've vanished through a mysterious portal. She goes after them.

Notable for a very capable female lead, this game is also fun because you are looking for items to solve problems rather than simply because you've been given a random list.

I only managed to play the first as my rather elderly laptop didn't have the memory for the second.

Age: 7+

Platforms: PC

The Azada Series

Literary Puzzles for the younger age group.

Azada is another game series, although it is heavily slanted towards magic, which some parents might find objectionable.

Set in a private library, your uncle has become trapped in a magic book, and needs to be rescued. The magic you need has been scattered through the library books, leaving you visiting a range of famous stories to gather the clues you need.

In the second game you are doing the same thing to collect the pieces needed to find and defeat the culprit who trapped him. With characters like Sleeping Beauty and Robinson Crusoe making requests, this is an amusing game.

The first Azada contains no violence, the second contains an ending with a genie that some parents might object to since - let's be honest here - it's an old-school djinn, a.k.a. a demon. It doesn't do anything, staying as static as the other backgrounds, but this is a courtesy warning.

Age: 3+ Varying on game

Platform: PC (CD or download), Android Download

The Azada series on Amazon

Azada (Full)

Big Fish Games
Only $1.99

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Azada: Ancient Magic Collector's Edition

Big Fish Games
Only $0.00

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Big Fish

I should probably mention here that Big Fish are a game distributor which host many of these types of game. They are a good place to look for new titles, and provide many as downloads with full support.

However I find them expensive, and with many games available second hand on CD more cheaply, I tend to get mine there. I'd suggest sampling a few second-hand before signing up to a game plan.

On the other hand, their games are very good.

Drawn: The Painted Tower

An absolutely glorious puzzle game

Rescuing a young girl from a cursed tower is tricky, but when she has the power to enter paintings and bring them to life, you will need the assistance of her painted friends to save her.

This is a dark game: the tower is falling apart and the remains of her paintings are all over the place. Unlikely most games, it views this as the problem you are solving, bringing life back to the tower as you fix the problems. It has a lovely feature where objects can be taken from one painting to another to repair them, and into the real world to solve problems.

There's no violence, only a threat right at the end...and it ends on a cliffhanger.

It's probably the best game of its type, although there are a few scares, and the artwork is outstanding.

The second game picks up immediately after it, but my aging PC could not play Part Two. When I get a chance it may be the first game I install on my desktop just to find out what happens.

There are two more games in the series: Drawn: Dark Flight, the sequel, and Drawn:Trail of Shadows, a prequel, but I haven't played them because of the issue above.

Age: 3+

Platform: PC, Android

Drawn to Life

Drawn to Life takes players to the next level of interaction and creativity on the Nintendo DS. Your exact drawings populate the game, and no tedious animating or image manipula...

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Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter - Nintendo DS

Once again, the Raposa need your help to save their civilization! Drawn to Life returns to the DS in an all new journey, featuring even more ways to customize your hero and your...

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Drawn: The Painted Tower - PC

In Drawn, the newest adventure series from Big Fish Games, the player is pulled into a dark and mysterious tale. Legend tells of a child queen who will one day rise to give hope...

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An Honorary Mention: Murder, She Wrote

Solving murders, daytime TV style

You play as the famous author/amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher. There are five murders to be solved, in locations ranging from Cabot Cove to London. It captures the feel of the television show exactly, and there is little in this anyone could object to.

This technically breaks the "no murders" rule, but the deaths don't take place onscreen and there is no gore, so I have decided to include this. While there are murders to be solved, obviously, the game keeps to everything to the standards of the daytime television show. The voice acting is good, the plots entertaining, and even the artwork is good. This is a game with a story that will keep you hooked - when I finished it I went back to play it again!

Apparently it also has a sequel but I haven't played that.

Murder She Wrote - PC

When murder rears its ugly head in Cabot Cove, players join Jessica Fletcher and her insatiable curiosity to solve the mystery in Murder She Wrote. Based on the beloved televisi...

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Murder, She Wrote [Download]

When murder rears its ugly head in Cabot Cove, players join Jessica Fletcher and her insatiable curiosity to solve the mystery in Murder, She Wrote! Based on the beloved TV show...

View on Amazon

In Conclusion

There are many games out there that are non-violent: the entire puzzle genre, many hidden object games and even some action and RPG adventures. The real problem is finding them, and I hope this article helped.

If you have any other titles you would like to add, please let me know in the comments.

Updated: 02/28/2015, tirial
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