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Sunday, March 29, 2020
Family Friendly Alexa Games
How to Fight Cabin Fever With Family-Friendly Alexa Games
Amazon’s Alexa happens to have dozens of voice-based games built in (many of them really good; some not so much), and so it is a terrific tool for keeping the kids entertained without resorting to more screen time. To launch one of these games, just ask Alexa to open or play them by name (no need to install a Skill, as you did in the past).
Alexa as Game Master
Here are a few things to keep in mind before you start your Alexa game-playing adventure:
Most games require you to enable a Skill (like an app for Alexa), which you add via voice or by searching through the Skills section in the Alexa app. Many games have in-Skill purchases as upgrades (although all the ones we tested offer some level of free gameplay), so disable voice purchasing before setting your kids loose.
All Alexa Skills are rated to help you find appropriate content. The ratings are All Ages, Guidance Suggested, and Mature; the latter two are indicated on the Skills page (if there’s no rating shown, it’s All Ages).
Guidance Suggested is akin to PG, and in some cases it’s rated that way because account linking is required, not because something has objectionable content. All of the Skills we tested are All Ages or Guidance Suggested, except for one Mature in the Tween/Teens section. If you want to make sure your child doesn’t stumble across anything inappropriate, enable FreeTime, Amazon’s free parental controls, to limit the types of games they can play by age.
If you don’t have an Echo smart speaker yet, check out our guide to the best Alexa speaker. These game Skills will work on any Alexa-enabled device, but those with a screen add visual clues and context to some games.
Good for families
These Skills are all multiplayer, making them especially great for creating family fun with school-age children and older. If you need to take the adult out of the equation, these are fun for just the kids, too, and can also be played solo. (Another slightly more involved option is to try out some board games that work with Alexa—here’s a list of some of our favorites). For family games for younger kids, check out the next section.
You get a small snippet of a popular song and points for guessing the title and/or artist. You play with up to four players and choose music from every decade since the 1960s, making it a good fit for nearly all ages. Fair warning, this one may quickly turn into a dance party!
This is a Jeopardy-like guessing game where every answer is prefaced with “Alexa, you’re ... .” It’s fast-paced and exciting, with lots of questions categories to choose from, including animals and movies. Plus, you can play with up to six people.
Based on the original—and still the best—trivia board game, this is a step above most of the other game Skills out there. But you’ll want to pay the $4 for better question packs, since the 2000s pack you get for free is just inane. This is also one of the few games you can use Echo Buttons (battery-powered LED buzzers that have sadly been discontinued) with, so you feel like you’re in a real game show.
Younger kids (under 5)
One of Alexa’s greatest Skills is that it can interact with your child to keep game time going without the need for direct adult supervision. These simple games will keep the younger ones entertained for a little while. And if they blast through them too quickly, have them say “Alexa I’m bored ...” and the AI will come up with some more suggestions.
This is a game and an energy burner in one. Alexa names an animal, provides some fun facts about it, and then prompts kids to dance around mimicking it—from a penguin waddle and a kangaroo jump to an elephant stomp (hide the breakables!).
Send your tots off to hide somewhere in the room, and Alexa tries to guess where they are. “Are you behind the curtain?” “Are you under the bed?” You can pick how many times Alexa tries, and if it doesn’t get it right, you win. One for the youngest Hide and Seek fans in the family.
This is a simple math game disguised as pretend play. The idea is to get your kids’ entrepreneurial juices flowing by running a virtual lemonade stand. Alexa tells you the weather, and the kids guess how many cups they’ll need to sell and for how much—get it wrong and everything goes sour.
This slimmed-down version of the popular game show can be played only once a day for free (the full game costs $3), but for this money-motivated age group, it’s a real winner, even if you don’t actually get to keep the $1 million.
Based on Nickelodeon’s game show, this is a riot for your school-age kids (and adults) to face off against one another. You can play with teams and tackle grade-level topics in arts, astronomy, science, vocabulary, and math.
When those inevitable meltdowns arrive, call on Judge Lexy as an objective third party to randomly settle sibling squabbles and dole out some fun “punishments” for the guilty (although the “wrap yourself in toilet paper” one may need some modification for current conditions).
This deeply involved, interactive audio adventure requires patience, concentration, and time. With real voice actors, you play as one of five characters from the original RPG game, making decisions and using your voice to advance the story.
Run your own kingdom with this choice-based game. Your servant posits scenarios for you, and each decision has consequences, leading to either utter ruin or lots of money and power. Humorous, a bit bloody (rated Mature for some adult themes), and somewhat historically accurate, this game is engaging enough for even easily bored teenagers.
An exploration puzzler, play this one as a thief, an adventurer, or a noble to uncover the secret of a cursed painting hidden in a castle and stop an undead plague. This game has full, movie-like audio that really draws you in. And even though it’s just a sample right now (the full, premium game is coming soon), there’s enough free entertainment here.