Computer games my mum might like?
February 6, 2010 3:57 AM   Subscribe

I need recommendations for computer games suitable for my mum, who is getting on in years.

My mum is in her mid 70s. She is still a beginner when it comes to computers. She knows how to send and read email, how to browse the web, how to work Windows Media Player to listen to MP3s and watch AVIs. Her hands are a bit arthritic, so she can't always get the mouse-clicking thing happening, but overall she's not bad.

She wants to play a few different games to keep her mind active. She got tired of solitaire and the standard Windows games. Her old PC had a game called Super TextTwist (from this site, possibly), but that PC succumbed to a mixture of malware and grandkids.

I'd like to find some games for her to play. Ideally they would be freeware games that I can download and install on her PC. I'm willing to spend money, though, provided that it's a one-off, and not some kind of subscription.

I'd like to stay away from browser-based games, as I've convinced her to stick with Firefox + NoScript to stave off browser exploits, and these sites tend to use a lot of scripting and/or Flash. Browser-based gaming sites also tend to force advertising on you (the kind you have to sit through before you can start playing), and I'd like to spare mum the tedium if possible.

Mostly, however, I'd like to get her some games that she finds fun, interesting and mentally stimulating. She enjoyed Super TextTwist for those reasons, but the GameHouse version I linked to above is a bit too intrusive and pushy about trying to get you to pay for upgrades and so on. Not cool. Is there a better version out there?

She doesn't like games which are based on speed, as they make her flustered. She prefers games where she can take her time to think.

She has a Dell Optiplex GX260 with a 1.8Ghz CPU and 1Gb RAM with Windows XP Pro, to give you some idea of her system capabilities.
posted by Ritchie to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Is she mechanically minded / does she like physics? Armadillo Run is great fun.
posted by jon1270 at 4:01 AM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Kyodai Mahjong, but then you will have to pay for rehab because it's the tile-based equivalent to crack.
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:13 AM on February 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

Could you put in exceptions in the scripts to let her run facebook based games? There's quite a lot of things on there from scrabble to block-games to farmville and other games like that.
posted by Iteki at 4:53 AM on February 6, 2010

My dad just recently got into Civilization. I was shocked. I love it too.

Especially if she's on Windows you should be able to get it off ebay pretty cheap (an older version if not the newest one).
posted by Salamandrous at 5:16 AM on February 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Google says you can also get Super TextTwist here - no idea if it's any better than the GameHouse version though. Might be worth a shot as it's free to try.
posted by Xany at 5:18 AM on February 6, 2010

Try some hidden object games from GameHouse or BigFishGames. They're specifically targeted at an older female audience.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:40 AM on February 6, 2010

Orisinal is full of cute, fun, no advertising, ad-blocker compliant flash games to play with her grand kids. This is a perfect site for someone who wants a casual diversion.
posted by shothotbot at 6:41 AM on February 6, 2010

Don't know if she likes jigsaw puzzles, but I love Jigsaw Puzzle 2. The basic program is $10, more if you want their added puzzles, but you can easily import jpegs of your/her own choosing. I'd also second Civilization/Colonization and maybe suggest trading games, like the Trade Winds series (now available at Amazon for 6 bucks or so a piece, I think). And there's also Sudoku -- I think GameHouse, among others, has a version out.
posted by worldswalker at 8:06 AM on February 6, 2010

Paper Cakes is adorable. You need to download the game and the Bamboo dock in order for it to work, but it's really cute, and definitely not about speed.
posted by bluefly at 10:57 AM on February 6, 2010

I like this site:

Everything on it is free. There is no intrusive advertising. (By the way are you familiar with Adblock?) I go here daily for crossword and codebreaker puzzles, but there is a lot more. I'll be 70 this year and this is the kind of game site I like.
posted by Old Geezer at 1:39 PM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of really good flash games out there which would be perfect for her.

Suggest you turn the paranoia dial down a notch or two, install "better privacy" (which will fix the flash cookies issue) and let her have some fun.

My suggestion would be popcap games. Bejewled is always a favourite.
posted by mr_silver at 4:01 PM on February 6, 2010

When I play TextTwist, I use the online version at, because the word list is in alphabetical order and it makes it easier to figure out that one last word that you are missing.
You have to use IE instead of Firefox, since it's a Microsoft site. Maybe this is not the best idea for your mom.

My husband has an account at Steam - maybe that is a platform to restrict her usage? They have a lot of family games to download. They had a big sale at Christmas and I got:
Peggle which is like a pinball/pachinko game, and is not timed.
Plants vs. Zombies - a tower-defense-type of game, but it is so ridiculous to have Zombies attacking your suburban home.
Osmos - you are a gas ball that moves through a universe absorbing other gas balls to become the biggest one.
Square Logic - similar to KenKen, a number game which is similar to Soduko but better (IMHO).
(Some of these are games and are also available via Steam.)

For online games, what if you build a webpage that contains icons/links to specific games which you have pre-decided they are safe, like popcap or whatever. No browsing around, but still able to get what she wants.

And I will suggest my own version of crack for the past 20 years:
Snood - a version of breakout type games
Sherlock - a visual version of a logic game of the type "the blue house is next to the house of the man who is a carpenter; the apple is not owned by the person whose name starts with K". You can set it to various levels of difficulty.
posted by CathyG at 4:44 PM on February 6, 2010

I don't think you are after full, new, dvd games - especially since the eclipse of Point and clicks like the unshakable myst series. That would have been good. The games nowadays are all released to compete with a relatively computer literate audiance and mostly speicliast niche games for niche markets - eg Halo for the Console kids, RPG's for the dungeon crawlers, Tourismo / Dirt for th in betweeners and FIFA clones for the football fans.

So without Already knowing - what kind of games she will enjoy, to introduce her to new game is hard - most games are all done by genre nowadays. Are there some games that are not genre explicit? Are there some games that are totally "off key" and perhaps made by indie studios? Yes. The best place to find them? Anywhere except ***ing miniclip and ***ing popcap.

Get AdBlock Plus - never worry about ads EVER again.

And then spend your hours here:
-Nice collection of easy-on-the-eye games
-Gloriously zen games
-Flashy, clicky, attack flash games
-Curator of a lot of major flash games
-Some of the "top" free games from 2009

If all else fails - get "Peggle" - hours of middle aged fun, very little emphasis on time, very high effort:fun ratio and a game you can spen hours and hours on.
posted by Cogentesque at 7:35 AM on February 8, 2010

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