My kid wants to play an online game with his friend and I need help.
April 6, 2016 8:22 AM   Subscribe

My 7-year-old would like to play some sort of online game with his friend in the evenings. They own different platforms of game systems, so I don't think they can play a game through one of those. Is there a free or inexpensive app or game they can play together? Specific requirements within.

The game needs to be age-appropriate, specifically no shoot-em-up stuff. They are pretty good at reading, but spelling and such can be an issue so probably not a Words With Friends type thing. They both like racing, Minecraft, Angry Birds, puzzle games, etc.

It needs to be easy to set up. Like both sets of parents buy an app or sign into a website. I think we can convince the other parents to buy an app, but not to set up a whole server or something.

It needs to be something they can exclusively play with each other. I think it's fine if they just have to decline offers , but I don't want them thrown in a game with unknown other people or where strangers can send them messages. Ideally, they could find each other in the game and just play together without outside players.

My kid has access to: PC, Wii, Kindle Fire HD, iPhone, 3DS. Friend has: iPad, WiiU

I'm willing to pay a little something if it gets rid of ads, promotes exclusivity, or otherwise solidifies the whole experience.
posted by LKWorking to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I know you can set up your own Minecraft server, with controlled access; a family I know has done just this for their own kids and their friends to play together privately. The other family may not want to go to that much trouble, but could you?
posted by praemunire at 8:25 AM on April 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Maybe...if we set up the server on a PC, could the kid join from his iPad without having to do anything? Setting up a server would be a new thing for me, but I think I could figure it out. I wasn't sure how much work is required from others. If there were an easier option than doing this, I would prefer it, but I would consider this idea.
posted by LKWorking at 8:29 AM on April 6, 2016

I'm pretty sure all the work of operating the server is on the server-owner's side. I don't myself have a kid playing with them, but for the other players, it seems to be a matter of giving them the address and, I think, a password.

(P.S. It's a big hit with the kids.)
posted by praemunire at 8:37 AM on April 6, 2016

You want Minecraft Realms if you're not comfortable setting up a server. It is however $7.99 a month.

Easy to set up, only people you want can play on them as you have to invite them. You get an approval list so can monitor who can play. It's pretty easy to use and minecraft with friends is amazing.
posted by wwax at 8:39 AM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

This is definitely a possibility! I didn't know this existed, so thanks for the heads up. Neither kid has Minecraft for the PC/Mac yet, so it would involve an initial $27 set up and then $8/month for us after that. I'd be interested in a cheaper game, but this has potential.
posted by LKWorking at 8:50 AM on April 6, 2016

Maybe...if we set up the server on a PC, could the kid join from his iPad without having to do anything?

I'm fairly sure you can't play on Minecraft Realms with one player on the iPad (pocket edition) and one on the PC. PE and the PC version are different versions of the same game. However, there are servers that do support multiplayer on pocket edition if one child can play on the ipad and one on the iPhone.
posted by anastasiav at 8:57 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

There is a Wii U version of Minecraft that's become available in the past few months, not sure if it's Realms compatible or not.

Good call on the pocket edition anastasiav I didn't know they had pocket edition servers, I so need to get a smart phone, my flip phone is starting to look dated :-). Looks they'd need to be is on the same WiFi connection or you end up with the strangers on the server problem you were trying to avoid, but it would save the expense.
posted by wwax at 9:29 AM on April 6, 2016

Are there other online games besides Minecraft that might be fun for the kids? I will definitely look into all these options, but was also hoping another game might emerge that I haven't thought of.
posted by LKWorking at 9:49 AM on April 6, 2016

Would Hearthstone be too complicated? If so it's free, accessible on iPad, iPhone and PC, and would let them play only with each other. The option is there to play with others, but if that's the case there are only 6 possible 'emotes' that one can send so even on the off chance that they do get into a game, they won't be spammed by messages.
posted by Carillon at 10:18 AM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

They might enjoy Clash of Clans. There is a global chat but that window isn't there by default. Fairly quickly into playing the game they'll be able to make their own private clan which the other can join and then they're set. The actual playing (attacking and defending) is against random people around the world but you can't communicate with them. In the clan they could chat with eachother and give eachother units. It is a freemium game for iOS and Android so it'll work on the iPhone and iPad.

I actually started playing the game to keep an eye on my nephew but I'm pretty sure I play it more than he does now.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:47 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I found a (one of gazillions out there) list of iOs-multiplayer games. If you ignore the FPS there is still Muffin Knight and Junk Jack X, as well as puzzle titles like Flight Control.
For further research I suggest "cross-platform" to be included in your queries.
posted by KMB at 11:38 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding hearthstone. It's the best option considering that you're trying to go multi platform here. There's no chat system to worry about, and it's fast paced and free. It also leaves the option for very safe online play if his friend isn't around.
posted by InkDrinker at 3:00 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

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