While there are a few lists out there with gaming recommendations for kids, it can be a little trickier discovering which games to buy a young girl. Games like Rise of the Tomb Raider, Tales from Borderlands and Star Wars: Battlefront are great for teens, but might be too violent or mature for pre-teens and young children.
So I put together a list of other gaming options for girls age six to fourteen, based on their personalities, playstyles and affinity for gaming.
Remember: don’t despair if your mini-gamer girl doesn’t like one of these games. It probably took you some time to find the right sort of games for you, so have patience and pay attention to what sorts of other hobbies she enjoys before giving up on gaming gifts!
Here are game suggestions for six types of gaming girls.
The Super Noob
Baby’s first video game! These are some great games for girls that haven’t had a true video gaming experience yet. They generally share a few things in common: bright, fun, color schemes, simple mechanics, the inclusion of known franchises and/or very cute things.
Minecraft (PS4, Xbox One ,PS3, 360, PC, iOS, Android) - The game that has won the heart of gamers of all types, Minecraft is the game I most often hear young girls chatting about. Minecraft is a sandbox open world, meaning players can spend their time exploring, building or really anything else they can dream up within the confines of the system.
The Disney Infinity Franchise (Wii U, 3DS, Wii, PS3, 360, PC, iPad) - Combining physical toys with video games, this series includes favorite Disney characters such as Jack Sparrow, Princess Leia and Elsa. The game is an action-adventure with story driven gameplay, but beware the high price-tag that may come from trying to collect your gamer’s favorite characters.
Little Big Planet 3 (PS4, PS3) - This highly customizable puzzle/platformer can be played alone or with friends. Great music, a fun and playful tone and the progressively more challenging puzzles make this an amazing game for kids and adults.
Other games like these: LEGO games franchise, Skylanders franchise, Tearaway Unfolded, Animal Crossing, Yoshi’s Wooly World and Knack.
The Future Hardcore Gamer
If your daughter/niece/etc. has already dipped her toes into gaming and has found that she really loves the hobby, it’s time to get her the kind of games that will prepare her for some of the more popular mature franchises.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS) - This action-adventure game is a remastered version of Majora’s Mask, updated for the 3DS. The Legend of Zelda franchise is one of the most beloved action-adventure franchises in gaming history, so getting your gamer into the series is a no-brainer.
Splatoon (Wii U) - Perfect for the future FPS player, Splatoon is a colorful, third person multiplayer game about Inklings, human-squid people. It is cute and non-violent introduction to competitive multiplayer that can give your gamer girl an edge when she is ready for the more mature shooters in the future.
Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One, PC) - This platform adventure game will make your child cry like they’re watching Bambi. Ori is a beautiful game with sad and intense moments, which makes it a step up from the more tame Mario-style platformers your gamer might be used to. It also gets pretty difficult as it progresses, which will teach your young one the joy that comes with conquering a difficult level.
Other games to investigate: TowerFall Ascension, Fallout Shelter, Don’t Starve, Super Mario Maker, Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros., Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition, Ni No Kuni, Journey, Project Spark and Armello.
The Girl Power-haver
Does your girl gamer love strong female characters, like Merida and Katniss? Then take a look at these great games that feature female protagonists.
Child of Light (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC, PS3, 360, PS Vita) - A platforming, side-scroller RPG, Child of Light is all about a young girl who must rescue the world. The game is beautiful and would be a wonderful introduction to RPGs for any gaming newcomer.
Never Alone (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PS3, PS Vita PC) - For girls who love to learn, this puzzle-platformer is both fun and educational. Players switch between an Iñupiaq girl named Nuna and her Arctic wolf companion as they journey through a tale based on Alaskan indigenous people’s stories. This one can possibly be a little spooky, so be sure to play it yourself first.
Legend of Korra (PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, 360) - Though it didn’t score too well with critics, Korra is a beloved character and the game is just fine as an entry-level beat ‘em up. If your young gamer liked Avatar and Korra, they will probably enjoy this third-person action game.
Other female-led games: Contrast, Transistor, the Shantae franchise, Velocity 2X, Gravity Ghost, Lume, Beyond Eyes and Red Goddess: Inner World.
When you discover that your young gamer likes puzzles, it might be worth your time to investigate just what sorts of puzzle games she might enjoy. In addition to traditional puzzle games like Zuma or Bejeweled, there are also puzzle games in the more adventurous vein.
Broken Age (PS4, PS Vita, PC, iOS, Android, Ouya) - A challenging and beautiful entry point to get any child into the point-and-click adventure game, Broken Age features diversity, both a female and a male protagonist and plenty of humor and fun.
Chariot (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC, PS3, ) - Technically a platformer, Chariot is an excellent game for co-op, in the vein of Portal, where you work together with your companion to solve increasingly difficult levels. Although it can be played single-player, I highly recommend playing this one with your young friend for an amazing bonding experience.
Peggle 2 (Xbox One, PS4, 360) - A traditional puzzle game with a fancy rainbow twist, Peggle and Peggle 2 are just plain addicting. The free-form nature of choosing your own Peggle Masters means that there is a lot of replay value as well, as players try to get better and better scores.
More puzzle games: Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions, Hohokum, Lumino City, Fez, Tetris Ultimate and Pix the Cat.
The Sporty Spice
For the girl that likes to be active, there are plenty of options for those rainy days when playing outside is not an option.
For dancers, games like Dance Central and Zumba Kids are vibrant and colorful. For the more musically inclined, Rock Band 4 will both introduce them to great music and train them for defeating all comers at the arcade rhythm game section. Finally, there are actual sport focused games, such as Mario Tennis, FIFA and Rocket League.
The Girly Girl
But what if your potential gamer girl is more on the traditional side of “girly”? Never fear, there are games for all sorts of gamers. Growing up, we had Barbie and Purple Moon, and today it is no different, with tons of fun (and often free) games around pets, cooking, running a business and building a home.
Check out titles such as Bake Mania, Cooking Mama, My Sims, Littlest Pet Shop and Frozen Free Fall: Snowball Fight.
Does your gamer have these games already? Then consider toys, clothes and accessories from these and other franchises. Places like ThinkGeek.com, Amazon.com and official merch stores carry tons of options for geeks of all persuasions.