Ten video games to play with your kids

As part of our effort to put strike-stranded CPS students to work (for us), we had noted gaming expert and Amundsen High School student Sebastian Johnson in the office today as our strike intern, and asked him to write about video games for us. Turned out we're the ones who got the education.

No matter how many times I get the better of my dad in Call of Duty, he still picks up the controller and tries again. With the video game industry worth more than $74 billion and constantly growing, your kids probably play video games, so why not play with them? Here we recommend ten engrossing games based on age group. The games below range from E (everyone) to M (mature), so beware when buying some of these games for you and your kid.

For kids 12 and under

Lego Game Series
This series is one of the most critically acclaimed of all time. It not only has great games, but a huge selection of Star Wars, Batman, Harry Potter, and even an upcoming Lord of the Rings game. On top of that the gameplay is optimized for younger gamers, but still has the depth to keep you engrossed for hours in the story. For co-op games, this should not be passed up. Developer: Travellers' Tales Games; Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii; ESRB Rating E to E10; Price: $5 to $50.

New Super Mario Bros
This multiplayer-centric take on the famous plumber took many reviewers by surprise by actually being a good game. But more importantly, this game brings back the suit mechanic introduced in Super Mario 3. It returns to the game’s 2D, side-scrolling roots instead of the 3D, third-person Mario action of Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Super Mario 3DS which, while fun, just weren’t where Mario belonged. Developer: Nintendo; Platforms: Wii; ESRB Rating: E; Price: $45

Madden 13
Does your kid love football, watch every game, knows every player on the Bears? Then I recommend Madden 13. While one could argue that you could play any game in the Madden series with your kid, you should just skip the others and go straight to this one, as it is the most technologically advanced, least-frustrating of them all. Better tackling physics, better animations, and easier controls will help you recall the good memories, and not the “OH MY GOD I PRESSED X” moments. Developer: EA Tiburon; Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii; ESRB Rating: E; Price: $60 

Minecraft for Xbox 360                                                                   
Depending on who are, Minecraft can be either the best or worst team building game ever. You can either help your child build a house, kill monsters, or mine for resources. Alternatively you could dump lava on that house, leave him to fight those monsters alone, and set off tons of TNT in that mine shaft. However don’t try to play together on PC. You need two computers and a functioning understanding of how .jar and .bin files work. Also, make sure your TV is HD, otherwise split-screen does not work. Developer: Mojang; Platforms: Xbox 360; ESRB Rating: E10; Price: $15

Super Smash Bros. Brawl
After all of that teamwork, do you feel like just destroying your kid in a fighting game? Say no more, I have just the game for you: Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The premise: All of the famous Nintendo characters are fighting. Why? Who cares, that’s why. Don’t worry, there’s no blood or gore to be found in this fighter, just Pikachu beating the living snot out of Kirby. However, the controls for this game may be a bit much for some younger gamers, and some kids might not be able to take the cartoon violence, so I would proceed with caution. Otherwise it's a great game, and its precursor, Super Smash Bros., is considered a seminal fighting game. Developer: Nintendo; Platforms: Wii; ESRB Rating: E10; Price: $30

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)