With gaming breaking out of its past niche as a hobby for only the very young or the very immature, the ways in which we consume gaming has also evolved. Where gaming has until recently been seen as a childish world, the simple fact was that games for children were, on the whole, awful. Although the occasional Putt-Putt game and well, 90% of Nintendo's content, for the most part, “Games for KIDZ!” usually meant “bad games with cutesy themes,” trading on the assumption that all children were idiots. They are not.
The modern world has proven just how great the appeal for more advanced games fit for the young minds of today has become, the old shovelware nonsense of the past has been surpassed by fun, entertaining, and thoroughly educational games like space tactics game FTL, rocket science themed masterpiece Kerbal Space Program, and even the popularity of, while darker and more advanced (and for older children) than the other two, the insane popularity of the horror franchise Five Nights at Freddy's and its habit of making the players work and dig for its story elements which have created communities of amateur sleuths. But no game has had quite as high an effect than that of Minecraft, the smash mega-hit that changed the games industry seemingly overnight. And perhaps its greatest fans, rather than being the 18-30 year old crowd one might expect, came largely from the very young.
Alongside this revolution in gaming came a second, the world of Let's Plays and streaming. Starting life on Something Awful as text posts, the Let's Play soon moved to Youtube where, excluding music videos, they dominate the platform to this day. So with an abundance of new, smarter and younger gamers entering the fold came the need for streamers and Let's Players targeted towards them. In order to help both the young, and the older people trying to stop them setting fire to things, we here at MMOGames thought we’d put together a list of some of our favorite family friendly YouTubers and streamers. If we missed any that you and your family enjoy, feel free to leave us a comment below!
But before we start I should add that, as with all online systems parental guidance is always recommended, even with my suggestions, as what is seen as appropriate viewing for one parent might not be for another. Viewing shows before hand is the safest way to make sure that what your children watch is in line with what they are ready for as some of these channels may play games that are a little outside of your family comfort zone. I have chosen not to rate these by age but to give a small content warning after each video because honestly, the best judge of what a younger person is ready to watch would be the parents and children themselves. One of my larger and more important suggestions is for the comments and chat functions of these sites. While they can be helpful, they sadly have the rather deserving reputation of being an incredibly toxic place for anyone, never mind just the young. Most, if not all, of the platforms you will find these systems on have parental controls that help you block these sections. Now, with that out of the way, on with the list.
In the world of the family friendly YouTube, one man reigns as king. Joseph Garrett, the 25 year old Englishman better known to his small army of young fans as the lovable cat Stampy, he is the very pinnacle of this genre. Stampy saw in the burgeoning field of Let's Plays a gap for content aimed at the very young. With Minecraft fast becoming one of the biggest forces in children's entertainment, Stampy started making Let's Play videos in the game but aimed at the younger audience.
Looking and sounding like any children's TV show, Stampy's adventures usually feature him and his cast of animal friends exploring “Stampy's Lovely World” and taking part in a litany of competitive themed games and activities.
The real joy of his videos come in their simplicity usually hiding a deeper core. The games are usually always something easily doable by the viewer. Puzzles and games designed to teach not only Minecraft but also simple maths and logic games, all wrapped up in a skin of shiny happy fun. It's a usually much more complex learning experience and while some videos are petty much just him and his crew of collaborators having fun, the lessons that can be learned from these videos are easy to find. This is Dora the Explorer for a new generation, only about a thousand times less irritating.
If you like Stampy, IBallisticSquid and a couple more from this very list are also very good.
Parental Guidance: All of Stampy's Minecraft videos are safe for all ages. Others are mostly safe, but judge game by game.
When making a list about Family Friendly content, one would not expect the name Rooster Teeth to appear on the list. Known for being about as raucous and sweary as they come, the guys and gals from Rooster Teeth usually use the kind of language and themes that, while hilarious for us older lot, is not exactly the kind of thing Mr Rogers would agree with. So in 2014, Rooster Teeth co-founder and Achievement Hunter head honcho Geoff Lazer Ramsey (yes that's his name), inspired by his young daughter, started a new channel under the name Game Kids, run for young children (in part) by young children.
Even though it is one of the lower viewed channels on this list, it is remarkable in that, while many others are content created by adults for the young, the stars and main content creators of this channel are themselves in the age range the channel is aimed at. Millie, JD, Teddy and the gang all feature prominently with the adults, who are only really there to make sure the recording started and sometimes move the conversation along. The channel plays a mix of games from FTL to The Sims, and of course, Minecraft, with Sim Sisters being the stand out show on the channel. Game Kids is a great start for younger children due to the age of the hosts. With no real content warnings on games, Game Kids is a great family friendly channel.
Parental Guidance: Safe for all.
Speedrunning is its own little niche within the emerging world of eSports. While most of the greater focus and advertising money is spent on the large games like League of Legends and Call of Duty’s competitive PVP, speedrunning is slowly but surely becoming the outsider's choice for competitive viewing. It is also perhaps the oldest in existence. Nearly every gamer has memories of trying their hardest to beat a game as quickly as they're able to, be it time trials in Ridge Racer or trying to finish Super Mario Bros on the NES as fast as humanly possible, being good enough to re-tread old ground as smoothly and as fast as humanly possible is a well worn trope in nearly every gamer.
Speedrunning is this, but set to 11.
Speedrunning is the act of finishing a game as fast as humanly possible using any and all means available. While that doesn’t SOUND that interesting, watching the experts for even a short time shows the amount of skill and planning needed for even the simplest of game. Speedrunning is a set of logic puzzles added on top of the already existing games logic. Players plan the fastest route through the game using both intended in-game strategies, clever use of in-game mechanics and then just straight up bugs to achieve times for games not usually possible. At times players are able to literally break the core of the game, using the in-game memory to program on the fly.
Games Done Quick (YouTube) is perhaps the superbowl of speedrunning. Performed twice a year, Games Done Quick gathers the greatest speedrunners from around the world and allows them to show off their skills live on Twitch in front of hundreds of thousands of gamers. Unlike other eSports gatherings, Games Done Quick exists not only as a way to promote speedrunning, but as a way to raise INSANE amounts of money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. This year, they raised over $1.2 Million over the course of a week. Part of why this is is also part of the reason why speedrunning is such a family friendly viewing experience. Not only does Games Done Quick have a strict PG policy when it comes to language, but the community that surrounds it is one of the best in gaming. While the hunt for the records is competitive, the crowd sourced way of gathering the best strategies and new glitches, the community that spread around it is one of the most connected and welcoming around, which is in stark comparison to some of the more toxic communities sadly plaguing other eSports. To quote one speedrunner from this year's Mario Kart 8 run: “Speedrunning is for everyone.”
Games Done Quick is fantastic family viewing, a wonderful cause, and a great community for players of all ages.
Parental Guidance: Free from language, but judge on a game by game basis.
While Stampy rules the Minecraft roost for the younger player, Bethany Bates, better known to her legion of fans as Sqaishey Quack, is not too far off in terms of admiration. Coming from the same gaggle of players as Stampy, Sqaishey started off co-starring alongside him and cites him as one of her biggest inspirations when it came to forming her work. A massive hit among both genders, it is perhaps with young girls that Sqaishey finds her biggest group of fans. This is not to say she is only for young girls, her charm and sing-song voice make her incredibly good viewing for all young children.
Her primary focus lies in her Minecraft series with shows such as Feather Adventures being the most popular by far. Sqaishey has been known to play other games such as Terraria and Rayman, however all of the other games not only meet most family friendly requirements of the very young but also feature her own brand of humor and charm that is so prevalent in the Minecraft shows. Always being about having fun and working together, Sqaishey is easily one of the best family friendly channels around.
Parental Guidance: Safe for all.
Starting as a Call of Duty caster from a channel name I literally can’t repeat here without breaking our PG rules, Jordan Maron AKA CaptainSparklez soon made his transition from shoot-em-ups to the emerging world of Minecraft, and never looked back. While other channels on this list are shows for the young that so happen to be based in Minecraft, Sparkle is a show very much ABOUT Minecraft.
While aimed towards a slightly older viewer than the likes of Stampy and co, what differentiates Jordan from others is his greater focus on not only being funny and having fun within the worlds he explores, but also the deeper build theory and techniques. His shows range from simple high jinx to jargon-laden build videos focusing on the hows and whys behind mods and the more nerdy side of building that a lot of the more Minecraft obsessed eat up. These videos, for the most part, expect the viewer to know how the ins and outs of the world work and speaks to them accordingly. While some parents might see this as being “too smart” for the younger viewer, for the young themselves it is a breath of fresh air, as in the modern age of Google and online guides, knowing the ins and outs of Redstone and how best to use it is much more common than others would think. The peak of this came last year when Jordan, using only Minecraft and as someone not as versed to the subject would assume, witchcraft of some kind, created a working cell phone INSIDE the world of Minecraft that could call out and even Skype.
Outside of Minecraft, Jordan is perhaps best known for his music videos and other assorted Let's Plays from games ranging from the super safe Minecraft Storymode, to the slightly less safe Grand Theft Auto 5, although the language and themes throughout are kept very much PG. CaptainSparklez is a channel that manages to be a lot of things for a large wave of the family audience. His wit and ability to very much talk TO the younger viewers, and not down to them, is becoming a much rarer ability with the larger boom of “Family Friendly” copycats chasing after the fans of himself and the likes of Stampy and Co. But here, lies one of the original and best.
Parental Guidance: One for the slightly older viewers, Parental Guidance is advised. Language and theme safe.