What Game to Start a 3-Year Old On?

So, my son is three years old, and has seen me play a number of games already (non-violent, primarily). I would like to start him on his own game; one that he has the controller for. There are a number of limitations on what he can play, and I would like him to have a good first experience that we can share. I would like to hear feedback or suggestions from my dear Polygon community. Below are the limitation on his playing, and the things I would like to have in the game.


via www.visualphotos.com


  1. Non-violent: He is fairly susceptible to getting frightened, so there can be conflict but nothing scary. This precludes guns, dark themes, death scenes, etc. Fantasy violence/cartoon violence seems to be cool. Examples: Tranformer's Rescue Bots has frightened him, but watching Dark Souls has not.
  2. Simple controls: We have tried out the ultimate classic Super Mario Bros, with limited success. One, just raw challenge is not compelling enough for him yet. Secondly, he has trouble pressing two buttons at the same time. He can do it, but it takes a lot of concentration. For example, he can run, he can jump over Goombas, but he has trouble running and jumping over a pit.
  3. Voice work: My son cannot read yet. He can recognize letters and words, but cannot figure out new words. I am hoping some game time might develop his reading skills. So, if there is either voice acting or no text those would be bonuses. I expect that he will be able to learn that "the first word is attack" or something in a menu and can start forming those cognitive associations.
  4. Interruptible: Given a short attention span, and limited ability to manage a lot of input, it would be good if he could put the controller down and not immediately get killed. Something turn based is going to win out here over a real time type of game. It would also make it easier for Dad to assist without fighting over the controller due to a time crunch.
  5. Easy: This seems obvious, but something that doesn't fail you out too easily would be good as well. I don't want him to get frustrated. I also want him to need less and less input from Dad so if the game provides lots of safety nets, that would be a plus

A Slime Appears ..

My best guess at a game to start with is :


via www.chewingpixels.com

Dragon Quest 8! It seems to meet all of the parameters. I really enjoy the game and would not mind watching someone muddle about in the opening area for several hours. So here is the question: Is DQ8 a good first game for a 3-year old? Or, what other game would you suggest? Please provide some of the reasoning behind any suggestions.

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