Skip to main content

What's a good 'non-casual' PC game for my dad? — Ask PC Gamer

AskPCGamer

Ask PC Gamer is our weekly advice column. Have a burning question about the smoke coming out of your PC? Send your problems to letters@pcgamer.com.

I'm trying to find some games my retired dad might enjoy. He's not really a gamer... all he plays right now are games on his phone, and I guess he could play casual games on PC, but I wanted to show him there's more than simple puzzle stuff (he likes Threes) without overwhelming him. He has a pretty decent desktop I got him a couple years ago. Any recommendations? — J.M.

Dear J.M.,

"Casual" has taken on a new meaning for me in the past few years. I used to think of Facebook games and the incessant notifications spawned from friends who think we might somehow connect over a mutual love of vegetables despite not talking for 10 years. Today, I think of any game that can be played in short sessions and doesn't demand a lot of familiarity with the genre or precision control.

That's a lot of great games, and 'casual' probably isn't the right word. Civilization V qualifies, for instance. You don't need to have played other turn based strategy games to get the concept—it's like a board game, and the tooltips explain the rules—and it's turn based, so there's no athletic mousery involved. And though it's hard to do, it can be played in short sessions. He can save and quit whenever.

Then again, I don't know your dad, and Civ might bore him to death. I'm just guessing (and only because this is true of my dad) that he isn't going to jump between a bunch of games. He'll probably want to get familiar with one or two and play them a lot, a la Threes. Turn-based strategy is a good call if that's the case. Total War: Shogun 2 and Unity of Command also come to mind, though the jump from Threes to the latter could be a bit much.

You may also consider going to GOG and finding some classics: Theme Hospital (opens in new tab), SimCity 2000 (opens in new tab), Police Quest (opens in new tab). Regarding that last one, if you think he might like story and adventure games, Zork: The Grand Inquisitor (opens in new tab) is one of my personal favorites. And there's always Telltale.

In the puzzle department, I can also recommend SpaceChem and World of Goo. And if none of that appeals, you can always install Peggle and move on. There's nothing wrong with Peggle. (Though I'm sure the commenters can supply some good answers and anecdotes of their own.)

Tyler Wilde
Tyler Wilde

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley alongside Apple and Microsoft, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early personal computers his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. After work, he practices boxing and adds to his 1,200 hours in Rocket League.