The HTC Vive is a wonderful VR system that has an incredible library of games and other experiences thanks to support through Steam. A lot of VR is based around shooting or scaring the pants off of you — blame it on the gun-like Vive controllers and the immersion level — but there are plenty of great experiences that are also suitable for children.
Remember, it's never a bad idea to follow the recommended age guidelines set by the manufacturer. In HTC's case, they recommend 13 and up, but that isn't set in stone as long as you remain precautionary. For more information on this subject, check out our guide to letting your kids try VR.
In the near future, robots took all the jobs. All that's left is a sim that lets people experience the drudgery of working a 9-to-5. There was obviously a bit of a mixup, as we don't remember real jobs ever being this much fun.
Anyone who has kids, a Vive, and Job Simulator can attest that this game is like a drug. The budding humor is all about as you try your hand as a gourmet chef, an office drone, a convenience store clerk, or a car mechanic. How did Owlchemy Labs make working so fun? No idea. One thing is certain, though: the humor, artwork, and gameplay in Job Simulator combine to create something special. You can pick it up today for about $30.
Getting kids used to VR might not be as tough as you think it is, but it's never a bad idea to start off slowly. With theBlu, you're placed underwater in one of three scenarios. The first episode lets you swim with an 80-foot whale, while the second and third episodes put you on the edge of a coral reef and in an abyss.
This is a fantastic Vive experience for anyone still getting their VR-legs or who is simply curious about the wonders of our oceans. You get to sit back, soak it all in, and come out the other side without salt water in your hair. theBlu costs about $10.
This assortment of minigames might have come bundled with your Vive, but if it didn't, don't fret — it's completely free. There are eight minigames in total, but a couple of them might not be suitable for all children; it's not a bad idea to test them out yourself, especially because they're all super fun for adults.
Launch bowling balls at precariously stacked boxes in Slingshot, explore the cosmos with Solar System, or put an android back together in Robot Repair. As far as free Vive games go, this one is at the top of the list.
Fruit Ninja VR
If you played the original game, you probably remember the greasy fingerprints left smeared all over your tablet. Kids and adults alike can't get enough of this game, and it's now available for Vive. Fruit Ninja VR puts a razor-sharp katana in each of your hands and launches a bright assortment of fruit at you.
As far as addictive VR games go, this one is at the top of the list thanks to a great soundtrack, a visible score counter, and four different modes of play. It's simple, it's bright, and it will keep your kids entertained for hours on end. Grab it for about $15.
A child's thirst for exploration is hard to quench, but Destinations (free) tries its best to deliver boundless travel to anyone with a Vive. There are plenty of official places to visit — castles, cities, museums, etc. — and now that the developer tools have been released, there's an influx of user-created destinations to check out.
Want to hang out on Mars? No problem. See the London Bridge in all its glory? That's easy! Graphics are crisp and users are treated to explanations of what they're seeing. If you want to get your kids interested in the world outside, this is the perfect experience.
The Diner Duo
Putting together orders in a diner is hard work — just ask anyone who's worked at a real one. Your kids probably aren't quite ready to start a real job, but that doesn't mean they can't slap together a burger or two from the comfort of your living room.
The Diner Duo (about $15) starts out easy (great for a younger crowd) and slowly work up as levels are gained (great for an older crowd). There is local multiplayer where you can play as a server on PC while they're in the Vive cooking, and you can also go solo — burgers can be tossed or slapped across the diner. With tons of customization options and a great soundtrack, all this game is missing is the new-burger smell.
Teaching kids to problem solve and think out of the box are necessary steps in their development, and Fantastic Contraption (about $30) aims to make it fun. Your objective is to move a pink ball to a pink goal, but you're going to have to build something wacky to get it there.
A full suite of tools lets kids create whatever they want, and they'll be rewarded for their creativity — the crazier contraption the better.
It's experiences like Tilt Brush (about $20) that really make you realize the potential of VR. It's a feature-laden art app that lets you and a brush create anything you want in 3D. Have you ever tried to draw a tree on anything other than a piece of paper? It's tougher than it sounds, but once you get the hang of it, you'll find it hard to stop drawing. Children are like little bundles of creativity just waiting to explode, so why not give them a futuristic tool before they take it out with fingerpaint on the walls?
If your kids don't yet know what Minecraft is, you might want to keep it that way. The insanely popular block-building game has taken a strong hold on adults and children alike, and now it has come to VR.
Vivecraft is a free mod for the standard Java version of Minecraft that essentially places you in a block world. Your left hand carries the toolbar and crafting menus, while your right hand holds the tool you've selected. You get around with teleportation, and everything else is pretty much the same. The immersion level is through the roof here, so we recommend sticking to peaceful mode — encountering a zombie in a dark cave while in VR is terrifying.
Every kid should, at some point in their life, get to experience the chill and thrill of a full-on snowball fight with forts and factions. Problem is, winter doesn't come in the same way everywhere, and lots of places don't get snow. With Snow Fortress (about $15), you can build forts from virtual snow, stockpile snowballs, and get to battling. A friendly fox follows you around as you take on enemy snowmen — this game is cute and not nearly as violent as it sounds.
Water Bears VR
This cute, colorful puzzle game has Vive users step into a world of lush islands, flowing water, and pleasant music. Water bears are trapped in bubbles without water, and it's up to you to free them. Reroute water using pipes and connectors to let it flow into the bubbles and make the water bears happy. Doesn't this sound pleasant? Your children will pick up those valuable problem-solving skills while also enjoying a relaxing time on a tropical island. Grab it now for about $10.
What do your kids love?
Have a game your kids love that didn't make the list? Let us know all about it.
If you don't yet have a Vive, it's never too late!
Updated June 20, 2017: We've refreshed this list to ensure you're still getting the absolute best HTC Vive games for kids.
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