Game on! Fun days out for kids who love gaming
Married to an indie game developer, with two mini gamers in the house, I’m always keen to find a way to turn my family’s love of games into a day out of the house. I’ve rounded up the best indoor and outdoor gaming experiences, museums, arcades and simulations. Only recently have actual buildings been dedicated to gaming, so to find the best gaming days out you need your finger on the button - many are events and festivals.
Opened in 2015, the National Video Game Arcade in Nottingham has three floors of hands-on exhibitions: design and scan in a new alien character while Mission Control game plays in real time, dissect games like Lego Star Wars and Super Mario Bros to see how they work, play old games as well as those still in development. Refuel at the toast bar. Time your visit for October half term and take advantage of the Game City Festival, which has been running in the city for 10 years. Toast bar serves everything from toast to artisan toasties and even has a roof terrace.
Egham’s Game Lounge is a retro game museum with over 40 playable consoles from past to present and hundreds of playable titles included in the interactive museum pass. Great value and free to adults who have come to relax with a coffee while the kids play.
Arcade Club has over 200 video and pinball machines, classic consoles and computers and arcade machines, all of which are free to play once you have paid the £10 Adult/£5 Under-16s entry fee. Kids are welcome on Saturday and Sunday.
At the National Media Museum in Bradford you can play your way through classic games in their original arcade or console formats, learn about the history of video gaming, and discover the stories behind the global phenomenon. Refuel with handmade pizza, soup and cake in the Media Cafe.
There comes a point when every gamer needs to get some fresh air and test their finely honed navigation skills in the outside world to join the word's largest treasure hunt. Geocatching offers 2 million geocaches, or tiny boxes of other human’s treasures, worldwide. Sign up for the app, navigate to the box, sign the log-book and swap your treasure for someone else’s.
Pokemon Go is also the go-to outdoor game activity that all the family can (and should!) enjoy together. Playing Pokemon Go together is the best way to keep children safe while taking part. The NSPCC have put together a no nonsense guide for parents here: Pokemon Go: a Parents guide
LEGOLAND Windsor theme park has rides and LEGO worlds and experiences aimed at 2-12 year olds. We loved seeing the world’s sights made out of LEGO, learning to drive, seeing the characters come to life in the 4D cinema and the pirate show. The hotel looks incredibly good fun too.
Perfect for rainy days, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Manchester has a 4D cinema, laser ride, driving school, a Manchester LEGO miniland and over 3 million LEGO bricks!
Simulation, Live and Immersive Games
London’s leading immersive adventure game inventors Time Run created The Lance Of Longinus, a thrilling voyage of discovery across the length and breadth of time, called "the greatest live game experience London has ever seen”. Drawing on rich worlds, characters and a narrative, The Lance of Longinus has launched over 30,000 Time Runners into a Crystal Maze type experience. The Celestial Chain sets to top that mission. Suitable for over-10s if accompanied by an adult.
For your zombie-loving older teen, The Last Survivors is a zombie event set in a fully functioning secret nuclear fallout bunker, with actors who stay in zombie role as events play out with real-time video game-like progression. Participants take down zombies, seek out video game-type collectibles and search for ever-decreasing ammo. Players must be 16 plus (or 14 plus by negotiation) in order to join the zombie infection resistance.
Gaming for disabled children
The Accessible Games Centre in Oxfordshire can assist young people who have a physical disability and want to play video games. They can do so via the games room in Oxfordshire which has a suite of accessible gaming consoles and computers, or via a home visit.
What you waiting for? Grab the joystick: There are Pokemons to capture, worlds to build and Zombies to capture!