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Buying the right video game for your kids can be an exercise fraught with danger. Not only do you have to keep up with what are the biggest and baddest new releases out there, you have to consider whether you really want you little ones screaming out stuff like “Woah! Awesome chainsaw kill!” at a time when you’re supposed to be wishing peace on earth to all.

A lot of video-games are still very bloody, very juvenile affairs where you could be forgiven for thinking that they’re all designed by 20-something nerds who have never kissed a girl, driven an actual car or held a real weapon in their hands.

OK, maybe we can forgive them the last one, but the truth is it’s easy to grab the wrong game and have Granny choking on her Christmas pudding as she witnesses blood and gore on the TV when she’s expecting to be watching the Sound of Music.

We wanted to bring you three really good options that avoid all of that this holiday season, so if you’re only going to buy one game for your kids, you can’t go wrong with one of the following:


Need For Speed: Rivals

(Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows PC)

Why buy for the kids? To practice hand-eye coordination.

Need for Speed Rivals from Electronic Arts is blazingly fast. It’s also a near-perfect racing game featuring amazing scenery, heart-in-mouth action and really, really fast cars. And no blood.

You play as a ‘racer’: an incorrigible rule breaker with too much money,  a fantastic car and a regrettable lack of respect for the long arm of the law or a law enforcement officer; an irrepressible rule follower with too much power, a fantastic car and a regrettable lack of care for running folk off the road.

Either way, it’s incredible fun.

As you work your way through the game as a racer, you unlock increasingly better cars (on the cop side, cars are unlocked for free as you make your targets) and they become amazingly quick. Navigating the winding roads and turns at colossal speed with your lights blazing while trying to keep a racer target in your sights so you can get a lock on your disabling EMP device is a feat fit for a driving king, and your kids will love it.

The only downer is the cringingly-bad voiceovers in the interstitial video sequences between levels. Mercifully, you can skip them, but not before bearing witness to several seconds of the most banal and clichéd nonsense you’ll ever hear about the tough lot of a cop or the hippy values of a racer from a voiceover tragic.