Some games have successfully broken the mainstream formula and are not only nonviolent but artistic, intuitive, thought-provoking, and genuinely fun. Recommended for middle school and up.
Minecraft: An endless world made entirely out of blocks is waiting for you to explore. With seemingly simple graphics, it is incredibly complex. (PC, Mac, Xbox 360)
Journey: With unique gameplay and breathtaking graphics, this is the “Mona Lisa” of games. It only takes about two hours to play, but quality over quantity applies to the video game industry as elsewhere. (PS3)
Portal 2: A girl is trapped in an underground laboratory after an apocalyptic event. This puzzle game, riddled with smart humor, requires a sharp mind with good reflexes. (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
FEZ: Artistic and intuitive, FEZ is a 2D platform game with 3D environments. Anyone who has played a side-scrolling game like Mario can enjoy this game. (PC, Xbox 360)
Braid: With the touch of a button, time can be reversed and all your mishaps undo themselves. Every level of this enthralling game holds new and exciting surprises. (PC, Xbox 360, Mac, PS3)