13 Top Games That Teach Empathy

June 13, 2014
Ellen Holderman
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES Out-of-School Learning, Tools

For this week's Top Picks List Friday, we're featuring games that teach empathy. This is an update to a previous post highlighting games, apps, and sites that teach empathy. Kids who are in tune with others' emotions are off to a great start. They earn the trust of their peers. They can help mediate when tempers flare. They might even use their perspective-taking skills one day to become organization or world leaders.

To see the rating of each app, game, or website, visit the Top Picks List, Top Games That Teach Empathy.


Who Am I?
Who Am I? Race Awareness Game helps kids think about different ways people self-identify race and cultural identity, and gives adults tips for talking about diversity with kids. The two-person game promotes social interaction, and extension questions prompt discussion between kids and parents or teachers. Read full review.

Cool School: Where Peace Rules
Cool School teaches empathy in a way that's sure to be more effective than the occasional adult lecture that can either confuse kids or make them feel singled out. In this game, kids learn conflict-resolution skills by watching animations of realistic situations and seeing the effects of both good and bad choices. Read full review.

Wee You Things
The story in this interactive rhyming book, in which kids meet a variety of unique characters, is short but powerful. It could work beautifully at the beginning of the school year to help kids get to know and appreciate one another and share more about themselves in a positive environment. Read full review.

Middle School Confidential
Through a discussion-rich narrative and some action, this graphic novel app helps kids learn to identify emotions, reflect on personal strengths and weaknesses, respect peer viewpoints, build friendships, persevere through difficulties, and put their troubles in perspective. Read full review.

Mission US: Cheyenne
First-person accounts are a great way to engage kids in history, as this adventure game demonstrates. In addition to gaining historical information about American Indians in the late 1800s, kids are challenged to use that information to think critically and make wise choices. Read full review.

Re-Mission 2
Re-Mission 2 is a suite of six games produced by the nonprofit HopeLab with two goals in mind: to help young cancer patients cope with the stress of treatment and to help all kids learn more about the medical science related to the disease in several of its forms. Read full review.

Spent, a text-based choose-your-own-adventure game, offers a compelling introduction to an important social issue. Players assume the life of someone living on the poverty line and must make choices -- such as whether to buy food or medication -- based on their income and on the events that occur.  Read full review.

Darfur is Dying
Darfur is Dying is a Web-based simulation that puts students in the shoes of ordinary non-Arab citizens of western Sudan in the midst of the ongoing conflict that began in 2003. Be prepared to discuss with students very difficult topics, including kidnapping, genocide, and rape. Read full review.

Papers, Please
The plot of this video simulation game unfolds around developing political events, terrorist activities (including attacks), an anti-government radical group, and mini-stories involving potential immigrants or visitors. Players encounter many ethical problems with no good-for-everyone solutions. Read full review.

Mission US: Flight to Freedom
Want to make the study of slavery come alive for your students? Check out Mission US: Flight to Freedom, a game that combines linear storytelling with a choose-your-own-adventure feel as students go back in time to 1848 and step into the shoes of a 14-year-old slave searching for freedom.  Read full review.

The Time Tribe
In this point-and-click adventure game, players interact with characters who are facing real-world problems like hunger and poverty. Although the game spans different time periods, mostly in the past, the stark depictions of children in terrible conditions are sure to strike a nerve. Read full review.

Avokiddo Emotions
Kids can learn about identifying emotions through facial expressions and reaction to stimuli in this creative play app. They're encouraged to use their imaginations to make new creative scenes by using props to dress up and interact with animal characters. Read full review.

3rd World Farmer
Players in this simulation game learn not only about the costs of doing business, but also about the risks of doing business, in a developing country where simple errands can cost family members their lives. Although almost entirely text-based, the game doesn't sugarcoat death, disease, and some unsettling violence. Read full review.


What tech tools are you using to teach your students empathy? Sign in to comment below.