At a young age, nothing could be more important for the long-term development of the human brain than ample amounts of play. Thus, whenever your little one has free time, they should be using it first and foremost. This develops their intellect through fun interaction, such as by playing games with friends and family. Below, we take a look at some of the best 2 player games for kids out there. Perhaps you’ll find something interesting for your own child?
Two Player Games for Kids – Keep Your Kids Busy
Here are few 2 player game option for kids including board games, video games, mind games & physical games.
1. Rocks, Paper, Scissors
A true classic that barely needs any introduction. The Rock-Paper-Scissor principle is the foundation for nearly all kinds of more complex strategy games. And it can be played by anyone, with anyone.
Since it is so simple one just has to memorize three gestures and count in rhythm properly. Even very young kids and toddlers will have no problem learning to play the game.
Also, as each player’s own biases and favorite moves determine the outcome of each round, it’s not a simple matter of chance as it may seem. The game gives the player an incentive to get to know their opponents better so as to know their strategies, and how to counter them.
2. Thumb Wrestling
A game of strength, but one that is so fair, anyone can win given the correct tactics; this exemplifies thumb wrestling and its appeal.
The game, like many of this category, is deceivingly simple, hard to master. All one needs is a full set of fingers, some tactical thinking and quick reflexes.
Next, the proper setup, which can be done on a table for comfort, or simply standing in place. Both players put their hands in a fist, with the thumb upward as if doing a thumbs up sign, and all the fingers besides the thumb of one hand grasp the same fingers of the opponent’s hand.
Then, it’s onto the wrestling, where each player tries to pin down the other one’s thumb with their own, which often results in very creative ‘thumb wars’, battles of wit as much as of strength.
Unlike some other games on this list, though, thumb wrestling is impossible to play with fewer or more players than exactly two at a time. It is simply due to how the rules of the game require two thumbs on opposite sides, and game versions requiring advanced symmetry such as two-versus-two matches would need a level of flexibility the human anatomy can’t provide, unfortunately.
3. Hot Hands
This game is known by a variety of names, but they all reference hands, and it’s easy to see why: They’re the only things you need to play.
Simply put, two players—again, the rules of the game specify that this one is a one-on-one—face each other, sitting or, more preferably, standing.
One player puts their hands at a comfortable height, palms facing up. The other player puts their hands in a position that mirrors that of their opponent, with their palms slightly higher, and the object of the game is for the second player to hit the first player’s palms with their own.
The player with the upwards-facing palms can, of course, dodge, but this requires quick reflexes. More often than not, the two opponents will spend more time feigning attacks and performing tricks than actually attempting a slap.
When the four hands all make contact, though, it is time to switch roles. Points may be counted to declare a winner after a certain number of rounds, and in some cases, there even is a penalty for every missed slap.
Due to the quick nature of the game, this one is perfect for improving situational awareness and thinking under stress. It will, unfortunately, also require some pain tolerance, as the speed with which the players’ hands will be moving means that, in the case of contact, things will hurt quite a bit.
4. Numbers (also called Chopsticks)
This game is a perfect entry ticket to the world of mathematics, suitable for players ages 5 and up, and also perfect to play in a group of any size.
Its rules are a bit more complicated than those of many other games on this list, but nevertheless easy to memorize after some basic practice. Basically, two or more players face each other, hands in a fist.
Every player extends one finger on one of their hands, and touches the hand of one of the other players. When touched, one has to extend as many fingers on the touched hand as one was touched by, i.e. if one player touches another with three fingers extended, the other player needs to increase the number of extended fingers on that hand by three.
For an extra challenge, allow ‘dividing’, whereby players can split fingers up between hands when there’s an even number — for example, turning four fingers on the left hand into two on the left, two on the right. The last player to be in the game with less than 5 fingers extended per hand wins.
This rhythmic game is perfect for both coordination as well as concentration. The game is played either sitting side by side, or, if played with more than one opponent, in a circle.
The more players, the more fun and chaotic Concentration becomes. All players first sync up with a set rhythm. This can be anything, from clapping their hands at a certain pace to slapping their knees or even singing.
When all are properly in sync, one player initiates the game by stating a word. All the other players must now, in the proper order, say a word that fits into the same category.
For example, the starting word ‘lion’ would obviously prompt lots of animal-based responses from the other players. If a player leaves the rhythm at any point, they lose and are removed from the circle.
Harder versions exist for an extra challenge; for example, how about all the players, instead of remaining in a circle, have to walk around the room while keeping in rhythm and saying their words in a preset order, which gets harder and harder to keep up with as the location of the people in the room changes?
This game is a classic, one with many names and varieties that’s been played by countless kids over generations. It’s a street game, much like hopscotch, so a playground, garden or other open space outside is required.
The setup is very simple; all that is required is a piece of chalk. First, the playing field must be drawn. This is done in the shape of a chocolate bar, hence the name. Simply draw two square lines side by side, each 11 squares long.
When ready, both players move some steps away from the playing field, pick up a small object, like a rock, and attempt to hit one specific square field with that object. If the object lands within the game field at all, the player has to jump onto that square, just as you would in hopscotch, and mark it with a sign, like a circle, cross, some other easily drawn geometric shape, or perhaps their initials.
Then, it is the other player’s turn. If that player now hits their opponent’s square, by mistake or not, then their own move becomes invalid. The player who, by the inevitable end whereby the whole game board is filled, possesses the most squares is declared the winner.
With the rising tension towards the end, more and more precision is required of the players to successfully hit the few remaining empty squares, so it is almost as if Chocolate has a built-in difficulty setting that ramps up as the game progresses.
7. Shoot it Out
While water gun battles aren’t so common anymore nowadays, neither among children nor grownups, there still is a way to keep those super soakers useful while providing some fun for the kids and teaching them something worthwhile.
Shoot it Out basically is a competitive target practice session conducted with water guns. Place a row of targets, have the players stand in one file next to one another, and let the one who hits the most targets win!
8. Chutes and Ladders
Yet another classic of old, and yet another game that appeals to adults as much as it does to the younger ones among us. It’s also perfectly compatible with larger groups, so a one-on-one is optional, not the obligatory way of playing.
In this board game—Yes, it will require a proper board, either hand-drawn, which is relatively easy given the simplicity, or bought, even easier considering the game can be found at nearly every imaginable toy store, online or otherwise—the object is to get from the starting point at literal rock bottom to the very top, which immediately ends the game if one manages it.
Since the board is so small, one would think that means the game is very quickly over, but that is an entirely mistaken assumption. While one can very quickly move a few spaces by rolling the die—or, in some versions of the game, spinning a wheel—one can also very quickly, often in the same turn, lose all that one has gained through the often accidental use of chutes and ladders.
In some variants of the game, snakes replace the chutes, but the principle is always the same: Land on a chute, and you go all the way down to where it leads.
Land at a ladder, and you can climb all the way up to the top. This small feature can very quickly change around the hierarchy of the game and brings a large element of luck into the mix, meaning nearly everyone gets a chance to win.
This one is neat, not only because, despite its complexity, the whole game can be improvised and built out of pen and paper alone, but also because it has continued to be, for children and grownups alike, one of the most addicting strategy games ever for decades on end.
So many other games and even whole genres are based on the Battleship principle, and it is easy to see why. Be warned, though; this game is rather complicated compared to most others on the list, and players need to have strong wits and long attention spans.
When set up properly, Battleship plays like a good round of chess, but with a slightly greater element of luck and some unique game mechanics, like the differing health points of each ship type.
Unlike chess, though, Battleship matches tend to be quite limited in length, simply due to the fact that the game board isn’t that large and any good player will have guessed themselves through the entire ocean by a certain point, so it’s more of an ‘anywhere, at anytime, with anyone’ kind of game.
Which is, of course, great when you’re looking for something child-compatible.
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10. Connect Four
It could almost not be any simpler as a concept: On a relatively compact grid of circular spaces, arrange your puck-like chips in a line of four before your opponent does to win.
What it ends up being is like a hardcore version of Tic-Tac-Toe, with more complex strategy, longer playtime and much more room for creativity to affect the gameplay. All in all, great for any age group, perfect for a duel.
11. Hive – A New Entry
Hive is, for a change, a relatively new game, and one that you probably haven’t heard about till now. As described by its makers, it is a somewhat simpler, boardless version of the traditional game of chess, but with some changes and twists to the formula.
Not specifically a children’s game, it can still appeal to some older preteens and young teens as long as they can wrap their heads around the arguably easy to understand rules.
In Hive, each player controls—you guessed it—a hive of insects. The object is to encircle the enemy queen, practically the analogue to the king in chess, from all six sides—the game pieces in Hive are shaped like hexagons—which ends the round and grants the winner a point.
There are many insect types to choose from, which all behave differently, as different chess pieces would. From ants to grasshoppers and beetles, each piece has its own function and tactics.
The unique things about Hive are its hexagonal design, the lack of a board, allowing it to be played anywhere, and, of course, the insect-themed premise. An exotic game for sure, but worth trying out.
12. Patchwork – Interesting Board Game
This one is also a newcomer, but don’t let that distract you from its merits: Patchwork is quirky, lighthearted, easy to play and set up, and it fires up your imagination—besides teaching helpful skills such as resource management.
The basic goal of the game is to take multiple game pieces representing patches of fabric and arranging them to make a quilt—so, yes, essentially, this is a game about knitting.
Each player has their own personal game board, and the only element of competition is that the player with the most aesthetic and well-buttoned (more on that in a minute) quilt wins the round ultimately; however, during the actual game, there is no real element of one-upmanship or rivalry between the players present.
The interesting part are the aforementioned buttons, basically representing a money-like resource. With buttons, one can buy additional pieces for their quilt, but certain pieces may cost a lot more than others, so one has to weigh in their practicality—all pieces are shaped geometrically, not unlike Tetris blocks, so that they can fit into one another in any of countless combinations.
The players are not, however, completely free to just buy the piece they want all the time as long as they have the buttons handy, as Patchwork also employs a circular movement system, whereby the selection of pieces is rotated every turn, so you never really know what you’ll be able to buy until you’ve almost bought it anyways.
In the end, the player with the most buttons and the neatest quilt with the fewest blank spots wins.
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13. 1 on 1 Soccer game
True, not the most imaginative of titles, but this game keeps it simple, and for a reason.
The first videogame on our list, this one is a great choice for parents of soccer enthusiasts (or football enthusiasts, depending on where you live).
At its core, it is a very simple duel where both players try to out-goal each other while maintaining their defense; a digital version of the classic foosball nearly everyone used to play when they were young.
However, this digital rendition has an ace up its sleeve, and that’s cheat codes. With those and some creativity, one can have some really fun rounds of one-on-one football.
How about trying to get the ball in the net when the local gravity is set to that of the moon? Or what if all the in-game players behaved as if they were on ice? Or what if everything ran in slow-motion? The possibilities are nearly endless.
Another videogame, but this one’s a true classic, more so than even some physical games on this list. It has gone by countless titles over the years—most will remember the version called ‘Scorched Earth’, which was very popular on home PCs in the 80s, and others still might know it as ‘Artillery’.
Bowman is following the same principle as those two, roughly speaking: Two players face each other, each with a projectile weapon that needs to be aimed very precisely in order to hit the opponent. In this particular version of the game, two direct hits need to occur to defeat your opponent.
In more classic varieties, one often controlled a tank or some sci-fi vehicle that could actually fire explosives to damage and deform the environment, which could be used for a tactical advantage, for example to create cover from the opponent’s fire.
One could also change one’s position on the playing field in exchange for giving up a shot for one turn, and with each round, there’d be a wind blowing in a certain direction that one would have to factor in when aiming.
All these extra rules and complexities are missing in Bowman, though, and probably for the better, at least when you’re playing with particularly young children. In this variant of the game, all that each match depends on is the players’ ability to aim.
So, then, for introducing your little one to a true digital classic, this is a great opportunity to say the least. Should they ever get bored by its simplicity, there’s a whole world of Bowman-like games out there, from devilishly simple to headache-inducingly complex.
15. 3D Hartwig Chess Set Master
In spite of looks, this is much more than just one of those Computer-based chess simulators.
The point of 3D Hartwig Chess Set Master is not to emulate, simulate or even improve on the experience of playing physical chess against a real opponent; it is to teach particularly new players how to play the game effectively.
That is why this game has lots and lots of helping functions that guide newbies by the hand, show them which moves are allowed, for example, which are not and why, and it even gives some basic strategies on his to win the game.
If you’re looking for a way to get a younger child interested in this most complex and interesting strategy game, then 3D Hartwig Chess Set Master is probably it.
16. Bubble Struggle 2
And, last but not least, a very unique browser-based video game that can be played one at a time, taking turns depending on each level’s outcome.
The object is simple enough: Pop all the bubbles that appear on the playing field within the time limit.
What sounds so simple actually turns out to be a puzzle game extravaganza that requires anything from quick reflexes to wits and science knowledge depending on the level. Definitely a great game for both educational value and fun.
With this many games at your disposal, the next time you’ll hear ‘I’m bored, let’s play something!’, you won’t have to think too long what to respond with.
Though these are all very different games for different tastes and players, we encourage you to try out as many as possible, slowly, giving your child enough time to adjust to each and give their opinion on it. In any case, happy playing!