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Much Ado About Nothing is basically the proto romantic comedy

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When Romance Met ComedyWhen Romance Met ComedyWith When Romance Met Comedy, Caroline Siede examines the history of the rom-com through the years, one happily ever after (or not) at a time.

If there’s one thing I took away from my four years at theater school, it’s that plays are meant to be seen, not read. And that’s doubly true for the works of William Shakespeare, which can seem impossibly archaic on the page but are vital and hilarious when brought to life by actors who can actually make the language sound like dialogue. Far from stuffy and academic, Shakespeare’s plays were written as bawdy, rousing entertainment for the masses. It’s particularly ironic that Shakespeare has become so associated with snobby elitism when he also created the genre that’s most likely to be scoffed at today: the romantic comedy.

In fact, no one has influenced the modern rom-com genre more than William Shakespeare. Though Romeo & Juliet is a tragedy, it created a “star-crossed lovers” setup that has fueled romantic comedies from Roman Holiday to Pretty Woman. Twelfth Night is the inspiration for any rom-com that involves a high-stakes hidden identity, like While You Were Sleeping, Maid In Manhattan, and How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. Rosalind from As You Like It set the template for the scrappy, self-confident heroines of Working Girl and My Best Friend’s Wedding. And A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the urtext for any romance brimming with madcap wackiness, like Bringing Up Baby, Overboard, and Moonstruck.

But Shakespeare’s single most influential romantic comedy is Much Ado About Nothing, the iconic story of two wise and witty former lovers who claim they can’t stand one another, even though all they do is obsess about each other. Too proud to admit that the “merry war” betwixt them is covering up some very real feelings, Beatrice and Benedick need an outside push to get them to lower their pride and realize they’re perfect for one another.

From Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in Pride And Prejudice to Sam and Diane in Cheers, so many of our most beloved pop culture pairings owe a debt to Bea and Ben. Each new decade of filmmaking offers dozens of riffs on Shakespeare’s timeless enemies-to-lovers template, from The Philadelphia Story and Pillow Talk to When Harry Met Sally, Something’s Gotta Give, and Love & Basketball. Even 10 Things I Hate About You­—which pulls its plot from Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew—is really more of a Much Ado update. And when brought to life correctly, the original play can still feel as fresh, passionate, and laugh-out-loud funny as any of the contemporary rom-coms it inspired.

I initially fell in love with Much Ado at a 2007 Wild West-themed production at St. Louis’ wonderful outdoor Shakespeare Festival. Plenty, however, probably first encountered the play thanks to Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 big screen hit, which starred himself as Benedick and his then-wife Emma Thompson as Beatrice. They were an erudite “it couple” of the day, and their starry adaptation hit theaters just a few months after Thompson scooped up a Best Actress Oscar for Howards End.

By that point, the Irish-born Branagh had already branded himself as one of our foremost interpreters of Shakespeare (a reputation he solidified in 1996 with his epic four-hour take on Hamlet). After starting with the Royal Shakespeare Company and then founding the Renaissance Theatre Company, Branagh first brought the playwright to the big screen with his 1989 take on Henry V, which earned him Oscar nominations for Best Actor and Best Director before he had even turned 30. Emboldened by that success, Branagh decided to make a Shakespearean comedy as accessible as the history play he adapted. Much Ado was a natural choice. He’d been enchanted by the play ever since starring in a 1988 RTC production directed by Judi Dench. She’d later joke, “Ken Branagh, he stole all my ideas for the film.”

Much Ado was shot on location at a villa in sun-dappled Tuscany, and though it’s a period piece, Branagh wanted the costumes to be “rather vague” to “reflect how relevant and contemporary Shakespeare is today.” He sought to shake the cobwebs off The Bard, adding more action and streamlining the text without losing its poeticism. Branagh cast big-name American actors like Keanu Reeves and Denzel Washington alongside classically trained British ones to “make the language feel and sound different and unstuffy.” And he gave his adaptation an overall sense of vivacious sensuality.

Branagh’s Much Ado opens with returning war heroes pumping their fists atop charging horses. Soon enough, everyone is stripping naked to freshen up for the battle of love that’s to follow the wartime victory. It’s a surprising yet fitting intro for a comedy in which physical gags and innuendo abound. (Much Ado’s title is either a play on “noting,” as in eavesdropping, or a double entendre based on the fact that “nothing” was Elizabethan slang for “vagina.”) As Branagh put it, “For a whole generation of kids, some grateful teacher, with a gasp of relief, will be able to say, ‘Here are girls with cleavages and boys with tight trousers, class. You will now shut up for an hour and a half and pay attention!’”

Branagh makes for a rather hammy Benedick; his true stroke of genius was casting Thompson as Beatrice. Her sparkling, steely portrayal joins the canon of all-time-great Shakespeare performances. The best productions of Much Ado recognize there’s a touch of sadness beneath Beatrice and Benedick’s witty exteriors. They publicly boast about how much they hate marriage partially because they’re afraid it might not happen for them. (As Benedick admits in one of the play’s funniest lines, “When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.”) Thompson’s performance encapsulates all of that, hinting at the vulnerabilities beneath Beatrice’s flinty exterior.

Beyond its crowd-pleasing central couple, however, Much Ado is a hard nut to crack. Unlike Midsummer, which is consistent in its silliness, or Twelfth Night, which is masterful in its handling of tone, Much Ado swings erratically from broad comedy to stark drama. While Beatrice and Benedick are the play’s most memorable characters, the plot centers around young lovers Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard) and Hero (Kate Beckinsale, in her first film role). Their love-at-first sight match is arranged by the magnanimous Don Pedro, Prince Of Aragon (Denzel Washington, subtly excellent), and then nearly undone by the Prince’s dastardly half-brother Don John (Keanu Reeves), who tricks Claudio into thinking Hero has been unfaithful. (Though Reeves got a lot of flack for his performance at the time, the real problem is that he’s playing one of Shakespeare’s least interesting villains.)

While Much Ado starts as a silly vacation romp, it suddenly becomes a dark melodrama in which Hero is publicly humiliated at the altar and a kindly friar convinces her that the best course of action is to fake her own death until her innocence can be proven. Despite the impressive modernity of Beatrice and Benedick’s banter, the Hero/Claudio story is so tied to Elizabethan ideals about virginity that it’s difficult to make that part of the play relatable to a modern audience—especially when Hero’s happy ending involves reuniting with the fiancé who cruelly shamed her.

And yet those thorny issues are also a big part of what makes Much Ado so fascinating. Though Beatrice and Benedick’s courtship is sometimes described as a subplot that wound up overshadowing the rest of the play, I’d argue the Hero/Claudio storyline exists to advance Beatrice and Benedick’s arcs. When Hero is publicly shamed, even her own father, Leonato (Richard Briers), turns against her. It’s only Beatrice who remains steadfast in her loyalty, uttering her famous lament against Claudio, “O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place.” And while Benedick initially tries to stay neutral, Beatrice’s conviction eventually brings him to side with Hero, too.

As Tom Hiddleston put it in an A.V. Club interview about why he loves the play so much, “There’s one extraordinary aspect… which is almost unique in all of Shakespeare, which is the man, Benedick, takes the side of the women in blind faith.” Benedick believes Beatrice over the word of his two best friends, going so far as to challenge Claudio in Hero’s defense. If Benedick gets more stage time than Beatrice (he has by far the most lines in the play), it’s because he has further to go in his arc than she does in hers. Benedick finally proves worthy of Beatrice only after he rejects the toxicity of the men around him. Over 400 years ago, Shakespeare wrote a love story about the dangers of boys’ club mentalities and the importance of believing women.

My favorite version of Much Ado About Nothing gets Benedick’s transformation just right. In Josie Rourke’s 2011 West End production starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate (which is available to rent on the Digital Theatre platform), Tennant gives a performance as Benedick every bit the equal of Thompson’s Beatrice. Tennant has an almost unrivaled gift for making Shakespearean language sound like naturalistic dialogue without losing its musicality. And in addition to being absolutely hilarious in the play’s goofier moments (the scene where Benedick is tricked into falling in love is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on stage), Tennant also understands the nobler side of Benedick, a solider who refuses to be complicit in the cavalier cruelty of his brothers in arms.

Part of the joy of theater as an art form is in seeing what different productions bring out of a text as dense and malleable as Much Ado. And movie lovers can replicate that experience thanks to Joss Whedon’s 2013 adaptation, which he shot in his own home over the course of 12 days while on a break from editing The Avengers. Like Branagh, Whedon wanted to make the play feel fresh and accessible. He sets his version in contemporary California with a black and white aesthetic that also ties it to the screwball comedies of the 1930s and ’40s (many of which were inspired by Much Ado in the first place).

Whedon’s endearingly lo-fi take was another critical success that helped introduce Much Ado to a new generation. Personally, it’s not an all-time favorite of mine, mostly because I don’t think the cast of regular Whedonverse players are particularly adept at handling the Shakespearean language. (Amy Acker fairs okay as Beatrice, but Alexis Denisof just can’t make Benedick spring to life.) Yet Whedon’s Much Ado still offers plenty of examples of how directors can bring their own unique take to centuries-old material. In a small but genius adaptation choice, Whedon uses an innocuous exchange about a wedding dress to create a layered moment for waiting woman Margaret (Ashley Johnson), who’s been unwittingly used in the scheme to discredit Hero.

Where you can most directly see the impact of adaptation choice is in the two films’ wildly divergent takes on Dogberry, the buffoonish local constable who shows up halfway through the story and eventually helps save the day. In Branagh’s version, Michael Keaton leans into the kind of ridiculously over-the-top characterization that so often makes the character seem like he’s accidentally wandered in from another play. In Whedon’s version, however, Nathan Fillion brilliantly underplays Dogberry’s bumbling incompetence, turning a character that’s usually a drag into a comedic highlight. For that alone, the Whedon Much Ado deserves props.

One stage production that captures the depths that can be mined from Much Ado is director Kenny Leon’s 2019 Shakespeare in the Park version, which is set in 2020 Georgia and features an all-Black cast. Led by Danielle Brooks as Beatrice and Grantham Coleman as Benedick, the play is as funny and romantic as ever. Yet without altering the text, Leon also reflects the specificity of the Black experience. The “war” the men are returning from is some sort of militant social justice protest movement—an idea that’s only become more relevant since 2019. (The production was recorded for PBS’ Great Performances series and will air again this August.)

At the risk of sounding like a theater major cliché, I have to admit that I tend to prefer my Shakespeare on stage rather than adapted for film. Leon’s briskly paced production captures the rhythmic propulsion of Shakespeare’s language, which sometimes gets lost in a more visual medium like film. Plus there’s an x-factor in the way the performers can feed off the energy of an audience. In the PBS recording, Beatrice’s “I would eat his heart in the market-place” speech earns a spontaneous burst of applause—a reminder of just how timeless Shakespeare can be.

Ever since Much Ado first premiered, audiences have been clamoring to see it told and retold. A dedication in the 1632 Second Folio notes, “Let but Beatrice / And Benedick be seene, loe in a trice, the Cockpit Galleries, Boxes, all are full.” The reason we keep revisiting the play is the same reason we keep adapting its tropes for modern rom-coms. With Much Ado, Shakespeare tapped into something universal about love and human nature, highlighting our foibles with a perceptive yet sympathetic eye.

Even during their happy ending, Beatrice and Benedick can’t quite give up their quarreling. Rather than publicly profess their love, they’ll only concede to be marrying the other out of pity. “Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably,” Benedick notes earlier in the play. Whether their courtship is wisdom or folly is the eternal question—one that will continue to keep Shakespeare’s work alive for decades to come.

Next time: Edward Norton hoped religion and rom-coms were a match made in heaven in his directorial debut, Keeping The Faith.

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How Las Vegas became the world’s casino capital

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These days, it’s impossible to think of Las Vegas without the image of the lights on the strip and glamorous casinos coming to mind. But the Vegas we know of 2020 wasn’t always that way; and it took a long, long time to get its reputation for being the world’s casino capital. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and get to the root of how Las Vegas became the city that never sleeps.

A historical journey

It’s hard to believe these days, but the Las Vegas region was once an abundant marshland stock full of rich vegetation. That is, until the marsh receded, and the waters disappeared, transforming the landscape into a desert, with the trapped water underground sprouting life and forming an oasis.

It was during the 19th century that the explorer Antonio Armijo from Mexico foraged the way from New Mexico to California on the first commercial caravan. It was a member of the group, Rafael Rivera who rode west to find water and venture through the desert, setting his eyes upon Las Vegas Springs. Las Vegas was therefore named ‘the meadows’ after the grasses found growing there.

Years went on and both Mormon and Mexican settlers began to filter through. In 1890 it was decided by railroad developers that Las Vegas would serve as a spot along the San Pedro, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles railroad route as well as connecting to major cities along the Pacific Coast. From there on, Vegas boomed with stores, boarding houses and saloons popping up around the area. This was the beginning of the Las Vegas as we know it — with railroad workers and ranchers enjoying the gambling and drinking through illegal speakeasies and bootleg casinos operating despite the ban on gambling in Nevada in 1910.

In 1931 gambling once again became legal in the state, with new casinos and showgirl venues opening up along Fremont Street to entertain the thousands of workers who flocked the city during the construction of the Hoover Dam. The first hotel, El Rancho Vegas, opened up in 1941 along Highway 91. Its success inspired others to open up their own hotels along the highway which would one day become the strip. Tourists began to flock to the city over the next few decades to enjoy the casino scene and see incredible artists like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra perform.

The birth of the mega resort

It was in 1966 the businessman Howard Hughes purchased the Desert Inn hotel; this was followed by over a dozen more hotel purchases, pushing out the mobster-owned hotels that had previously dominated Las Vegas. The concept of the mega hotel came about in 1989 when Steve Wynn opened the Mirage as the first hotel resort in the city. By 1994, Las Vegas was the home of more than 86,000 hotel and motel rooms with 13 of the 20 largest mega resort hotels in the world. It was during this era that the Strip became populated with more hotels and casinos, with developments inspired by the iconic cities and countries of the globe including Egypt, Paris, New York and Rome.

Las Vegas in the 21st century

The Las Vegas of today is well and truly established as a home for entertainment and casinos — which remain the biggest source of income for the city. However, there’s no doubt that Vegas faces more competition than ever before from the virtual world, with more people than ever before opting to play at an online casino, rather than play in the old fashioned way, but Vegas will always have the advantage. For many, it’s a once in a lifetime trip that an online casino can’t replicate, but do the online equivalents help to increase interest in Vegas?

The bright lights of Vegas is attracting billions of dollars in investment as many try and get a slice of the revenue that the sector has to offer. During 2019 over 42.52 million people came to visit Las Vegas from all around the world. Domestically, it was shown to be the second most popular destination for U.S. traveller’s dream spots after New York.

These days, Las Vegas continues to thrive and be a source of entertainment for millions of visitors from around the world looking to experience what the city has to offer. With new generations becoming interested in casino games — and some incredible musical residencies continuing to be announced — Las Vegas surely will continue to be one best places to go for a unforgettable dream destination for many.

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Land-Based Casinos

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What can people find at some of the biggest land-based casinos in Canada? From Niagara Falls to Toronto, there is something for everyone at casinos in Canada, including table games, slots, roulette, blackjack, and other games. There are also many poker and blackjack tournaments held throughout the year and it is easy to find jackpots or slots with free spins at the casinos. Many casinos also have hotels, bars, and numerous restaurants which are perfect for players seeking some comfort. A relaxing casino experience for all ages can be found in many different places in Canada. Choose one from below.

Choosing a casino depends on your tastes and location within Canada. Do you want to experience the grandeur and splendour of nature while placing a bet? Then head to Niagara Falls. Do you want to see a show? Choose a casino with a show that will be perfect for you. If you are looking for pure relaxation, then check out some of the casinos with spas and world-class dining. Entertainment is also a large part of the casino experience in Canada. Musicians, bands, comedians, and other types of entertainment continue to be found at all of the biggest casinos.

Some Big Casinos Near Nature

Casino Niagara is located in one of the most beautiful places in Canada and the world. People from all around the globe come to experience the best of both worlds at Casino Niagara. Players have access to beauty and scenery while spending time at one of the biggest casinos in Canada. The casino has two floors with over 1200 slot machines, poker, and other table games. There are also many different restaurants and even a comedy club. The sports bar and casino was refurbished back in 2017, meaning that it has not lost any of its charm and shine.

ST Eugene Golf Resort: Casino of the Rockies is a golf and nature lovers’ paradise. The location could not be any more splendid. People can find the casino between the Rockies and Purcell Mountains. Furthermore, the casino has an interesting history after it was converted from an Indian Residential School. It was then opened in the early 2000s. St Eugene has table games, electronic roulette, baccarat, and blackjack. There is also a golf course, restaurant, bar, spa, and hotel that is highly rated in Canada. Overall games are limited so most people come for golfing and betting fun.

Caesars Windsor is famously located on the riverbank in Windsor, Ontario. Visitors from both Canada and the States frequent the casino and hotel. Players can see the Detroit and Michigan skyline from the area. There are two floors of slots, table games, and plenty of poker tables. Blackjack, baccarat, and roulette are also available at the casino. It has beautiful restaurants, a gym, bars, slots, and live sports. Check out the Titan 360™, a 10-foot tall slot machine with 5800 pounds of wins at the click of a button. It’s the largest slot machine in the world and great fun.

  • Enjoy the size of Casino de Montreal and Hard Rock Casino
  • Enjoy the big and beautiful Casino Niagara or ST Eugene Golf Resort
  • Enjoy High Culture at Elements Casino Brantford

River Rock Casino Resort – In Transit

Are you passing through Vancouver Airport and have a long transit? Hire a cab and spend some time enjoying slot machines at River Rock Casino Resort. There are slots galore and the different themes make it an enjoyable visit for all. There is even a Dungeons and Dragons slot for gamers. A fourteen-table game room can be found at the casino and international poker tournaments are held regularly. Other features include a VIP area, spa, live music, 24-hour food and drink, as well as other entertainment. Richmond is also worth a quick visit, especially for some delicious seafood.

Casino de Montreal – The Big Gun

Casino de Montreal is 526,488 square feet of casino excitement. The casino has around 20 thousand visitors each day and is one of the biggest casinos on the globe. If you are still unconvinced about the size of the place, then imagine five floors of slots and table games. 3,000 machines and 111 table games make the casino seem even more mammoth. Casino de Montreal games can be played in a smoke-free environment and many players comment on the user-friendly games and helpful staff. Complimentary drinks and top-rated gourmet food is all part of the experience at Casino de Montreal.

Hard Rock Casino – Another Big One

Hard Rock Casino is another large casino located in Vancouver, British Columbia. The casino is over 80,000 square feet, making it a big one in Canada. Hard Rock has gaming tables, slots, baccarat and a poker room. The casino includes 70 casino tables and 1,000 slots. Private rooms and high roller areas are also available. However, the Hard Rock name is known for excellent food and this is what people love about this casino. Many players comment on the quality of the food here. It even has a 1,000 seat theatre, making it great for dining and a show.

Elements Casino Brantford – Enjoy High Culture

Elements Casino Brantford is a historical gem for culture in Ontario. It is a charity casino that was established last century. It includes the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, which is a high society entertainment venue in Ontario. The centre is well known to performing arts enthusiasts in Ontario and Canada. Players come to see a show, enjoy some gourmet food and a game. The casino also has plenty of slots, table games, blackjack, baccarat, sic bo, three card poker, roulette, and other games. There is also a 14-table Texas Hold ‘Em poker room. Enjoy all the excitement.

River Cree Resort and Casino – Sports Lovers

River Cree Resort and Casino is a sport and gaming venue located in Edmonton that should not be overlooked. It has 39 tables of various money limits and over 1,000 slots. There are also a few different places to dine while enjoying a bet and other things to experience. There is a fitness centre, spa and a 200 room resort. However, the most interesting feature of this casino is the two hockey rinks, which are often used by the Edmonton Oilers for practice. It is possible to watch the team practice and go for a meal and some gaming fun.

For the ones who fancy playing online we recomend visiting canadiancasino.org!

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Top 8 Online Games That Kids Can Play Without Much Parental Supervision

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The gaming industry has been quite widespread since its inception. With the advent of globalisation and technology, this industry is reaching new heights. Kids these days are more inclined to the internet than they are to books. 

The internet has more information about everything than anywhere else and is very easily accessible. This further makes some parental control necessary. Most parents are worried about their kids playing violent video games that can further affect their mental health. 

Nevertheless, you cannot stop a kid from finding ways to log in to the internet, nor can you keep them away from playing video games. You can always supervise them on their media consumption. But that also gets tiresome after a point. This is when it gets necessary for you to introduce them to games that are not only kid-friendly but are also of their liking. 

If you are in a similar situation, looking for a way out, this article will surely help. Further mentioned are a few games that you can let your kid play while you concentrate on your work and well-being.  

1. Gummy Drop

Finding games that you can let your kids play without supervision is quite a task. With games like Gummy Drop, you do not have to worry one bit. With beautiful graphics and interesting gameplay, it does not take long for your kid to get hooked to the game. 

With new cities and interesting content being added almost every day, this 3 puzzle game is a good choice for your kids to play. It also connects to your Facebook account, letting you play with your other friends. It is also a nice way for your kids to improve their general knowledge and problem-solving skills. 

2. Skribbl

If you were a fan of Pictionary when you were growing up, you should definitely introduce your kids to this game. While the rules of Pictionary remain the same, this game improves on the visual aspect. With all of their friends in the same server, your kid can easily get hooked to this game. 

Easy and fun to play – once the server is set up, each player will get a word that they have to draw on the screen. The motive of the game is to help the other players guess your word. Each round chooses players at random. While it is advised that you use a tablet and a stylus to play this, you can always sketch with your finger. 

3. Ludo Supreme

A classic in every sense of the word, online ludo needs no introduction. There are some new features that are added in the game version of this app. It lets you connect to your Paytm account and earn real money while playing the game. 

Along with such amazing features, you can also play it for fun with your family or friends. It has other versions as well that come in different languages, especially in India, given the diverse nature of the country. You can download the LUDO for your android phones

4. Houseparty

There is no doubt that Houseparty has been one of the most popular downloads this pandemic. This is a networking app that lets you add as many as seven friends and play different games face-to-face via video calls. 

The novel approach of phone gaming made this a very widely chosen app. While playing games with your friends is always fun, this app lets you see and talk to them as well. Some of the most played games in this app include Heads Up!, Chips and Guac, Trivia and Quick Draw. With such amazing features and games, this is a worthwhile download for your kid. 

5. Monopoly

Monopoly is a very interesting game, which you can get your kids. Along with being fun, it can be played by any age group and is always stimulating your brain. This board game is an all-time classic that is now available on mobile platforms. 

The good thing about it being on the phone is that now your kids can play it with their friends as well, and all from the convenience of your home. 

6. Rocket League

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to play soccer but with cars, this game is exactly that. You get to pick a car at the beginning of the game in an oversized field with an oversized ball. Then start the five-minute matches where you have to score goals against them. 

To make it even more fun, this game allows the player to add up to three friends on the same server. It also has options where you can choose between casual play and ranked online play. Nevertheless, in both gameplays, you can earn new cosmetic looks for the car and get a chance to score more goals. 

7. UNO

Another all-time classic, UNO has been a very celebrated game all these years. The original company of UNO came out with the online version that is available on both iOS and Android devices. Since they are the copyright holders, you already know, the gameplay cannot get any better than this. 

Nevertheless, since it is a multiplayer game, you can play it both against your friends or strangers. It’s fun aesthetics, and new rules make it more interesting. It now has different modes of play and tournaments as well. You can also partner up and play 2v2 to win together. With servers available all around the world, you can connect to anyone you know. 

8. Guess The Word

Very obvious from the name itself, this game is known to be one of the most popular downloads in this list. It not only helps your kids spend some unsupervised time with themselves but also ensures that they learn new things in the process. 

The game contains different levels which get harder as your kid progresses, further making it more interesting and attractive. If you have some free time on your hands, you can also jump in and play with your kids.

Final Thoughts

So, these are the 8 games that kids of all ages can play without any tension. Above all, parents don’t have to panic or keep an eye on them all the time. 

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