Saturday, June 7, 2014

E3: What games are you going to be playing this summer

What games are you going to be playing this summer?  Our boys are considering diving into the PS4 (Finally).  In the past we have been early adopters of all things video games. But now we have the Xbox, the Wii, a PS3, desktop computers with all the games you can play on the desktop and online, and the handheld games.  So, the sense of urgency to run out and get the latest and greatest is not quite there like it used to be.

They are really waiting to hear what the buzz is from E3 this year.  Our friend in video gaming, Andy Robertson, sent us a preview of this years biggest gaming preview event of the year.  


E3 News for Families
by: GeekDad UK Andy Robertson

E3 stands for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, and is a huge trade show at which companies can show off their upcoming products.
The games on show at E3 will appear on the future wish lists of players everywhere, so parents of children who play games might want to keep an eye out for what's being touted as the next must-have game or even console.

Skylanders and Disney

Perhaps the biggest family games that we know will be on show at E3 this year are the next Skylanders and Disney Infinity games.

Skylanders: Trap Team is the fourth main game in the Skylanders series, and consists of a new adventure with plenty of new figurines to collect.
At E3 we can expect to see more of the new characters revealed: the new Trap Masters as well as new playable villains, other new regular Skylanders, and reposed versions of Skylanders from previous games. There are still rumours of vehicles too so watch out for those.
Disney Infinity 2.0 Edition -- Marvel Super Heroes is the second Disney Infinity game, a new collection of adventures and the more free-play Toy Box mode with a focus on Marvel characters. We've seen the likes of Iron Man and Black Widow already, but the trailer also featured non-Marvel characters that didn't appear in the first game, like Stitch.
At E3 we can expect further confirmation of which characters players will be able to buy, and perhaps an alternative starter pack to the Avengers one that we've already seen. We know that Maleficent and Merida will be in the game, there are rumours of Donald Duck, Tinkerbell, Big Hero 6, Stitch, Spider-Man, Venom, Iron Fist, and the Guardians of the Galaxy, so we may see some of those.


Nintendo recently announced its own intention to move into the physical toys space occupied by Skylanders and Disney Infinity with its Nintendo Figurine Platform, though its figurines of characters like Mario will be compatible with multiple games.
Of course, we can also expect to see more on games that have already been announced: the new Zelda game and Yarn Yoshi for the Wii U, Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire and Pokemon Art Academy for the 3DS, and Sonic Boom and Super Smash Bros. for both consoles.


Sony should have plenty of PS4 games to talk about. Most of its big-budget games will likely be mature games, and we're particularly interested in Uncharted 4 -- rumoured to be called Uncharted 4: Sunken Blade -- and whatever new Vita game is coming from Bend Studio, who made Uncharted: Golden Abyss (we're hoping for another collaboration with Naughty Dog, maybe even a portable The Last of Us). The Last of Us: Remastered, the PS4 version of The Last of Us, is due out soon so we'll probably see more of that.
Families should check out Hohokum, Fez, and The Witness. Of course, we'll be particularly interested to see the long-awaited Minecraft: PS4 Edition, as well as the portable Vita version, both of which should be available in August.


Microsoft might not have announced its own virtual-reality headset, but it is doing interesting things with the likes of the motion- and voice-controlled Kinect, and the SmartGlass technology that connects your Xbox One or Xbox 360 with a smartphone or tablet.
Project Spark is particularly interesting: a toolset that allows players to make their own games, controllable with Kinect or SmartGlass as well as a normal controller.
Microsoft might have recently announced that it would allow people to buy the Xbox One without Kinect, but the motion controller is still relevant to a lot of families for more active games like the upcoming Fantasia: Music Evolved, which should also be at E3.
As for more traditional games, Fable Legends is an upcoming Xbox One exclusive that will likely have a PEGI 15 rating but should be interesting to older players and their families because of its four-player co-op. Sunset Overdrive, also for Xbox One, might be a shooter but it's cartoony and has mutant rather than human enemies, and is from the studio behind the popular PEGI 3/7 Ratchet & Clank games.
Microsoft also recently confirmed Forza Horizon 2 for the Xbox One and Xbox 360; the original Forza Horizon was a PEGI 12 game that did well in the charts long after it came out, so hopefully this sequel will similarly help the sparse PEGI 12 category.


The Sims 4, the next game in the best-selling PC franchise ever. The Sims 3 came out in 2009, so fans have been waiting for this sequel for a long time. The game is due out later this year, and we can expect to hear a firm release date at E3, but we haven't seen much of it yet besides a couple of recent videos about the tools for creating Sims and building houses. Hopefully we'll get to see more on what it's like to actually play as those Sims, including the new emotions system.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Family Video Game News of the Week

Everything you wanted to know about family video gaming AND MORE!  Thanks to our friends at Family Gamer TV we are providing you with the latest in family gaming.

What are your favorite games?  Let us know on the MrsVideoGame Facebook page

Angry Birds Epic, Skylanders RPG, Kinect Sports Rivals

The definitive source of family gaming news and advice, along with the top selling games by age group.


Angry Birds Epic

In last week's news, we spoke about the teaser for a new Angry Birds game. We now have more details on Angry Birds Epic, which is not just traditional Angry Birds in a medieval setting but an adventure role-playing game. We have some footage of Wes trying the game if you want to check out what it's like -- we'll include a link in the description below.

Roller Coaster Tycoon

Another surprising new mobile game announcement comes from Atari, with news that popular franchise RollerCoaster Tycoon, the first of which launched for PC in the late 90s, is coming to mobile. The trailer for RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile invites players to "build the ultimate amusement park", "invite your friends", and "top the leaderboards online".


Parents may remember Gauntlet as a four-player coin-operated arcade game from when they were younger. It's coming back soon, this time as a top-down dungeon brawler.

Kinect Sports Rivals Hands-On

One brand-new game that we've had a look at is Kinect Sports Rivals, coming soon from Rare which Andy was able to check out at the studio in Twycross. This game is important because it will be the first to make really good use of the Kinect that comes bundled with every Xbox One console.

Wii U Sports Club Free

Keeping on the subject of sports, Wii U owners in the US will be able to play Wii Sports Club for free this weekend, from the 21st to the 23rd of March. Nintendo of America Tweeted the news, but we've heard nothing from Nintendo UK. However, those of us in the UK do get the free update that brings new golf courses to the game, specifically "9 classic holes from Wii Sports Resort".

BAFTA Game Award Results

Finally, the British Academy Games Awards, for which we told you the nominations in our awards special video, took place last week. You can find out the winners for each category on the BAFTA website, but the big winners were The Last of Us (with five awards including "Best Game" and "Performer" for Ashley Johnson as Ellie), Grand Theft Auto V (with three awards including "British Game" and "Multiplayer"), and Tearaway (with three awards including "Artistic Achievement" and "Family").

Here's our coverage of these games:

One of Swords interviewed Toys for Bob co-founder Paul Reiche. While Reiche doesn't give away many specific details, it seems like that's not only because he's been told to keep quiet -- he talks about wanting to preserve the surprise. What he does confirm is that the game will come with a new line of characters, which he says will be "the best we've done -- not only in terms of the cool characters and their powers, but the toys".

Disney Infinity

Fansite "Disney Infinity Fans" has apparently found a way to play the game as Perry the Platypus rather than as his secret identity Agent P, which is how the figurine (and thus in-game character) comes.


There's not much news from the Minecraft teams this week, as it seems most of them are at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, but there is a new snapshot for the PC version. 14w11b changes the minecart physics, apparently makes the furnace minecart "actually useful", improves the mob AI, and includes "some surprises".

On the console side of things, 4J Studios has Tweeted that they plan to release one or two texture packs for the PS3 version of the game at the same time as Title Update 14.


3+ FIFA 14, Yoshi's New Island, Forza Motorsport 5
7+ The Lego Movie Videogame, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, Lego Marvel Super Heroes
12+ N/A
16+ Titanfall, Dark Souls II, Call of Duty: Ghosts
18+ South Park: The Stick of Truth, Thief, Battlefield 4


March 21
12+ Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD (PS3, Vita)
16+ inFamous: Second Son (PS4), The Witch and the Hundred Knight (PS3)
18+ Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4, PS3, Xbox One, 360), Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z (PS3, 360)
March 25
18+ Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (DLC) (PC, Mac)


Monday, March 17, 2014

Skylanders Needs More Girl Power

Guest Post by Andy Robertson

With the Swap Force figures seemingly all being male, does Skylanders 4 need to re-address the balance? We take a close up look at some of the favourite female Skylanders in preparation for announcements on the new game.

We have recently seen Angry Birds Stella announced, which is a version of the game targeted specifically at girls (judging from her colour and types of toys being sold). While boys will likely enjoy playing this as well it will be interesting to see if Skylanders goes a similar route.

As we highlight our favourite female characters do leave a comment and let us know which are your favourites.

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

No Devices or Video Games for kids under 12?

editorial by Mary Heston

Once again the discussion of violent video games has emerged in popular publications but this time it is even more extreme.  In this article they are not only saying that children should not play violent video games (which I agree with) but that they shouldn't play video games at all (which I TOTALLY disagree with).


There are areas that we can agree with.  I don't think that children under the age of two need to play video games, use handheld devices or even handle Mommies cell phone.  

But after that we begin to diverge in opinion.

The article says that children under 12 should never play video games of any kind.

This is something that I do not agree with.

In the past couple days there have been great articles posted about the need of military families to be able to get back to normal when a father / mother return from active duty.  Sometimes playing a video game together with their child is the best way for that parent to reconnect with their child.

Read Military Dads have to re-learn parenting skills after deployment

There have also been great studies out there about the importance of the male role model in a young girls life and that girls that play video games with their fathers end up being safer online and doing better in school.  Taking away this element of Father / Daughter bonding would be a detriment in my opinion.  Sure you could encourage the Daddy / Daughter time to consist of card games or other offline activities but in an era when we are in dire need of encouraging women to go into technical studies this is no time to take their technology away from them.

The HuffPo article also falls back on the old argument that violent media causes agression. While this may seem intuitively sound and most of this research is based on televsion and movie media, the exact opposite has been proven to be the case in regards to violent video games.

In an article from the Economist called "Chasing the Dream" there is a fantastic graph from the Dept. of Justice showing a direct correlation between the increase in video game sales and the decrease in teen violence.

There are many who say that there is proof that violent video games cause violence because the young men who have committed unspeakable violence in school or theater shootings also played violent video games.  In an article in Psych Central in Aug 2013 In New Study, Video Games Not Tied to Violence in High-Risk Youth Rick Nauert, PhD quotes Dr. Christopher Ferguson who said "“Statistically speaking, it would actually be more unusual if a youth delinquent or shooter did not play violent video games, given that the majority of youth and young men play such games at least occasionally.”

The article in the Huffington Post provides us with a provocative headline and an extreme solution to the wrong cause of a problem we hope to solve.  We all want a better world for our children but perhaps there is a simpler solution.  Perhaps instead of keeping our kids from playing video games we should ban all parents from telling their sons to "Be a Man" or "Man Up".  This may do more for our children than removing all video games until the age of 12 and trying to convince our 17 year olds that that they should limit their nonviolent video game play to 30 minutes a day.

Yes we want to be proactive and give our children the best possible chance of a long, healthy, and productive life.  But taking away their technology may not be the best solution.  In fact, it may actually be a detriment to them.

There are so many aspects of the HuffPo article that need to be addressed.  We will continue this in the next post.  


Digital Dementia - same argument used in the 70's when Sesame Street became popular.

Sleep Deprivation - a problem solved by charging devices at night but not by taking them away during the day.

Obesity - sedentary lifestyles are a problem solved by better role modeling by parents and better food choices.  Children will eat something besides chicken nuggets.

Children playing violent video games - The ESRB does an excellent job of rating our video games.  Use those ratings.

To be continued...

Genetics linked to children viewing high amounts of violent media

The lifelong debate of nature versus nurture continues -- this time in what your children watch. A recent study found that a specific variation of the serotonin-transporter gene was linked to children who engaged in increased viewing of violent television and playing of violent video games.

Read More

COMMENT:  This is an important and interesting study.  But even if there is a genetic disposition to seek out violent or stimulating activities does that translate to our children playing violent games and then acting that out in real life?  It would be interesting to see if the children identified as having this genetic code were more or less likely to control themselves socially.  Again, as in most research studies, more research is needed.