Kids Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Kids RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Family-Friendly Fun: 9 Best PS4 Games for Kids in 2018 Wed, 24 Oct 2018 10:36:58 -0400 Littoface


Overcooked 2


Price: $24.99
Rating: 5/5 on PlayStation Store
Recommended age: 8+
Get it on: PlayStation Store


The Onion Kingdom needs your help again! Work together in local or online co-op to cook up dishes and serve them up to save the world.


This standalone sequel is a fun and frantic dash to get things done. Children can have fun and hone their communication skills, while the game's requirement of teamwork, as well as simple controls and gameplay make it a perfect game to play with kids.


Unravel Two


Price: $19.99
Rating: 8/10 on GameSkinny
Recommended age: 7+
Get it on: PlayStation Store


This sweet game captivated players with the original, and the sequel adds the ability to play with a friend (or a parent). Make your own Yarny, then embark on an adventure that promotes teamwork and friendship.


Guide your Yarnies through an adventure in a side-scrolling puzzle world that's buzzing with life. Playing together, each player controls one of the characters; alone, you can switch between them at will.


It's heartwarming and fun, but it can also be challenging in a great way at times, all of which makes it a perfect game for little gamers to cut their teeth on!


Super Bomberman R


Price: $39.99
Rating: 4.5/5 on PlayStation Store
Recommended Age: 11+
Get it on: PlayStation Store


Everyone's favorite little bomb-spewing guy is back, and he's got all his friends with him! The classic gameplay returns in this great game, which is reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons.


Bomberman and his friends are up against some tough opponents this time, and each baddie comes with his own special skills (a la Megaman). Blast your way through stages, gather powerups, and take down the enemies.. but try not to blow yourself up while you're at it.


This game receives a higher than usual recommended age because, while the idea is simple, it can get tough! It also, quite obviously, features exploding bombs and some silly violence in the cutscenes.


Yoku's Island Express


Price: $13.99
Rating: 4.5/5 on PlayStation Store
Recommended Age: 10+
Get it on: PlayStation Store


In this game, you play Yoku, a little dung beetle postmaster tasked with making some important deliveries and saving the day. Cue the poop jokes.


Okay, aside from the unfortunate nature of the main character (and hey, the ball he rolls around is white!), this fun little game is an odd mix of Metroidvania platforming and pinball.


That means that it's challenging, at times to the point of frustration. Yoku can't move much on his own, so he just rolls around and relies on the player to use pinball flippers to fling him around to new destinations.


The game is rated 10+ for cartoon violence and crude humor (see: poop jokes) but it's the challenge that really makes this one better for slightly more seasoned little gamers.


The Swords of Ditto


Price: $19.99
Rating: 4/5 on PlayStation Store
Recommended Age: 11+
Get it on: PlayStation Store


The Swords of Ditto isn't perfect, but it's a fun little game in the spirit of the Zelda games that's definitely more fun to play co-op.


Upon pulling a magical sword from a grave, you're tasked with becoming stronger so you can take on the evil enchantress Mormo and bring peace back to the land.. at least for the next 100 years.


The game is procedurally generated and technically uses permadeath, but is set up in such a way that you're able to enjoy it without frustrations. Kids will enjoy the whimsical cartoon-like visuals, the literal "toys" that the characters attack with, and the cute kazoo-based soundtrack.


We set the recommended age a bit higher for this one (it's rated ESRB-10) because despite the cutesy visuals, some of the puzzles are not always clear and there's a bit of reading. Also, you pull swords out of children's graves. It's kind of morbid in that regard, but not much else.


Scribblenauts Showdown


Price: $39.99
Rating: 4/5 on PlayStation Store
Recommended Age: 8+
Get it on: PlayStation Store


Scribblenauts meets Mario Party in this party game, meant to be played by families together. Some reviewers were disappointed in the game's repetitive nature, but as a family-friendly "together time" game, it's definitely a fun way to spend an afternoon.


The game marks a stark departure from the usual style of Scribblenauts and instead uses 25 mini-games to pit players against each other in a race to the finish.


The game does retain certain aspects of the Scribblenauts franchise, though, like the ability to write practically anything to life. This makes it a good way for kids to practice their writing skills and outside the box thinking.


De Blob 2


Price: $18.51
Rating: 3.5/5 on Metacritic
Recommended age: 9+
Get it on: Amazon


Enter the whimsical world of De Blob with this fun sequel. The sequel is a great standalone game that holds its own without needing to play the first, though you may want to after playing this second installment.


In this 2D platforming puzzler, you play as the titular Blob, who is on a quest to restore color to his home of Prisma City. It's like finger-painting on a video game: leave color wherever you touch and write your own adventure.


Split-screen co-op means a sibling, friend, or parent can hop in and play along.


Kerbal Space Program


Price: $39.99
Rating: 4.5/5 on PlayStation Store
Recommended Age: 8+
Get it on: Kerbal Space Program Website  


Kerbal Space Program is not a kid's game. In fact, it's a pretty complex physics and science-based space exploration simulator that encourages strategic and critical thinking.


But that's what makes it so appealing to kids: They're free to discover it however they want, without it being oversimplified for a younger audience. Get this one for kids who welcome a challenge and like to analyze and really think about things.


Based on reviews from actual kids, this game not only teaches concepts like physics, problem-solving and task management, but it's also actually really fun!


LEGO The Incredibles


Price: $49.99
Rating: 8/10 on GameSkinny
Recommended Age: 6+
Get it on: Amazon


This fun couch co-op game is perfect for playing with the kids. The open world offers plenty of side-quests and tons of things to find, collect and do, with all the usual silliness we've come to expect from LEGO games.


Kids will love the chance to replay the events of the Incredibles movies as their favorite characters from the franchise. Other familiar faces from the Pixar family make an appearance, as well, making this extra fun for the adults playing along, and for young Pixar fans.


Despite the word "game" in the name, video games are largely created with adults in mind. But more and more, some fantastic games are coming out meant to be played by a younger audience — or even for adults and kids to play together.


This year's already brought us many awesome games kids can enjoy and even learn from. We went through the year's offerings and brought you the best of the best in video games for kids (presented here in no particular order).


For each game, you'll find its price, rating from a reputable source, a link to buy it, and a recommended age. We based the recommended age on ESRB ratings, ratings from kids and parents, and this writer's own personal experience as a parent.


So cook up some fun, run your own space station, and, always, save the world with these nine 2018 games perfect for kids!


Don't see the game you're looking for here? Check out our other best games lists here: 

6 Great Gaming YouTube Channels for Tweens Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:09:43 -0500 ESpalding


So there you have it! A handful of YouTubers who are great for young gamers. Of course, I've only skimmed the surface here; there are many others out there who would be equally suitable.


If you are unsure as to whether or not a YouTuber might be suitable for your tween to watch, then have a look at the list of videos the host has uploaded to see what games they are playing. Obviously, some games are not suitable for children of any age, so you'd probably be right in thinking that they wouldn't be very child-friendly. You could also talk to your child to see what games they are interested in, and do the legwork for them by searching for suitable YouTubers yourself. At least then you will know who your child is watching!


YouTuber: AliA

Currently playing Pokemon GO

I first came across AliA when Pokemon GO was a new thing, just curious about who was catching what and any techniques I could follow. Since then, I have told all sorts of people to check out his videos because they are fun, informative, and perfect for younger gamers. His MoreAliA channel is the one you need to watch for the more child-friendly games such as Pokemon GO and Super Mario Odyssey, but he does have another channel with more mature content that features games for older gamers, including Fortnite and Call of Duty.


AliA's main channel has been around since 2006, but his younger channel has only been going since 2013. In total he has a subscriber base of about 13 million. 




YouTuber: ZackScottGames

Currently playing various titles

Even in the about section of his YouTube channel, ZackScottGames makes a point of saying that his videos are in line with the rating of a game. If it has an E rating, then all his solo commentary videos are suitable for all. However, this does mean that with any unrated or mature games, his commentary will be in line with that.


Recent games that he has covered on his channel include Splatoon 2The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WildMario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Super Mario Odyssey. 


His channel has been going since 2010, and his cumulative total video views are well over 1 billion.


YouTuber: DanTDM

Currently playing Minecraft and Let's Plays

Unveiled this week, DanTDM (TheDiamondMinecart) was announced as the highest paid YouTuber of 2017, and it really doesn't come as a surprise. Dan has been doing Minecraft and Let's Play videos since 2012, and his videos have amassed well over 11 billion views. From The Escapists 2 to recent releases such as A Hat in Time, his videos attract gamers of all ages because of his quirky personality and other fun content.


Dan always watches his language and doesn't make videos featuring the more mature games on the market, and that is why he is one of the most popular gaming YouTubers in the business!


YouTuber: EthanGamer

Currently playing Roblox, Minecraft, and mobile games

In an article about YouTube channels that are good for kids, it might be a good idea to actually look at some of the kids out there who already have their own channels. EthanGamer is one such kid, and his channel is huge. He mostly plays Roblox and Minecraft, but he also dabbles with mobile games and other kid-friendly titles such as Slime Rancher and Nintendo Switch games.


For someone who is a lot younger than most of the gaming channel hosts out there, his YouTube channel is going from strength to strength, and the channel stats reflect this. He currently has 1.7 million subscribers and over 1 billion views across the board!


Being a child himself, all his videos are suitable for kids of all ages, and his channel is policed by his parents to make sure that their child and yours are safe.


YouTuber: Blitz

Currently doing different Let's Plays every week

Blitz has a whole host of great Let's Play videos on his YouTube channel. From little-known browser games to bigger indie games, there is something for everyone! 


His channel started in 2009, and since then he has amassed a staggering 350 million views and currently has 1.1 million subscribers. 


Any tween who is interested in finding out about some of the lesser-known games should really go and check him out. His videos are lighthearted, clean, and he keeps the bad language down to a minimum. But do be cautious because he does have an "after dark" channel which may contain more adult language.


YouTuber: chuggaaconroy

Currently playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf

On his standalone channel, chuggaaconroy joined YouTube in 2006 and has since uploaded video covering all sorts of games. From his first videos about Earthbound, through The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and all the way up to Animal Crossing: New Leaf, he tends to focus on games from various Nintendo DS gens.


He does have a second channel called The Runaway Guys, which is a collaboration between himself, ProtonJon, and NintendoCapriSun. They also love making videos based on DS games, and are currently uploading content about The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes.


The reason chuggaaconroy is on this list is because his content is always happy, clean, and to me, it is clear that he makes an effort to appeal to younger gamers. 


"Oh no! An article about YouTube channels for kids! It's just going to be about Minecraft, isn't it?"


You might be happy to learn that no, there are many things more interesting than watching Minecraft on YouTube. Kids aged between 8-12, or "tweens" as they are sometimes referred to, are gradually wanting to break away from making and watching videos centered around the building game, and there are a whole host of great channels out there which cater to that.


As a parent, it is important to me that kids of this age watch videos that are suitable for them in content and how the hosts present themselves. Although he is the most famous of gaming YouTubers, I wouldn't want my kids watching some of PewDiePie's videos -- especially given some of his recent faux pas


Check out some of these great YouTube channels that we have found! All are suitable for tweens, and I've tried to steer clear of videos solely about Minecraft -- okay, so there might be one.

Are Video Game Apps Really Helping Our Toddlers? Sun, 30 Oct 2016 16:32:49 -0400 Damien Smith

Video games have long been a topic of controversy as to whether they are beneficial or simply just a waste of time that is rotting everyone's brains. While it is easy to assume video game apps are nothing but mindless entertainment, they do in fact help children.

Here are some of the many ways that video game apps help toddlers.

The subconscious mind

Our minds are constantly taking in information, every second of the waking day. Most of the time we don't even realize this unless we directly think about a particular topic. Throughout the day, we all do things that we don't realize. For example, I have often been told that I quietly speak the words I am typing without noticing. Other times I could make facial expressions without realizing it, particularly if I am otherwise distracted.

If we are capable of unknowingly making various actions, then the same must be said for when it comes to learning. So while playing video games it is easy to learn to pay attention to small details. 

As a kid, I learned from playing video games that if I want a particular item that costs money, I have to save up for it. This means that as a kid if I wanted a particular game, toy or whatever, I always saved up for it as oppose to spending needlessly. I didn't know at the time it was video games that taught me this, but they did.

Learning something subconsciously may not become apparent at first but over time the habit begins to slip into everyday life. The human mind is an immensely powerful thing capable of incredible feats. With the mind having such an ability, the possibilities of things to learn are countless. But what kids will learn will depend on what they play.

Improving motor skills and reaction time

Playing video games consists of continuously using your hands. At a young age, small children are still coming to grips with putting their motor skills to use. To improve those skills, they must use their hands in all different manners.

If a child has an interest in video games, there is nothing better to help improve motor skills. From handling a tablet or mobile phone to using the controls of the game, playing will put your handling skills to the test. With practice comes improvement and with different games come different usage.

It isn't just a child's motor skills that are put to the test, but their reaction time. Many games require you to act quickly or respond quickly to something on the screen. While children's reaction time is nowhere near as high as that of an adult, over time it will quickly improve.

As a child and teenager, I played a lot of fast paced games that required extremely quick reactions. Eventually, the speed of these games just became natural, as did my ability to react to something. In one instance a friend of mine was watching me play Quake 3 Arena.


I saw an enemy and instantly shot at them, defeating them. My friend hadn't even spotted the enemy due to his reaction time being slower than mine, making it look like I shot through the wall. The use of having such a quick reaction time may not instantly be obvious, but it is particularly in adulthood with the likes of driving.

The earlier these skills are put into practice, the faster they will improve. The faster they improve, the abler and readier children are for the challenges they face as they grow older.

Bringing out the artist in children

Art is one of the primary aspects of video games and their development. Everything you see on the screen is a form of art. Very often, video games inspire children to draw or paint their favorite characters. This then can turn into a talent that continues throughout their entire life.

Some even progress to work in the video game industry as artists. All you have to do is look on the Twitters of video game developers to see the amazing fan art that is created by artists of all ages. That is but one place to find the millions of pieces of video game artwork out there.

It isn't just in paintings or drawings, but eventually a child could become interested in learning 3D modelling, using the likes of Blender or 3D Studio Max. Having such a skill can later progress into any number of various careers in adulthood.

Being inspired to make video games

Anyone who plays video games has specific games that they have fond memories of -- sometimes to the point that the developers of the games can inspire them to want to become video game developers themselves. There is no better time to start having an interest in developing games than as a child.

While it is one of my life long ambitions to create a video game, it wasn't as easy to get started when I was a kid as it is now. In this day and age, there are so many awesome and easy to use game engines that are perfect to help get children started.

There are basic engines like Game Guru, RPG Maker and Game Maker. Alternatively, there are plenty of video game editors like Legend of Grimrock that allow you to create your own levels, plus add your own ideas and creations. There is no better place to start than with any of the above. Most of all, they don't cost a fortune either.

Some of the video game industry's most prolific developers and programmers started their journey into video game development at a very young age. Examples of this would be American McGee, John Romero and John Carmack.

All three of the above-mentioned industry titans have been a part of some of the biggest titles in video game history. If your child is to show such an interest and passion towards video games and their developers, they too could later become as successful.

What about children with disabilities?

Video games are just as beneficial to children with disabilities as those who don't. Kids with learning disabilities and even autism can learn from video games, it just depends on their interest level with them. My four-year-old son, who is diagnosed with autism, has an exceptional interest in video games.

When he was younger, he became extremely interested in one particular game. While he could not play it himself he would often sit on my knee while I played. Within a matter of days, he had memorized all the levels in the game perfectly. If I made a single mistake at any time, he would become upset.

For a three-year-old (at the time) with autism to be able to learn eight large levels by heart is an incredible feat. Not only was it something that improved his ability to memorize, but it encouraged him to interact. He figured out ways of communicating what he wanted in spite of unable to speak.

This later led to him using this method of communication with everything else. As time and playing games with my son has continued, he has found many ways of communicating with me. Sometimes it is through actions, other times it is through sound or facial expressions.

There is no denying that it is his interest in video games and playing them with me that has helped him with communication. While not all children with autism will have the same results with video games, the progression my son has made due to playing games with me is undeniable.

Video games do help our children

There are lots of varying ways that video games can help children. Those that I have mentioned are but only a few -- and ones that are not always thought of. I've played video games since the age of three. And now at twenty-seven, here I am writing on a video game website about what I am passionate about. Not to mention being an aspiring video game developer in my spare time.

Not too shabby for someone who spent a large percentage of his life with a controller in hand staring at a screen eh? Sure, video games have long had fingers pointed at them in an attempt to blame them for a variety of things. The one thing that media never does cover, however, is the positives of video games and how they can help people -- especially our toddlers. 

Games for Grandparents and Grandchildren: Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks Tue, 03 May 2016 06:16:58 -0400 The Soapbox Lord

“I just don’t understand those, whatchamacallit? Damgummed vidja games you play. They don’t make any blasted sense to me.”

One of my grandparents once told me something not too far removed from that sentence. My cousin and I were sitting down playing my brand-new copy of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on my still shiny, purple Gamecube. (Oh yeah, I am going wayyyy back to 2002.) My cousin and I did our best to explain video games to the bewildered, older person, but our eleven-year-old selves couldn’t convince the grandparent that games were anything other than the preconceptions they held.

You tell those young whippersnappers!

You tell those young whippersnappers!

Just fourteen years later, I have met several grandparents and older adults who either play video games with their younger family members or have expressed an interest in the idea. With that in mind, here's a list of somewhat recent titles that might be starting points for grandparents who want to play games with their grandchildren. Who knows? Maybe you will be playing one of these games and it will catch your grandparent’s eye like no Bingo game ever could.

This is a varied list. Some of these games will be more difficult to play than others, and some of these games are aimed more at mature players than others. I've included descriptions with each entry so you have an idea of what the game is before scurrying off to entice your victim loved one to play.

Let’s get started!



Available on Steam, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360.

Can two players play at the same time?  Yes 

Control complexity?  Minimal

Juju is an extremely cute platformer ( a game where you navigate obstacles and collect floating, shiny things) starring a pink panda bear and his best friend Peyo, who just so happens to be an anthropomorphic snake. (Because video games okay?) Juju and Peyo get into some trouble and wind up releasing an evil bat that kidnaps Juju’s dad and places some dark magic on Juju’s home forest. It’s up to Juju and Peyo to save the day!

The gameplay is almost as simple as the plot for this one. Players control their choice of the two characters, and their partner controls the other. Players navigate levels filled with obstacles, enemies, and tons of floating, shiny objects to collect! The game goes out of its way to entice newcomers to play. The character of Peyo has skills Juju does not, and he is also less targeted by enemies, allowing his player to simply enjoy the game.

The controls in Juju are also simple. You control your character and have buttons to jump and perform an attack. There are five buttons used at most, making this ideal for all newcomers.

Juju’s novice-friendly design makes it a great choice for either enticing grandparents or younger grandchildren. If you want more information about the game, I actually wrote a review about it here! (Shameless self-promotion for the win!)


Yoshi’s Woolly World  

Available on the WiiU.

Can two players play at the same time?  Yes

Control complexity?  Minimal

Much like the aforementioned Juju, Yoshi’s Woolly World is a platformer where you navigate obstacles, defeat enemies, and collect shiny objects. What separates the two is the degree of difficulty and art style. The world of Woolly (the full title is a mouthful) is presented as living yarn, and yes, it is as adorable as it sounds. The art style makes the game appealing to players of all ages and can bring a smile to the face of the most cynical of players, such as myself.

The cute is strong with this one.

Players have the options of four different controllers for playing this one. You have the option of the Wii U Gamepad, the Wii U Pro Controller, the Wiimote, and the Classic Controller. As with Juju, there are essentially five buttons used in gameplay. When playing with another person, both people can also use different controllers, depending on their preference.  


Woolly is also more difficult than Juju. If Juju’s difficulty was rated at a 1 on a scale from 0-10, Wooly would fall somewhere between a 2 or a 3. Just something to keep in mind for newer players. The game allows two people to play simultaneously, so grandma can help you snag all of those collectibles!


Katamari series

Available on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.

Can two players play at the same time? Depends on the game from what I can gather. 

Control complexity? Moderate

The Katamari series is an example of simplicity done beautifully. The objective of the game is to roll around large environments and collecting everything into a large ball of, well, everything. There is some story about replacing the stars, but all you need to know is you can collect virtually anything into your giant roving ball of objects. It’s a game that is simple to grasp and enjoy.

Here’s the game in action.


The controls are slightly more demanding than the previous titles mentioned, but they don't take long to become comfortable. The controls are similar to controlling the treads on a tank. If you want to go forward, you move both sticks forward. If you want to turn, you push the stick forward on the side you wish to turn. It's slightly more complicated, but not enough to completely alienate people. You can see more of the controls here.

Guitar Hero and Rock Band  

Available on Playstation 3&4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One

Can two players play at the same time? Two and more!

Control complexity? Depends on your difficulty and instrument, but minimal to difficult.

The Guitar Hero and Rock Band series are unique as they can provide an enjoyable experience for newcomers and experts alike. The Rock Band games have modes where you cannot fail, and instead, can simply enjoy the music and your attempts to play it. If your grandparents don’t have the dexterity for the guitar, let them beat the drums to death. If drums aren’t their thing, give them a mic and have them wail to the classics they know and love!

The controls complexity depends on the difficulty you decide to play. Each difficulty adds a new button for the guitar and drums. For singing, it makes some notes harder to hit and adds more difficult pitches and sections. There's a reason these games have become hit party games though. There is a difficulty level for all players to enjoy!

With a large library of songs included with the base game and a huge selection of songs available to download, there’s bound to be some songs your grandparents enjoy. These games can provide an evening of fun for the whole family to enjoy. Before you know it, you’ll have a garage band and participate in the local battle of the bands.

 It may or may not make your grandmother a badass metalhead.


Mario series

Available on the WiiU

Can two players play at the same time? Two and more!

Control complexity? Minimal

Gaming’s most iconic mascot has been the star of countless games that have entranced beginners and veterans alike for years. His newest games are no different. The newest titles on the WiiU are a step up in difficulty from the prior entries on this list, but they also have various modes for beginners and support for more than two players. Now grandma and grandpa both can get in on quashing Bowser’s plans!

 The Mario series is one of the longest-running and most iconic game franchises of all time, yet has managed to retain its charming simplicity throughout all of the years. The controls are simple to learn and easy to master, using six buttons at the most. The challenge comes not from the controls but being precise. However, the series has always been friendly for newcomers and remains welcoming to all.


Super Smash Bros

Available on the Wii U

Can two players play at the same time? Two and more!

Control complexity? Moderate

Now this might be a confusing entry. The Smash series is known for its depth, and the skill displayed by pros at tournaments is mindboggling. The game still remains inviting for newcomers. I have hooked several unbelieving friends with a few rounds of Smash. The game is more complicated and has more controls than some entries here, but it remains a simple one to learn and enjoy.

This is easily the most complex game mentioned here in regards to controls. The game only uses about eight buttons (no matter which of the four controllers you choose to use), but there are multiple uses for many moves tied to these few buttons. Despite that, the game remains a frantic and enjoyable experience, even if you aren't sure exactly what is going on onscreen (which is me when playing most fighting games).

With all of the sheer chaos occurring onscreen, you may not be exactly sure what just happened, but you know it looked awesome and can’t wait to continue playing. The game allows up to eight people to play, and players can customize the amount of zaniness in matches and adjust things accordingly as needed. Just don’t complain when Great-grandma Anita wipes the floor with you.


Madden games

Available on anything. These games are literally available everywhere on every platform.

Can two players play at the same time? Two and more!

Control complexity? Moderate 

Now before you question this choice, hear me out. During some summers, I would visit my cousin, and we generally ending up playing video games. One day my uncle expressed interest in playing. Giddy with excitement, we naturally started him with the worst possible choice, Mass Effect. He called defeat with a few short, but oh so hilarious, minutes.

Next, we tried Call of Duty, he fared a little better, but he could not grasp the concept of operating two joysticks simultaneously. After my cousin met many a death at the hands of his dad’s grenades, we admitted defeat. My uncle then laid his eyes on Madden and being the football fanatic he is, asked to give it a whirl. My cousin and I decided it couldn’t be any worse than the other games, so we gave it a shot. We have regretted it ever since.

My uncle’s knowledge of football outweighed his lack of gaming skills, and he managed to defeat us over and over again. Things got to the point where he was asking us to play him because he wanted to try more advanced tactics.

I mention this story because you never know which games newcomers will do well when first introduced to gaming. If your grandparent has any interest in football, give Madden a shot. The controls are relatively simple, and the commands are usually posted on the screen for quick reference. Plays are assigned to a button so you know which play you are picking. Actions such as running, stiff-arm, and juking are all tied to individual buttons which are usually displayed before the ball is snapped. Each receiver is also assigned a button, so you know which receiver you are throwing the ball to with every play. 

You can also play the game together on the same team to help ease newcomers into the game. It’s a great idea for those who love sports, and an excellent starting point for the world of games.


There are plenty of games grandparents can play with their grandchildren, or can be used to entice your grandparent to give the world of gaming a shot. Star Fox Zero for the WiiU has an invincibility mode for newcomers. Pikmin 3 for the WiiU allows two captains to cooperate and attempt to salvage their spaceship to escape a hostile planet. Rocket League is a more advanced title, but for those who want a challenging and entertaining cooperative experience, look no further. For the truly awesome grandparents, look into Portal 2 for some cooperative, puzzle-solving goodness!

All of these titles I’ve mentioned are barely a drop in the ocean of family/grandparent-friendly games available.  Give these titles a shot, and see what happens. You never know. Maybe your grandparents have mad player skills waiting to be unleashed! After all, I can count the number of times I have beaten my uncle in Madden on one hand. Do not underestimate your opponent!

Do you have any games you play with your grandparents or grandchildren? Let us know in the comments below!


Five Nights at Freddy's creator Scott Cawthon may be working on a new young reader's series. [updated] Sun, 20 Mar 2016 07:09:33 -0400 Joshua Potter

It is very possible we may be getting a book series revolving around the Five Nights at Freddy's brand later this year. Book publisher HarperCollins recently added a placeholder on their publishing site regarding a, "Young Adult Horror" series to be written by Scott Cawthon.

This follows the release of another book of his, published by CreateSpace, an independent publisher. Cawthon's earlier release, Five Nights at Freddy's: The Silver Eyeswas received positively by the fan-base, who praised the book for the suspenseful tone that Cawthon is known for. The book averages 4.5 stars on Amazon's 5-star ranking system.

The move to HarperCollins, one of the world's largest publishing companies and representative of such authors as Clive Barker & Michael Crichton, signifies the possibilities of a long-term book deal. While it is not known for sure whether or not the book will take place in the Five Nights at Freddy's world, the identifiers listed for the book include, "Media Tie-in, Imagination & Play, and Horror & Ghost Stories", leading us to assume that some sort of game influence will lend itself to these books. 

The mysterious new book is simply labeled as Young Adult Horror # 1 on the site as of right now, and has an e-book and hardcover ISBN already generated. The book will be priced at $9.99 and $17.99 respectively, and is scheduled to be released on September 6th. 2016.

As of this moment, Scott Cawthon has not responded to any e-mails regarding this new series, but this article will be updated if any news develops.

Update 1: Scott Cawthon did previously responded to a post on Steam regarding a book listing on Amazon.

Hey guys, just to be clear. The 2nd book listing is fake. People are able to create any name they want on Amazon and then their items get grouped in with mine on search listings. I'm having the fake listing removed as well as taking action against the user.

It is unclear whether or not Scott is referring to HarperCollins' Young Adult Horror #1 that is credited to him, since the poster he was responding to was asking about Amazon. Amazon has an open-source policy for publications, HarperCollins does not.

This invite the question as to why anyone would bother to offer a hardcover version if the listing is a stolen IP Hardcover books are normally much more expensive to make then paperback books, and exponentially more expensive then a simple e-book version would be.

This isn't to say Scott may be hiding the truth. Video game books are often made without the owner's consent, however these books are typically self-published and are never hardcover.

Since the update of this article, Scott has again been contacted with hopes to clear up any confusion surrounding this story, and has been provided with HarperCollins' official ISBN for the book to help him dispute any claims against his protected properties.

Fire Emblem: Fates - Benefits of support ranks, marriage, and children Wed, 17 Feb 2016 02:30:01 -0500 David Fisher

Unit support relationships have been in Fire Emblem since the beginning, with the origins of the familiar "conversations" appearing as early as FE6: Binding Blade. In Fire Emblem: Awakening, the concept of support conversations went a step further with married units producing children that would come from the future using some time travel hijinks to aid their parents in battle (with the exception of "Not-Batman," of course).

In Fire Emblem: Fates, however, the support formula from Awakening has been changed up just a little bit for various reasons ranging from in-game lore to in-game multiplayer balance. Here's everything you need to know to take advantage of the new mechanics!

Battlefields build the strongest friendships!

For those who don't know, the Support mechanic basically translates to the friendship level between units (yes, you can rank friendship, didn't you know?). Every Fire Emblem game has its own compatible pairings, and these can usually be found by looking at the in-game support menu. Depending on the characters, each unit can usually reach the default A Rank for friends or an S Rank which leads to marriage. Depending on which rank the paired units have (C/B/A/S) the two will receive various buffs in battle ranging from increased hit rates to higher critical and evasion chances.

In Fire Emblem: Fates there is the new A+ Rank which is basically the "friendship" or "buddy" rank. This option allows for characters of the same sex to gain the same benefits of married units, but it will not result in a child. However, it should be noted that each unit can have both an S Rank and an A+ Rank relationship. They can gain multiple A Rank supports as well, but only one A+ buddy and S Rank partner.

NOTE: The A+ supports are one-way. For example, Elise can A+ Rank Effie, but then Effie can go and A+ Nyx, and so on.

Relationship building 101: How to increase support levels

While any two units can be paired up on the battlefield, only compatible ones will gain support points. These points can be gained in a number of ways, including:

  • Fighting enemies while paired up (Guard Stance)
  • Fighting while standing next to one another (Attack Stance)
  • Using a healing staff
  • Singing (works similar to Dancing in previous titles)
  • Random conversations that occur in My Castle or from Event Tiles
  • Bonding with individual units in Private Quarters (Corrin/Player Character only)
  • Using a Seed of Trust item on them (it's like Rare Candies, but for relationships!)

Whenever compatible units gain support points in battle, a heart will appear over their head (Image Source: Serenes Forest)

It should be noted that each method of gaining support points results in different amounts of points being gained. While the amount of points required to increase support levels varies depending on the pairing, they generally require about 18-45 points each depending on the difficulty settings. During any given battle, each pair can only gain up to 27 points - however, the points gained through the glittering Event Tiles on a map or Seeds of Trust do not apply to the maximum points.

The amount of points gained in each scenario are as follows:

  • Guard Stance: +6
  • Attack Stance: +6
  • Healing: +2
  • Dancing: +2
  • If partner Dual Strikes or Dual Guards while paired: +2
  • Event Tile conversation while paired: +9
  • Conversations: +9
  • Seed of Trust: +9
  • Private Quarters bonding/invitations: varies

Benefits of higher support ranks

Depending on whether you gain an A, A+, or S rank support level with any pair of characters, the benefits you gain from their bonds vary from positive battle buffs to marriage and children.

Pairing in-battle bonuses

Unlike in Awakening where all units gained the same buffs depending on the rank, Fates mixes things up a little bit by having various support characters giving different bonuses in a fight. The common buff among all characters is an increased hit rate, while individual characters will grant various bonuses including: critical chance, evasion, and critical hit evasion. S Rank and A+ Rank characters typically increase the bonuses they would normally give during battle by 1.5x.

Pairing up incompatible characters will only grant an increase of 10% to hit rates. While this is useful, you will miss out on many potentially life-saving bonuses that higher ranked supports can give...

Step into your best friend's shoes!

Another benefit of reaching A+ or S Rank with any two units is the ability to use Marriage and Friendship Seals. These seals work similar to the Second Seal found in Fire Emblem: Awakening in that they allow units to change into something other than their default class. However, unlike Second Seals, the Marriage Seal and Friendship Seal allow characters to change their class into the default class of their S or A+ Rank partners.

The only exception to this is Corrin. Since Corrin can only reach S Rank with one character, he/she can use the Friendship Seal with any character he/she reaches A Rank with. This opens up a whole list of opportunities for Corrin, and allows him/her to fill any gap in the army that players find.

It's time to make some babies!

Xander and Leo: "How scandalous!"

One of the biggest benefits of reaching an S Rank support with male/female relationships (aside from 1.5x buffs in battle) is children. Whereas Fire Emblem: Awakening had the excuse of time travel, in Fire Emblem: Fates the children are recruitable after they spend time in a special area where they would be safe - but coincidentally, time flows much faster. It's hardly the most impressive story mechanic in the world, but who cares? Babies!

To unlock child characters in Fire Emblem: Fates, players must complete the following criteria:

  1. The player has reached the point where they decide which country they will align themselves with
  2. Reach the S-rank support level with two characters (homosexual relationships do not result in a child)
  3. Complete the associated Paralogue mission with the required conditions for recruitment (i.e.: child must survive or father talks to unit)
Inheriting traits from their parents

Each child character will inherit various traits depending on which characters are their parents. Unlike Fire Emblem: Awakening where each mother is linked to a certain child, Fire Emblem: Fates aims for a more patriarchal system where the child is linked to the father instead. This is more or less due to there being an even split of male/female characters in Fates (excluding Corrin and Azura), whereas Awakening had more male characters than female (excluding Chrom and the Avatar). As such, the child will be determined by the father, and the hair color determined by the mother.

Various other traits are inherited by the children depending on the parents. These include: base stats, growth rates, and maximum stat modifiers. Children characters also inherit the last skill slot from both the father and mother. Furthermore, the children have their own individual base classes, but they also gain one secondary class from each parent. This is determined by the following formula:

  1. If the Father has a different default class from the child, then the child will gain this as a secondary class, along with its promotions.
  2. If the Father has the same default class, then the child will gain the Father's secondary class and its promotions.
  3. If both classes are available, the child inherits no classes from the Father.
  4. If the Mother's default class is not available for the child, the child will gain this as a secondary class, along with its promotions.
  5. If the Mother has the same default class, then the child will gain the Mother's secondary class and its promotions.
  6. If the Mother's default and secondary classes are already available, the child will unlock the other faction's equivalent.
  7. The exceptions to #6 are: Rod Knight, Priest, and Herb Merchant which have no parallel class. In this case, if the child has not gained a secondary class at this point they will get nothing.

That's all, folks!

With all this information you can manipulate tastefully set up the relationships of your allies in Fire Emblem: Fates to get the best stats and skills plot-relevant relationships possible. Be sure to work this information in with my other guides to ensure the best outcomes possible!

As always, have fun with Fire Emblem: Fates, and I'll see you on the battlefield!

Other Guides:

This War of Mine's invincible children are a serious flaw Wed, 27 Jan 2016 17:41:03 -0500 Zack Thompson

This War of Mine is a brilliant game -- I want to get that out of the way first and foremost. It deals with issues that most games shy away from, like how far will you go when pushed to the brink and need to survive. It's a story about war, but not from the overpowered super-soldiers' view that most games give you.

You are simply a civilian, a survivor who needs to scrape and scrounge whatever resources they can to get through the day and make sure that a simple cold doesn't wipe out the whole house. You fight to survive, and through interactions and random events you start getting attached to the group of survivors around you. When the finite resources in the game start dwindling, you start doing unthinkable things to try and keep your group alive. The game was a PC hit, and soon it's getting a release on PS4 and Xbox One.

But this game that is supposed to be an unflinching look at the horrors of war, flinches.

War comes to the consoles 

In the console ports, called The Little Ones, developers Deep Silver and 11 Bit studios introduced children into the groups of survivors. As a fan of the game and a father, this idea excited and terrified me. Ever since becoming a father myself, I've had a soft spot for kids in bad situations. But it also makes the decisions in This War of Mine easier in my eyes, as I'm willing to commit atrocities in the game to keep my Little One alive.

Therein lies the problem. Children in the game can't die -- if they get too sick or hungry, they just run away. In this excellent game that's all about being a dark and gritty look into the horrors of war, they shy away from children's lives being on the line.

This choice kind of confused me. As I've said, this is a game that prides itself on its dark grittiness, and other reviewers and YouTube personalities rave about it for its ideas, gameplay, and realism. Yet it's to scared to allow the possibility of kids dying.

[Spoiler Alert]

The next few sentences are going to discuss spoilers of the Telltale Walking Dead game, where this issue comes up. So if you don't want to be spoiled, then skip ahead.  The Walking Dead Universe is another dark, gritty horror story where you can see how far you are willing to go to protect your people. The difference is that TWD raises the stakes in the game by putting the lives of the children characters on the line. In that game, the kids can die -- and one does in what I've always called the most heart-wrenching scene I've seen in any video game. In season two, the protagonist Clementine can be killed in some of the most brutal death animations I've seen since Dead Space.

The Art of Suspense 

I feel The Little Ones takes away some of the suspense and emotional attachment to the kids by treating them as nothing more than buffers (if they stay they eat more food, but boost the moral of the group).

I don't get to say this often, but the death of children in this game can add a whole lot more to the tension of the nighttime raids, when you need to add just a little more food so your Little One doesn't die. But this is a small complaint in an otherwise amazing game, one that I can't recommend enough.

Pick it up on PC, or wait for the console port when it drops this weekend on January 29th.

What do you think? Should This War of Mine add children's deaths in the game to add to the suspense and emotional conflict? comment below!

Mature 17+, Is the ESRB too hard on video games? Mon, 11 Jan 2016 11:00:16 -0500 BlackTideTV

Although video games have increased in production, quality, audience and any other quantifiable aspect, they have apparently taken a turn for the dark side. In recent years, games with a "Mature 17+" rating by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) have drastically risen versus the much less popular "E for Everyone" rating. Nearly all of the anticipated releases for 2016 have a Mature rating making them difficult for younger audiences to purchase and enjoy. 

Once upon a time gaming was geared for youths but now they are all but forgotten (except by Nintendo - which we'll briefly mention later in this piece before providing a standalone article on that topic). In this article we look to compare past and current games, their ratings and audiences, why they might look like they do, any outlying characteristics about certain games or time frames, and finally conclude what the ESRB and game developers need to do to make gaming fair once more.

The Good Ol' Days.

Gaming began as a source of entertainment for younger audiences. Super MarioSonic the HedgehogPac-Man, they were all oriented towards children. Gaming has since become more realistic, more gruesome, and more sexual, but it isn't entirely for adults only.

I grew up playing the PlayStation 2 and games like Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, Sly Cooper, and Jak and Daxter; all appropriate albeit challenging games. However, the PlayStation 2 soon became one of the first consoles to really push for mature audiences. More mature games aren't a bad thing, but kids aren't so innocent that they had to be left entirely in the dark.

My first encounters with mature rated games were the Outlaw Sports series and the God of War games. Both are very worthy of a more mature rating, but one more than the other. 

Outlaw Sports was rated Mature for a few reasons, most of them tame. Sexual themes, strong language, humor, use of drugs and alcohol. Basically what everybody sees in your average comedy movie. This game series could have easily been labelled Teen.

God of War is a different story entirely. Nudity, Blood and gore, intense violence, language, strong sexual content, this game was the most risque piece of work since sliced bread (who knew bread could be so sexy?).

The question the world needs to ask itself here is: what do we consider too much for younger viewers/players? What is mature versus teen versus everyone?

Is the ESRB too hard on games?

This is a huge controversial issue and I don't want to start anything too massive, but are parents too protective of their children nowadays? Are we that scared to show our youths a bit of nudity or have a small amount of crude humor (which they probably wouldn't even understand) in their games?

With so many sexual advertisements and dirty jokes in kids movies for the pleasure of accompanying adults, free nudity campaigns like Free the Nipple, and general behavior of the average human, it should be time that we start to re-expose youths to the world before they're "legal."

There once was a time when kids weren't so protected. They could go outside and climb trees or - dare I say it - compete in a soccer league where one team really does lose! (There are actual sports leagues that don't confirm winners on account of hurting the other team's feelings.) It's time to get back to reality in both reality and video games.

So, what should be appropriate for an "E for Everyone" rating?

  • A small amount of nudity - children are aware that everyone has a body. Why hide it from them? Almost every single comedy movie out there has nudity in it and everyone has seen a buttocks or two. Let's be honest, if children were more exposed to a small amount of nudity, there's a good chance that over-sexualization of girls would be down, rape would probably be down, and kids would be more aware of sex and the responsibility that comes from it (don't get me started on the sexual education of children in elementary schools).
  • Strong language - if you never heard your parents yelling and screaming every curse word in the book, you had quite the childhood. Everyone swears. It's just part of the culture. Not a very eloquent part, but a part nonetheless. Of course, certain very strong words should be omitted but that's a job for the game developers and writing teams. 
  • Mature humor - chances are the kids won't understand a lot of jokes thrown into less mature games anyways so what's the harm? Lots of adults like to play games like Sly Cooper or Ratchet and Clank so what's so bad about a little sexual innuendo every now and then? Disney Pixar and Dreamworks have been putting hidden jokes in their cartoons for years to keep adults happy while watching the films with their young ones.
  • Use of drugs and alcohol - does watching people use drugs often make you want to use drugs? Not likely. Building on this, most children have little to no access to any sort of drug in the first place so there really is no harm in it.
  • Blood and gore - we aren't talking Game of Thrones decapitation here, but a little bit of blood is not a big deal. Oh my god, everybody has blood inside them and when they get cut they bleed! Big deal!

Now that we've seen a few of the content descriptors that often make games go from tame to Mature 17+, we can see why almost every game is rated maturely. If your character is walking along and stubs his toe on a desk and yells, "Shit!" ESRB jumps on it and says, "That has to be mature! He swore!" In the long run it's parents that push the ESRB to rate more harshly. This generation of children has seen more protection than any generation in the history of mankind. At this rate the next generation will come out of the womb and enter directly into a big plastic bubble for the first 20 years of their lives.

Breaking the Law, Breaking the Law!

It's more than just a kick-ass Judas Priest song, it's something that younger gamers do all of the time. Who hasn't had their parents buy a mature game for them? Almost everyone I know has gone a round in Grand Theft Auto before the age of 12.

Gamers aren't the only people to break the law surrounding ESRB ratings. A lot of employees of Wal-Mart or other video game retailers will neglect to ask for ID when youths try to purchase mature games. It's too much of a hassle. Everyone knows that if you refuse to sell a mature game to a minor they'll just come back with their parents. 

What is the ESRB going to do? Conduct unannounced inspections of everyone's house to try to catch underage players? Just another thing to think about as we move forward through the article.

The Outcome of Poor ESRB Choices.

The ESRB has rated countless games Mature 17+. What has that done for the industry? Nearly every anticipated game of 2016 will be rated maturely, meaning younger gamers need not apply. We might as well move video games into the adult store next to the sex toys and the cigarettes.

If people were to abide by the rules the only system anyone with kids would have is the Wii U being the only system that can hold an Everyone rating on most games. Essentially, every other game on every other console/system being rated mature is what keeps Nintendo in business by having the only "family friendly consoles."

Long story short, too many games have unrealistic ratings. Call of Duty for example is a war based game that has mild language and some blood and gore. To "legally" play that shooter players are required to be at least 17 years old. When was the first time you played CoD? Probably before 17.

Again, there is a bigger controversy at play here. Children in today's society are ridiculously overprotected and need to be unburdened from that protection. The world is a cruel and unusual place and it will hit kids like a brick if they aren't prepared for it. 

The Best Educational Apps for 3-6 Year Olds Wed, 06 Jan 2016 06:56:48 -0500 The Soapbox Lord

With technology becoming even more present and easily accessible, it’s not uncommon to see youngsters with iPads, phones, and the next new piece of mobile technology. Thankfully, many developers have decided to make apps aimed at younger audiences that are educational, so the kiddos can learn something while they play! A win-win for everyone! This list will be directed at youngsters in the 3-6 age range. Let’s hop to it!

 Elmo Loves 123s and Elmo Loves ABCs.

Who doesn’t love Sesame Street? While the longtime series not on HBO make not be the same as the one I grew up with, it remains iconic and a great source for teaching kids in an entertaining and not patronizing manner. Sesame Workshop has developed several apps, but the big two are undoubtedly Elmo Loves 123s and Elmo Loves ABCs. The apps use the famous red monster to help teach the alphabet and counting skills. Fans of the show will enjoy this one more, but there is still something here for kids who aren’t familiar with the show to enjoy.

The Android versions are free with in-app purchases here and here. The iPad versions cost $4.99. The iPad version of Elmo Loves ABCs contains additional in-app purchases while Elmo Loves 123s does not. 

Oceanhouse Media Apps

Upon first look at Oceanhouse Media’s store page, you would be forgiven for wondering what in the seven hells is going on. (There are numerous bizarre tarot listings after all.) However, the page also houses many beloved children’s books, namely by a certain Dr. Seuss who I am sure no one has ever heard of. Aside from Dr. Seuss, there is also a selection of Little Critter and Berenstain Bear books, along with many others.

I have only experienced their version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but I will probably be looking into others for my daughter. Each book allows the reader to read by themselves or allow the book to be read to them. You can also touch some of those troublesome, large words for them to be repeated for the younglings. The illustrations look great and some are even animated. I highly recommend looking into some of these titles.

Most of the books are priced at $3.99 or lower for both Android and iOS platforms. 

The Magic School Bus Explorer

Ah, The Magic School Bus. You’d be hard-pressed to find a person around my age who did not grow up watching or reading about the educational adventures of the beloved Ms. Frizzle and her class of third graders.  Thankfully, Scholastic has adapted two of the books into an app/book combo. You can read the book as normal, but the app also contains supplementary information about the topics presented in the book as well as some games. To make it even better, the books cover two of the coolest subjects ever: the ocean (i.e. sharks) and dinosaurs. Need I say more?

Unfortunately, this is only available on iOS at the time being it seems. While Android users can download the books, they aren’t the same as this app. Be wary when purchasing this though. This is actually a bundle of two apps that cost $3.99 apiece. This bundle gives them both to you for $3.99.


Fish School HD

This colorful app uses fish to help teach kids numbers, letters, colors, and more. There are songs to uncover; games to play; and things to be learned!

This app is currently only on iOS and costs $1.99


The Sight Word Adventure

Sight words can be tricky to teach. They should be recognized when seen, but sometimes, they are more difficult to teach than one expects. This app could help with some of that. The app contains 320 sight words of varying degrees of difficulty so your kiddo can continually advance. The app uses 10 games to help teach and reinforce these words. The app even has some disability accommodations, always a welcome sight! Parents or teachers can even select some words they want to the app to focus on if the child is having some difficulties.

The game is available on iOS for $1.99.


Originator Inc. Apps

Originator has several well-reviewed apps; each one is tailored to teach a certain subject. Endless Alphabet finds children learning over 50 words. The app contains spelling games, memorization, and visualizations of definitions to help the meanings stick. Endless Numbers offers similar activities such as arranging numerical sequences, solving basic math, and visualization for quantities. Endless Reader helps with sight words. The words are brought to life in a manner close to their definition, sentences are given to reinforce recognition, and much more. Each app is colorful and filled with cute monsters for your kids to befriend.

The apps are free on both Android and iOS, with in-app purchases available to unlock more content; except for Endless Alphabet which costs $6.99 on iOS devices.


This app is possibly the best thing to happen to children’s books in some time. The app works in a way similar to Netflix streaming: you may a monthly fee to have access to a ton of books whenever you so desire. The subscriptions vary in price, but some are as inexpensive as $5 a month.

What makes this great is the selection. Kids will have access to The Chronicles of Narnia, Goosebumps, Amelia Bedilia, Goodnight Moon, The Berenstain Bears, and many more. The app also includes some bilingual books, audio books, and plenty of other nifty things too! I know I would’ve enjoyed this immensely as a kid. With so many books at your kid’s fingertips, they’ll never be bored.

The app is free for Android and iOS devices. The plans cost varying amounts. However, if you subscribe before January 5th of 2016, you will get two months of the service for free! Hop to it!


David Wiesner’s Spot

This one may not be the most overtly educational, but there is plenty of potential. The basic premise has readers focused on the back of a ladybug. Through zooming and manipulation, users travel through the spot to five unique worlds full of illustrations rich in vibrant colors and life to explore. There are spots where the worlds interconnect, providing for entertainment for some time. There is also a companion app filled with storytelling prompts and writing activities if one chooses to download as well.

The app is available on iOS for $4.99.


Seamus Heaney: Five Fables

Aesop’s fables have endured for centuries and continue to delight children and adults the world over. This app follows famed poet and writer Seamus Heaney’s adaptation of 15th century Scot poet Robert Henryson’s version of Aesop’s fables. An adaptation of an adaptation!

What sets this apart is the ability to read both versions side by side or to forgo one for the other. You also get the fantastic Billy Connolly narrating the modern version of the tales. (There’s also a narrator for the older version of the stories as well.) Aside from narration, there is also commentary and dissection of the texts for advanced readers, as well an animation for each fable. There’s a lot to love in this package.

The app is available on iOS for $11.99.


Needless to say, there are a great deal of apps that can be used for educational purposes for both Android and iOS devices. This list has barely scratched the surface of all the apps available. If you know of any major ones I neglected to mention, please let me know in the comments below. If you have some experience with any of these apps, whether positive or negative, feel free to comment on your experience as well.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll have my phone read The Lorax to me my daughter.


The best educational apps for your 1-3 year-olds Tue, 05 Jan 2016 08:15:33 -0500 The Soapbox Lord

We recently looked at some great educational mobile games for the kids in the range of 3-6 years old. This time, we will be focusing on games aimed at the 1-3 or so crowd. As always, these are just general parameters since every child learns at a different pace. While most of these are on Android and iOS, some are iOS exclusive. Until they see the light of day on Android, maybe look into stealing borrowing grandma’s iPad!

ABC Alphabet Phonics

Teaching a child to read can be one of the most taxing, but rewarding experience a parent can enjoy. Thankfully, this app seems poised to help, especially when on the go. This app features several great ideas others of the same kind lack.

The app actually allows parents to record words with their voice so their child will hear their parents instead of some stranger in the iPad.

You can also take pictures of objects to associate with letters to lend a personal and more grounded association with the letter in question. The app also has plenty of photographs for learning letters as opposed to cartoons. The app has plenty of ways to keep the young one entertained while teaching them too. Did I mention it supports multiple languages too?!

iOS version here.

The website has a plethora of activities in a wide range of subjects that kids can access to learn about numerous topics. The app allows the user to access activities and more found on the main website at the user’s leisure.

A word of caution. This app requires an subscription to use. Some users have complained about billing within this app, so you may want to look into memberships via the website instead of this app.

Android version here.

iOS version here.

Phone for Kids

This one is a bit of a doozy. This app has over 30 games packed into one package. This app can be used to teach colors, learn numbers and counting, shapes, and plenty more in one place. Some of the activities seem overly simplified, and there are in-app purchases. However, for the amount of content in one place, it certainly can’t hurt to give it a once-over.

Android version here.

iOS version here.


If your child is a fan of programming on PBS Kids, this app should be a no-brainer. This app collects videos from a wide range of the programs that air on the PBS KIDS channel. Aside from videos from various shows, the app also includes “Weekly Picks” which consist of an educational set of videos about topics such as math, history, science, etc.

For parents, the app contains information about each show the videos are derived from. You can also flag shows as your child’s favorites to get more plays of a particular show. You can access your local PBS schedule and download other apps from PBS Kids. Not a bad resource if your kid is a fan.

Android version here.

iOS version here.

ABC Letter Tracing

I’m not sure how it was for you growing up, but I remember learning to write by forming letters by tracing the letters with dots as a guide. Many pieces of paper were used for this task, which my handwriting teachers would probably have a stroke if they saw my handwriting now. Now you can use this useful skill without the need for all of that paper!

This app is essentially of tracing sheets for the alphabet, complete with upper and lowercase letters. The sheets also include a small illustration to give a visual of the letter too. Honestly, this is by far one of the greatest ideas and educational apps I have seen. These sheets did wonders for me as a child, and I imagine they can do wonders for yours as well.

iOS version here.

Toddler Counting 123 Free

As someone who is currently teaching his daughter to count, you can never have enough things on hand to assist with the teaching. This handy app helps with teaching the numbers 1-20. Your child can count the numbers in order or learn in a random fashion. The app also allows you to choose from categories of objects used to group and learn numbers by.  

The app features narration as well as support for 14 different languages. Very cool! The app is about as simple and effective as it gets!

I have read there is a paid version of this app that allows you to learn words along with numbers, but I cannot confirm this.

 Android version here.

iOS version here.

Read Me Stories

This app delivers a story every day for your child’ enjoyment and reading pleasure; the app compiles a great many stories into one place, cutting down on the need to search for other apps and stories. The app is a great way to discover new books you and your child will enjoy. The app will read to your children and will repeat words if they are touched on the screen.

It’s another reading app, but this one is worth checking out for the amount of content packed into once place.

Android version here.

 iOS version here.


PlayKids allows your child to access videos, games, books, and more starring many stars of favorite children shows such as Caillou, The Wiggles, Lalaloopsy, and many more. The app is packed with plenty of educational games teaching about numbers, the alphabet, colors, and more. Aside from the games, there are stories to read and some videos to watch. The app does have one downside, though.

PlayKids is a subscription-based service that will give you access to the aforementioned content for a fee. The prices are $7 for a month, $40 for six months, and $70 for a year, but the app does come with a free one week trial to allow you to see what it has to offer. Just something you should be aware of when checking this one out.

Android version here.

iOS version here.

Shapes Toddler Preschool

Who doesn’t love learning shapes? Kids need to learn their octagons to recognize those “Stop” signs after all (a skill many drivers today seem to lack.) This app is designed to teach kids all sorts of shapes. While the app includes the staples of circles, rectangles, and such, it also includes shapes in categories such as food, numbers, letters, seasons, and many, many more. The app allows children to play four different games/modes to learn their shapes how they please.

The app is free to download with some basic shapes included. However, each “pack” or category of shape costs $.99. Since there so many categories to choose from, I suggest unlocking all categories for $3.99.

Android version here.

iOS version here.


As with any list, there are many apps I was not able to mention. There are such a sheer number, it can be hard to focus on the standout apps, but this is a good problem to have since we now have so many choices! If you know of any stellar apps I missed, please let me know in the comments! Stay tuned to Gameskinny for more educational app roundups as well as some other parenting articles such as this one about promoting reading and this one about game ratings!

Want your gamer child to read more? Get them these books! Mon, 07 Dec 2015 07:06:10 -0500 The Soapbox Lord

Video games are a wonderful way to tell stories and create memorable experiences; there’s nothing quite like a well-crafted yarn in a digital realm to capture your imagination. However, as much as I enjoy playing games, there is another past time I enjoy at the same level or more so than I enjoy video games: reading. While an excellent game narrative can transport you to fantastical worlds, there is nothing quite like reading an utterly captivating book and becoming lost in its world as your imagination brings it to life.

This is a list of books for the gamer in your life. Some are aimed more at children, and some will be aimed more at adults. However, gamers of all ages should be able to find something enjoyable here. Who knows? They might just become so enthralled in some of these tales they’ll forget about the games, for a short time anyway. 

This list is split in three: first, we'll look at books based on popular video game franchises; second, we'll look at books that inspired video games; third, we'll look at books that are not game-related but are likely to appeal to gamers.

Books based on video game series

Halo series

The Halo series is a science-fiction shooter series that has been running since 2001 with no signs of slowing down. Halo made waves for having a far-reaching and ambitious story as compared to most other shooters of its time. Given this emphasis on narrative in the series, book adaptations were inevitable. There are several entries in the series with only one book, Halo: The Flood, being an adaptation of a game’s story while the rest expand upon the Halo universe. Fans of the series will undoubtedly hungrily devour more information on their beloved Master Chief, and the struggles humanity face in this universe.

A Parent’s Take

The Halo series has been rated M for Mature, with the exception of the recent Halo 5: Guardians and the spin-off Halo Wars. The series is without major gore, and players only encounter mild profanities such as “damn.” In some books, there is some adult content like violence and some scattered strong profanity, but not an overabundance - and rarely more than the games do. I doubt the other books have much problematic content, but the ones we've reviewed were pretty much fine.

Notable Titles

Warcraft series

The Warcraft franchise has changed quite a bit over the years. What started as a strategy game evolved into an MMO juggernaut that has continually dwarfed the competition for over ten years. The games are known for their strong narratives and memorable characters that fans have grown to love over several games. The books for this franchise are unique compared to other game adaptations. One series follows the Warcraft strategy series while the other books deal with the ever-popular World of Warcraft. With nearly twenty novels, there are plenty of choices for Alliance and Horde alike.

A Parent’s Take

All of the games in the Warcraft universe are rated T. There is your typical fantasy violence, some mild cursing, and various minor offenses. Otherwise, expect some well-written fantasy narratives!

Notable Titles

There are countless other books based on games; far too many to mention here. For those interested, more exhaustive lists can be found here and here. Now onto our next category! 

Books that inspired games

The Witcher series

The Witcher is a series of action-role-playing games set on delivering a mature experience for older players. The third entry in the series launched in early 2015 to much acclaim. The games are based on a series of fantasy novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. With the release of the first The Witcher title, players outside of Poland clamored for a translation, which came not long after the game’s release. Any fans of the games or dark fantasy, in general, should find plenty to enjoy here.

A Parent’s Take

The Witcher games are rated M for good reason. Gore, mutilating monsters and humans alike, copious amounts of harsh language along with plenty of sexual innuendos, sexual situations, and even digital nudity await those who plunge into Geralt’s dark world. These games are most certainly not aimed at the kiddos. If your kid has played the games, don't expect much more to shock them as the books are aimed at the same older audiences as the games are.

Notable Titles
Metro 2033

Metro 2033 is a Russian post-apocalyptic novel that finds the remnants of humanity fighting for survival in the ruined metro (subway) tunnels underground after a nuclear war decimated the surface of Earth. Humans wage war against radiation, harsh environments, mutated monstrosities, fellow humans, and other impediments in this unforgiving world. 

An eponymous game based on the novel released in 2010 with a sequel that followed in 2013. The novel has since spawned an official sequel along with giving birth to a book franchise that the original author, Dmitry Glukhovsky, has overseen.

A Parent’s Take

Both of the Metro games are rated M. The games have some intense violence against human and inhuman enemies, plenty of language, and the last title, Metro: Last Light, even had some digital nudity. Like The Witcher, expect the books to be similar in content.

Notable Titles

The Assassin’s Creed series has several inspirations, but this 1938 novel by Vladimir Bartol was possibly been one the biggest influences on the game. The plot follows Ibn Tahir, a young soldier who joins a garrison held by the Ismalis at a fortress named Alamut. The fortress is led by the charismatic Hassan, who may or may not be deceiving his troops to manipulate them. Tahir is sent to assassinate a vizier who reveals Hassan has been deceiving his troops (sound familiar yet?).  Tahir confronts his leader who reveals his life motto: “Nothing is an absolute reality, all is permitted.” Disillusioned Tahir is sent on a global odyssey while Hassan attempts to cultivate his power.

A Parent’s Take

Most of the games in the Assassin’s Creed franchise have been rated M, usually for violence, some vulgar language, and blood. As this novel was written in 1938, it doesn't have much that will shock young adult readers but the themes may be a bit much for some.


Books gamers will like (but are not directly related to gaming)

Artemis Fowl series

Artemis Fowl follows the exploits of Artemis Fowl, who just so happens to be a genius and world-renowned criminal at the age of twelve. Young Artemis discovers fairies do exist and seeks to capture one in order to obtain a lucrative ransom. What follows is a series of misadventures for readers young and old alike.

As the series goes on, the characters grow and experience major trauma. While the later entries weren’t quite as strong as the earlier ones, I wholeheartedly recommend this series to everyone. This is one of those rare series that may be aimed at younger audiences, but contains plenty of meaty content for older readers as well. I have read the entire series at least three times now, and I cannot wait until my daughter is old enough for me to share these with her.

A Parent’s Take

The series has plenty of action, though nothing ever gets bloody and characters rarely die. There is plenty of swearing in the fairy tongue (which can’t be translated due to how offensive the words are) and “damn” may be used twice over the entire series. There is some crude humor with one character’s abilities revolving around his flatulence, but it is never gross or over the top. There shouldn’t be too much here to find fault with.

Also, if you’re a fan of audiobooks, I cannot recommend these enough. The reader is one of the best I have ever heard and manages to do a distinct voice for each character on top of a great narration.

Notable Titles
The Old Kingdom series

Garth Nix may be more known to modern readers as the author of the Keys to the Kingdom series, but I want to shine a spotlight on his under appreciated The Old Kingdom series. The series follows a young girl named Sabriel, who goes looking for her father after receiving a strange message from one of his undead servants. Sabriel’s father is known as “Abhorsen,” a magician who fights necromancers and undead creatures in an attempt to keep peace in the kingdom. An old evil is manipulating events and threatens to awake, and it’s up to Sabriel and her talking, surly cat companion to find her father and stop the evil.

A Parent’s Take

While there is some fantasy violence, parents should note there are plenty of undead and other nightmarish creatures found within these pages. While nothing is too scary for younger readers, sensitive ones might find Nix’s descriptions of these creatures a tad much. Besides that, I cannot remember a single curse word or anything else to give parents pause. The series is also available in audiobook form as read by the always-terrific Tim Curry, which is an excellent listen.

Titles in the Series
The Bartimaeus Sequence

The Bartimaeus novels follow the exploits of magical apprentice Nathaniel and the five-thousand-year-old djinni Bartimaeus, whom Nathaniel summons to do his bidding. The first novel revolves around the unlikely duo perpetrating a petty theft that quickly evolves into a more serious threat than either could have anticipated.

The books are characterized by the witty banter of Bartimaeus and his relationship with the young and vain Nathaniel. Their bond evolves as the books progress and Nathaniel changes from an unlikable, haughty twerp to a person the reader can actually care about.

 A Parent’s Take

One of the cores of the Bartimaeus universe is summoning demons, afrits, and other magical beings to do one’s bidding. As such, there are lot of otherworldly beasties and nasties in the series. There is no adult language, and the violence is sporadic and rarely intense. There shouldn’t be too much here to keep younger ones away, and the books are excellent enough for older readers to enjoy as well.

Titles in the Series
Mistborn series

Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series launched with one hell of a debut set in a fully-realized world begging for more stories to be told. The books follow Vin, a thief who scrapes by in a crew of rowdy thieves. Vin comes to discover she has powers she can use by “burning” metal scrapings she ingests. Vin becomes involved in a plot to overthrow the oppressive dictatorship of The Lord Ruler, a seemingly omnipotent being who has been alive for hundreds of years.

The world is extremely fleshed out in the first book alone, and the themes of slavery and dictatorship in a high fantasy setting make for a different type fantasy novel. This one also has a great audiobook reader.

A Parent’s Take

I have only read the first title in the series, but there was not a lot of content I would say warrants a warning flag. The biggest thing may be the themes of slavery, oppression, government, and evil the novel presents. There is also a sizeable cast of characters and things to keep up with; the series might be better suited for older readers.

Notable Titles
The works of R. A. Salvatore

Few modern fantasy authors have had the success or popularity of Mr. Salvatore. Salvatore is most known for his works set in the Forgotten Realms universe, which is from the world of Dungeons and Dragons, and the character Drizzt Do’Urden. Salvatore has fourteen series set in the Forgotten Realms universe alone, not counting his other series or other works. Needless to say, most fans of fantasy games will probably enjoy something Salvatore has written.

A Parent’s Take

The titles are all appropriate for most ages, as long as you are ok with a bit of violence and some beasties straight out of D&D's Monster Manual. There is very rare profanity or sexual content and most of the titles are about overcoming various obstacles such as bandits and ice dragons in order to reach goals. There is some fantasy violence, but nothing grotesque or gory.

Notable Titles
Works by John Scalzi

John Scalzi burst onto the scene with Old Man’s War, an excellent sci-fi tale of an army that only recruits from the older population of Earth. While he has continued the series, he has written several other books that are just as good as his debut novel.

Scalzi’s novels are usually filled with smart-aleck characters, witty dialogue, and imaginative narrative cores. Doubtless, most people reading this have read one of his books or heard of him by now. If you haven’t, I highly recommend checking some of his works out.

A Parent’s Take

I have thoroughly enjoyed most of Scalzi’s books I have read, but I must caution parents - These books are aimed at older readers. There is enough profanity here to fill a Quentin Tarantino movie, plenty of blood, guts, and detailed dismemberments, on top of some sexual situations and issues only older readers can relate to. That said, if you can get past these issues, you’ll find some great books for your teen's collection.

Notable Titles
The Dresden Files

Harry Dresden is a wizard-for-hire practicing in modern-day Chicago. Needless to say, he leads an interesting life. The Dresden series is essentially a neo-noir saga following a down-on-his-luck wizard in lieu of a gumshoe. While the trappings and archetypes of noir pervade the books, the focus on a wizard in modern times and Jim Butcher’s take on magic keeps things fresh.

There are also plenty of interesting characters, including wise-cracking femme fatales, trolls, fairies, vampires, and countless other magical beings. There are over 15 novels in the series, and each can serve as a jumping on point thanks to Butcher reiterating some major concepts for newer readers without becoming annoying for veteran readers.

A Parent’s Take

Like any good noir, there are crimes aplenty in the world of Harry Dresden. Besides the crimes, there is a fair amount of language and a good deal of violence. There are also some nasty denizens of magic floating about that might be a bit scary for the younger ones. I recommend this one for the older kids.

Notable Titles
Star Wars

The Star Wars franchise has been running strong ever since the release of A New Hope in 1977. The franchise has become one of the most beloved in nerd and mainstream culture. With the release of Episode VII: The Force Awakens looming ever closer on the horizon, a new generation will grow up with Jedis, Sith, and the Force.

With the massive success of the franchise, it should come as no surprise there are a plethora of books. Seriously. There are a ton of books in the series as you can see by looking here. Just take your pick for the gamer in your life.

A Parent’s Take

With rare exception, expect these books to match up with the content of the films: essentially, a great deal of sci-fi action, heroic journeys, and coming of age stories in a galaxy far, far away - but nothing that would keep the younglings at bay.

Notable Titles

Just scroll down this list and take your pick.


Obviously, there are countless other books gamers might find enticing. This is just scratching the surface on the wonderful world of books. If you have any favorites you would like to share, please do so in the comments below!

Having Trouble Sleeping? Pick Up 40 Winks Thu, 16 Oct 2014 04:47:52 -0400 Jade Arsenault

When it came to choosing my least favorite video game, I had plenty of game considerations. I could say Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories for the GBA, which I hated because of the needlessly complicated solo card game style of the game. I could say Sonic DX: Director's Cut, for its lack of plot and allowing itself to fall back on the addicting cuteness of the Chao Gardens. Or I could say Duke Nukem, for existing. Aside from the latter, however, these are games I came to genuinely enjoy, whether it be for the movement of the plot like KH, or raising small blue blobs like Director's Cut. So no, I could never make them my least favorite game.

But wait.

One game with few redeeming qualities comes to mind, by the name of 40 Winks. Never heard of it? Don't worry, I can assure you, you didn't miss out on anything but confusion and aggravation.

40 Winks is exclusively a Playstation 1 production. There was a version planning to be released for the Nintendo 64, but was cancelled last minute. This game is, I can only assume, targeting younger kids to get them into gaming. The idea itself is great, unfortunately the game aimed to bring gaming to the younger masses is not. The entire thing is far too childish for any kid old enough to pick up a controller and actually play a game.

Here's the storyline: A set of twins, Ruff and Tumble, are being sent to bed by their mother, and they aren't particularly pleased about it. The mother tells them a bedtime story about Winks, who only appear at night while everyone is asleep. An old insomniac named Nitekap, who looks and acts suspiciously like Ebenezer Scrooge, takes his anger and lack of sleep out on the Winks, capturing them and turning them into Hood-Winks. Hood-Winks are solely responsible for people's nightmares. There are a few Winks left untouched, any guesses on how many? Yup, 40, and it is now the job of these two young kids to protect them from Nitekap.

Before the story line even began, the player was made to choose one of the twins as the play through character. Ruff, a rambunctious boy, and Tumble, a seemingly bright girl. Once they fall asleep, the only one who remains relevant to the storyline is the twin the player chose before the cut scene. When Ruff or Tumble, depending on who was chosen, 'wakes up' in the land of dreams, which is still their house, but now every door leads to a different realm, and in front of all these doors is an alarm clock named Wakey Wakey.


In one of the rooms in the house, he introduces himself, telling Ruff/Tumble his name and how he will hang around to give helpful hints and information when needed. He also instructs the player how to control the character, how to jump and attack, which is great, but a couple of problems arise. Wakey Wakey is in a room that is not mandatory to go into immediately, so it is possible to not get the introduction at all, and just see him randomly throughout levels. The biggest problem I had with the helpful clock is the voice given to him. I don't know the reasoning behind it, but Wakey Wakey's voice sounds like a toy with a dying battery. It's very low and the vocal patterns chosen for the non cut scenes are very much like Animal Crossing.

Wakey Wakey's voice sounds like a toy with a dying battery.

The game itself is almost insultingly simple. There's no real challenge in the game, the levels are pathetically short with no puzzles or anything thought provoking.

There are a couple of things scattered around the level for players to pick up; Zs, dreamkeys, tokens, cogs, and moons. The Zs are the life force,  run out of them and Ruff/Tumble will wake up, ending the game. Collect dreamkeys to unlock more levels, and cogs to open locked doors in levels. Tokens can be collected throughout the game as well. Ruff collects tokens with Rs on them, while Tumble collects tokens marked with a T. Collect ten of them and the player can earn an extra life. Lastly, moons allow the use of Ruff/Tumble's scream attack, which is the only long range weapon in the game, so always making sure to have a supply of moons is a pretty good idea.

There are three attacks at the player's disposal; a general, a butt-stomp, and a screaming attack. This makes it boring for kids, and too cutesy for the teens or adults wanting to give it a shot.

You may notice that despite my utter distaste in this game, it has two stars and not one, and that's because like all games it did have a couple of things I felt it deserved credit for.  One of those things is the graphics. I know they aren't impressive compared to today's graphics, but one thing to keep in mind is this game was released in 1999. Out of everything I could complain about, graphics are not one of them. Every character moves smoothly, the background is detailed, nothing is choppy in movements or color.

They also got points for having both a male and a female character, both playable as the hero of the game. The ability to choose the gender of the character you play in a game is something I value highly.

Unfortunately, neither the graphics nor the ability to choose could save this game. If you want to start your kid gaming early, start with Pokémon. Start with Spyro. Start with something that isn't 40 Winks.

St. Jude, Twitch, Blizzard, and GameStop Team Up to Raise Money Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:31:09 -0400 Venisia Gonzalez

In a world where major media portrays the gaming industry and gamers in nothing but a negative light, here’s a story to warm your heart. Major players like Twitch, Blizzard and GameStop; along with help from some of the top streaming gamers, including Johnathan Wendel (Fatal1ty), “Ellohime,” “CohhCarnage,” Danielle Mackey (Panser), actress Zelda Williams, have joined up for a video game charity to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

In what is being called "St. Jude PLAY LIVE," gamers are having the chance to use their skills to defeat virtual enemies in order to raise funds to help kids battle cancer and other diseases. St. Jude is launching the summer gaming season to engage players to "zerg" (defeat) childhood cancer by having several known gamers, equipped with their controllers, to visit the kids at the hospital demonstrating their passion for gaming.

"St. Jude PLAY LIVE" is a 12-week program that kicks off on June 13th, in concert with Twitch, ending at midnight on September 1st, featuring games like League of Legends, Dota 2, Minecraft, StarCraft II, and a host of indie games. During the first weekend, single players or clans can play their game of choice, with the goal to get as many people streaming as possible. During the June 20th weekend Riot Games’ League of Legends will be featured. Throughout the three weeks dedicated to Blizzard’s collection of games, the Top streamer will have a chance to earn tickets to the sold out BlizzCon 2014 and other rare prizes.

GameStop is offering the Grand Prize Package, an all-expense paid trip for two to their highly anticipated 2014 GameStop Expo on September 10th in Anaheim, California to the top fundraiser. The top four fundraisers will receive an all-expense paid trip for one to the 2014 GameStop Expo on September 10th in Anaheim, California.

Registration for St. Jude PLAY LIVE is now open and fundraising begins June 13th.

Schedule of Events:
  • June 27th: Sports Cup for the Kids, featuring a variety of sports titles
  • July 4th: Indie Games Explosion, focusing on smaller game studios
  • July 11th: The Zelda-thon Adventure and an old–school games marathon
  • July 18th: Valve’s Dota 2
  • July 25th: Blizzard in the Summer: a three-week long focus on Blizzard’s library of award-winning games
  • July 25th: Hearthstone
  • Aug. 1st: StarCraft
  • Aug. 8th: World of Warcraft
  • Aug. 15th: Next-Gen Drag Race
  • Aug. 22nd: Minecraft Buildathon
  • Aug. 29th: Final weekend with a live-streamed 90-hour marathon from 8 a.m. Friday, August 29th until midnight Monday, September 1st

“St. Jude PLAY LIVE marks our first real foray into the video game world to raise awareness and funds for children battling cancer and other deadly diseases at St. Jude and around the world,” said Richard Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC/St. Jude. “The willingness of these online competitors to invest their time and considerable talents to meaningfully impact the lives of some of the world’s sickest children and their families has been remarkable. We are honored that so many are eager to join our lifesaving mission.

Being a part of the gaming community and also a family member to someone who has lost their fight to cancer, stories like these really hit home for me. So many good deeds are done by the gaming community and yet you hardly hear about it on the major news channels or newspapers. It's up to us to get these stories in the light.

If you're interested in helping to "zerg" childhood cancer, make sure to sign up. This is a charity that is worth the time, effort and dollars!

5 Educational Video Games for Kids Mon, 23 Jun 2014 10:24:31 -0400 jacob.smeth

Video games have traditionally been seen as a waste of time, but a recent shift in the industry has sought to remedy this negative perception. An increasing number of games have been designed with young children in mind. While still a blast for kids to play, these games offer an educational component to help your child learn while playing.

Before looking at specific games that feature a strong educational message, it's important to remember that video games should be used in moderation. Monitor how much your children play and what games they prefer. While violent video games may appeal to children, there is concern over violent video games leading to actual violence in young children, so be careful what your child plays, even if it arguably has a strong educational component. The following games can provide positive gaming experiences for most children.

1. Scribblenauts

This game allows the player to identify with the main character, Maxwell, and travel along with him as he collects yellow stars. Levels consist of a variety of puzzles and problem solving challenges. To keep things from getting stale, children playing can choose from multiple tools and complete the level in any way they want.

Most levels are completely open-ended, with several possible paths to collect the required stars. Scribblenaut games are available on iPhones/iPads and Nintendo DS.

2. Civilization


The thought of your child crushing civilizations may trigger alarm bells, but despite the name and description, most would not consider Civilization a violent game. No violence is actually seen by the player, rather this is a game about building up a civilization and making strategic decisions. Your child will have to learn about buildings and make tough decisions about whether to invest in research, military, or culture.

Civilization is available on all major platforms and teaches how to solve problems, make tough decisions, and see things from multiple perspectives.

3. Reader Rabbit

Reader Rabbit has been around for several years in other forms like books and board games. Now he has been brought to life in video games that feature a wide variety of education-oriented tasks. The games consist of little mini-games that aim to develop all the main skill of a learning child including language, science, math, and problem solving.

There are several games in this series, aimed at different age ranges. Whether you have a toddler or 2nd grader, there is a Reader Rabbit game for you.

4. Leapfrog Leapster Explorer Learning Games

Leapfrog Leapster

Leapster has embraced mobile video game education with their Leapster Explorer game system. The system is made specifically for educational games, so there's no chance of getting distracted or tempted by other games. It also features an ebook reader option and a camera.

There is a wide variety of Leapfrog games, but likely what will get your children excited are the Disney titles. There are games with the characters from movies like Tangled, Toy Story, and Cars.

Each game targets different skills, but generally they teach logic, spelling, vocabulary, reading, and math skills.

5. LittleBigPlanet 2

One of the more awe-inspiring games designed for not only children, but adults too, is LittleBigPlanet 2. You explore a vast world as "Sackboy", a virtual avatar. This game can be played as a single player game, but it is also possible to play with multiple participants to strengthen social skills. The goal is to help Sackboy create a world by figuring out puzzles and manipulating items to solve them.

If your child is really creative, they will enjoy creating their own worlds with the built-in tools. This open concept can help children learn how different elements fit together and how to deconstruct problems. LittleBigPlanet 2 is available for PlayStation 3 and 4.

While it once was difficult to find any games that focused on educational aspect, there is now an entire market dedicated to it. Educational video games can help to mold your child into a logical-thinking individual, and they will never have to know a criminal's mind or suffer the shortcomings associated with poor development. Slowly, but surely, the public perception of video games is shifting to recognize that while some games are arguably bad for children, others can provide a real value.

Let's Play Together! 15 Games To Play With Kids Thu, 27 Feb 2014 14:45:40 -0500 Venisia Gonzalez


Mario Party 9 is a party video game for the Wii. It is the second Mario Party game for the Wii, the ninth in the home consoles, and the twelfth overall. Like previous Mario Party titles, two to four players move around a virtual board and play minigames. A new gameplay element in all of the boards is that all four players move around together in one vehicle. The number of spaces the player moves is determined by a roll of the dice block found within the game. Instead of trying to collect coins to buy stars, players receive Mini Stars if they pass by them. Minigames have a larger focus on the gameplay than they did in the previous game. However, the minigames don't appear after everyone moves, but only when a player ends up on any of the spaces or events that triggers a minigame. A person can play on solo mode to unlock the final stage, as well as two playable characters. Another new feature is that each board culminates in a boss battle that is played with all players in the vehicle. There is also a boss battle at the halfway point of a board. There are 82 minigames in Mario Party 9, divided into five categories: Free-for-all, 1-vs.-Rivals, Bowser Jr., Boss Battle, and Extra. At the end of each stage, the number of Mini Stars the player collects is converted into Party Points, which can be used to buy new stages, constellations, vehicles, difficulties, and sounds in the museum.


Disney Universe is a co-operative action-adventure video game, published by Disney Interactive Studios available to play on Xbox 360, Wii and PS3. It features the ability to suit up as characters from multiple Disney franchises, including the full-length animated feature films like The Lion KingPixar feature films like Monsters Inc., live-action films like Pirates of the Caribbean and television series like The Muppet ShowThe game resembles Lego games or Little Big Planet, with a few notable additions. Up to four friends can connect through local multiplayer and play through 6 different worlds to defeat enemies, and collect power-ups and coins. One unique feature is that the enemies actively try to hinder a player's progress by setting up traps or hiding key items. The two main attractions of the game are that players can travel to 6 worlds from classic and contemporary Disney and Pixar properties, consisting of Alice in WonderlandPirates of the CaribbeanThe Lion KingWall-EMonsters Inc. and Aladdin and acquire 45 costumes based on numerous other Disney franchises, such as The Little MermaidTronMickey MouseLilo & Stitch and Tangled.


Just Dance 3 is a music video game released on the WiiXbox 360, and PS3 with Kinect and Move support respectively for the latter two. It is part of the Just Dance video game series published by Ubisoft originally on the Wii. Like its predecessors, up to four players can play to mirror on-screen dance choreography from over 40 songs, as they are judged on their ability to follow a dance routine to a chosen song. Along with solo and duet modes, Just Dance 3 features a Dance Crew mode which allows 4 players to dance together, each with their own unique choreography, as well as playlists that group songs into different categories. Players can unlock gifts such as new songs, game modes, as well as Dance Mashups which combines different dance routines in this game and the second Just Dance game into one song. Returning features in the game include Non-Stop Shuffle, Speed Shuffle, and Just Sweat Mode.


Rayman Legends is a 2013 platform game developed by Ubisoft Montpellier and published by Ubisoft. It is the fifth main title in the Rayman series and the direct sequel to the 2011 game Rayman Origins. The game was released for PCXbox 360, PS3Wii U, and PS Vita. The game carries on the style of gameplay from Rayman Origins in which up to four players (depending on the format) simultaneously make their way through various levels. Lums can be collected by touching them, defeating enemies, or freeing captured Teensies. Collecting Teensies unlocks new worlds, which can be played in any order once they are available. Along with Rayman, Globox, and the Teensies returning as playable characters, players can now control new female character Barbara and her sisters, once they are rescued from certain stages.


Nintendo Land takes place in an amusement park setting, which serves as a hub for the twelve minigames, which are depicted as the park's attractions. A robotic creature named Monita guides the player through Nintendo Land's features and attractions. The twelve minigames of Nintendo Land are based on popular Nintendo franchises. This game is exclusive to the Wii U.


Rayman Origins is a side-scrolling platform game developed by Ubisoft Montpellier and published by Ubisoft for PS3, PS Vita, WiiXbox 360, Nintendo 3DS and PC. It's playable with up to four local players who may drop in or out at any time. Players can choose to control either Rayman, Globox or two Teensies, with additional costumes available as the game progresses. Players travel through each level, fighting enemies and rescuing imprisoned Electoons. As the game progresses, players gain new abilities such as running up walls, gliding in midair, swimming and shrinking in size to reach new areas.


Worms 2: Armageddon is an artillery strategy game developed by Team17 and part of the Worms series. The sequel has several new features and modes, as well as popular returning weapons from past games in the Worms series. It also has an all new single player campaign mode with 35 missions and the multiplayer with Beginner, Standard, Pro, Fort, Rope Racing and Crazy Crates modes. It's available to play on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.


Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is a platform video game, the sequel to Epic Mickey. It takes place in a world based on classic and retired Disney characters and attractions. The story begins sometime after the conclusion of the original Epic Mickey, with Oswald and the other Wasteland characters starting to rebuild their world. A series of earthquakes threaten to undo the work, but the Mad Doctor appears and convinces Oswald to join forces and combat the new menace. So Gus, the leader of the Gremlins, and Ortensia, Oswald's girlfriend/wife, contact Mickey Mouse and bring him into the world. Mickey and Oswald team up to save the forgotten world (since only their combined powers can restore it). This game is available to play on Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3 and PS Vita.


Lego Rock Band is a music video game and part of the Rock Band series developed by Harmonix, but also incorporates elements from other Lego video games as developed by Traveller's Tales. The game is published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and MTV Games. The game is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii. Lego Rock Band is based primarily on the same gameplay as the main Rock Band series, though it includes aspects of collecting and building with Lego bricks as in Traveller's Tales' other Lego-themed games. Up to four local players can play lead and bass guitar, drums, or vocals across the songs in the game using specially designed Rock Band or Guitar Hero controllers. During each song, players attempt to match notes (shown as Lego bricks) as they scroll on-screen in time with the current song. On lead and bass guitar, notes are hit by holding down the frets indicated on-screen and using the controller's strum bar when the note passes through the target area of the track. Drummers simply hit one of the four colored drum pads indicated as the notes cross the target area, with wide orange notes indicating kick drum notes. Singers have to sing in relative pitch to the song's original pitch.


Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is a four-player cooperative video game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment exclusively for the PlayStation 3. Unlike previous games in the series which were mostly single-player-only games, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One focuses on a four-player cooperative multiplayer mode which allows for drop-in and drop-out online as well as offline multiplayer. Players can each take the role of one of the four main characters of the game, namely RatchetClankQwark and Doctor Nefarious


Little Big Planet 2 is a puzzle-platformer video game, centered around user-generated content. The game is developed by Media Molecule, published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe for PlayStation 3. While retaining the three-layer, 2.5D nature of the original title, with the player controlling their Sackboy characters, players are not restricted solely to platforming levels, and can now choose to create many types of levels including racing, puzzle and role-playing games. The player may also choose to create and customize their own heads-up display to accommodate their game type. New animation recording options are available and players are able to create full-motion cut-scenes to go with their level design, manipulate the camera for both cut-scenes and gameplay, and record their own sound effects for use in the level. As well as including a wide selection of original and licensed music, the game also includes a robust music sequencer. Multiple levels can be linked together, so that finishing one level immediately takes the player to the next in the series.


Players continue Sackboy's journey after the events of the first game and the portable version are brought to an end. An inter-dimensional vacuum cleaner called the Negativitron appears over the skies of Little Big Planet and begins to suck up its inhabitants, including Sackboy.


Skylanders: Swap Force is a platformer video game developed by Vicarious Visions and published by Activision. It is the third main game in the Skylanders video game and toy franchise, following 2012's Skylanders: Giants, which was a direct sequel to 2011's Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure. The game is available to play on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii, Wii U, PS3 and PS4.


Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is a hilariously fun cooperative third-person shooter and tower defense video game. It's part of the Plants vs. Zombies series, developed by PopCap Games and published by Electronic Arts. The game is now available on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The game features co-op along with competitive multiplayer modes where players can control the zombies as well as plants.


"Put down the shotgun. Pick-up a dolphin," the new phrase now being used in a funny live-action trailer. Does anything else need to be said?


Lego Marvel Super Heroes is a 2013 action-adventure video game that is developed by TT Games and is published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, for the PS3Xbox 360Wii UPS4Xbox One and Microsoft Windows. Gameplay alternates between various action-adventure sequences and puzzle-solving scenarios by allowing players to control approximately 150 characters from the Marvel Universe, each with their own unique abilities.


The game begins as the Silver Surfer is being pursued by S.H.I.E.L.D. and Iron Man, and is knocked out of the sky by Doctor Doom with his surfboard shattering into several 'Cosmic Bricks' that fall onto the Earth. With these blocks containing immense power, Doom forges an alliance with Loki and gets together a band of villains to make the powerful "Doom Ray of Doom". However, S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury calls upon the superheroes of the Marvel Universe to retrieve the bricks before they can be captured by Doom and his army.


Minecraft is a wonderful game to play. The creative and building aspects of Minecraft allow players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D generated world. Other activities in the game include exploration, gathering resources, crafting, and combat. Gameplay has two principal modes: survival, which requires players to acquire resources and maintain their health and hunger; and creative, where players have an unlimited supply of resources, the ability to fly, and no health or hunger. A third gameplay mode named hardcore is the same as survival, differing only in difficulty; it is set to the most difficult setting and respawning is disabled, forcing players to delete their worlds upon death. Minecraft is available to play on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.


Some of us may be parents, aunts, uncles, cousins or siblings to younger kids. Perhaps more than once, these little kids have asked to join in on playing a video game with you.


Here's a few games that are great to play with kids that are all rated 'E' by the ESRB.

Kickin' It Old School With Your Kids: Guide to The Perfect Retro Consoles for your Growing Gamer Mon, 30 Dec 2013 12:25:50 -0500 Marco.Bishop

So, now you have kids. Time for video games is slipping away from you minute by minute, day by day. What if I told you it didn't have to be that way? Because it doesn't! You can turn around and get your fill of nostalgia 'til green mushrooms are falling out of your ears and spend some quality time with your kids. What's that? Is that you yelling to me "HOW!?"? 

The media and society at large push the latest and greatest consoles down your throat. It doesn't mean that you need to buy those! A little bit of old school for the generation of gamers-to-be is both exciting and easy for toddlers. With more and more games lacking local Co-Op, nothing makes my three year old happer then holding a controller just like daddy, with two simple buttons on an old NES controller. 

I have broken down some classic systems into age groups with my top five games, to resurrect some old memories for you and to create new ones with your kids. 

Atari 2600: Age 18 months - 4 years old

With a easy to use joystick and only one button to worry about your toddler can easily navigate these older games and do pretty well (for a kid!). All while you have to chance to revisit some of the classics that will make you appeciate that PS4 or Xbox One even more:

  1. Pacman
  2. Pong 
  3. Frogger
  4. Space Invaders
  5. Galaga 

NES: Age 3-5 years old

Ah, the original D-Pad controller that revolutionized video gaming for generations to come. Armed with that and it's two buttons, it is no wonder why this classic and first to many gamers, myself included, would be the perfect fir for young toddlers and those wishing to save the Princess just like they used too. So pull out that light gun and get zapping!

  1. Super Mario Bros 
  2. Duck Hunt 
  3. Guerrilla War
  4. Super Mario Bros 3
  5. Gyromite

Sega Genesis: Age 4-6 years old

We've graduated to three buttons! Let's pull out some of the classics here and help your toddler put on those bright red sneakers, because all of us with kids know that colors are what helps things go fast. Sit down and enjoy some good old Sega titles and drool over what we use to play:

  1. Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  2. Power Rangers the Movie
  3. Altered Beast
  4.  Ghouls n' Ghosts
  5. Great Waldo Search

SNES: Age 4-6 years old

Four whole buttons! Not that you will ever use all four... but it looks nice. Time to hop on Yoshi and start eating random things. Disclaimer: I am not responsable if your kids try and fit the eggs out of the fridge in their mouth, though I would love to see a picture when that happens. 

  1. Super Mario Bros
  2. Yoshi's Island
  3. Kirby All-Star
  4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to The Past
  5. Tetris & Dr. Mario

Nitendo 64: Age 5-8 years old

Ah, we all remember swinging Bowser around in circles, but the more open world concepts that came with the N64 is sure to be a winner for your kids. I am sure even younger kids would enjoy running around in circles and exploring the worlds. Meanwhile, you get to look cool and show them all the secrets you remember and crush them in some classic Kart action, before you pwn them in some Goldeneye. 

  1. Mario Kart 64
  2. Super Mario 64
  3. Pokemon Snap
  4. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
  5. Golden Eye 007

Playstation: Age 6-10 years old

Time to bring out the big guns. Your kids'll be asking for your help on the harder games that you spent hours trying to figure out and remember because it is forever burnt into your memory. Then take them on in some classic Tekken action and wind down with some nonsensical Ape Escape craziness. 

  1. Metal Gear Solid
  2. Final Fantasy 7
  3. Tekken 3
  4. Soul Reaver
  5. Ape Escape

That's my personal breakdown, but your kids may be ready for more sooner.

What classic titles would you love to play with your kids?

All the images used are stock images, even the one with kids. Especially the ones with kids. Mine are filled with much greater awesome sauce. 

Awesomely Geeky Projects? Geek Dad Book Review Mon, 30 Dec 2013 03:50:42 -0500 Marco.Bishop

This will be the first of three reviews for the Geek Dad book series by Ken Denmead. One of the biggest problems that dads face is how to spend time with their children. The old stereotype of Dad coming home, cracking open a beer and sitting in front of the TV and watching "the game" has slowly been replaced by dad coming home cracking open an energy drink and playing "the game". I know I am guilty of it; as gamers, we use games--be it table tops, video games or board games--as escapes, to blow off the stress from the day. 

I am always looking for new and fun ways to involve my kids with things I enjoy, and I tend to enjoy building things. Though, sitting down and coming up with ideas from scratch is hard; that is where "Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share" by Ken Denmead comes in. The first of three project books packed with ideas for you to show the kids that not all super heroes wear capes. 

First Impression:

The first thing is it looks lovely--yes, I know that the cover doesn't make the book, but this is a sharp looking. Simplistic in design, but it has a nice flair to it. Trust me when I say it will look great on your bookshelf next to your "Song of Ice and Fire" series. 


Cracking it Open:

The first thing I noticed, and appreciated, is that the chapters are cut up into sections. I found this helpful for the simple fact that it provides me the opportunity to figure out what kind of mood I am in before flipping through projects. The sections are as follows:

  • Make Your Own Geeky Games and Crafts
  • Geeky Activities For The Great Outdoors
  • Awesome Accessories
  • Geeky Kids Go Green
  • Build/Learn/Geek
  • Geeky Potpourri

Like I said, this is a great convenance, as it lets you decide if you want to head to the great outdoors or if you would like to dive into something you can do on your kitchen table. Because lets face it; mother nature isn't always ready and willing to let us head outside and have fun. 

Another great feature of this book is each project has an "Info Box" which lists:

  • Concept
  • Cost
  • Difficulty
  • Duration
  • reusability
  • Tools and Materials

This is yet another great part of this book, because let's be honest, we don't always have the time or money to sit down and figure out this project.

Also, even though I am sure I am breaking "Geek Law" here, we don't always have the Tools and Materials on hand--I know a few times when I have been like "What the hell has that?"

Sample Projects:

While I am not going to list all the great and amazing projects that this book has, I will list a few of the ones that I really loved.

Pirate Cartography

Make an authentic-looking antique map for a treasure hunt or imaginative play. 

The reason I really love this project is it is coupled with some plastic gold doubloons. This makes a great "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" project, and my kids seem to love having a map ready for when the show comes on. Not only that, but it is an overall fun project for both you and the munchkins. 

Video Games That Come To Life

Make outdoor games more like video games to get kids interested in playing outside. 

Yes, I know I only have a two and three-year old, but this project is easily adapted to the shows that kids watch. You might be saying, "But I remember how to play pretend outside." Well, the three bits in the project are fun for both you and your kids, give it a try!

Smart Cufflinks 

Make a pair of cuff links out of RJ-45 Ethernet connectors and wire.

It might sound tacky, but to be honest I rather enjoy my pair. It matches my microchip tie clip that my wife bought me. Nothing beats wearing a get-up that your family pretty much helped put together, and when people ask me about them, I get to tell them, "My kids made them for me, because Daddy loves computers." To me, that is the best type of project.

The Bottom Line:

The first book in the Geek Dad Project series is both fun and inventive, packed with heart touching and inventive ideas for how to spend time with your kids, and teach them a few fun things. The best part? You will forget about your controller, and you will blow off the steam of the day with the warm and happy smiles on your kids' faces. 

Buy it on Amazon!

Images courtesy of:

"What the Heck is a Nabi?" A Nabi Jr. Review Tue, 24 Dec 2013 08:08:19 -0500 Marco.Bishop

I am sure you have seen the comericals; it seems tablets are slowly moving toward children, and why the heck not? I won't lie: my two- and three-year-olds love to play around on my Galaxy Tab. But the sad truth of this? I get tired of having PB&J smeared on it. So, around my son's third birthday, I started to search the Interwebs for the best bang for my buck. 

The issue was that there are so many of them to choose from. I started to, of course, look at the big names -- InnoTab and the LeapPad. I bounced around those two for a good bit, adding up costs and comparing features. That's when I found the Nabi Jr. 

I have started to see commercials on the various channels my children force me to watch because, you know, I own a 55" LED TV so that they can enjoy their shows. After three months, I'm increasingly impressed with that little Nabi Jr., and my Galaxy Tab is food and spit (and scratch, and crack, and itty-bitty, teeny-tiny fingerprint) free.

Let's start by stacking up the competition side-by-side:

InnoTab 3S:

  • Price: $99
  • CPU: 360-MHZ
  • Display: 5 inches
  • Resolution: 480 x 272
  • Tilting Camera 2mp
  • Battery Pack
  • Wifi
  • 20 Apps
  • 4GB Internal Memory
  • SD Card Support: Yes (MicroSD)

LeapPad Ultra:

  • Price: $140
  • CPU: 800-MHz 
  • Display: 7 inches
  • Resolution: 1,024 x 600
  • Front and Back Camera 2mp
  • Built-In Battery
  • Wifi
  • 11 Apps
  • 8GB Internal Memory
  • SD Card Support: No

Nabi Jr 16GB (there's also an older 4GB model):

  • Price: $140
  • CPU: NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad Core @ 1.0GHz
  • Display: 5 inches
  • Resolution: 800×480
  • Tilting Camera 2mp
  • Built-In Battery
  • Wifi
  • 30+ Apps
  • 16GB Internal Memory
  • SD Card Support: Yes (MicroSD)

The biggest selling point for me was the crushing difference in specs (more for my satisfaction than theirs, I admit).  The resolution is about the same between the three. The ability to load his movies on to an SD Card and let him watch, as it and the InnoTab both use Andriod while LeapPad uses a propitery OS, is a huge plus. 

How does it hold up?

This is chief among concerns that any parent or gift-giver will have: Nabi Jr. versus the wrath of a toddler. The verdict? Amazingly well! It has been knocked off, thrown, suffered the fate of a peanut butter & jelly sacrifice and a merciless 2-year-old sister. It is still ticking. The Nabi Jr. comes outfitted with cushy, an effective bumper that serve as a durable case. The large bumper protects the delicate electronic bits inside, and the ports outside, from the attacking PB&J horde.

The interface is seamless and simple enough that my wee ones take less time navigating, and more time getting to the good stuff. I was surprised at how well they handled it and how quickly my boy figured out how to take pictures. Ever wondered how your little one sees things? Judging from his stock of photos, a toddler's world is pretty interesting.

The Daddy/Mommy mode is easy to use and I like the ability to load and monitor what and how the kiddos are exploring the device.

The company is developing neat accessories for the kids' device. I like the KINABIs -- little squares that you can use to customize the back of the Nabi Jr. My son is proud of his name and football on the back of his orange and white wonder. 

The one thing that annoyed me at first was the proprietary port to charge the device. Then I found out it is designed in a way to be used with future accessories, like a karaoke-capable peripheral. I would definitely recommend the Nabi brand to folks interested in buying their kids tablets. They have different models for different age groups, so be assured that my kiddos will be getting another when they outgrow this one. 

All in all, if you are scrambling for a last-minute Christmas tablet or one for an upcoming special day, I recommend taking a look at Nabi. You won't be  disappointed.The Nabi Jr. will grow with your kid and provide a positive learning experience. 

Sex and Parenting Tue, 03 Dec 2013 01:55:43 -0500 Brian Armstrong

Sex sells, and now I know it.

When I began my time in GameSkinny’s Journalism Training Program, I had big dreams of getting thousands of views on my unique take on the gaming industry. I wanted to approach it from a parent’s perspective, and find a niche that is a little untapped in the mainstream media market. But when an article about Ellen Page, naked, in Beyond: Two Souls accidentally racked up more views than anything I’d ever written, I realized the internet may not be as grown up as I thought.

Is There Anybody Out There (Like Me)?

I’m not condemning you for clicking on an article that promises information on how you might be able to see a popular celebrity naked in digital form. It’s just that I was hoping I could find the people out there that are like me. The ones who have kids and don’t have nearly as much time for gaming as they used to. The ones that like to stay informed on the gaming world, even if their controllers are getting dusty. However, what I found is that the internet is filled predominantly with people looking for quick information, funny stories or videos, and boobs.

Once I realized this, I was able to capitalize on it a few times and post a few articles you all really seemed interested in reading. While I’m glad I caught your attention, I’m hoping to figure out how to turn that attention onto some of my other, more mature 'gaming as a parent' pieces. Of course I hope you’ll read everything I post, whether it’s about boobs or parenting, but I am happy you tuned in for something.

Much More to Come

We’re wrapping up our last week of the fall session with the GameSkinny Journalism Training Program, and it’s been great. I’ll continue writing in some manner throughout the rest of the year, and you can always follow me on Twitter to see what I’m up to. But until we meet again, I’d like to leave you with two things:

Sex and parenting.

Gaming by Generation Sun, 06 Oct 2013 11:48:45 -0400 Federico Senence

I belong to a generation of gamers that has seen explosions of change.  Once called Generation X.

We grew up with the early beginnings of trying to cross mountains and avoid dysentery on a PC while trying to avoid alien attacks on an Atari or playing in an utopia with the Intellivision.  From there we progressed to plumber on giant ape action with the Nintendo, a speed junky hedgehog on a Sega and landed with a Playstation by Sony.  Microsoft jumped into the foray with the Xbox and that is only scratching the surface of games and consoles that have come in between all of those.

My generation now has children that are growing up with high-end gaming with world-class graphics.  They don't really know the ordeals that we had with 8-bit graphics and the excitement we show when GTA V shows the most realistic graphics we've ever seen.  Some of our kids might try to argue this point of realism with Minecraft, but even that makes Pong look archaic.

Where Has the Time Gone?

With all of that said, we are in a generation that is starting to see 20 year anniversary editions come out to remind us of the days of glory past.  Included in this list is the recently released NHL 14 that includes the NHL 94 Anniversary edition game mode.  It is through this option that I have now welcomed my 7-year-old gamer into my history of gaming.

I hadn't played a hockey game on a console in some time, maybe eight or more years.  Being a huge hockey fan I downloaded the demo and was once again hooked.  NHL 14 was a must-purchase.  With that buy the years of training and playing came back to me like riding a bike.  I would play hours of NHL 94 on the Sega in a barracks room in Okinawa, Japan, with a Lieutenant (my boss) - trying to out deke one another and claim bragging rights.  Seeing the NHL 94 game mode in this new release was icing on the cake as the game itself is already wonderful.  Logging an instant bulk of hours on this game made it easy for my son to see this and want to join in.  NHL 14 is a bit advanced for him so it only made sense to classically train him and get him started on NHL 94 mode, which uses limited controls.

Full Circle

He's now hooked!  I couldn't help but smile and feel proud as a gamer dad.  I also had to laugh because he would cheer with happiness when he scored and get frustrated and determined when scored against.  Just like I used to.

What a Difference 20 Years Makes

Some twenty years later it is amazing to think back at those days of 8-bit gaming and compare it to what our kids today get to start with.  Even gaming on a smart phone is gaming with better quality than what the original Gameboy offered (although nothing beats Tetris!).  Watching my kids play Minecraft on a PC shows a hand/eye coordination that took me several years to practice as opposed to their year or two.  My 7-year-old can navigate a smart phone and text and game as if it were part of his dad, not so much.

Gaming is easily one of the best ways to break down the generational gap.  It is one aspect of "social media" that has transcended decades of changes. Gamers love to talk about games, play games, compete and share in the triumphs and pitfalls with other gamers.  Age, sex, race, religion are terms that gamers usually don't care about. Instead, they want to hear about what console or platform do you game on, what is your favorite game or genre of gaming, and whether or not your online.

Gaming is in my blood.  It's in my genetics.  And I have successfully passed it along to my kids.  That makes me happy and is a better "respawn" than any game could ever offer!