Monday, November 11th, 2013
Consoles, portable gaming systems and video games are always hot gifts for the holiday season but how do you know which ones are right for your family and how do you know that the console you choose is best? Here are some tips on selecting the best video game system for your family and navigating through an endless array of game titles.
Read family friendly reviews. Search results pull up the most popular reviews but they’re often written by gaming or tech experts who do a great job of demystifying the technology inside but can’t always translate what this means for you and your family. To know the ins and outs of the PS4 and Xbox One that come out later this month, I really appreciated reading a comparison done by The Guardian because it written in a way that allow parents to understand how the most recent advances in technology impact the family gaming experience.
Talk to other families about what they have. What do other families that your kids play with have in their homes? It’s great to get the same system to be able to share games during play dates and even play online with friends when kids are old enough to do so.
Be educated about game ratings. Do you know what C, E, E+10, T, M, or A mean? They’re part of the Electronic Software Rating Board’s (ESRB) system to provide families with guidance about the video games and apps that may be most suitable for their family.Each of ESRB’s ratings include rating categories to suggest age appropriateness, content descriptors that flag any content that may be of interest or concern to parents, and interactive elements that might reveal a user’s location or if personal information might be shared with third parties via gaming. ESRB rating information can be found on packaged video games and apps, downloadable games, and even apps via the ESRB Rating Search App.
Preview games before you buy. It’s often hard to know what a game will really look like when it’s inside the box before it’s released. Searching YouTube for game previews and reviews by the media often provide a better sense of what you might be purchasing for $40-60. If the game has been out for awhile, ask around to see if another family has the game that you can try before you buy.
Read game reviews on Common Sense Media. Type in the title you’re looking for and chances are it’s been reviewed by Common Sense Media. This non-profit organization make it their business to provide parents with helpful guidance through easy to use reviews and ratings. Search according to game title, game type, and also the age of your child to find games that are just right for your family.
Don’t feel stuck with your purchase. Just because you bought a game or a console doesn’t mean you have to keep it if it isn’t the right fit. Retail stores like GameStop offer competitive trade in and cash back for your purchases while eBay can be a great place to get rid of a collection of games at once when they’re sold as a “lot.”
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Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
Last month Disney unveiled their new Disney Infinity gaming system at E3, a gaming trade show where the latest platforms, games, and tools for play are unveiled to the industry. This new video game initiative stars the beloved characters from Walt Disney and Pixar Studios’ most popular franchises, including Monsters University, the Incredibles, Cars, and Pirates of the Caribbean and provides aspiring video game designers to create their own games that can be uploaded for review by Disney to be included in the platform for others to play.
Disney Infinity is being hailed as an open ended virtual world where you can play with your favorite characters to create endless possibilities. Disney Infinity incorporates real-world toy versions of favorite Disney characters onto a device called the Infinity Base to transport players into virtual game world of the characters, locations within the Disney Parks, as well as into a giant Toy Box. It takes the imagination and creativity of real world play that combines toys into the virtual space.
To begin game play, families will need to purchase the Starter Pack which is currently available via pre-order with an August 18 release date. The Starter Pack is available for all gaming platforms and consists of the video game, Infinity base for character figurines to sit on, 3 Play Sets (Monsters University, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Incredibles), 3 Infinity characters (Mr. Incredible, Jack Sparrow, and Sulley), an Infinity Power Disc, and web codes to unlock unique content. Play Sets serve as the worlds that characters can play in and contain gadgets for them to use. Items from each Play Set are added to the Toy Box where characters, buildings, weapons, gadgets, and more that can be mixed up to create a game.
From previews, this highly engaging game seems to suit all ages. Younger kids will love adding new Disney figurines that are available for individual purchase beyond the Play Sets to their game play while older kids and adults can exercise their own creativity as they build fully functional games. According to Disney, logic editor tools and the tutorial will help users “build their own environments from scratch or use pre-built template. Players can let their imaginations run wild by creating adventures and mini-games within these customized environments. They can create obstacle courses, sports games or even re-create classic arcade games by using a variety of characters such as Mr. Incredible and Jack Sparrow, and vehicles including the Tron recognizer while fending off opponents with a variety of combat tools.” Games created through the editor can be saved, uploaded to Disney, and reviewed for possible inclusion on the Infinity platform for others to play.
For more information, visit the Disney Infinity website, the YouTube channel, or look for the Summer of Endless Fun Tour with remaining stops in Richmond (August 10-11), culminating with a weekend of launch activities in New York City on Saturday, Aug. 17 at Nintendo World Square and in Times Square on Sunday, Aug. 18. Activities at each tour stop include game demos, surprise guests, photo opportunities, giveaways, contests, entertainment provided by Radio Disney and more.
Images courtesy of Disney Interactive
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