Five spoiler-free tips for getting your Skyrim character off to a good start:
Five spoiler-free tips for getting your Skyrim character off to a good start:
This is a guest post by Jeff Jenkins. He is a father and a Microsoft MVP for Xbox Canada.
Let me tell you a story. A few years ago during the holiday buying season I was in my local video game retailer picking up the latest hot video game. In front of me was a woman with her son. The young gentlemen was obviously excited as he stared down at the game that would soon be his. When they eventually got to the cash the child presented the clerk with the game. The clerk looked at the game, looked at the child (I figure he was around 9 or 10) and then met eyes with the mother.
“Ma’am, I’m obliged to inform you that this game is rated M for mature. That’s 18 and up. It features a lot of graphic violence and a fair bit of ‘adult’ content. There are…uhh.. interactive prostitutes.”
The mother turned bright red, obviously embarrassed. She shot a look at her son and said, “You told me this was a game for kids?!”
What really hurts me is that she then proceeded to buy the game anyway. I’m not sure why exactly. Everyone in the packed store could see that she didn’t want to.
My point is that this situation could easily have been avoided. It’s not like she didn’t have immediate access to that information, it’s that she didn’t know it was there.
I’m very excited to announce a new feature coming to Momicon.com – video game reviews! This is something I’ve wanted to add for a long time, and with the holiday season fast approaching no time could be better.
So what’s a Momicon review going to be like? These won’t be the typical video game reviews my gaming friends and I enjoy. If you regularly visit sites like Joystiq and know what MetaCritic is, these reviews are not for you. There will be no discussions of graphic fidelity, franchise ennui or elevating the genre. What you will find is simple information to help parents, casual gamers and others make decisions about what games their family will enjoy. I’ll expand upon ESRB ratings and let you know if I think a game’s rating lines up with that age group’s abilities and interests. I’ll share what the kids thought, if it was easy for them to pick up and play, and what the grown ups’ impressions were too.
Our family loves games of all kinds, and it’s a favourite hobby of parents and kids alike (grandparents too!). We’re looking forward to sharing our impressions with you, and welcome any questions you have about selecting video games for your family.
Can’t wait to hit the showroom floor for Day 3 and get some hands on time with Dragon Age, as well as checking out a few more panels. Can’t believe the show is almost done and on twelve hours we’ll be on an airplane. It’s been a great show so far, and so amazing to connect with everyone. We are among friends.
Jeff and I are here at PAX and having an amazing time. We came a little bit early this year, and had a chance to adjust to the time change and hang around downtown Seattle a bit on Thursday. We found an awesome place for tacos with Justin, had some Starbucks and made our game plan for the convention. It was so nice to relax and be schedule free for a day before the craziness of PAX starts; what an awesome way to decompress and get into vacation mode.
Day one of the con was crazy, there is just so much to see and do. We elected to skip the keynote this year – we’ll catch it on DVD later – and started the day with a live taping of Pach Attack. Pachter was greeting everyone as they came in, so we had the chance to meet him and he is super charming and very down to earth. The panel was Q&A style and as always Pachter was on his game, pulling statistics and analytics out of thin air. It’s amazing to me that people like him can store such huge amounts of data and easily recall numbers when I struggle just to remember my postal code. Afterwards industry legend and tv personality Geoff Keighley was hanging around the room. He is so approachable and down-to-earth, it’s just incredible. I pulled off the truly incredible feat of not going completely fangirl when he actually remembered meeting me two years ago. At PAX2008 we saw him at a panel with Hal Halpin and met him afterwards; Jeff took a picture of me with Geoff and it was all blurry, which I have never let him live down. Geoff kindly posed for about six photos with me this time to make sure we got a good one. I’m a huge fan of his work and it was a real thrill to see him again. Looking forward to the live taping of the Bonus Round later on today!
We went to the amazing impromptu 1Up reunion panel and saw an absolute all star cast of video game journalists and podcast personalities. Afterwards we met the gang from Co-Op and I was totally flattered that the guys ‘know’ me from twitter AND that they all know the video of Oliver singing the 1Up Show theme song. Jeff bought one of their shirts (if you’re here, see Matt and get one) and I left them some of the bags of Canadian candy I brought with me. These guys are so nice and so real… which is why I love their work. Can’t wait to see what they’ll be doing with the new EGM, and I’m so stoked to hear that Patrick Klepek and many other great talents are on board. I’ve always loved EMG and was so sad when it was cancelled; I’ll definitely be subscribing again. I asked Patrick about an iPad format after the show, and he said it’s in the works. And thanks guys for the copy of the August issue!
We wrapped up the night at the Seattle Aquarium with some of the Xbox crew and XBLA partners. I had a chance to thank some of the Monday Night Combat team for their awesome game, which has turned out to be a great community game for the Xbox Canada crew. It’s a super fun shooter and I find it such a great social game too. It was also great to see some of my US tweeps in person and meet a few new people too. We had intended on going to the 1Up meet up afterwards, but the line to get in was incredible and my tired tootsies just weren’t feeling it. But hey, congrats guys on the awesome turn out.
I haven’t had a chance to check out tons of the showroom floor, but the Back to Future game has a freakin’ DELOREAN TIME MACHINE in the lobby and it can only go up from there. Hoping to get hands on with Guild Wars 2 and maybe Duke Nukem if I can tolerate the line. But first up on my list of things to see today is the Wizards of the Coast booth, which I’m sure will be nerdtastic. Unfortunately the con doesn’t have wifi this year, but I’ll be doing the best I can to microblog the show if you want to follow along [courtesy of Starbucks, haha].
So, I’m a gamer and a mom, and I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I let my kids play video games. Contrary to what a lot of parents assume, my kids actually play fewer games than most of their friends and have a lot more restrictions on what they’re allowed to play. Because I am familiar with most of the popular titles, I am better able to select what’s appropriate for them and don’t just assume all games are “toys” and ok for kids… (I could say a lot more on that subject, but that’s a post for another time ;) )
Maybe you wonder if your kids are spending too much time playing video games, or if you’re doing something wrong but letting them “veg out” in front of the screen. Personally, I would prefer my kids select gaming for their screen time (1-4 hours per week-end, none during the week, if you’re wondering) than TV or movies; let me tell you why:
Top 5 Reasons You Should Let Your Kids Play Video Games:
1: Literacy and Numeracy Skills This is particularly true of “edutainment” type games, but really all games require a certain amount of reading, and many present math and logic challenges. If you want to actively build a particular skill set, there are games that will help specifically with math, or spanish, or what have you, but most genres offer some degree of reading and reasoning [certainly more than television or movies].
2: Teamwork Kids can play together locally or online (following internet safety precautions, of course!), and there are a number of great games out there that encourage cooperative play. My 10 and 8 year olds are big fans of the LEGO series of games, which are all designed for two player cooperative play. The kids need to work together to solve problems and meet objectives, plan strategies and share rewards.
3: Building Self Esteem Video games are great tools for building self esteem, as they provide immediate feedback for a job well done and allow the child to feel a measure of success they don’t always have at school or in social situations. This is a particular bonus for kids who are loners or have learning challenges. Games provide a clear objective and reward for accomplishing it, which makes kids feel great.
4: Social Skills This is one you probably didn’t expect, but there is research that shows teens who play video games play with others more often than not, and that 85% percent of the time they rate other player’s behaviour as “generous and helpful”. There is a lot of pro-social behaviour in the online gaming world and kids have the opportunity both to “meet” people from all over the world (again, you need to take safety precautions with online interactions) and to “hang out” online with their real world friends.
5: Fun Video games are fun, that’s why kids like them, and there’s nothing wrong with that! I think the mainstream media has scared many parents into thinking games are bad or dangerous, when the truth is there are a lot of great games for kids out there. There is nothing wrong with doing something just because you like it. As long as you select games that are appropriate for your children’s age and ability, let them enjoy!