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Stephen Duetzmann

If your child has recently delved into the pixelated* world of Minecraft, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. Fear not, as your resident blogging expert on video games, I’m here to guide you through the basics of Minecraft’s Survival Mode. This post will provide you with beginner-friendly tips to help you understand the game and perhaps even join your kids in their blocky adventures.

Gathering the Minecraft Essentials

4 Wood = 1 Crafting Table!

The first step in Minecraft is collecting basic resources like wood, stone, and dirt. Encourage your child to start by punching trees (yes, you read that right!) to gather wood. They should use the wood they gather to make a crafting table. That will allow them to make basic tools like a pickaxe, an axe, and a sword.

The next thing they should do is craft a Furnace with eight cobblestones and make some charcoal. (You do that by putting logs into the furnace you just made.

8 Cobblestone = 1 Furnace

Building a Safe Haven

As night falls in the game, monsters come out. It’s crucial to build a simple shelter to stay safe. This can be a fun exercise in creativity – it doesn’t have to be elaborate; a small hut will do just fine. You can even just carve out a small alcove on the side of a hill.

Lighting the Way

In Minecraft, darkness is an invitation for trouble. Crafting torches using coal and sticks to light up the shelter and surrounding area is a great way to keep those pesky monsters at bay.

Food for Survival

Just like in the real world, characters in Minecraft get hungry. Guide your child to gather food by farming or hunting animals. Pro tip: cooking food on a fire or in a furnace creates food that will restore more hunger points than raw alternatives.

The Mining Adventure

Mining is a big part of the game (obviously). Encourage your child to dig into mountains and underground for coal and iron, which are essential for crafting more durable and efficient tools. Be careful though. They want to start with simple expeditions a few levels down before they return home. And no matter what they do… tell them not to dig straight down.

Sweet Dreams Are Made of Sheep

Creating a bed in the game is a game-changer. You’ll need three wool (of the same color) and three wooden planks. One crafted, players can use a bed to skip the dangerous nights! The bed also creates a new spawn point in case you get lost or meet an unfortunate end.

Safe Exploration

The world of Minecraft is vast and full of surprises. Remind your young gamer to be cautious, especially when exploring dark caves, and to always carry a weapon and food.

Minecraft is more than just a game; it’s a platform for creativity and learning. By understanding the basics of Survival Mode, you can engage in meaningful conversations with your child about their in-game adventures. Who knows, you might even find yourself enjoying the world of Minecraft alongside them!

Happy crafting and exploring!

* The big blocks in Minecraft aren’t pixels. They are Voxels, but that’s none of our business.

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In our journey to understand what captures our kids’ attention in the digital world, today we’re exploring the concept of “Gacha.” Originating from Japan, this term has become increasingly relevant in the realm of video games and online entertainment. But, where does this term come from, and what does it mean for our children?

The Origins of “Gacha”

The term “Gacha” is inspired by “Gachapon,” a term for Japanese vending machines that dispense capsule toys. These toys are encased in plastic capsules, and the selection is random – you never know which toy you’re going to get. It’s this element of surprise and chance that’s at the heart of the Gacha concept.

Gacha in Video Games

In video games, “Gacha” refers to a mechanism where players can obtain random virtual items, often characters or accessories. It’s similar to the surprise element in Gachapon – players spend money or in-game currency, not knowing exactly what item they will receive. This randomness can be exciting but also raises concerns about spending and the risk of gambling-like behavior.

Of note: The Gacha Club mobile game doesn’t feature true Gacha mechanics.

Monitor Spending

Since real money can be involved, it’s important to keep an eye on how much your child might be spending on these games.

Here are a few tips:

Set Spending Limits: Most gaming platforms allow you to set spending limits. Utilize these tools to control how much can be spent in a given period.

Regularly Check Account Statements: Keep an eye on your credit card or bank statements for any game-related charges. This helps in tracking spending and catching any unauthorized purchases.

Educate About Value: Discuss with your children the value of money and how spending in games compares to real-world expenses. This can help them understand the impact of their spending habits.

Encourage Earning In-Game Currency: Many games offer ways to earn items through gameplay. Encourage your child to utilize these methods as an alternative to spending real money.

Discuss Randomness and Risk

The random nature of Gacha can be similar to gambling. It’s crucial to talk with your children about the risks involved and the importance of moderation. Here’s how you can approach this:

Explain Randomness: Help your child understand that Gacha systems are designed to be random and that getting a desired item is never guaranteed, no matter how much money is spent.

Set Healthy Boundaries: Establish rules for when and how long your child can engage with these games. Encourage breaks and alternative activities to ensure a balanced lifestyle.

Be Involved: Show interest in the games your child plays. This not only helps you understand the game’s content but also strengthens your relationship with your child, making it easier to discuss these topics.

Remember, the goal isn’t to instill fear or completely restrict gaming but to promote a healthy, balanced approach to it. By staying informed and maintaining open communication, you can help your child navigate the world of online gaming safely and responsibly.

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Hello, parents! In today’s digital age, it’s crucial to stay informed about the various types of video games that captivate our children’s attention. One genre that’s increasingly popular among kids and teens is the “sandbox game.” But what exactly is a sandbox game? Let’s dive into this digital playground to understand what your kids are experiencing.

What is a Sandbox Game?

A sandbox game is a type of video game that emphasizes open-ended play, offering players a virtual world where they can explore, create, and manipulate their environment with few limitations. The term ‘sandbox’ itself is a metaphor, likening these games to a child’s sandbox where the possibilities for play are nearly endless.

Key Characteristics of Sandbox Games:

  1. Freedom of Choice: Unlike traditional games with linear narratives and structured progress, sandbox games offer players the freedom to choose their path, objectives, and play style.
  2. Open-World Exploration: These games typically feature vast, open-world environments that players can explore at their own pace. From sprawling cities to vast wildernesses, these worlds are rich with detail and opportunities for discovery.
  3. Creativity and Building: Many sandbox games include elements of building and creativity, allowing players to construct buildings, craft items, or even shape the game world itself.
  4. Dynamic Content: Sandbox games often evolve with the player’s actions, leading to a unique experience for each player. The game world might change based on the player’s decisions, creating a dynamic and personalized experience.

Popular Examples of Sandbox Games:

  • Minecraft: Perhaps the most iconic sandbox game, Minecraft offers a block-based world where players can build, explore, and survive in an environment limited only by their imagination.
  • Terraria: This 2D adventure game blends sandbox-style creativity with exploration and combat, set in a procedurally generated world.
  • LEGO Fortnite: This is a new entry to the genre from Epic Games. This collaboration between LEGO and Fortnite merges the two brands into an exploration and survival game. This is a free-to-play option entry into the genre that is only going to grow in popularity.

Benefits and Considerations for Parents:

  • Encourages Creativity: Sandbox games can be excellent tools for fostering creativity and problem-solving skills. They allow children to think outside the box and experiment in a low-risk environment.
  • Social Interaction: Many sandbox games offer multiplayer options, enabling kids to collaborate and socialize with others in a virtual setting.
  • Screen Time Management: While these games can be educational and fun, it’s important to balance screen time with other activities. Setting limits and encouraging diverse interests is key.
  • Online Safety: If the game includes online interactions, discuss internet safety with your children. Remind them never to share personal information and to report any uncomfortable situations.

Conclusion

Sandbox games represent a unique and engaging form of digital entertainment that can offer numerous benefits to young players. By understanding what these games are and what they offer, you can better appreciate the virtual worlds your children enjoy and guide them toward a healthy, balanced approach to gaming. Happy sandbox exploration! Don’t forget to Get Your Family Game On!

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Hello, dear parents! As someone who’s spent years writing about technology and gaming for families like yours, I’m excited to introduce you to a world your kids might already be exploring – Minecraft. This isn’t just any game; it’s a doorway to a universe of creativity and adventure that has captivated children (and adults!) worldwide. Let’s embark on this journey together to understand what makes Minecraft so special.

What is Minecraft?

First released in 2010, Minecraft has grown into more than a game – it’s a cultural phenomenon. Accessible on various platforms, including consoles, PCs, and mobile devices, it has become a staple in children’s digital lives. But what exactly is it?

Minecraft is a wonderfully imaginative sandbox game that captivates players of all ages. In this blocky, vibrant 3D world, you’re free to explore endless terrains, from lush forests to deep caverns. The game is like a digital Lego set; you can build anything from cozy cottages to grand castles using gathered resources. It’s not just about building though – you’ll craft tools, fend off creatures, and maybe even team up with friends for adventures! Whether you’re a creative builder, an explorer, or a brave warrior, Minecraft offers a unique, fun experience where your imagination is the only limit.

Why Minecraft Captivates Kids

Picture a game where the joy of building with LEGO meets the thrill of an adventure story. That’s Minecraft in a nutshell. In its ‘Creative Mode,’ children are given unlimited virtual blocks to construct anything they can dream up. From simple houses to elaborate castles in the sky, the only limit is their imagination. And trust me, some of the creations out there are truly awe-inspiring. (Or very, very silly. )

Switching to ‘Survival Mode,’ Minecraft offers a different kind of challenge. Here, players gather resources, build shelters, and ensure they have enough food to survive. This mode is not just fun; it’s a brain teaser, encouraging problem-solving and strategic thinking. And don’t worry, the internet is full of guides and tips to help beginners find their way.

Safe and Social

One of the best features of Minecraft is its adaptability in play styles. Your child can choose to play alone or join friends in multiplayer mode. The game’s parental control settings allow for a controlled, safe environment, ensuring they only play with people they know.

Understanding the Costs

Minecraft does require a one-time purchase, with prices varying slightly based on the platform. The game is available on PCs, consoles, and mobile devices, each offering a unique version tailored to the platform. The Java Edition is PC-specific, while the Bedrock Edition is compatible across various platforms (we have an article explaining the differences between Java and Bedrock here). There are no hidden monthly fees, but optional in-game purchases exist for cosmetic items. These purchases aren’t necessary but can add a fun, personalized element to the game. It’s wise to discuss in-game spending with your child to manage expectations and avoid surprises.

Educational Benefits

minecraft education edition
minecraft education edition

Beyond entertainment, Minecraft has significant educational value. It’s widely used in schools to teach subjects like mathematics, history, and science. The game even has an Education Edition, specifically designed for classroom use, highlighting its role as a valuable learning tool.

Minecraft’s Global Influence

Minecraft’s impact goes beyond individual players; it’s a global phenomenon. Its universal appeal transcends age and geography, making it a beloved game across the world.

Seeing is Believing

To truly understand Minecraft, I recommend watching a gameplay video or two on YouTube. This will give you a feel for the game’s environment and mechanics. Remember, the focus is on the game itself, not the person streaming it (The internet is a wild, wild place after all.)

In Summary

Minecraft is a digital playground that offers a blend of creativity, learning, and safe online interaction. It’s a game where your child can express themselves, solve problems, and engage with a global community. As a parent, you can feel reassured about your child’s involvement in this virtual world. If you have any questions or concerns, I’m here to help.

Minecraft is more than a game; it’s a portal to a world of imagination, education, and safe digital exploration for your child.

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Is your family looking for an unmatched, hassle-free gaming experience on your iPhones or iPads? Look no further than Apple Arcade. In today’s world where our mobile devices are often littered with intrusive ads and continuous in-app purchase prompts, Apple Arcade emerges as a breath of fresh air. This unique gaming service not only offers an expansive library of exclusive titles but also ensures an uninterrupted gaming journey across all of your Apple devices. Let’s dive into why Apple Arcade is quickly becoming the go-to choice for mobile gamers of all ages.

Exclusive games

Apple Arcade has a library of over 200 exclusive games that are not available on any other platform. These games are developed by world-class studios and offer a variety of genres, including action, adventure, puzzle, strategy, and more.

A great example is TMNT Splintered Fate. This is a gorgeous action game that features retro graphics, responsive controls, and a whole lot of turtle power!


No ads or in-app purchases

All Apple Arcade games are ad-free and free of in-app purchases. This means that you can enjoy the full game experience without having to worry about being interrupted by ads or pressured to spend more money. This is great for parents who are looking to let their kids play mobile games without the risk of them accidentally spending money on microtransactions.


Cross-platform support

Apple Arcade games can be played on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and Apple TV. This means that you can pick up and play your games on any Apple device, without having to start over.


Affordable price

Apple Arcade is available for a monthly subscription fee of $6.99. This is an amazing value considering the number of games that are available.


Some awesome Apple Arcade games are:

Action: Oceanhorn 2, Asphalt 9: Legends, Sneaky Sasquatch, Bad North
Adventure: Fantasian, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, The Pathless, World of Demons
Puzzle: Tetris Beat, Grindstone, Assemble with Care, Hitchhiker – A Whimsical Wayfinding Adventure
Strategy: Cardpocalypse, WHAT THE GOLF?, OVERLAND, ChuChu Rocket! Universe
Family-friendly: Lego Star Wars Battles, SpongeBob SquarePants: Patty Pursuit, Crayola Scribble Scrubbie Pet Wash, Crossy Road Castle

Overall, Apple Arcade is a great value for anyone who enjoys playing high-quality mobile games without having to worry about ads or in-app purchases. With a huge library of exclusive games and cross-platform support, Apple Arcade is a great way to get the most out of your Apple devices.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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The holidays are coming up fast and if you’re like me, you still have no idea what to get your friends and family. Well, never fear, because I’ve put together the Official Engaged Family Gaming Holiday Gift Guide! This guide is packed full of video games that will make any gamer happy. Whether your loved one is a seasoned pro or just starting out in the gaming world, I’ve got you covered. So sit back, relax, and let me help you find the perfect gift for the gamers in your life!

The EFG Holiday Gift Guide For Video Games

Below are recommendations for video games across all three major consoles.

Nintendo

Discover the magic of gaming on the go with the Nintendo Switch! This versatile console, beloved by families worldwide, offers a fresh wave of titles this year, perfect for both home and on-the-move play. Whether you’re diving into enchanting worlds, or solving intriguing puzzles, our recommended Switch games for 2023 are sure to delight players of all ages.

Metroid Prime: Remastered

  • Release date: May 26, 2023
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • MSRP: $39.99 USD (you can purchase this on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: T (Teen)

Metroid Prime: Remastered is the perfect escape this holiday season! With enhanced visuals, textures, and lighting, as well as modernized controls and gameplay, it’s a treat for both new gamers and anyone with nostalgia for the GameCube era! 

Embark on an adventure with the renowned bounty hunter Samus Aran as she unravels the mysteries of planet Tallon IV and thwarts the Space Pirates from wielding the Chozo Artifact, a formidable force that threatens the cosmos!

Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or new to the Metroid universe, Metroid Prime: Remastered promises hours of immersive gameplay and a captivating narrative. It’s the ideal gift for those looking to lose themselves in a visually spectacular and thrilling world this holiday season.



Bluey: The Video Game

  • Release date: November 17, 2023
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC
  • Publisher: Outright Games
  • MSRP: $39.99 USD (Buy it on Amazon Here)
  • ESRB rating: Everyone

Delve into Bluey’s whimsical world in this family-friendly sandbox game. Explore iconic scenes, including Bluey’s home, in an interactive adventure filled with fun activities drawn from the show and a new storyline created alongside Artax Games and BBC Studios. With a four-player mode, take on the roles of Bluey, Bingo, Mum, and Dad, and enjoy mini-games like ‘Keepy Uppy’ and ‘Magic Xylophone.’ This is a delightful holiday gift for families seeking playful adventures together.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe

  • Release date: February 24, 2023
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • MSRP: $59.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)

Looking for the perfect holiday gift for your young gamer? Dive into the whimsical world of Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe! This revamped version of the beloved Wii game, Kirby: Return to Dreamland, has enhanced graphics and updated gameplay controls, making it even more delightful for today’s generation.

Your child (or YOU!) will embark on an enchanting adventure as Kirby, the adorable pink sphere (I dunno, Is he a ball? A puff?  We can just go with it) with the unique ability to mimic his foes’ powers. Alongside Kirby are his trusty pals, King Dedede, Meta Knight, and Bandana Waddle Dee, as they join forces to assist a mysterious alien. 

Not only is Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe a vibrant and easy-to-play platformer suitable for kids and parents alike, but it also introduces a fresh character, Magolor, for added fun. Plus, the “Merry Magoland” mode offers a delightful assortment of minigames and challenges, ensuring hours of entertainment. Make this festive season memorable with a game that’s bound to be a hit!

WarioWare: Move it!

  • Release Date: November 3rd, 2023
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • MSRP: $49.99 (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB Rating: ESRB 10+

Dive into the hilarity with “WarioWare: Move It!” this holiday season. It’s an ideal pick for family game nights, offering over 200 quick and quirky microgames that prompt players to shake, dance, and laugh together. Simple enough for all ages, it’s a game that gets everyone off the couch and into a fit of giggles with its rapid-fire, silly challenges.

The game’s lightning-fast pace ensures that everyone gets a turn quickly, making it perfect for lively parties. The sheer variety of activities, from mimicking a curtsey to virtual jailbreaks, guarantees a fresh experience every time.

“WarioWare: Move It!” is the gift of endless fun and togetherness for families, a delightful addition to any holiday celebration.

Octopath Traveller 2

Octopath Traveler night time
  • Release date: February 24, 2023
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • MSRP: $59.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Teen

Dive into the magical world of Solistia with Octopath Traveler II. This T-rated role-playing game lets players pick from eight enchanting characters, each boasting their own special tale and skills. Journey together through mesmerizing landscapes, tackle challenges in strategic turn-based battles, and get lost in the game’s stunning HD-2D visuals and heartwarming melodies.

Octopath Traveler II is a delightful pick for families who love immersive stories and bonding over game nights. A treasure trove of adventures awaits!

Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

  • Release date: May 12, 2023
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • MSRP: $59.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Teen

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Breath of the Wild. It takes place in the same world of Hyrule, but with a new story and new gameplay mechanics. Players will take on the role of Link once again. This time you get to use a whole new set of powers including Fuse that lets you combine objects in the world together and ultrahand that lets you build everything from vehicles to platforms!

This is one of our favorite games this year and will be a great gift to put under the tree for any fan looking for an adventure!

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

  • Release date: October 20, 2023
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • MSRP: $59.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Everyone

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a return to form for the Super Mario series, featuring classic 2D platforming gameplay with new twists and surprises. Players can choose between Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and a host of other characters as they travel through the Flower Kingdom, and find new power-ups like the elephant fruit and Drill form.

Every stage has a Wonder seed that, when collected, changes the world for a brief period of time and changes the gameplay significantly. These events are unpredictable, exciting, and sometimes hilarious. 

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the first brand-new 2D art style for Mario in the last decade and should definitely be on your shopping list this year!

Disney Illusion Island

  • Release date: July 28, 2023
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch
  • Publisher: Disney Interactive Media Group
  • MSRP: $39.98 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Everyone

Disney Illusion Island is a cooperative platformer (We call them Matroidvania’s here) game in which players control Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy as they embark on an adventure to save the mysterious island of Monoth. Players can explore the island’s varied environments, solve puzzles, and battle enemies using a variety of platforming abilities. 

The game features hand-drawn animation, a fully orchestrated score, and authentic voice acting. In short? It’s a Disney cartoon come to life! It is a great way to experience the magic of Disney with your family this holiday season!

PlayStation

Sony-Playstation-logo

Step into the gaming future with PlayStation 5’s 2023 releases. Sony’s cutting-edge console continues to push boundaries, offering families a gateway to explore vibrant new worlds, face thrilling challenges, and immerse themselves in captivating narratives. With a curated selection of this year’s standout titles, the PS5 ensures that every gaming moment is unforgettable.

Sonic Superstars

  • Release date: October 17, 2023
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC
  • Publisher: Sega
  • MSRP: $59.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Everyone

Looking for the perfect game to enjoy with your kids this holiday season? Dive into the world of “Sonic Superstars”! This game is a delightful tribute to the beloved Sonic the Hedgehog series, blending classic gameplay elements with fresh twists that will keep both new and seasoned players engaged.

Guide Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, or Amy as they dash through new levels that will hit you right in the nostalgia feels . Along the way, collect rings, tackle foes, and discover exciting power-ups. But here’s a special treat: as you journey, gather the elusive chaos gems to unlock incredible platforming powers that will elevate your gaming experience!

Whether you’re introducing your kids to the magic of Sonic or reliving cherished memories, “Sonic Superstars” promises hours of fun and adventure. It’s the ideal blend of classic Sonic charm with a contemporary spin, making it a must-have for your holiday game collection.

Minecraft Legends

  • Release date: April 18th, 2023
  • Platform: (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)
  • Publisher:Microsoft
  • MSRP: $29.99 (included on Game Pass)
  • ESRB rating: E 10+

Minecraft Legends is a new action-strategy game set in the Minecraft universe. Players lead an army of mobs to defend the Overworld from a piglin invasion. The game has the same voxel art style of the original Minecraft that we all know and love, but plays from a different perspective. The camera is higher up and farther back to give you a wider view of the world you are moving around and to make it easier to see your growing army. Minecraft Legends is a great choice for fans of Minecraft who are looking for a new challenge.

Disney SpeedStorm

  • Release date: April 18th, 2023
  • Platform: (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)
  • Publisher: Gameloft
  • MSRP: Free to Play
  • ESRB rating: E

Disney SpeedStorm is a free-to-play kart racing game featuring characters from Disney and Pixar films. Players can race as Mickey Mouse, Lightning McQueen, and other iconic characters on tracks inspired by Disney and Pixar movies. Put simply, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe isn’t available on PS5 or Xbox, so this is one of the best alternatives, especially for Disney fans.

Octopath Traveller 2

  • Release date: February 24, 2023
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • MSRP: $59.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Teen

Dive into the magical world of Solistia with Octopath Traveler II. This T-rated role-playing game lets players pick from eight enchanting characters, each boasting their own special tale and skills. Journey together through mesmerizing landscapes, tackle challenges in strategic turn-based battles, and get lost in the game’s stunning HD-2D visuals and heartwarming melodies.

Octopath Traveler II is a delightful pick for families who love immersive stories and bonding over game nights. A treasure trove of adventures awaits!

Bluey: The Video Game

  • Release date: November 17, 2023
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC
  • Publisher: Outright Games
  • MSRP: $39.99 USD (Buy it on Amazon Here)
  • ESRB rating: Everyone

Delve into Bluey’s whimsical world in this family-friendly sandbox game. Explore iconic scenes, including Bluey’s home, in an interactive adventure filled with fun activities drawn from the show and a new storyline created alongside Artax Games and BBC Studios. With a four-player mode, take on the roles of Bluey, Bingo, Mum, and Dad, and enjoy mini-games like ‘Keepy Uppy’ and ‘Magic Xylophone.’ This is a delightful holiday gift for families seeking playful adventures together.

Star Wars: Jedi Survivor

  • Release date: April 28, 2023
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • MRSP: $69.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Teen

Embark on an intergalactic journey with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. This thrilling third-person action-adventure game is perfect for any Star Wars fan!

Join Cal Kestis, now a seasoned Jedi Knight, as he navigates the galaxy five years after the events of Fallen Order. Defend the galaxy from looming dark forces with his loyal droid BD-1 and intriguing new allies!

Street Fighter 6

  • Release date: June 2, 2023
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • MRSP: $59.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Teen

Get ready to unleash your inner fighter with Street Fighter 6! This latest installment in the iconic fighting game series promises an exhilarating experience for both newcomers and seasoned players. With a fresh art style that’s not only eye-catching but also ensures clarity during intense battles, it’s a visual treat for all.

The game introduces the innovative Drive System, a gameplay mechanic that offers players enhanced control over their moves, both offensively and defensively. Reunite with beloved characters like Ryu, Chun-Li, Guile, and Ken, and meet intriguing newcomers such as Luke and Jamie.

Baldur’s Gate 3

  • Release date: August 3, 2023
  • Platforms: Windows PC, Stadia
  • Publisher: Larian Studios
  • MSRP: $59.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: M for Mature 

Baldur’s Gate 3, rated M for mature, is ideal for grownups who cherish cooperative gaming. This Dungeons & Dragons-inspired RPG is set in the magical Forgotten Realms. Players craft their characters, tackle formidable evils, and encounter intriguing allies. The game promotes teamwork with its cooperative multiplayer, offering diverse character classes and races. Its combat is both challenging and rewarding, allowing players to merge abilities against foes. With an immersive story and adjustable difficulty levels, it’s a top pick for adult gaming enthusiasts.

Final Fantasy 16

  • Release date: June 22, 2023
  • Platforms: PlayStation 5
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • MRSP: $69.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Mature

Final Fantasy XVI is an action role-playing game set in the world of Valisthea, which is divided into six nations that each have a Mothercrystal that grants them magical power. The player controls Clive Rosfield, the firstborn son of the Archduke of Rosaria, one of the aforementioned nations as he journeys through the world discovering its secrets and coming to grips with what he has done.

Final Fantasy XVI is the first mainline Final Fantasy game to ever receive an M rating from the ESRB and it shows. There is a lot going on here that is not appropriate for kids in spite of the historically whimsical themes in FF games. 

Final Fantasy XVI is similarly the first mainline game in the series to feature action-based combat that is designed to be both fast-paced and strategic. 

Microsoft’s powerhouse console delivers not just in performance but in a diverse array of stories, adventures, and challenges this year. From cooperative quests to gripping solo journeys, our top picks for the Xbox Series X promise hours of unparalleled entertainment. Many of these games are included in Xbox Game Pass which is an amazing value!

Xbox Game Pass

The Xbox Game Pass is a game-changer for families who love gaming together. With a single subscription, you gain access to a vast library of over 100 high-quality games, spanning various genres suitable for both kids and adults. Whether you’re in the mood for an adventurous quest, a puzzling challenge, or a co-op mission, Xbox Game Pass has something for everyone.

Why It’s Perfect for Families

Variety of Games: From family-friendly titles like “Minecraft” and “Forza Horizon” to more mature games for older kids and parents, there’s a game for every member of the family.

Cost-Effective: Instead of purchasing individual games, Xbox Game Pass offers an affordable monthly subscription, giving you unlimited access to a continually updated library.

Exclusive Access: Get early access to Xbox Game Studios titles on the day they release. No more waiting or additional purchases required!

Gift Tip

Pair the Xbox Game Pass subscription with an Xbox controller for the ultimate gaming gift bundle. If the family doesn’t have an Xbox console yet, consider the Xbox Series S – a compact, digital-only console that’s perfect for families.

Minecraft Legends

  • Release date: April 18th, 2023
  • Platform: (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)
  • Publisher: Microsoft
  • MSRP: $29.99 (included on Game Pass)
  • ESRB rating: E 10+

Minecraft Legends is a new action-strategy game set in the Minecraft universe. Players lead an army of mobs to defend the Overworld from a piglin invasion. The game has the same voxel art style of the original Minecraft that we all know and love, but plays from a different perspective. The camera is higher up and farther back to give you a wider view of the world you are moving around and to make it easier to see your growing army. Minecraft Legends is a great choice for fans of Minecraft who are looking for a new challenge.

Bluey: The Video Game

  • Release date: November 17, 2023
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC
  • Publisher: Outright Games
  • MSRP: $39.99 USD (Buy it on Amazon Here)
  • ESRB rating: Everyone

Delve into Bluey’s whimsical world in this family-friendly sandbox game. Explore iconic scenes, including Bluey’s home, in an interactive adventure filled with fun activities drawn from the show and a new storyline created alongside Artax Games and BBC Studios. With a four-player mode, take on the roles of Bluey, Bingo, Mum, and Dad, and enjoy mini-games like ‘Keepy Uppy’ and ‘Magic Xylophone.’ This is a delightful holiday gift for families seeking playful adventures together.

Disney SpeedStorm

  • Release date: April 18th, 2023
  • Platform: (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)
  • Publisher: Gameloft
  • MSRP: Free to Play
  • ESRB rating: E

Disney SpeedStorm is a free-to-play kart racing game featuring characters from Disney and Pixar films. Players can race as Mickey Mouse, Lightning McQueen, and other iconic characters on tracks inspired by Disney and Pixar movies. Put simply, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe isn’t available on PS5 or Xbox, so this is one of the best alternatives, especially for Disney fans.

Hi-Fi Rush

  • Release date: January 25, 2023
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X/S
  • Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
  • MRSP: $39.98 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Teen

Hi-Fi Rush is a rhythm-based action game developed by Tango Gameworks and published by Bethesda Softworks. It was released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox Series X/S on January 25, 2023.

In Hi-Fi Rush, players control Chai, a wannabe rockstar who has a music player accidentally embedded in his chest. This gives him the ability to perceive the world through rhythm and fight enemies to the beat of the music.

The game features a variety of different levels, each with its own unique soundtrack. Players must use Chai’s different abilities to attack enemies, dodge obstacles, and complete puzzles. The game also features a boss fight at the end of each level.

Hi-Fi Rush is a fun and challenging game that is perfect for fans of rhythm games and action games alike. It features a unique art style, catchy music, and satisfying combat.

Star Wars: Jedi Survivor

  • Release date: April 28, 2023
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • MRSP: $69.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Teen

Embark on an intergalactic journey with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. This thrilling third-person action-adventure game is perfect for any Star Wars fan!

Join Cal Kestis, now a seasoned Jedi Knight, as he navigates the galaxy five years after the events of Fallen Order. Defend the galaxy from looming dark forces with his loyal droid BD-1 and intriguing new allies!

Street Fighter 6

  • Release date: June 2, 2023
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • MRSP: $59.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Teen

Get ready to unleash your inner fighter with Street Fighter 6! This latest installment in the iconic fighting game series promises an exhilarating experience for both newcomers and seasoned players. With a fresh art style that’s not only eye-catching but also ensures clarity during intense battles, it’s a visual treat for all.

The game introduces the innovative Drive System, a gameplay mechanic that offers players enhanced control over their moves, both offensively and defensively. Reunite with beloved characters like Ryu, Chun-Li, Guile, and Ken, and meet intriguing newcomers such as Luke and Jamie.

Party Animals

  • Release date: September 20, 2023
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X/S
  • Publisher: Source Technology
  • MRSP: $29.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Everyone 10+

Party Animals is a physics-based multiplayer party game players control one of several different animal characters and compete in a variety of different mini-games. The game features a variety of different maps, including a kitchen, a construction site, and a nightclub.

The mini-games in Party Animals are all designed to be chaotic and unpredictable. Players must use their animal’s unique abilities to complete the mini-games and win the round. The game also features a variety of different power-ups that players can use to gain an advantage over their opponents.

Party Animals is a fun and challenging game that is perfect for playing with friends. It is a great way to relax and have some laughs.

Starfield

  • Release date: September 6, 2023
  • Platforms: Windows, Xbox Series X/S
  • Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
  • MRSP: $69.99 USD (You can buy it on Amazon here.)
  • ESRB rating: Teen

Starfield, the latest masterpiece from Bethesda Game Studios is the perfect gift for families who love diving into new adventures together.

For the first time in 25 years, Bethesda has crafted an entirely new universe. Set in the distant future of 2330, Starfield invites players to journey through a vast open galaxy, brimming with uncharted worlds and endless possibilities.

Starfield promises to captivate both role-playing enthusiasts and sci-fi aficionados. This holiday season, let your loved ones embark on an interstellar journey they won’t forget.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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The original Octopath Traveler was announced alongside the Nintendo Switch to great fanfare. It had a unique art style that mixed pixel art sprites and buildings with HD assets like flowing water, swirling sand, and amazing lighting effects. It really was a sight to behold.

That name, however, was very confusing until it launched. But, now we understand that is explains the formula for the plot and gameplay. The game features 8 protagonists as they gather together and travel across the world to complete their stories. This was a novel concept but left a lot to be desired.



Octopath Traveler 2 fixes all of the first game’s deficits. The art style is gorgeous (in fact the lighting on the PS5 version is among the best I have seen).  The protagonists are all very interesting (they include a merchant who wants to end all poverty, and a mage who wants to prove his innocence after being framed for murder!)

I’ll start with the obvious. OT2 is a turn-based RPG where you build a party of characters and move around on a map dealing with random encounters as you go from place to place. This is a tried and true formula that has been in place since the Nintendo era. This is an archaic design compared to modern RPGs that often put the monsters on the map itself to encounter (and potentially avoid), but it was very nostalgic for me.

Once you get past the archaic parts, the game’s design sings. The goal in combat is to overcome each opponent’s defenses and “stagger” them. You do this by damaging them with attacks that they are weak against (Like spears, or ice magic). This makes every fight into a puzzle while you poke at the enemy to find their weaknesses only to exploit them. This is particularly fun in the epic boss fights where you need to Stagger the bosses in order to prevent them from pulling off massive (and often fight-ending) attacks.

The story is also more interesting this time as the characters interact with each other’s stories more often. They aren’t exactly entangled. But each of the eight stories comes to an interesting conclusion (even if they aren’t all surprising).

Once the stories are complete there is an end-game segment featuring a series of boss encounters that are among the most challenging fights I have ever had in an RPG. They are long, and tactical, and really pushed my knowledge of the game mechanics to the limit. (When you get here… don’t take them lightly. One of them was more than a half-hour long!)

Can Kids Play Octopath Traveler 2?

This is a challenging game that requires a lot of reading and navigating menus in order to play. This, at the very least, makes it impossible for anyone without advanced reading skills.

Advanced readers will be in better shape, but then will then have to contend with puzzle-like combat. This is no small feat as each enemy in the game needs to be hit by a specific combination of weapon or magic attacks in order to “Break” and take more damage. This is particularly important for the game’s boss battles. They are all but impossible to beat if you can’t figure out the puzzle.

Should Kids Play Octopath Traveler 2?

Octopath Traveler 2 was rated T for Teen by the ESRB. It was assigned the rating descriptors of Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, and Use of Alcohol and Tobacco.

The ESRB Rating Summary is available on the entry on the ESRB site. But, the highlights are below.

There is some mild violence in the game. The violence is abstracted by pixel art, but it is there.

Cutscenes sometimes depict small defenseless characters killed by bladed weapons. Swords or bags are sometimes depicted with blood stains.

The suggestive material is likely where a lot of parents till take issue. Octopath Traveler is not a Pokemon game. These characters are, mostly, all adults so they do encounter some mature situations. Nothing graphic is shown, said, or discussed, but the passage from the ESRB description below should explain the worst of things.

The game contains some suggestive material: a female character designed with low-cut clothing and deep cleavage; dialogue such as “…another brothel girl…[H]ow about entertaining us instead? I’m sure you’ll find us more satisfying than the lord himself”; “After you downed three full glasses of wine, you and I got up to all sorts of naughty hijinks”; “Why don’t you come have some fun with us?…[W]e were told we could have our way with you…”).

There are some alcohol and cigarette references as well. These are abstracted by pixel art in a similar way that violence is.

Characters are sometimes depicted drinking liquor and/or hiccupping and drunk; one scene depicts a character smoking a cigarette.

There is mild language spread throughout the game, but nothing appears in OT2 that hasn’t been in most Marvel movies.

The words “p*ssed” and “bastard” appear in the game.

Conclusion

This isn’t going to be a perfect game in every house, but any families that have an affinity for old-school JRPGs will definitely want to check this one out. It’s a great experience.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Is Gacha Club appropriate for children?

Gacha Club is rated 9+ on iOS and Everyone 10+ on Android. This means that it is generally considered appropriate for children aged 9 and up. However, there are some concerns about the game’s community, which can be toxic and inappropriate at times. Parents should monitor their children’s use of Gacha Club and talk to them about the potential dangers of online gaming.

What is the age range for Gacha Club?

The recommended age range for Gacha Club is 9-10 years old. However, some parents may feel comfortable letting younger children play the game, as long as they are supervised. It is important to note that the game does contain some mild violence and suggestive content, so parents should decide for themselves whether or not it is appropriate for their child.

How hard is Gacha Club to play?

Gacha Club is a relatively easy game to play. The controls are simple and the gameplay is straightforward. However, there is a lot of content to explore, so it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Parents may want to help their children get started with the game and teach them how to navigate the menus and features.

What Is Gacha Heat?

Gacha Heat refers to a type of content created by some users of the Gacha Life game, which is then shared on social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube. This content is often deemed inappropriate and offensive, as it extends beyond the typical narratives found in Gacha Life gameplay. It frequently includes themes of sexual violence and other explicit sexual content or portrays relationships that are not age-appropriate and may normalize abusive behavior.

The issue with Gacha Heat lies in its incorporation of characters and visuals from the Gacha line of mobile games. This can be misleading for children and young individuals who encounter these videos on social media, mistakenly believing them to be suitable for their age group when, in fact, they are not.

Where can I play Gacha Club?

Gacha Club is available on the App Store and Google Play.

How much does Gacha Club cost?

Gacha Club is free to download and play.

How popular is Gacha Club?

Gacha Club is very popular. It has over 10 million downloads on the App Store and over 5 million downloads on Google Play. The game is also very popular on YouTube, with over 1 billion views of Gacha Club gameplay videos. (It is worth repeating that many of these videos on YouTube are inappropriate for kids)

What is Gacha Club about?

Gacha Club is a dress-up and role-playing game. Players can create their own characters, customize their outfits, and play mini-games. The game also has a story mode, which allows players to follow the adventures of their characters.

What does Gacha Mean?

The term “gacha” is derived from “gachapon,” which are Japanese toy machines where customers insert coins and receive a random toy in a capsule. The excitement and unpredictability of what toy you might get is a key aspect of the experience.

In video games, particularly mobile games, the gacha system is a feature where players can spend in-game currency (which can often be bought with real money) to receive a random virtual item. These items can be characters, weapons, costumes, or any other in-game assets. The rarity and utility of these items can vary, with some being common and others being extremely rare.

Why are Gacha Games Controversial?

The gacha system has been controversial because it can encourage gambling-like behavior. Players might spend significant amounts of money trying to obtain a specific item or character, especially if the odds are low. This has led to discussions about regulations and the ethical implications of such systems, especially in games targeted at younger audiences.

Regulations: Some countries have implemented or are considering regulations to ensure that gacha mechanics are not exploitative. For instance, Japan has regulations requiring game developers to disclose the odds of getting specific items.

How do you play Gacha Club?

Here are the basic steps on how to play Gacha Club:

  1. Download and install the game on your device.
  2. Create a character and customize their appearance.
  3. Play mini-games to earn currency.
  4. Use currency to purchase new characters, clothes, and accessories.
  5. Complete the story mode or create your own content.

Can I play Gacha Club with my child?

Yes, you can play Gacha Club with your child. This is a great way to bond with them and learn more about their interests. You can also help them with the more challenging aspects of the game.

How long does it take to play Gacha Club?

The amount of time it takes to play Gacha Club depends on how you play it. If you are just interested in creating characters and outfits, you can play for a short amount of time each day. However, if you are interested in completing the story mode or playing the mini-games, you can spend hours playing the game.

Are there any other games that are similar to Gacha Club?

Yes, there are a number of other games that are similar to Gacha Club. Some of these games include:

  • Gacha Life
  • Gacha World
  • Gacha Resort
  • Gachaverse
  • Anime Gacha

These games all offer similar gameplay to Gacha Club, with the ability to create characters, customize their outfits, and play mini-games. However, they each have their own unique features and art styles.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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What is the PlayStation Portal?

The PlayStation Portal is a dedicated device that allows you to stream games from your PS5. The experience will be similar to the Remote Play feature that is already available on the PS5, but the Portal is a standalone device that does not require a smartphone or tablet.

We already know that there are plenty of reasons to want to play console games off of the TV. Families have been doing it on their Nintendo Switches for years. It isn’t any surprise that Sony would want to find a way to let their PS5 owners do something similar.

They haven’t released a handheld console since the PlayStation Vita. That didn’t sell very well, so it makes sense that they would try a different approach. The Portal definitely qualifies.


The device features an 8-inch LCD 1080p display mounted in between two halves of a Duel Sense controller. It retains all of the features of the Duel Sense controller as well. The LCD screen runs at 60hz for up to 60fps gaming. Put simply, it is a powerful device that will display PS5 games remarkably well.

What are the limitations of the PlayStation Portal?

The PlayStation Portal does have a few limitations, which are worth considering before you buy one. These limitations include:

  • It can only be used to stream games from a PS5.
  • It does not support 4K resolution.
  • They weren’t ready to divulge battery life information (which doesn’t give me a lot of hope that it will be very good).

What are the system requirements for the PlayStation Portal?

This isn’t a game or a standalone piece of hardware. So there are no “system requirements” to speak of. However, You DO need a PlayStation 5 in order to use it.

How much does the PlayStation Portal cost?

The PlayStation Portal will cost $199.99. This is actually a very reasonable cost considering the technology involved.

When will the PlayStation Portal be released?

The PlayStation Portal will be released in 2023. Sony has stated will be announced soon.

Is the PlayStation Portal safe for kids?

The PlayStation Portal is as safe for kids to use as the PlayStation 5. This is a device that gives you another way to use the PlayStation 5, but it doesn’t play games on its own.

Is the PlayStation Portal worth the price?

It’s hard to say whether anything is worth the price because that is subjective. However, if you are looking for a portable way to play PlayStation games without relying on your phone or a tablet then the Portal is a good option. With that said, if you already have a smartphone or tablet that you can use for Remote Play, then the Portal may not be worth the extra cost.

Our Opinion on the PlayStation Portal So Far

This is a very niche product that will be a great addition to some households and a dud in others. There are absolutely going to be users who pick this device up for an inexpensive way to stream their PlayStation 5 games off the television. We already know that there are plenty of use cases for that. (The success of the Nintendo Switch and the Steamdeck can tell you that much. But, there will also be users who won’t need it at all. It will be very interesting to see where this shakes out with regard to sales numbers after release.

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The Spiel Des Jahres, translated as “Game of the Year,” is not just an award—it’s a seal of quality for families seeking the best in board gaming. Since its establishment in 1978, this prestigious accolade has been guiding parents and caregivers toward games that promise fun and memories that can last a lifetime! In 2022, the coveted award went to Cascadia, a tile-laying game for nature lovers everywhere! As we step into 2023, let’s explore this year’s winners and nominees that are perfect for family game nights.

A Brief History for New Parents

The Spiel Des Jahres was initiated by German game critics with a vision to promote top-tier games in the German market. Today, it’s a global benchmark. Winning or even being nominated can significantly boost a game’s popularity, making it easier for parents worldwide to identify quality games for their children.

Spiel des Jahres 2023 Winner

Dorfromantik – Das Brettspiel (Dorfromantik – The Boardgame) is more than just a game—it’s an experience. Crafted by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach and brought to life by illustrator Paul Riebe, this tile-laying game is perfect for families. Players aged 8 and up can bond over creating serene landscapes. This gorgeous game is actually based on a video game of the same name and helps teach kids about strategy, patience, and the beauty of nature.

Other 2023 Spiel Des Jahres Nominations

  1. Fun Facts by Kaspar Lapp is not just entertaining but also educational. It offers enlightening self-assessment, making learning fun for kids and adults alike.
  2. Next Station London by Matthew Dunstan is a colorful adventure through London’s underground, teaching kids about the city’s history and geography in an engaging manner.

Kinderspiel des Jahres 2023 Winner

Mysterium Kids is a gem for younger members of the family. This acoustic association game is tailored for children aged 6 and over and was designed by Antonin Boccara and Yves Hirschfeld. It encourages listening skills, teamwork, and creativity as kids try to solve mysteries using sound clues.

Other Nominations for the 2023 Kinderspiel des Jahres

  1. Carla Caramel by Sara Zarian lets players take on the role of ice cream parlor owners. It’s a cooperative game that fosters teamwork and decision-making for kids aged 4 and up.
  2. Gigamons by Johann Roussel and Karim Aouidad is a delightful monster-collecting game that builds memory and recognition skills for kids aged 5 and over.

Kennerspiel des Jahres 2023 Winner

Kennerspiel des Jahres 2023 highlights games for older kids and teens. The winner, Challengers!, is a chaotic tournament game suitable for players aged 8 and up. It’s a fantastic choice for families with older kids, promoting strategic thinking and healthy competition.

The 2023 Spiel Des Jahres Awards offer a treasure trove of family-friendly games. Whether you have young children, tweens, or teens, there’s something for everyone. As parents, investing in these games means not only hours of fun but also opportunities for learning and bonding. So, why wait? Dive into the world of board gaming and create cherished family memories!

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