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Stephen Duetzmann

Minecraft is one of the biggest games in the world and will likely go down as one of the most influential games in history. One thing that is not often discussed when people talk about the Minecraft phenomenon is that there are two different versions of the game – Java and Bedrock. These two versions each have different features that can greatly alter you and your kids’ experience with the game. At the end of the day, they are the same game (Minecraft is Minecraft after all),  but there are a few key differences between the two versions that range from how multiplayer works to the availability of user-generated content like adventure maps

Multiplayer in Minecraft Bedrock vs Java

One of the most common ways that kids play Minecraft is with their friends. It has become just as much of a social gathering space as school playgrounds. This makes the version you are playing very important. 

It’s important because you can only play with people on the same version. This means that Java players can only play with other Java players and Bedrock players can only play with other Bedrock players. There isn’t any way around this limitation.

A picture of a player looking at a map while playing Minecraft

Hardware Availability for Minecraft Bedrock vs Java

Below is a list of the hardware that can play each version of Minecraft

Minecraft Java Edition

  • PC
  • Mac
  • Linux

Note: You can only buy the Minecraft Java edition from the official Minecraft website. 

Minecraft Bedrock Edition

  • Windows 10 and 11
  • Xbox One*
  • Xbox Series S and X*
  • PlayStation 4 and 5
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Amazon Fire OS/TV
  • Android
  • iOS 
  • Windows Mobile
  • Samsung Gear VR.

Note: Minecraft Bedrock edition is available on Xbox Game Pass.

Servers in Minecraft Bedrock vs Java

Another difference between the two versions is how one plays on multiplayer servers, online playspaces with special minigames and other things to play with others. Connecting to a server is very different between the two platforms. On the Java edition, you have to go into the multiplayer menu and connect to a server , by entering the server address, which will look like a link to a website. ON Bedrock, however, there is a separate tab when one is entering a world, by moving over to the servers tab, you can connect to a list of servers that are approved by Microsoft, and are moderated to be accessible and fun for all ages. 

User-Generated Content in Minecraft Bedrock vs Java

User-generated content is accessed differently in each version of Minecraft. This includes content like adventure maps, player skins, and texture packs. 

On Java edition most of those are free, and all you have to do is download them from the web, and put them into the game files. (this is hard to figure out unless you have a guide). 

It is easier to gain access to UGC on Bedrock edition. You simply buy them from the in-game marketplace using real-world currency. They are also guaranteed to be appropriate for children, because in order to be published on the marketplace they have to go through an approval process to check for things like inappropriate content, and to make sure they work as advertised. 

Mods in Minecraft Bedrock vs Java

Screenshot of the CurseForge application showing several Mod packs available for Minecraft.

Mods are a big deal for some players. This is especially true if they have spent a lot of time watching Minecraft on YouTube. Mods are pieces of code that can be added to the game files that change the way Minecraft functions. They can add items, change the appearance of the game, or make other significant changes to game mechanics and systems. (Warning: Some mods aren’t even for kids. See our report on the Minecraft Jenny Mod.)

Mods are only available on the Java edition. They require much more effort to get working but can make HUGE changes to the base game including things like adding new items to make the gameplay like Pokemon Legends Arceus. 

Bedrock players on PC have a similar feature called Resource Packs that are downloaded and added into the game through a simple menu. Resource packs are very limited in what they can do though. 


Minor Variations Between Java and Bedrock

The Minecraft Java Edition

Java edition can run shaders, and advanced texture packs, that change the graphics to look like a super high-end video game. Whereas the Bedrock edition cannot. The Bedrock version has to run on too many platforms to be able to support advanced graphics options. 

There is a difference in the way the two games are coded, whereas the Bedrock edition is less resource-intensive and less susceptible to crashing. whereas Java crashes more, and uses more resources, but can do more impressive things, with things like Redstone.

To Put It Simply

The simplest way to explain the differences is that the Java edition is more customizable, at the cost of having a limited number of people to play with.  The Bedrock edition is more controlled, but with the advantage of being able to play people on consoles and mobile devices more easily.


Which Version is Better?

There is no definitive answer to that question. It will just be a matter of opinion, personal experience, and priorities. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, Minecraft is a popular and influential game that comes in two versions – Java and Bedrock. While the two versions are essentially the same game, there are some key differences between them that can greatly impact your experience with the game. These differences include how multiplayer works, the availability of user-generated content, and the ability to use mods. Java players can only play with other Java players and Bedrock players can only play with other Bedrock players. Additionally, the Java edition can run shaders and advanced texture packs, whereas the Bedrock edition cannot. Ultimately, the choice between the two versions will depend on your personal preferences and the devices you have available.

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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A lot of gamer parents ask us about how to get started with playing tabletop RPGs with their kids. In fact, we’ve given (and heard) so much advice that we thought we would just put it all down on a page and publish it here on EFG!

This list isn’t the be all and end all for playing RPGs with your children, but this is going to be a great place to start. Take a look below, and make sure to let us know in the comments if we missed anything.

Note: Most of the text here will refer to Dungeons and Dragons, but the majority of these tips will be applicable to any tabletop RPG out there.

Start with a Kid-focused RPG

Lots of gamers have dreamed of playing Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop RPGs with their kids for years. It stands to reason that some of those gamers would design their own games to help fill in that void. Darcy Zalewski from the Stay at Home Gamers suggested playing some of those games first!

Some examples include:

Hero Kids

No Thank You, Evil by Monte Cook Games

The Tales of Equestria Tabletop RPG

Establish The Ground Rules

Lots of tabletop RPGs are full of rules, charts, and tables to search through to help understand how to play the game. But, those aren’t as important as the general rules for playing at your table.

You will likely have your own rules, but some suggestions are below:

  1. Respect is key. Make sure to respect your fellow players and the DM.
  2. Be courteous.
  3. Don’t draw in, or rip up game books that are loaned to you. Treat them like your own toys.
  4. No cussing or inappropriate jokes.
  5. If everyone isn’t having fun, then no one is!

Focus on Shared Storytelling

A lot of folks assume that the story comes from the DM, but that’s actually untrue. At the end of the day tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons are collaborative storytelling games. This means that everyone is working together to make an interesting story. I think it is important make sure kids understand that.

The story isn’t just happening TO them. It is happening AROUND them. Let them describe their actions whenever possible. Encourage them to talk about how their character does the things they are doing. That adds layers to the experience for everybody!

Let Them Drive (Unless They Aren’t)

It is important to let the kids drive the bus. They might take wrong turns, get hyper-focused on something weird, or kick your sandbox over in any number of cruel, unusual, and exciting ways. Let them do it. As long as they are engaged and enjoying the experience you have won!

With that said, Dungeons and Dragons depends on the players to direct the action. The stories expect the players to move forward, find clues, and discover the solutions. Kids (and even inexperienced players) can have trouble with that. Which means their indecisions can stagnate the experience for everyone. You, as the DM, are the only person who can fix that.

There are lots of great Dungeons and Dragons Products out there, and lots of them have previews online. Make sure to check out what they can add to your campaign!

Keep It Short!

Adults that play Dungeons and Dragons can play for hours without real breaks. We often brag about marathon gaming sessions. That isn’t going to be possible with younger kids. They just don’t have the attention span to focus on these games for long periods of time.

Instead, make sure to plan for your gaming sessions to be more compact and to take more breaks. You won’t make as much “progress” through stories (especially if you are using adventure modules), but they will be more engaged in the experience.

If You’re Going to Go Big – Bring a Co-GM

Rob Kalajian of A Pawn’s Perspective regularly runs a game for ten kids. (WHOA!) He loves it, but he has found that it would be impossible without the help of his wife who co-DMs with him. This lets him focus on the story and the creatures while his wife helps make sure the kids are ready to take their turns. It minimizes downtime and ensures that kids get more direct attention from a GM.

Have (Quiet) Fidget Toys!

Kids will often have a VERY difficult time sitting still for a long time without fidgeting. Dice are terrible fidget toys because they are loud, and they can get lost easily. (Nothing is more distracting than a handful of kids rolling dice and dropping them on the ground.)

Make sure you have a small collection of quiet fidget toys on hand to give them something to fuss with. Some great suggestions are fidget spinners (that you can probably get for super cheap since the fad is over) and Play-Doh.

Simplify The Game!

Dungeons and Dragons is pretty complicated. You can take steps to simplify it though. Some examples of things you can do are:

  • Only give them the dice they need. A player will very likely only needs 2-3 different dice in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (the most recent one).
  • Create a cheat sheet to go along with their character sheet that explains in simple terms what they should do when the
You don’t need to invent your own adventures either! There are plenty of pre-made adventures available!

Don’t Make Them Manage Their Stuff

Kids are notorious for losing things or failing to take care of them correctly. And, nothing can set a game back like a player having to find a new mini or to craft a new character sheet. The best way to solve that problem according to John Christopher over at Wooden Shoe Games is to collect their character sheets at the end of the session. That keeps organization nice and simple.

You could even store all of those character sheets in a binder with some sheet protectors. They’ll be virtually indestructible.

Make Sure the Villain Is AWESOME!

Treavor Bettis and Allie Deutschmann from the Difficulty Class Podcast both emphatically told me that villains for kids need to be cool. They don’t necessarily need to be interesting and nuanced like villains for adult players though. They can, and should, be completely over the top!

What do you all think? What tips do you have for playing tabletop RPGs with kids? Let us know in the comments!

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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Minecraft mods on PC number into the thousands, especially if you’re playing the Minecraft Java Edition. The vast majority of the mods available to download from places like CurseForge – a modification repository that’s used for a number of popular games, including Minecraft, World of Warcraft, and Kerbal Space Program – are, for the most part, fairly innocent.

What are Mods

Mods that are available through Minecraft Bedrock Edition, which is probably the version of Minecraft that your kids are playing on console, mobile, and PC, are vetted by the Mojang team at Microsoft to ensure that they are both high quality and family-friendly.

Not all mods are made equal, mind you, and CurseForge ensures that all of those mods are available to download… for good and ill. One of these not-so-great mods is the Jenny mod that’s available through CurseForge on PC and via APK (Android Application Package) for Android OS devices. In theory, you can also purchase a version of this mod through in-game currency.

The Minecraft Jenny Mod

The Minecraft Jenny mod is a NSFW (not safe for work) unofficial Minecraft mod that introduces an in-game “girlfriend” for Minecraft players that simulates adult interactions. Yes, those kinds of adult interactions. It’s becoming an increasingly popular mod that runs in “Creative” mode. Now, Jenny can be your “bestie,” but that’s not why parents need to be paying closer attention to children downloading this particular mod, of course.

Minecraft Bedrock Edition doesn’t allow unofficial mod installation, so the best way to ensure that kids aren’t going to download and install Jenny is to make sure that Bedrock Edition is the version of Minecraft that they’re using. Java Edition has some excellent mods, including the Redstone mods on CurseForge, but it does require extra intervention. There are no parental controls available on CurseForge, so use discretion.

Jenny might be available for bestie status, but she certainly wasn’t coded just for those purposes. Be cautious.

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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We talk a lot about flashy video games and freshly released board games on EFG, but today I want to take a moment to share the instructions for one of my family’s absolute favorite card games. We spend a lot of time playing Frustration Rummy as a family, especially on family vacations. We laugh. We yell. We talk a lot of trash. (Of course, we do. I’m there.) Frustration Rummy is a rummy-style card game where players compete to complete different steps (often called contracts) that each involves a different combination of cards.

Cards Required to Play Frustration Rummy

  • 4 players – 2 standard playing card decks with 4 jokers
  • 5-6 players – 3 standard playing card decks with 6 jokers
  • Wild Cards – Jokers and Deuces

The Rules For Frustration Rummy

  • Deal 11 cards to each person for each hand. (This is how we play as taught by my Pop Pop, but some versions have you draw 13)
  • A player’s turn begins by drawing the top card from the deck or the discard pile.
  • The player may then “meld” if they have the appropriate cards for the step they are on
  • Then they discard a card from their hand. Note: A player MUST have a discard at the end of their turn. There are no exceptions.
  • If a player “melds” and completes a step they will then be playing to “Go Out.” This ends the hand.
  • Each Step must be made by a player during a hand to advance to the next step. For example, if a player completes a step and then goes out and you did not, then you will remain on the same step and they will move forward.
  • All 11 steps must be completed to win – if more than one player completes the 11 steps during the hand, the lowest-scoring hand wins.

Frustration Peg Boards

You can definitely play Frustration and keep track of what step you are on using paper. (That’s what my mother insists we do.) But, there are very cool peg boards that help you keep track of things. You can buy them all over the place, but this is a very nice handmade one sold on Amazon.

Steps (Contracts)

Book – Groups of cards of the same number. The suit does not matter.

Run – Groups of cards where the numbers are in descending or ascending order. They must be in the same suit.

Note – You must have more natural cards in a book or run than Wild cards. You cannot even have the same number.

Step 1
2 Books of 3 cards
Step 2
2 Runs of 3 cards
Step 3
1 Run of 4 cards and 1 Book of 3 cards
Step 4
2 Books of 4 cards
Step 5
1 Run of 5 cards and 1 Book of 3
Step 6
3 Books of 3 cards
Step 7
1 Run of 7 cards
Step 8
1 Run of 6 cards and 1 Book of 3 cards
Step 9
2 Runs of 4 cards
Step 10
2 Books of 5 cards
Step 11 1 Run of 9 Cards
Table of the steps/contracts in Frustration Rummy

Notes and Reminders

  • A wild card may be replaced in any run (but not books) with the card it represents, but only if the wild card can be used to meld in that turn.
  • Additional melds of 3 cards can be played and more cards can be played on other melds after a player has completed their step meld.

Cards Games Similar to Frustration Rummy

Rummy is an old game that has been played the world over. As a result, there are countless variations. Some of the more popular versions are:

Phase 10 – This is a commercialized version that is packaged like Uno (and you’ll probably find them right next to each other). The biggest difference is that steps and contracts are referred to as phases.

Aggravation – The rules of Aggravation are similar to Frustration. The difference is that once you have completed your contract you can immediately start to work on the next one without waiting until the next hand.

Gin Rummy – This is more of a distant cousin with a focus on accumulating points as opposed to merely completing steps. You can find the complete rules for Gin Rummy here.


What do you think? Are you going to play our family favorite? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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The Nintendo Switch launched in March 2017 and has gone on to become one of the best-selling consoles of all time. Part of that success is thanks to the quality of its library of games. The rest of that success stems from Nintendo releasing multiple iterations of the console.

This is nothing new. Nintendo has done this with their handheld systems ever since the wild success of the Game Boy Color in 1998. (Other console manufacturers have done it as well. The PlayStation 2 had several different versions over its life cycle.) This is great for Nintendo’s bottom line. But it is super confusing for parents who want to buy a Nintendo for their kids. 

Fear not though because we’ve got the solution! Below is a handy guide to the three different versions of the Nintendo Switch console and our thoughts on each one!

What is the Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch is a hybrid video game console that can serve as both a handheld device (like the Nintendo 3DS) and as a home console (like the Nintendo WiiU).

The console itself is a tablet that features detachable controllers that Nintendo called “Joy-Cons.” Most versions of the console come with a special dock. You can use the Switch dock to charge the tablet OR use it to display your game on the TV.

This was completely unheard of when Nintendo announced and, while there have been some competitors on the market since then, it has remained a market leader.

Why is the Switch so Popular?

Nintendo handhelds are almost always popular. Families have more than thirty years of experience buying Game Boys and the like. for their kids. The Switch may not be a traditional handheld, but it does fit that bill. I can’t help but think that momentum plays at least a small part in that.

There can be no doubt though that the Nintendo Switch has a fantastic library of great games helping it along as well. The Switch’s launch year included The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (which is one of the best games ever made) and Super Mario Odyssey. They are both on our EFG Essentials list five years later.

The Three Current Switch Models

Nintendo has released a new Switch model every other year since 2017 so we’ll probably need to update this article in 2023. Until then… here are the details on the three existing models.

The Original Nintendo Switch

MRSP: $299.99

Release Date: March 3, 2017 Weight: .66 lbs or .88 /w Joy-Cons Screen: 6.2 in LCD Screen @ 1280 x 720 pixels Resolution: 1080 p resolution to TV // Up to 720 p in handheld mode

Battery Life: 4.5 – 9 Hours /w up to 3 hours max charge time

The original model of the Nintendo Switch is still available and is a great system. Generally speaking, the OLED edition (listed below) is the better option for new adoptees. But, this is worth grabbing if it is available!

Nintendo Switch Lite

MRSP: $199.99

Release Date: September 20, 2019 Weight: .61 lbs (integrated Joy-Cons) Screen: 5.5 in LCD Screen @ 1280 x 720 pixels Resolution: (Implied up to 720 p in handheld mode but not listed on the site)

Battery Life: 3 – 7 Hours /w up to 3 hours max charge time

The Switch Lite is interesting because it doesn’t “Switch.” This is a handheld-only version of the console. It eschews the dock and TV gameplay for longer battery life, a lower price, and a smaller form factor.

It is lighter, less expensive, and perfect for younger kids who are looking for a replacement for a 3DS. It plays almost all the same games with less of an investment. 

Nintendo Switch OLED Edition

MRSP: $349.99

Release Date: October 8, 2021 Weight: .71 lbs or .93 /w Joy-Cons Screen: 7 in OLED Screen @ 1280 x 720 pixels Resolution: 1080 p resolution to TV // Up to 720 p in handheld mode Battery Life: 4.5 – 9 Hours /w up to 3 hours max charge time

The most recent edition to the Switch line is the OLED model that was released in 2021.

It functions similarly to the original model in that it can be used both handheld and docked to play on the TV. This newer model includes an OLED screen that is brighter and clearer so playing games in handheld mode looks better. 

I’m not sure what market niche Nintendo was hoping to move into with this model, but this is NOT a “pro” version of the Switch that some fans have been asking for.

That isn’t necessarily a problem. But, it is something to keep in mind while making purchasing decisions.

What Are Joy-Cons Again?

Joy-Cons are what Nintendo calls the proprietary controllers that attach to the side of the Nintendo Switch tablet. They come in a wide variety of colors and you can even mix/match them.

It’s worth noting for parents that they are relatively small and expensive so you’ll want to have a plan for keeping track of them when you buy a Switch.

Our Official Switch Recommendations

The Switch is approaching the end of its life cycle. Industry insiders have been talking about the arrival of a Switch successor for years. We don’t have it yet (we don’t even have an announcement yet), so we can’t recommend waiting for a new system just yet.

All three models have value right now, but the real decision is between the OLED version and the Switch Lite.

If you are buying a new Switch, then the OLED model has better battery life and a slightly larger screen that is MUCH brighter.

Parents buying a Switch for younger gamers should consider the Switch Lite. It is less costly than other models and is smaller and lighter for smaller hands.

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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Live-streaming, whether it be video games, cooking, or conversations, has never been more popular. More and more of us, and our kids, are hopping into live stream channels every day on websites like Twitch and YouTube or in apps like TikTok and Instagram.


These live streams are more akin to like concerts or sporting events than they are watching a movie at home. There are standards of behavior to follow when you are out in public. It is our job as parents to teach our kids how to behave in these virtual spaces.


Don’t worry though. We’re not going to lay that responsibility at your feet and walk away. That would be super rude and not our style. Instead, we’ll talk about what live streaming is and give you some tips on how to guide your kids.

What is Live-Streaming Anyway?

Live streaming is the practice of streaming live video across the internet without it editing. Technically speaking, when you watch Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime… you are live streaming that. Those types of broadcasts have happened for a long time. They may be live, but they aren’t (often) very interactive.


Twitch.tv launched in 2011 and changed everything.


Now, individual “streamers” can broadcast just about anything. Twitch streams include everything from playing video games and recording podcasts to baking cookies and painting miniatures. It isn’t only a broadcast though! Viewers can interact with both the streamer and each other! This allows communities to form and turns each stream into a live performance.


This technology is everywhere now. Creators can start live streams on dozens of different platforms including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok.

How Interactive are Live Streams?

In short: Very. That’s the entire point. It gives viewers an increased level of access to the streamer and a chance to communicate with them as well as their other viewers and fans.


The key lesson to remember is that while live streaming does create a more personal connection between a streamer and their audience that doesn’t mean that the streamer is their audience’s “friend.” In fact, they don’t have a relationship at all (at least not in the way we think of them).


The term “parasocial relationship” was first used all the way back in 1957 in a paper involving people who felt they had personal relationships with radio and television personalities. The phenomenon happens with streamers all the time.


At the end of the day, they are not much different from a radio DJ or a TV weatherperson. The difference is that they have an easier time responding to people thanks to the technology they use. That ease of response can give viewers a sense of comfort in the stream’s chat. This can lead to some embarrassing results.


Guidelines for Watching Live Streams

Below are some guidelines for how to interact with streamers that you can give to kids.

No Real Names

Don’t call a streamer by their first name unless they tell you that you can. This implies a level of familiarity that your child doesn’t have. You should encourage your child to use the streamer’s screen name or handle instead. This goes both ways though. Your kid should be using a screen name as well.

Subscriptions

Many live-streaming services allow viewers to subscribe to a channel. You need to make sure that your kids know that subscriptions buy entertainment. They do not buy access. There are those on the internet that believe that subscribing to a channel on Twitch or to a user on Patreon should grant them more access to the content creator. Sometimes they even think that it makes them “friends.” This isn’t the case. A Twitch subscription grants you access to more content from the creator, but it doesn’t mean that they should give you more access to their personal life.

Read The Rules

The very first thing your child should do when they start to watch a new stream is read the rules. This will let them know what kind of channel they are in, what the expectations are of them, and what the environment will be like. This will be a great way for your child to know if the chat will be safe for them. You should tell your child to be wary of streamers with no rules. These streamers can have pretty toxic communities.

Don’t Be a Moderator

Every channel has different rules for how to behave there. If your child spends time in those channels they will learn those rules. They should not, however, try to enforce those rules unless they have been chosen to be a moderator by the streamer. This can add to the confusion in the chat and make it harder for the moderation team to do their work and interrupt the stream for everyone else.

Talk to Everyone (Except the Streamer)

Teach them to interact more with the chat than they do with the streamer. The streamer is performing for a group of people and shouldn’t be expected to talk to everyone. Instead, the community is supposed to form around the streamer and talk amongst themselves.

The below video is a panel hosted early on during the pandemic in 2020. It features a diverse group of streamers with years of experience. They talk a lot about how users should behave while watching streams and talk a lot about the experiences they have had. It is an enlightening video for anyone who watches regularly.

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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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many video games, as well as Movies, TV shows, Plays, and Musicals: The Fourth Wall

The fourth wall is the barrier between the audience and the character (or actor). It is also the perspective from which we (as the audience) view the experience.

Storytelling in games has been getting more and more advanced as the games industry matures. One thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of the games I’ve been playing have been breaking the “fourth wall.” The important thing about the fourth wall is that the audience (and the narrator, or even classically the chorus) are meant to be outside the story informing the audience. In “serious drama.” they are invisible. 

“Breaking the fourth wall” traditionally has been considered an act of comedy, though in more contemporary settings it can be more serious. This is where the characters in the story address the audience directly; often ignoring the story that is happening on stage. This type of storytelling device is often shorthand for making a reference or showing the internal thoughts of a character without having to involve the story that is going on. 

Examples in TV and Stage

Remember all of those times in Saved by the Bell where Zack would call a time-out and talk to the camera? He was breaking the fourth wall.

A more recent example is the Musical Hamilton. At the end of the show, Eliza Hamilton is telling the end of her story and gasps after the song ends. The gasp is considered her breaking the 4th wall.

Video Game Examples:

  • Guacamelee
  • The Secret of Monkey Island
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Additional Resources

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

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Essen Spiel 2022 took place from October 6-9, 2022 in Essen Germany. It is one of the biggest board game conventions in the world and is a big opportunity for publishers to showcase their offerings ahead of the Holiday season! We didn’t make it to the show this time, but publishers have been shouting to the mountaintops about their games! Below is a list of nine games from the show floor that we are very excited to play!

Gummiland

(Age 6+, Blue Orange Games)

Gummiland is a deck-building game meant for younger kids. The components are adorable to begin with, but the premise definitely suits it. Players are competing to capture all the Gummiz using adorable fruit cards.

Mech A Dream

(10+, Blue Orange Games)

Mech A Dream is a worker placement, engine building game set in a far flung future where humans and robots live side by side. Robots don’t have dreams in this world and this game is all about building machines that make dreams for the robots! I love the graphic design on the components that have been revealed so far.

Mist Over Carcassone

(8+, Z-Man Games)

We love Carcassone (and all tile laying games for that matter), over here. A new version with a spooky theme just seems like an absolute win. I’m particularly intrigued by the cooperative elements as they haven’t been a part of the Carcassone world before.

Turing Machine

(14+, Le Scorpion Masqué)

I have no idea if this game will even be fun, but The Turing Machine includes an “analog computer” that does calculations using perforated cards. Its a deduction game where you either cooperate as a team or compete to crack codes using the computation that are only possible using the computer within the game itself. I’m absolutely fascinated by how this could work to the point of distraction.

Evergeen

(8+, Horrible Guild)

Evergreen is a board game from the same designer as Photosynthesis and shares some of the same themes. This one is all about planting trees and placing other objects to help build a complete ecosystem. The components look lovely and I always appreciate a science themed game. Linda, our managing editor of board games, is very excited for this one.

Peter Pan

(Age Unknown, Zatu Games)

Peter Pan is a deduction game where each player knows the location of both a lost boy and one of Captain Hook’s pirates. Players can only share that information to each other via picture cards that provide clues. Then players venture through Neverland trying to find the lost boys and avoid the pirates.

Animals of Baker Street

(10+, IELLO)

Animals of Baker Street is a deduction, puzzle solving game featuring cure animals and a Sherlock Holmes theme. It is a cooperative game with a limited number of puzzles to solve, but it looks like there should be enough content in the box to keep it entertaining for a while.

Starship Captains

(12+, Czech Games)

Starship Captains is a 1-4 player eurogame that combines action selection and engine building. You manage a crew and operate a starship as you go on adventures and face different challenges. This is one that I absolutely must play as someone who loves Star Trek and other similarly themed games.


Those are just a few of the games that were featured at Essen this year. We’re sure that we missed some. Let us know in the comments if you found any that didn’t make it onto our list!

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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This week Stephen, Amanda, Linda, and Jon are here to talk about the EFG Holiday Gift guide and talk about the most recent EFGcon.

Welcome to The Engaged Family Gaming Podcast. This is a show all about the great video games and board games you should play with your family

Introduction: We’re your hosts Stephen, Amanda, Linda, Jon

Each episode we’ll cover the biggest news in the gaming space that parents should know about!

This is Episode 288

Games of the Week

Stick Fight

Hocus Pocus

Relevant Releases

Video Game release calendar

Overwatch 2 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – October 4

No Man’s Sky (Switch) – October 7

NHL 23 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One) – October 14

Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – October 14

PGA Tour 2K23 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – October 14

Board Game Releases/Kickstarter

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/358050/sleeping-queens-2-rescue

The Big News!

Video game gift guide

Board game gift guide

BREAK

Do You Feel Old Yet?

Super Mario World 2 : Yoshi’s Island – 10/04/1995 – 27 years ago

Did You Know?

Glossary Definition of the week: Metroidvania

SIGN-OFF

Thanks for listening to the Engaged Family Gaming Podcast. Follow us on Twitter at @EFGaming, @SDuetzmann, @Moms_stories, @AmandaFarough, and @thatdeliveryman

We stream this podcast recording live on Twitch, YouTube, and on Facebook.

You can listen to us on your favorite Podcast platform. Please subscribe and, if possible, review the show. Let us know what you think!

You can DM us with questions or send them to editor@engagedfamilygaming.com

And don’t forget to get your family game on!

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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Here at Engaged Family Gaming, we love to talk about how teachers and homeschool parents alike can use games to teach different subjects. We have already talked about board games that can help you teach math and board games that can help teach reading. This time we are going to talk about board games that can be used to help teach history.

History is a tricky subject to teach using board games. They, generally, are too abstract to be able to realistically represent events that took place in the past. However, they can help teach the subject in two ways. On one hand, some of them are great at helping people memorize important dates, events, and historical figures. On the other hand, there are also games that are designed well enough to help capture the theme of a historical event. Both of these approaches can be a big help when trying to teach children about a given historical event.

Take a look below and see eleven games we found that can be used to help teach history in one of those two ways.

Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark is a game themed around the adventures of the two famous explorers of the same name. This is a period of American history that is often glossed over so having a fun tool to help explain what exploring what was an undiscovered country at the time is a good thing!

“The year is 1803. Take on the role of a team of explorers tasked by President Thomas Jefferson to chart the American West. Befriend the natives, live off the resources the land provides and be the first to set up camp on the Pacific coast. Players will have to manage hands of cards representing characters who will help to gather resources, recruit Indians and move forward in this race to discover the route from sea to shining sea. Beautifully illustrated, Lewis & Clark will have players reliving the exciting voyages of some of the most famous explorers the world has ever known”

Timeline Series

Timeline isn’t a single game. Instead, it is a series of games that features all sorts of different categories like Music & Cinema, Americana, American History, etc.

Gameplay is straightforward. Players are each given a hand of cards that have events on the front and their corresponding dates on the back. The goal is to slowly create a timeline of events. Players do that by taking turns placing their cards in the correct place on the timeline in relation to other events. If they guess correctly, then the card stays. If they do not, then the card is discarded and they have to try again.

This mechanic helps to reinforce players’ knowledge of when events happened in relation to each other.

The Grizzled

There is a lot of attention placed on World War 2. It is regularly studied in class. It is the subject of nearly countless movies and numerous video games and board games. World War I, on the other hand, is not often given much attention at all. This is in spite of the fact that it is a fascinating war that took place across several continents and featured cavalry, navy, air combat, and trench warfare.

The Grizzled is a cooperative game that helps right that wrong by putting players in the combat boots of soldiers trying to survive trench warfare until Armistice. The emphasis of this game is on avoiding the hardships and pitfalls that soldiers would have dealt with. If even one member of the team died, then the game is lost.

This is by no means a “light” topic, so parents and teachers should tread carefully. But, then, World War I is as tragic and terrifying as it is interesting in a historical sense. So if you are going to teach it, you may as well go all in right?

7 Wonders

7 Wonders is a drafting game where players take on the roles of seven great ancient civilizations. Gameplay is divided into three “ages” that help demonstrate the development of human civilization through antiquity.

The game may not depict actual historical events, but it does a fairly good job of explaining how civilizations develop and the interdependence between resources and great scientific or artistic achievements.

Twilight Struggle

I’m 35 years old. So I don’t remember the vast majority of the decades-long standoff between the United States and Russia. Twilight Struggle is a game that uses clever mechanics to help illustrate the delicate balance of power and aggression between the two nuclear powers.

This game is a bit on the long side and can take a long time to teach, but you would be hard-pressed to find a game that is better at helping visual and tactile learners understand one of the more pivotal periods in modern world history.

Memoir ’44

Memoir ’44 is hex based miniatures combat game that thrusts players into battles that mimic historical events during World War II. This is done using units, tactics, and victory conditions that mimic some of the famous skirmishes that took place throughout the war.

There are multiple expansions as well that include different sections of terrain and different parts of the war.

This likely isn’t a game that will teach much about World War II on its own. But, it is a great game to play while talking about some of the reasons behind the war and how it ended. Memoir ’44 illustrates that sometimes the best job a game can have is to keep the students interested while the real teaching is happening elsewhere.

Axis and Allies

It is impossible to talk about board games that can be used to teach history without at least mentioning Axis and Allies. A&A is a strategy war game where two to five players take on the roles of either a member of the Axis (Germany or Japan) or a member of the Alliance (United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union). It isn’t just about battle though. Players control both the military for their chosen country AND its wartime economy. Victory is given to the country that captures major cities across the world.

Axis and Allies presents a historical scenario and encourages players to change history over the course of a few hours!

Ticket to Ride – Multiple Editions

I know. We probably put Ticket to Ride on every one of these lists, but we can’t really help it. The game is almost universal in its appeal and in its applications.

Ticket To Ride is not going to be a history lesson in and of itself. But, several of the expansions are ties directly to the expansion of the railroad system that crisscrosses the entire country. Besides, you likely already have the game anyway for other reasons (or at least you should) so why not have another reason to pull it out and use it?

Catan Histories of America: Trails to Rails

Catan is a classic euro board game. This version includes a fixed board that is a reasonable facsimile of the United States. The same rules apply here as in the standard version with a few exceptions. The biggest among them being that the win condition is the delivery of all of your goods across railways.

This is a great game to help discuss the westward expansion of the population of the US and the rise of the Railway system and its importance to the US economy at the time (and now)!

Sapiens

Sapiens is a game where players take on the role of a clan chief that is exploring a fertile valley looking for a new home for their people. This is a tile-laying game with an exploration theme. The art style is bright, colorful, and engaging in a way that will keep players interested as you talk with them about the challenges that faced early man as he fought for survival.

Founding Fathers

Founding Fathers is a strategy game that takes place during the dawn of the United States. Players take on the role of famous political figures like George Washington, John Adams, and others all the way up through Abraham Lincoln. Players work together to solve problems like war, financial panics, and eventually the division between the North and the South.

This is an excellent way to help reinforce the struggles of forming and guiding the United States. This is not a game for early gamers, but is rated for players age 8+.

For Additional Games to Support Learning


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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