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It seems like everyone is starting their own premium gaming service these days. It can be tough for parents to be able to tell the difference between Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, and all the others. We can’t let that stand here at EFG so we wrote up a big ol’ guide for all of the premium services so our readers can tell them all apart and understand the costs and benefits of each one.

Take a look below for our guide to Xbox Live Gold!

The Pitch

Xbox Live Gold is a subscription service for Xbox that is required in order to play online multiplayer games over Xbox Live. The service also includes periodic discounts on digital purchases through the Xbox Marketplace. It also includes a suite of free Xbox One and Xbox 360 games that are available for free each month.

How Does it Work?

Xbox Live Gold is a subscription service that must be maintained in order to keep using it. The service grants its members access to the following:

  • Online Multiplayer gaming using the Xbox Live platform
  • A suite of free games available for download each month for the Xbox Series X, Series S, or Xbox One. Typically, the suite of free games will include two for each system, but all of the Xbox 360 games released for the service will also be available on Xbox One and Xbox Series via backwards compatibility. These games can be downloaded to the your hard drive at any time, but you can only play them if you have an active Xbox Live Gold subscription.
  • Periodic discounts on digital games sold on the Xbox Marketplace. The games you purchase using a discount made available during a Xbox Live Gold subscription will remain playable even after the subscription expires.

How Much Does it Cost?

Xbox Live Gold can be purchased yearly, every six months, every 3 months, or monthly.

Parental Controls

The Xbox One has comprehensive parental controls that allow you to set age limits on the games your children can play. This age limitation will even block the downloads for free games purchased through this service. It will be useful to keep that in mind if you purchase Xbox Live Gold on your child’s account as it can reduce the value of the subscription. A workaround for this would be to purchase Xbox Live Gold on your account with your child set up as a Microsoft Family Member.

Xbox Game Pass vs Xbox Live Gold

Xbox Game Pass has only been around for a year or so, but it is often confused with Xbox Live Gold by people who don’t pay a lot of attention to games.

They are not interchangeable services. Xbox Live Gold is a subscription that provides access to Online Multiplayer gaming and a limited suite of free games each month. Xbox Game Pass gives access to a large list of games for free for the duration of the subscription. Game Pass does NOT, however, give access to online multiplayer gaming on those free games.

It is worth mentioning that Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game pass are both included in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Advice

There isn’t much advice to give. If your family owns an Xbox One console then this is required for online play. It is, however, a pretty good value because over the course of a year the free games available through the program will add up to a significant value.

Other Guides

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to the Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Plus


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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It seems like everyone is starting their own premium gaming service these days. It can be tough for parents to be able to tell the difference between Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, and all the others. We can’t let that stand here at EFG so we wrote up a big ol’ guide for all of the premium services so our readers can tell them all apart and understand the costs and benefits of each one.

Take a look below for our guide to PlayStation Plus!

The Pitch

PlayStation Plus is a subscription service for PlayStation that is required in order to play online multiplayer games over the PlayStation Network. The service also includes periodic discounts on digital purchases through the PlayStation Network. It also includes a pair of PS4 and/or PS5 games at no additional charge.

How Does it Work?

PlayStation Plus is a subscription service that must be maintained in order to keep using it. The service grants its members access to the following:

  • Online Multiplayer gaming using the PlayStation Network platform
  • A suite of free games available for download each month for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. These games can be downloaded to the PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 hard drive at any time, but you can only play them if you have an active PlayStation Plus subscription.
  • Periodic discounts on digital games sold on the PlayStation Marketplace. The games you purchase using a discount made available during a PlayStation Plus subscription will remain playable even after the subscription expires.

How Much Does it Cost?

PlayStation Plus can be purchased yearly, every three months, or monthly.

Advice

There isn’t much advice to give. If your family owns a PlayStation 4 or a PlayStation 5 console then this is required for online play. It is, however, a pretty good value because over the course of a year the free games available through the program will add up to a significant value.

Other Guides

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Live Gold

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now


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!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

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It seems like everyone is starting their own premium gaming service these days. It can be tough for parents to be able to tell the difference between Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, and all the others. We can’t let that stand here at EFG so we wrote up a big ol’ guide for all of the premium services so our readers can tell them all apart and understand the costs and benefits of each one.

Take a look below for our guide to PlayStation Now!

The Pitch

PlayStation Now (PSNow) is a Netflix-esque streaming service for PlayStation 4 and PC. Subscribers have unlimited access to stream a collection of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 games over the internet on their PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, or PC.

How Does it Work?

Subscribers have access to the massive catalog of games for as long as their membership lasts. The majority of the games are streamed online like the shows we watch on Netflix or Disney +. There is a selection of around 300 games available for download through the service.

How Much Does it Cost?

PlayStation Now (PSNow) can be purchased in 12-month, 3-month, or 1-month increments.

12 Month subscription – $99.99

3 Month subscription – $44.99

1 Month subscription – $19.99

Advice

Some of the value of PlayStation Now (PSNow) is dependent upon the strength of your internet connection. The games are streamed over the internet so they will run poorly if you can’t get a good enough connection. Sony customer support recommends that your internet service has a download speed of at least 5mbps (megabytes per second) to use the service. Tests performed by other sites like ArsTechnica have shown that it takes closer to 9 mbps to really take advantage of it.

There is a collection of games you can download. You can even play them in up to 4k resolution if you play it on your PS5 or PC.

Troubleshooting

Sony technical support has provided a few tips for folks who have the recommended download speed and are still experiencing issues with the service:

Use a Wired Connection

Many homes have their consoles hooked up to the internet via a wireless connection (wifi). This does hamper the quality of the connection between your PS4 and the modem. One way to correct this is by using an ethernet cable to connect your PS4 to the modem directly. This may not be possible for everyone, but it is at least worth mentioning.

Reduce the Number of Applications Using the Network

Your home network only has so much data that it can download from the internet at once. Applications that are sharing that download speed and can hinder each other’s performance. Its like traffic coming into your house. We’d get everywhere faster if we were the only car on the road.

Some applications you might consider shutting down are:

  • Streaming video applications (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube)
  • Cloud backup or sync applications (Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud)
  • Content downloads (BitTorrent, software, games, movies, or music)
  • Video/audio communication apps (FaceTime, Skype)

Try Off-Peak Hours

Your download speed can also be hurt if you try to use a shared (or public) connection during the busiest hours of the day. Try using the service during off-peak hours like evenings and weekends so there may be fewer people using the service.

Other Guides

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to EA Access

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Live Gold

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Plus

A Parent’s Guide to EA Origin’s Access


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 Nintendo Switch is wildly popular, and Nintendo is pairing it with an online subscription service similar to both Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus. Their service, called Nintendo Switch Online, launched in the fall of 2018 and is a great value for families looking to get more out of their Switch experience. 

The Pitch

Nintendo Switch Online is an annual subscription service that is required into order to play Nintendo Switch games like Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online. It also includes bonus features like access to cloud saves, and access to a suite of NES and SNES games. Subscribers also get access to exclusive sales offers and Switch online exclusive games like Tetris 99. 

Nintendo Switch Online is an annual subscription service that is required into order to play Nintendo Switch games like Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online. It also includes bonus features like access to cloud saves, and access to a suite of NES and SNES games. Subscribers also get access to exclusive sales offers and Switch online exclusive games like Tetris 99. 

How Does it Work? 

Nintendo Switch Online is a subscription based service that can be purchased annually, or in smaller increments. The service needs to be maintained in order to continue the benefits and maintain access to the features. 

The service includes: 

Online Play – Online multiplayer gaming using the Nintendo Switch Online platform

NES and SNES – Nintendo Switch Online – Nintendo Switch Online members have access to curated library of more than 60 NES and Super NES classic games. The collection initially only includes NES games, but was updated a year later to include SNES titles. The curated library of games will grow over time. These games also include online competitive/cooperative play with friends. Certain games (like Super Mario Bros.) even include the ability to virtually pass the controller back and forth.

Save Data Cloud – Subscribers can back up their save game data to the cloud. This makes it easier to retrieve their save data if they lose their Switch or start to use a new one. It is worth mentioning that some games aren’t compatible with cloud saving. The most noteworthy examples are Pokemon Sword and Shield and the upcoming Animal Crossing: New Horizons. 

Smartphone App – Nintendo has released a smartphone app (available for iOS and Android). It syncs with the subscriber’s Nintendo account and includes some minor enhancements for different Switch games. You can also use it to use voice chat with your Nintendo friends as you play. (Certain games, like Fortnite, circumvent Nintendo’s app and allow voice chat through the game software itself. This isn’t universal though.)

Special Offers – Subscribers will have access to exclusive sales and product offerings. They have included controllers, discount game vouchers, and even an exclusive game (Tetris 99). 

How Much Does it Cost?

Nintendo Switch Online can be purchased annually, quarterly, or monthly. The service also has a 7 day free trial. 

Annual Subscription: $19.99

3 Month Subscription: $7.99

1 Month Subscription: $3.99

Nintendo Switch Online also has a Family Membership option where up to 8 Nintendo Accounts can share an online subscription for $34.99 annually. 

Advice

This service is a great value for families. The cost is relatively low at $20 a year and it includes a wide array of free games to play.

If your kids aren’t interested in the NES/SNES games and only play Fortnite, then this is a service you can likely avoid. Fortnite doesn’t require an active subscription to play.

Other Guides

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to EA Origins Access

A Parent’s Guide to EA Access

A Parent’s Guide to the Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Plus

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 approaching quickly and some amazing new games have come out this year. There are so many more games than we can fit into one article, so if you need more ideas check out the links at the bottom to other articles that may inspire your gift shopping or wish list creation!

It’s All About the Video Games!

The best place to start is with the games. Our fancy consoles are just paperweights without them.

Multi-platform Games

Some of the most popular video games in the world are multi-platform games. This means they are made to be played on more than one of the major consoles. Below are some of the best multiplatform games released this year:

Minecraft Dungeons

Minecraft is probably the biggest game in the world. Minecraft Dungeons is a spin-off that features an isometric action RPG like Diablo. It was one of our most anticipated games coming into the year and it did not disappoint. Dungeons is particularly note worthy because it is a great multiplayer game that families can play together.  It is worth mentioning that this is a digital game unless you purchase the “Hero Edition” for Switch, Xbox One, or PS4.

Hades

Hades is one of the biggest surprises in gaming this year. Super Giant has made great games in the past, but Hades really is something special. 


You play as The son of Hades as you attempt to battle your way out of … well… Hades. The action is wild. The weapons are cool. And the rogue-lite elements are well designed. Every time you die you are sent back to the main hub to get a bit of story content before you are thrown back into the action.

It is worth mentioning that this is a digital-only game, so the only way to purchase it for anyone is to get them a gift card for their console of choice. 

Star Wars: Squadrons

Star Wars is a perennial favorite. I know some “fans” say it is dying, but there are ALWAYS going to be people, especially kids, that are hungry for more Star Wars stuff. Squadrons is great for three reasons. First, it is a great fighter pilot simulator where you alternate control of imperial Tie Fighters and Rebel X-Wings. It does a great job of being modern, while also respecting the nostalgia for classic space shooters like Rogue Squadron and X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter. Lastly, it is a budget title with free content updates planned (It’s only $40 compared to the usual $60!)

Console Exclusives

One of the major factors that influences what brand of console people choose is the slate of exclusives the system has. Below are some of the noteworthy console exclusives for each system.

Nintendo Switch

Super Mario 3D All Stars

Super Mario 3D All Stars is a collection of three Mario games from the past: Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64), Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube), and Super Mario Galaxy (Wii). Not much has been done to remaster them (if anything at all), but they are all great games in their own right and this is a great way to get them into your kids’ hands! This collection is only available until the end of March, 2021 so don’t let this one slip away!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

What can be said about Animal Crossing: New Horizons that hasn’t been said already? This game was a cultural phenomenon this year, in part due to its wholesome nature and relaxing gameplay. If your family has a Switch (or is getting one) and doesn’t have this game yet, then I would put this right at the top of the list!

Clubhouse Games 51 Worldwide Classics

When this was announced I was VERY skeptical. This reminded me of a LOT of the Shovel-ware that was released en-masse during the Wii era. But, I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that Nintendo has lovingly crafted this collection of minigames and board game experiences. This is a great game for families that enjoy light board games like Yahtzee (called Yacht Dice in Clubhouse Games). The low price point ($40) doesn’t hurt either.

PlayStation

There are several PlayStations out there right now (I discuss them below), but the good news is that most of the biggest games will be playable on all of them. Here are two great suggestions for PlayStation games for families:

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Marvel’s Spider-Man was our Game of the Year the year it came out. It was an amazing game that nailed what it would feel like to Switch through New York fighting crime (at least as far as we can tell. ;)) Miles Morales is a follow-up that takes place on the same map, save that it takes place over the Holidays, and features Miles Morales on a journey to figure out how to be Spider-Man. This is a shorter experience than the first game (I finished it in about 10 hours), but every second of it is intense and the payoff at the end is well worth it.

The PS5 version is $70, but it includes a download for Spider-Man Remastered. This is a great chance for a newly minted PS5 player to experience the original if they missed it.

Falls Guys: Ultimate Knock Out

Fall Guys came out earlier this year and took the world by storm as a fun social game to play before Among Us ate its lunch. Regardless, this is an adorable multiplayer game that combines the action of silly physical challenge game shows like Knockout with the battle royal format. This game is a LOT of fun and the rounds are short enough that your family can take turns passing the controller and laughing at the hijinks.

Xbox

This is a tough one to write this year. Xbox really didn’t release any new exclusives this year that should be included here. They are building for the future with all of the studios they bought in the last 2 years, but those investments haven’t paid off yet.

That isn’t to say that the Xbox is bereft of great games though! The best recommendation we have here is to take the price of a game you WOULD have bought for the Xbox and buy a game card for Xbox Game Pass. Giving Xbox game pass is giving the gift of unlimited access to hundreds of games on the service.

Which Console To Buy?

Nintendo Switch

New consoles are here!!! Nintendo doesn’t really care though. The Nintendo Switch has been the best selling console for the last 23 months running and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. There are two variations on the Switch console to choose from. The pros/cons are below.

Switch

This is the original Switch. The system has been available and going strong since 2017. It retails for $299.99 and the big bundle this year comes with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (which is amazing). This version of the Switch can be put in its charging dock and used on the family television, while also taken out of the dock and played in handheld mode. If you think your family will take advantage of both modes of play, then this is the Switch to get.

This is also the right Switch to get if you think multiple people will want to play. Nintendo games are great for multiplayer gaming (Mario Kart, Mario Party, Smash, etc) and the original Switch is the right way to go to support that.

Switch Lite

The Switch Lite is a great little device. It eschews the dock and the ability to play the game on the television in favor of being more compact, and cheaper (by $100!) This is a great option for kids who have no interest in playing games on the TV, or for a secondary Switch if you already have one and you want a second so two people can play different games.

Sony PlayStation

Sony has three different options available right now. Two of them are different models of the PS4, the third being the brand new PS5.

PS4/PS4 Pro

It seems like the whole gaming world is excited about the next generation of consoles, but now is a GREAT time to pick up a PS4 if you don’t have one already. Sony is going to continue to release games for PS4 for years (including games like Horizon Zero Dawn: Forbidden West). The library of amazing games is massive (and getting less costly as time goes on).

PS5

The PS5 is an amazing piece of hardware. It is fast. It can pump out some insane visuals. The Dual Sense controller is very, very cool. The problem is going to be availability. They are exceedingly hard to get your hands on this holiday. Sony simply could not make enough to accommodate the demand considering the manufacturing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Xbox

Xbox One S

The Xbox One is a great console that has been around for a very long time. But, it is still a great time to pick one up. The Xbox One S should be readily available and very inexpensive throughout the holidays. It will be a great home console for kids who was excited to play Minecraft with their friends.

Xbox Series S

The Series S is designed to be the least expensive console in the new generation. It comes in at $299.99 and is more powerful than the Xbox One S, but less powerful than the Xbox Series X. This is a very small console that is a great entry point into console gaming for families who don’t have, or aren’t in the market for a 4K television.

Xbox Series X

The Series X is purported to be the most powerful console on the block right now. There aren’t a lot of games that push it to its limits yet, but is a very impressive piece of technology. This, like the Series S and the PS5 will also be pretty tough to find this year.

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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An update will be coming to Animal Crossing: New Horizons that will, FINALLY, allow the transfer of save data between Nintendo Switch Systems. The update is coming on November 19, 2020, and will include two key components: Entire Island Transfers and Resident Moves.

Entire Island Transfer

The update will all players to transfer the entire island ( along with all residents on it) to a new Nintendo Switch system. The island itself along with all progress and customizations, animal neighbors, and the island resident representative will be moved to the new Switch.

This will help families who are replacing a Nintendo Switch. But, make note that you need to have access to both the original system and the new system to do the island transfer. So make sure to do that before you get rid of the old system.

Resident Move (Single Player Transfer)

This announcement was a big surprise. The resident move feature will allow anyone, except the Island Representative, to move their resident and almost all of their progress onto a new island. This will allow all of the families who have been awkwardly sharing an Animal CrossingL New Horizons island to FINALLY play separately.

The things that will transfer to the new system are:

  • The resident
  • The resident’s house
  • Most items the resident is holding
  • Most items the resident has in storage

This is going to be a great help for families that want to move one player onto a new Nintendo Switch.

There are two important caveats:

  1. If there is already an island populated on the new system, then the resident you are transferring will move to that island. In that case, all of that resident’s island progress and their animal neighbors will remain on the original Nintendo Switch.
    1. You must have access to both the original system and the new system to use this feature.

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 free Holiday update is on its way into Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Below is a list of the major features that will be available in Animal Crossing starting November 19th.

Turkey Day

On Turkey Day, which will take place this year on Nov. 26, the first-class chef Franklin will arrive and host a gathering in the plaza. You can help Franklin collect ingredients to go in the dishes that will be on display in the plaza. You can even receive a gift from Franklin as a thank you for helping him cook.

The United States celebrates Thanksgiving on the 26th of November, however a lot of families are forgoing their usual celebrations as a result of the ongoing pandemic. I have a feeling that the Animal Crossing Turkey Day update will be a welcome distraction for a lot of families this year.

Toy Day

It’s the time of the year when island residents rejoice … The month of Toy Day is nearly at hand! You might notice your island and plaza gradually becoming more festive with holiday-themed decorations over the coming weeks.*** Keep an eye out for decorated trees, too. Shaking these may drop ornaments which will allow you to craft holiday furniture recipes. From Dec. 1 to Dec. 25, you’ll be able to purchase toys from Nook’s Cranny and find holiday-themed clothing at the Able Sisters shop. When it’s officially Toy Day on Dec. 24, Jingle will pay a special visit to your island to spread holiday cheer. If you help him deliver presents, you’ll also receive a gift!

Toy Day is Animal Crossing Christmas. This event does extend until Christmas day so kids who get their game on Christmas day will be able to take part in some of the fun!

Reactions and Hairstyles 

Nine new Reactions will be available with this update, which can be obtained by redeeming Nook Miles at the Nook Stop terminal located in Resident Services. Six new hairstyle options can also be acquired by redeeming Nook Miles, so get ready to express yourself and let your personality shine!

The new reactions include the ability to sit down. That’s a big deal. (It’s true.)

Home Storage Upgrade 

If you’ve expanded your in-game home to its largest size and paid off your debt, you’ll now be able to apply for a home storage expansion by speaking to Tom Nook at Resident Services. Congrats on achieving the next level of home ownership. This will expand your home storage to 2400 slots. Think of all the items you can now store and access from the comfort of your island home!

A lot of players struggle with storage over time (I know I do). This gives players a way to help alleviate that (at least for the time being). It also gives players a reason to pay off their final loan.

Island and Resident Data Transfers 

Two new features are arriving to offer expanded flexibility for your island and resident data. The whole island transfer feature will enable you to move your user save data, along with the island itself and all the residents, to another system. This service will be facilitated by the free Island Transfer Tool app in Nintendo eShop. For players who are not the island’s Resident Representative, a single-player transfer feature allows you to transfer resident data to another system. This includes your resident’s name, appearance and equipment, along with your inventory, home and storage. Additional details about the benefits and limitations of these new data transfer services can be found at https://animal-crossing.com/new-horizons/#transfer.

This is a very, very big deal for families who are looking to get players who have been awkwardly sharing an Animal Crossing: New Horizons island.

EFG has an article with more details about Island and resident data transfers here.

Seasonal Items to Celebrate New Year’s Eve 

New seasonal items will be available starting Dec. 1 at Nook Stop. Between Dec. 26 and Dec. 31, there will also be several festive items to commemorate New Year’s Eve. In addition to the update content, you can look forward to a countdown event starting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 31. With Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you can meet in-game to ring in the new year with friends, family and your island residents!

New Years Eve is coming and Animal Crossing is going to help us celebrate the end of 2020 (thank goodness).

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!


This week the EFG Staff is going to define (and help explain the different between) Roguelikes and Roguelites.

These two popular genres are VERY similar, but the terms are not interchangable.

They share the same roots as they are inspired by the game “Rogue: Exploring the Dungeons of Doom.”

Rogue is an adventure game where you control a character who is trying to get to the various levels of a dungeon seeking treasure. Sounds normal right?

It is. BUT, the big difference between Rogue and most newer games is that when you die in Rogue you have to start over. No matter what. Every death in the game is permanent.

Rogue!

Roguelike

RogueLIKE games are just what they sound like. They are modern games that are … like rogue. Death is permanent and you don’t get to keep anything when you start over.

Roguelite

RogueLITE games are different because while you are playing you can earn powers, treasures, or currency to help increase your power for subsequent runs. You are able to build your power between runs so that you can move further into the dungeon/castle/whatever on subsequent lives. Example: Rogue Legacy, Dead Cells, Star Renegades

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 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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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 both video games and board games: Polyomino.

A Polyomino is a geometric shape made up of a group of equal squares touching on their edges.

These shapes are very important to the game design world because of all the different ways that they can be pieced together into a bigger puzzle.

The best, and most popular, example is Tetris. In Tetris, five different polyominoes that each contain four equal squares (called tetrominoes) fall from the top of the screen. Players are tasked with interlocking them at the bottom of the screen with as few holes as possible. Any complete rows that the player creates are cleared from the board as a reward.

The shapes in Tetris even have names. There was a meme that flew around in the last year or so that came just short of personifying them, but their names are straightforward.

  • Square
  • L
  • Skew
  • T
  • Straight

Polyominoes are also quite popular in the board game space. Part of this is because their shapes make great plastic and cardboard components. Their flat surfaces are also a great place to showcase interesting artwork or bright colors. The design reason is simple. The number of different available shapes is relatively small (especially if they are all made of a smaller number of equal squares), and the number of ways that they can be interlocked is vast. This leads to wide variety in game play situations.

Suggested Activities

Polyominoes are a great learning tool and there are all sorts of activities on the web that you can do with your kids.

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

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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!

The EFG Essentials

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