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Stephen Duetzmann

The internet is used for WAY more than just games (obviously), and our kids will want to make use of the rest of the internet as well. The internet is also a pretty scary place for our kids if they are allowed unfettered access. We need to encourage our kids to develop healthy behaviors. Unfortunately, that means setting limits on what they can access, what they can do when they get there, etc.

Any parent will tell you that one of the hardest parts of our job is setting boundaries on our kids and the disappointment we feel when they break through those boundaries and ignore our rules.

It’s really impossible to get things right all the time. They will explore. They will push limits. They will make mistakes. But, we CAN get things off on the right foot.

One way to improve your success rate at getting your kids to help follow internet guidelines is to get buy-in from them right from the get-go. Below are six things to think about while writing up an internet usage contract with your kids.

Get Input From Your Kids

Most kids have at least some idea of what the limits should be. Give them a chance to set their own boundaries and they will be more likely to follow them. Remember, though, that your gathering input from them. You don’t need to let them write the rules entirely. You are the final arbiter of the plan.

What are the rules for where and when they use electronic devices?

There is a time and a place for everything. This applies to internet usage as well. You should be sure to set clear rules for where and when they can access the internet. Some great examples of places you might exclude are their bedrooms, school, church, and the dinner table. You might also place restrictions on the internet after a specific time of day. (Don’t forget to include a start time, too. Our guys skirted the rules by getting up early to watch YouTube.)

Are there different rules for online gaming and social media?

Not all internet use is the same. Make sure that you take the different ways that your kids use the internet into account when making your rules. No fooling – some kids will not view playing online games as “internet time” when it very clearly is. Specificity is very helpful for avoiding problems down the road.

What are the rules about downloading apps and other things from the internet?

There are all sorts of cool things on the internet to download. Your kid is likely going to want all of them. Especially the free stuff. Make sure to include rules on what they are allowed to download and what sort of permission they need to be able to do so. The last thing you want is to have them download some malware that you don’t know about.

What are your rules about posting on the internet?

Eventually, your kids will have social media accounts. This contract is a great opportunity to reinforce social media safety rules regarding what pieces of information your kids can share with others or post on their profiles.

True story. I put my address on the BBS when I was a teenager (That’s weird kind of online chat room). And some of the kids I met on their came to my house to meet me… and freaked my parents out A LOT.

What are the consequences if they break the rules?

No amount of discussion or planning will prevent them from breaking the agreement. You need to make sure that you have clearly documented consequences in place for when this happens. This will ease the sting of administering the punishment (on both of you).

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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This week Stephen and Amanda are here to talk about video games. Specifically, the EFG Essentials. These a lists of great EFG approved games for kids on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch!

This podcast is sponsored by:

The Virtual Economy Podcast

EFG is proud to announce the newest podcast in its growing podcast network: EFG LFG PST! It’s a podcast all about World of Warcraft!

Around the Horn

Stephen

Panzer Paladin

Paper Mario: Origami King

Topic

The EFG Essentials

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Music from https://filmmusic.io

“Android Sock Hop” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)

License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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The Free Summer update – Wave 2 will come to Animal Crossing: New Horizons on July 30th. It will include fireworks and a new “dreaming” mechanic, but (most importantly) it will also include the ability to backup and restore your island so long as you are a Nintendo Switch Online Subscriber. Take a look at the details below!

Baby You’re a Firework!

I had a feeling this was coming when the first wave of summer DLC didn’t include fireworks. I can’t wait to see videos and pictures of the fireworks displays in our various towns.

Enjoy atmospheric fireworks lighting up the sky above your island every Sunday in August at 7 p.m. Get in the spirit by redeeming Bells for raffle tickets in the plaza to get various festive items that you can use. Put your personal spin on the fireworks display by using your own custom design pattern to see it shot in the air as a firework in the sky!

Sweet Dreams!

Players will be able to use a new Dreaming mechanic to visit other players islands or allow other players to visit theirs. The big difference between dreaming and visiting via the airport is that nothing you do while visiting in dreams will be permanent. It is, quite literally, a “dream.”

You can now choose to take a nap in any bed placed in your home.** While dozing off, you may find yourself in a strange realm where you’ll be greeted by Luna. Luna offers visits to other islands as a dream, and with her help, you can share your island as a dream with others too.*** She will grant those who share their island a “Dream Address” which players can exchange and use to visit each other’s island in a dream. In dreams, nothing is permanent because nothing you do is saved, so explore to your heart’s content.

The Island Backup & Restoration Service is FINALLY here!

The most important part of this update is Island backups. Nintendo Switch Online members will have their island data uploaded to the cloud periodically. They can then contact Nintendo Support to have their island reinstated in the event of a damaged Switch.

You cannot, however, transfer the island to another Switch. That ability will be added in an additional patch later this year.

Nintendo Switch Online members can enable the new island backup service, which automatically uploads island and user save data to the internet at certain times. If your Nintendo Switch system is lost or damaged, you may be able to recover your island paradise as long as you’ve enabled island backup. In the event of loss or damage, contact Nintendo Consumer Support about restoring the island and user save data on your new or repaired Nintendo Switch system. After your island data and individual player data is restored, you can get back to building your island community!**** Additional details can be found on the Nintendo Consumer Support page when the update goes live. The island backup feature is separate from the Save Data Cloud functionality offered for select Nintendo Switch games through Nintendo Switch Online. A function specific to Animal Crossing: New Horizons to move users and save data to another system is planned for later this year. Details will be announced in the future.                                                                         

The video also teased a fall update at the end. The teaser icon is a pumpkin and I can’t wait for the autumn season shenanigans!

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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To Whom it may concern,

The world needs a new cartoon or video game based on the 1992-93 animated series King Arthur and the Knights of Justice. I know. That seems kind of a shallow request considering the world is caught in the grips of a global pandemic. But, hear me out – This would provide optimistic heroism paired with the perfect amount of absurd humor.

For those of you who need a history lesson, King Arthur and the Knights of Justice is a cartoon that aired in 1992 and 1993. It had only 2 seasons with 13 episodes each. It was also very, very dumb. Camelot is in danger because the evil sorceress Morgana has imprisoned King Arthur and his knights in a Cave of Glass. Merlin cannot free them so he seeks out heroes on a battlefield of the future. His weird spell, somehow, finds a college football team called the Knights and their dashing quarterback Arthur King. The team is brought back in time, given magic suits of armor, and start fighting evil and crime.

Yes. I know that sounds impossibly dumb. But, hear me out.

Point 1 – A Framework to Hang a Story

The Arthurian legend is a classic. The story is simple. The heroes, villains, conflicts and themes can be easily boiled down to their simplest forms. That leaves all sorts of room for different window dressings. The idea of the Knights of the Round table being magical Avengers seems like a pretty great place to start. The idea of bringing a modern day football team back in time to be those super heroes is just enough Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court for me.

Point 2 – The Theme Song is a Masterpiece

I present to you the King Arthur and the Knights of Justice theme song. Tell me that this isn’t amazing.

Point 3 – There Was Already Video Game

Enix released a video game based on the property back in 1995 for the SNES. It served as a finale for the show because completing the game finally let the gang go home.

You can take a look at a walkthrough of the game below. It was standard top down action RPG nonsense back then, but it would be perfect for a cool third-person action RPG now. The characters all have interesting abilities, their armor looks cool, and the enemy designs are fun.

Come on y’all! Let’s make this happen!


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts! (I call Trunk though.)

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 and Amanda are here to talk about video games!

This podcast is sponsored by:

The Virtual Economy Podcast

EFG is proud to announce the newest podcast in its growing podcast network: EFG LFG PST! It’s a podcast all about World of Warcraft!

Around the Horn

Amanda

Ooblets

Among Trees

Stephen

CrossCode

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2

Topics

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

Hyperscape

Next Price Gen Price Hike

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!

Check out the EFG Essentials!

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Your kid likely has a collection of skins in Fortnite. They have probably built dozens of carefully manicured worlds in Minecraft. They might even have caught a whole bunch of Pokemon. 

It might be tempting to assume that these things aren’t important because they are “just games,” but it is important to remember that these digital belongings have value and need to be treated as such (by both parents AND kids.)

We live in a cash-driven society. So our first instinct is always to try and assign a cash value to things. But, that doesn’t work with the video game space. Part of that is because selling an item within a game for real-world dollars is generally against the terms of service. The other part of this equation is that some of these items can become exceedingly rare. For example, a Fortnite account that has the “Renegade Raider” skin would be almost priceless because it has an incredibly rare skin that is highly coveted by Fortnite players. The takeaway here is that while we might not be able to exchange our skins for real-world cash, they are still valuable. Encourage your kids to take pride in what they have collected. I’m not saying that we need to teach our kids to flex on everyone for their awesome stuff. I mean that we should want our kids to take account security seriously and make good passwords to protect themselves and to not engage in behaviors that might get them banned. 

Sometimes the “real” value is based on time and effort spent. Minecraft is a great example here. Our kids can spend dozens (if not hundreds) of hours working on their worlds. They can be intricate creations, but they can also be survival worlds that they have explored for literal days. This is quite the adjustment for parents who might have grown up with games that were less “permanent.” We need to remember the amount of work that can go into some of these worlds and respect them like we would “real objects.” For example, I don’t think anyone would think it would be reasonable to throw a LEGO Death Star model out the window as punishment for bad behavior. Deleting a Minecraft world can be the same type of energy (or maybe even worse). 

We need to instill these values in our children as well. They need to respect their friends’ digital property just like they do their own and we need to reinforce it. The bottom line is that other people’s stuff is just as important as our own whether it be “real” or digital. We have to encourage our kids not to do things that can damage, disrupt, or delete their friends’ stuff. For example, we need to prepare our kids and make sure that they know not to take things from their friends’ chests or use TNT to destroy buildings when visiting their friends Minecraft worlds. 

It will require a shift in thinking for a lot of us, but it is very important that we start thinking of digital objects as “real” as we lean further into our digital future.

What questions do you have for me? Leave them in the comments and I’ll respond!

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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aIf your kids play video games, then chances are very good that they have at least asked you to play a game online. Online games like Fortnite and Call of Duty are HUGE. The entire video game industry has slowly been shifting its focus towards multiplayer-centric video games. No matter how much you want to avoid it, your kids will inevitably end up in a competitive online game. 

We have to prepare our kids for these competitive environments the same way we prepare them for the little league field. These online spaces are no less real than playgrounds and playing fields. 

The online gaming landscape is pretty toxic right now. So many players exhibit poor sportsmanship and lash out at other players when even the slightest thing goes wrong. It has gotten to the point where many players (myself included) won’t use voice chat unless playing with a group of people they have known for a long time. 

We would never accept a situation like that on the ball field. Could you imagine a team full of kids that talks so much trash that three quarters of the team wore ear plugs? How would they even play?

Here are some actionable steps to help your kids treat the playground and the online lobby with the same amount of respect (and make the play experience better for everyone involved). 

  • Talk to your kids about digital sportsmanship. This is the first step for everything. Let them know that you are aware of the spaces they play in. Encourage them to exhibit good sportsmanship and to avoid mirroring other players’ bad behaviors. 
  • Be present. A lot of these bad behaviors are practiced by kids who are playing their games in private spaces. You can combat this by moving gaming spaces into the shared parts in your home, or joining them to watch (and listen) to them play. 
  • Speak up! If you hear your child saying something inappropriate during a gaming session (or even ABOUT a gaming session), then you have to speak up immediately. Let them know that what they said was wrong or hurtful and why. 
  • Draw the connection. A lot of kids don’t see digital gaming spaces the same as real ones. They don’t see the need to use similar behaviors. It’s up to us as parents to help make that connection for them. 

Do you and your family have any experience with online gaming? How do you help keep your kids from exhibiting (or experiencing) bad behavior online? Let me know in the comments!


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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This week Stephen and Amanda are here to talk about How to help raise the next generation of allies!

This podcast is sponsored by:

The Virtual Economy Podcast

What is an Ally?

How do you talk to your kids about how to be a good ally

Listen to people

Empathy/Emotional Intelligence

Consume a diverse range of content from a diverse group people

Have a plan

Don’t be fragile because you WILL screw it up eventually

Books on Allyship for older children and teenagers:

Stamped from the Beginning and Remix of Stamped from the beginning

How to be an Anti-Racist

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More From Jonathan on Facebook

Music from https://filmmusic.io

“Android Sock Hop” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)

License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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A new, free, update has been added to Animal Crossing: New Horizons as of July 3rd. Wave 1 expands the playable space for everyone by letting you play in the ocean!

Below are the new features added in the free Wave 1 Update.

  • Swimming and Diving – You can equip a wet suit and explore the ocean around your island. You can swim and dive to look for new wild life to sell or donate to the museum.
  • New Clothing types – Wet suits, swim masks, and water shoes
  • Pascal Brings Rewarding Recipes – They’ve added a new visitor: Pacal. He is a friendly otter who absolutely LOVES scallops. You can trade scallops that you find while diving (look for the bubbles) for Mermaid themed DIY patterns.
  • Gulliver? – Gulliver gets a pirate themed rescue mission after you download the new update.       

Even better? This isn’t the only free update coming this summer! There is a second wave schedule for sometime in August! The video that accompanied the announcement for the summer updates had fireworks on the splash screen for the August update so that might be the theme? We may not know for sure, but we don’t have to wait very long!

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

Looking for information about how multiplayer works in Animal Crossing? Check out our guide here!

Our new player tips for Animal Crossing are here!

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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Final Fantasy 7 is, inarguably, one of the most important video games ever made. It helped to propel the nascent Sony PlayStation into the wild success that it was, and helped bring the Final Fantasy name to millions of people. Fans have been clamoring for a remake ever since Sony showed an HD reimagining of the opening sequence during the lead up to the launch of the PS3. The excitement level stayed at such a high level for so long that I never thought that a game could live up to those wild expectations. I was convinced that people would be very disappointed. I can’t speak for everyone of course, but I came away more than just satisfied with Final Fantasy 7 Remake – I came away astonished. The experience wasn’t perfect, but I came away very impressed and hungry for more.

The original Final Fantasy 7 (boy does it feel weird to type it that way) was a turn based RPG. The heroes lined up on one side of the screen and the enemies line up on the other. That style of game still exists (Dragon Quest XI is a great example), but Square Enix doesn’t think that is the direction for Final Fantasy anymore.

As a result they gave FF7 Remake a much more active combat system. Players move characters around the battlefield and use basic attacks while building a meter. You then use the completed bars to activate spells, special moves, and use items. It took a moment for me to get used to it (and I would assume that just about everyone would have a similar experience). But, once I was able to get a handle on it I felt like I was playing a fighting game.

It’s not all about combat though. One of the reasons people wanted to see this game remade was to see the world as fleshed out and rendered as beautifully as modern hardware allows. Final Fantasy 7 Remake both lives up to those expectations and fails miserably at the same time. It was almost funny in a few scenes where I was watching two of the most gorgeously rendered characters I have ever seen stand in front of a door with textures that would have looked bad on the PlayStation 3.

I was never lacking for something beautiful to look at though. It’s easy to forgive a weird texture on a door when the character models were among the most detailed I had ever seen. Some fo the backdrops (especially when you are at high elevations looking below).

The Story

Final Fantasy 7 Remake is not a simple remaster. It is an expansion and reimagining of the first major segment of the original. I spent nearly 50 hours playing as I prepared for this review and all of it was spent in the massive Diesel-punk city of Midgar. This would have made up 3 or 4 hours of play in the original game.

I met fully realized characters that were previously just a few lines of throwaway dialogue. I spent hours completing side quests in locations that had previously only been a single screen (or didn’t exist at all).

I experienced a story that dissected the original in interesting ways. I never had much of an attachment to the original (in fact, I’ve gone on record as saying that I didn’t like it at all), but playing the remake actually gave me a strong drive to play it again.

The “ending” felt very weirds to me because I knew as I was playing it that this wasn’t the end. I knew that their adventure was going to continue. As a result, the ending was robbed of its weight. It felt like just any other bombastic boss fight with a cutscene afterwards. t

Final Fantasy 7 Remake is an action RPG that is very systems heavy. This means that in order to really appreciate the game you will need to spend a lot of time in menus tweaking your equipment, skill point expenditures, and strategies. FF7R is also fairly challenging on all but the easiest difficulty setting. Players who are easily frustrated should tread carefully if they don’t have a lot of experience with RPGs.

Should a kid play this game?

The ESRB has rated Final Fantasy VII Remake T for Teen with the rating descriptors Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, and Violence.

The ESRB rating summary is listed below:

This is an action role-playing game in which players follow the story of a mercenary (Cloud Strife) on a quest to save the planet from evil. Players explore the city of Midgar, perform various quests, and battle monsters and soldiers in frenetic melee combat. Characters use swords, staffs, guns, and magic spells to battle fantastical monsters and human soldiers; combat is highlighted by cries of pain, impact sounds, and explosions. Cutscenes also depict instances of violence: characters impaled by swords (off-camera); a man shot repeatedly while on a stairwell. Some female characters wear revealing outfits (e.g., deep cleavage); one scene depicts a man ogling women’s bodies while making suggestive hand gestures and hip movements. The game contains some alcohol content: ordering “something hard and bitter” and watching a character drink; searching for a person at the “Drunkards’ Den”; watching characters drunk and slurring their speech. One cutscene depicts a character smoking a cigar. The words “sh*t,” “a*shole,” and “pr*ck” appear in the dialogue.

ESRB

In my opinion, I don’t think the ESRB got it right. The T rating doesn’t accurately represent what is going in this game from a content perspective. For one, the curse words don’t just “appear in the dialogue.” They are constant, distracting and unnecessary. I’m not being puritanical about this either. I have been known to use foul language at times, but the language in this game made me question how I talk.

Further, there is a major plot point in the game built around sexual violence. This is problematic for a lot of people and would likely be included in a trigger warning in some contexts. Again, I understand why it happened and where its place was in the story. But, these scenes were uncomfortable for me and I’m a grown man.

We discussed this on the Engaged Family Gaming podcast and we mutually agreed that the PEGI rating system more accurately conveys the content in FFVII Remake with a PEGI 16 rating (meaning that they don’t recommend it for anyone below the age of 16).

Conclusion

Final Fantasy VII Remake is a wonderful game. I enjoyed the combat. I (mostly) enjoyed the story. I didn’t want it to end when it did. I think this is a must play for Final Fantasy fans, especially if you enjoyed the original.


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

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