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As parents, it’s important to understand the world your children immerse themselves in, especially when it comes to video games. Two terms that often pop up in gaming conversations are “respawn” and “spawn.” Let’s break these down in a simple, easy-to-understand way.

What Does Respawn Mean in Video Games?

In video games, to “respawn” means to reappear or come back to life after being defeated or dying in the game. Think of it like getting a second chance. This term is not just limited to the player’s character; it can also refer to enemies or certain items reappearing in the game. Originally used in multiplayer games, the concept of respawning is now a common feature in many types of video games.

For example, in the popular game “Pokémon,” if your Pokémon team is defeated, you’ll find yourself respawning back at a Pokémon Center, ready to embark on your adventure again. Similarly, in “The Legend of Zelda,” if you leave a dungeon and then return, the monsters inside will have respawned, ready for another round of challenge.

What About Spawn and Spawn Rate?

“Spawn” is a term used to describe the appearance of characters, enemies, or items in a game. The “spawn rate” refers to how frequently these elements appear or reappear in the game. This can be based on a timer or a certain percentage chance. For instance, in Pokémon games, the rate at which a Pokémon appears while you’re exploring grassy areas is its spawn rate.

Examples of Spawn in Games:

  • In “Overwatch” or “World of Warcraft,” enemies and resources have specific spawn rates and locations.
  • In “Pokémon,” the type of Pokémon that spawns can depend on the environment, like water types appearing near bodies of water.
  • In “The Legend of Zelda,” enemies spawn at certain points in the game, often reappearing when you revisit an area.

Respawn Elements in Games:

  • Mineral Nodes: These are points in games like “World of Warcraft,” “Skyrim,” and “Stardew Valley” where players can gather resources. These nodes will respawn after a set amount of time, allowing players to return and gather more resources.
  • Monsters: In many games, defeated monsters will respawn after a certain period, providing players with continuous challenges and opportunities for character progression.

Understanding Spawn Timers

A “spawn timer” is essentially a countdown that determines when a player, enemy, or item will reappear in the game. For example, if you’re waiting for a Pokémon to appear in the grass, the spawn timer dictates how long this might take.

Why Is This Important for Parents?

Understanding these terms can help you connect with your children over their gaming experiences. It’s a way to engage in conversations about the games they enjoy and the strategies they use. Plus, it helps demystify some of the gaming jargon that might seem foreign at first.

By grasping these basic concepts, you can have more meaningful discussions with your kids about their gaming world, and maybe even join in on the fun! Remember, gaming can be a wonderful way for families to bond and create shared experiences.

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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 find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is applicable to board games and tabletop role-playing games, the term applies widely beyond gaming:

Analysis Paralysis

The term Analysis Paralysis is common in board games. However, it is applicable in all gaming, and within decision-making in work and life in general. With Analysis Paralysis many choices are available, often too many choices. The decision maker out of anxiety or a fear of making the wrong decision my take excessive time making their decision, or in extreme cases make no decision at all.

In-game settings, the player spends an excessive amount of time considering their options and plotting the implications. This excessive time can often negatively impact other players by extending the game time and forcing long waits between turns. Often players overthink their options. It can be very frustrating for other players in the game when the gameplay time is extended for this reason. These long wait times take away from the game experience of other players. There are multiple ways to address and mitigate some of the decision making which will be discussed below.

History:

The idea of being paralyzed by decision-making is an old one. We can see a reference to it, though not used by name, in Aesop’s fable The Fox and the Cat. The fable tells of a Fox and Cat that each has tricks to escape the hounds. The cat only had one trick and the Fox had “a whole sackful”. Once threatened by the hounds, that cat did its one trick for an escape without hesitation. The Fox meanwhile started and restarted with different tricks and was unable to escape. You can read the full story here. The idea of the fable is that one may have so many options their failure to act on any of them can be detrimental.

The phrase Analysis Paralysis is credited with being paired together in an 1803 pronouncing dictionary. These words became paired for their rhyming, and also for the memorable phrase they created. The concept has long existed but this phrasing captured it in a more concise manner.

Ways Minimize Analysis Paralysis

With Analysis Paralysis being an old problem, there is a classic game that has come up with a solution. In Chess, players can use a Chess Clock. This is a special clock with two clocks so players can track their available time to make their moves.

Strategies to Minimize Analysis Paralysis in Gaming:

  • Timers/chess clock: By limiting time it reduces the negative impact on other players. A timer provides incentives to prevent overanalyzing the choices, as well as a hard stop to analyzing choices.
  • Choose games with limited choices per turn. By starting with fewer choices it reduces the need for a long analysis of choices.
  • Slowly include games that add more choices. Rather than jumping right to a game with many choices, try to increase the game complexity and choices available incrementally to build the habit of a short decision-making time.
  • Perfect decisions are not the key, so building a culture where perfection is not the goal. The culture at a gaming session is critical to the comfort of players overall, but it can play a major factor in decision-making. If a player feels safe to take a risk and not worry about negative comments they may not be so fixated on making the “right” move.
  • Focus on your main objective, if there are multiple. In more complex games there are usually multiple parts of the game and aspects to focus on. When there are many decisions to make, it can be helpful to go back to the main objective to limit the scope of your choices.

Strategies To Minimize Analysis Paralysis Outside of Gaming

  • Focus on your main objective, if there are multiple: Just like in gaming, when there are multiple objectives, what is the main or most important one. Use that to guide your focus and narrow the relevant choices.
  • Set a time frame/ timer: Create a hard time limit if one does not already exist. Time limits help to focus the analysis by having a firm ending time.
  • Prioritize the Options: Try to eliminate some of the less optimal options. One great strategy is making a list so you can see the options and then cross off less important or optimal options.
  • Take a break: If you are able to, take a break from analyzing your choices. By stepping away from the active analysis you can come back with fresh eyes to the options to aid in decision-making.
  • Ask for Advise: If there is an expert or someone more experienced you can seek their insights and thoughts. They may have a valuable perspective to focus on the most important options you have in your decision-making.

Final Thoughts

Analysis Paralysis is often a term used in gaming, but is certainly not limited to gaming. Many of the strategies above can be applied to all aspects of decision-making. If you find yourself frozen, and struggling to make a decision see if one or more strategy helps you.


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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 find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!

The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many well-known games: LARP

LARP is an acronym for Live Action Role-Playing. It Incorporates physical action, improv, cosplay, and roleplay into a single event. Players inhabit a fantasy world at a set location in real-time and can be based in a wide variety of genres.

LARPing involves social interaction with players and NPCs (non-playing characters). LARP events will require specific costumes and props to further the set environment. More experienced players will likely be better outfitted for LARPing events having collected gear over a longer period of time. New players can purchase supplies at various stores and online sites. LARP organizations such as Alliance have forums to guide new players. Preparation: character creation, backstory, props, costuming, etc. assist players with fuller immersion into the event.

References can be similar to tabletop role-playing questions, general gameplay, character class and race choices. Parents may need to assist with forum surfing, costuming. As with sports or a new instrument, invest minimally at first to ensure your player’s interest warrants a larger financial investment.

A PC attacking an NPC

What does LARP mean?

LARP is an acronym for Live Action Role Play. LARP is an immersive story experience where participants physically act out their character’s actions. Staff create a different world for players to plunge into with costuming, props, and scenography into an amazing experience. Most children have played make believe. We have all seen towel capes, construction paper crowns, and broom stick swords. LARP is the next evolution of that, which is why children easily lean towards LARP.

LARP Basics

There are several genres of LARP, with 2 basic types. The first: Adventure, Demonstrative, or Boffer LARPs feature mock combat with foam weapons. These LARPs encourage the players to work as a group towards a common goal. Serving the greater good, protecting a community, exploring the unknown, finding a lost item or person, and so on. Another term for this group is combat LARP, and they have genre-specific weapons. The second: Interactive, Literature, Parlor, Salon, or Theater LARP features heavy role-play with emotional interaction more character-driven, often with no specific goal or task. Groups without combat are non-combat LARPs. Their conflicts resolve with cards, dice, or chance games (ie rock paper scissors).

Similar to most modern video games and tabletop role-playing, LARP is Player vs Environment (PVE) or Player vs Player (PVP). PVE the group is united as a whole against something threatening the land, the town, and so forth. Players can face monsters, puzzles, traps, and so forth. PVP plays the players against each other. Narrative or personal motivations can drive this game’s focus and player interaction. (We define PvE and PvP in the greater gaming context here.)

How to find a LARP?

Now is the time to find a new LARP group. Many groups were constrained by the pandemic and are restarting and rebuilding. There are several online resources, use your favorite search engine and search for LARP or LARP in your area. If you already know what genre you’re interested in, add that to your search as well, i.e. pirates, medieval, futuristic, and so on. Some specific sites include LARPfinder, meetup (for larger cities), reddit (r/LARP), Facebook, and many others.

Local gaming and tabletop stores often have LARP advertising and may have LARPers on staff. There are some summer camps with LARP themes and events as well. Conventions can also be a good resource for single-event LARPs, some may run over the course of the convention. You can typically reach out to the organizers and ask. There are LARPs across the globe with a wide variety of genres and sizes. You will find one that fits if you look for it!

Examples of different LARPs. 

LARP genres can vary as widely as any interest base. These genres can include: aliens, cyberpunk, futuristic, fantasy, historical, horror, pirates, murder mysteries, superheroes, and whatever else imagination can create. Genre types will dictate costuming, weapons, character interactions, and window dressing for the environment. The setting will determine how your player reacts to what is around them. A pirate or cowboy won’t be as surprised by a train as an elf from a medieval setting might be.

Some LARP games and genres are geared towards adults only, most vampire LARP is adult only. Most LARPs have their age requirements posted on their homepages to make child-friendly LARP easier to find. (AllianceLARP New Hampshire, for example, allows players starting at 14 with a guardian.)

What are Boffer weapons?

Bow, Swords, Staff

Boffer weapons are traditionally part of American LARP.  Boffer weapons are 3 layers: a rigid base, foam middle, and duct tape or nylon cover. The materials vary. Foamsmith (boffer weapon makers) skill sophistication can vary from pool noodles with handles to sleek light weapons resembling their real-world counterparts. Boffer weapons are built for safety and ease of play by a wider range of players. They are typically checked for safety before every event. Boffer weapons are easy to use by the average player. However, they are not always painless, especially in the heat of battle with adrenaline. It is not uncommon to get a bruise or two from combat regardless.

European LARPers tend to use latex rubber weapons which are heavier, and more realistic in appearance, but require more physicality to wield. In some cases more extreme LARPers use real weapons, this is rare and more likely in historical reenactments than play.

Is Cosplay the same thing as LARP?

No. Cosplay and LARP are not the same things. They are similar. Cosplay is when you dress up as a character from a movie, TV show,  book, videogame, or your own creation. Most Cosplay is found at conventions or special events connected to the character. Stormtroopers, Wookies, and Jedi often appear when a new Star Wars movie comes out, that is Cosplay. Cosplay is more for appearances and getting into a character as an expression of enjoying a fandom. LARP costuming needs to be functional as well as genre appropriate to play a game.

Is LARP Similar to DnD?

Absolutely. LARP and Dungeons and Dragons have very similar origins and base rules. Noncombat LARP uses dice or card systems similar to D&D for combat resolution.

Both games require a bit of imagination to help build the setting and role-playing. Most LARPers play D&D or other similar role-playing games in the off-season, or started there and branched off into LARPing. If your child is nervous about LARP, tabletop role-playing games are a good place to learn which genres they’re interested in and a chance to practice their role-playing skills.

What does a new player need to know?

Learn the basics before you go. Most LARP groups have websites with the rules, they may have a rulebook, requirements, and so on. You should have read through those things at least once before you go to an event. Game restrictions and waivers should be known ahead of time not when you’re with your kiddo in full costume at the event. If you or your child need special accommodations, reach out to the game runners ahead of time (they typically have at least an email on their websites) or other players may be able to help or point you in the right direction. Review costume guidelines and requirements. Part of immersing yourself into a LARP world is the proper costuming.

What to Bring

If the venue is outside, bring sunscreen, bug spray, and water. Dress appropriately for the weather, extreme weather conditions can lead to certain costuming holds. It’s easy to add layers to a cloak and remove them on cold days. Ask ahead of time about food and drinks. Some offerings either in or out of game may be provided or you may have to pack lunch. Try to play along and bring in genre meals, a Lunchable can be repacked in reusable wax cloth instead of a plastic container. If the event is a one-off versus a multi-day event you may need to arrange sleeping accommodations as well. This may be camping or a local hotel.

Acclimating to Events

NPCs

Remember it’s natural to be quieter when you’re new. Many LARPers have been playing for years and are very welcoming. Give it a few events before deciding it’s not for you. However, group dynamics aren’t always a fit, you can explore other games and other groups. LARP is an international game, there are places for everyone.

Most games start with a welcome speech or intro, this is your time for new players to ask their questions. Logistics or the pre-start time where your costuming and weapons are being checked for safety is also a time for questions.  Most games have moderators or experienced players or staff on hand to answer questions as you go, identify them early, and ask. It doesn’t hurt to play into your character either and ask in game.

Places to buy LARP costuming and supplies

Finding the right costuming for your character can go a long way into finding role-playing and helping a new player step out of the real world and into the LARP world. LARPing can be an expensive hobby. There can be ways around that, especially for new players trying out LARP before committing. Look to your new LARP group for guidance: new player forums, game organizers, and veteran players can all help you with rules, requirements, and where they got their gear. New players might be able to borrow some pieces to help with the cost while they’re deciding if this is for them.

Depending on your LARP genre, there are several easily accessible websites to help build your character. First look at your LARP group website & forums, there will be suggestions related to the rules and needs specific to your game. Next a quick search for LARP costume, LARP gear, LARP armor, LARP weapons, etc will find you several sites. Costume stores/sites, Walmart, amazon, and other bigger markets. can get you something serviceable in a quick time. Once you’ve decided on LARP as your hobby and you’re looking to move from testing to definitely playing: Etsy, Epic Armory, B3, Holy Clothing, burgschneider.us and MANY others will have genre-specific weapons, armor, props and so on.

Don’t forget about crafting. If you or a friend can break out a sewing machine this can save you quite a bit. Also, thrifting has been a time-honored way to build up your costuming. Pinterest is full of LARP DIY to help with various levels of your skill and direction needed.

Where can I find LARP in the media?

There are a wide variety of LARP examples in movies and TV shows. Not all of these examples are family-friendly, often LARP is confused for tabletop role-playing by those who haven’t read this article yet. Often the examples produced depict LARPers as unsympathetic nerds with poor social skills. LARPing attracts all sorts of people, most of whom are welcoming and enjoy sharing their beloved hobby with others.

Examples

  • Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe
  • Monster Camp
  • Hawkeye
  • Supernatural: LARP and the Real Girl
  • Role Models *not kid appropriate

Conclusion

In conclusion, LARP, or Live Action Role-Playing, is a form of immersive story experience where participants physically act out their character’s actions. It incorporates physical action, improv, cosplay, and roleplay into a single event and can be based in a wide variety of genres. There are two basic types of LARP, Adventure or Boffer LARPs which feature mock combat with foam weapons, and Interactive or Theater LARPs which feature heavy role-play with emotional interaction. LARP can be found through online resources, local gaming and tabletop stores, summer camps, and conventions. With a wide variety of genres and sizes, there is a LARP for everyone to enjoy.


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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

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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
find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to board games:

Legacy Games

Legacy games are board games played over multiple sessions, typically with the same group of players. Each play of the game can create permanent changes to the game affecting future plays. These changes occur in a variety of ways, such as opening envelopes to reveal stickers to add to the board, additional cards, and/or additional rules/powers.

Legacy games often include a story told over the course of the sessions. Most Legacy games can only be played through one time. Some games give players the opportunity to buy a refill pack to make the game replayable a second time.

There are also some games that once you finish the campaign, the game is playable using the rules the Legacy portion finished on for future regular games. One example of this is Machi Koro Legacy. It has ten different games over the course of the campaign with the eleventh and subsequent games repeatable as a “regular” game. However, most games are not playable again once the last session is complete.

History

Game designer Rob Daviau is credited with creating the Legacy Style game. The first game published with this mechanic was Risk Legacy in 2011. He also designed Machi Koro Legacy, and codesigned the Pandemic Legacy series with Matt Leacock.

Examples

  • Pandemic Legacy (Seasons 1,2, 0)
  • Zombie Kidz
  • Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

So, what do you think? Do you like the idea of a game that can only be played through once, or would you rather have the option to replay it multiple times? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll keep this discussion going.

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!

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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 find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!


The video game definition this week is a term that is applicable to many well-known MMO games: Instance

Instances are a separate part of a multiplayer game for a player or small party. It is meant to create a private/small group experience. Instances often include quests or storylines, although the most common are dungeon instances. These are done with a small party (3-5 players) or a raid (as many as 40 players or more).

Thousands of instances can be ongoing simultaneously within a game, but they are unique to the party. Lord of the Rings Online instances, for example, have instances that become available at level 20, and these are primarily dungeons.

Examples of an instance is going to range widely depending on the content. Storyline progression can be instance related. Dungeon instances will likely pertain to the success or failure of the mission and the loot hoped for or received at the end. Instances are a separate part of a multiplayer game for a player or small party, and often include quests or storylines. Although the most common are dungeon instances. These are done with a small party (3-5 players) or a raid (as many as 40 players or more).

History

Term originated in World Of Warcraft, but other games not incorporate them as well. Initially the first instance of Instance combat in dungeons. It has evolved into multiple formats where you can repeat or have a single instance. In some games the first time you come to a certain encounter there is an instance which are meant to be experienced privately to convey the story.

Examples

  • World of Warcraft
  • Lord of the Rings Online

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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 find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!

The gaming definition this week is a series of terms that is applicable to video games: Raid

Pokémon Go

A Raid is a high-level challenge requiring cooperative play amongst several players, usually 10 or more. Often end-game content involves a combination of mechanics, puzzles, and/or a super boss or multiple bosses. Rewards for raids are typically higher than smaller instances such as dungeons. Some raids may also include PVP (player vs player) content.

Raids such as in Final Fantasy or World of Warcraft can be played with a premade group of players or a PUG (pick-up group). Each game has a method for group search.  Raids in MMORPG (many multiplayer online role-playing games) may require multiple tanks (character who draws the damage and can take the damage to protect other characters), healers and dps (damage dealers) in order to complete the challenge.

A quest line may be attached to raids as well, which may involve a specific action to be completed inside the raid not necessary to defeat the raid itself. World of Warcraft for example has an item drop when you defeat one of several bosses.

Examples of Games with Raids

  • World of Warcraft
  • Final Fantasy
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online (requiring 12 players)
  • Pokémon GO.

Raids are the pinnacle of cooperative play. They offer a high-level challenge that to be tackled by 10 or more players. They often include end-game content with a combination of mechanics, puzzles, and/or super bosses or multiple bosses. The rewards for completing a raid are typically higher than smaller instances such as dungeons, making them an attractive option for many players.

Let us know in the comments what your experience was like!


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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 find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many well-known games: Dungeon

Quest Kids has you flip cards to reveal the spaces in the dungeon

A Dungeon is a set location compromising of combat and/or puzzle elements, often with higher rewards or loot than normal gameplay. Dungeons can be a spot for characters to repeatedly have monsters spawn (enter the game), so they can gain XP (Experience Points), or it can be a single continuous narrative and combat experience. Often combat and narrative escalate in complexity and difficulty as you progress through. In some cases they culminate with a boss fight.

Dungeon Academy create the
dungeons with dice

Dungeons can be found across many types of games from card games, board games, table top role play games, LARPs, and video games of all types. Dungeons are also a common part of most MMORPG (many multiplayer online role-playing games). In Minecraft Dungeons they take the dungeon crawler gameplay and adds a boxy twist with their graphics style.

In board and card games there are many formats a dungeon can take. Often you are revealing sections of the Dungeon as you progress. There you may find loot, a monster or loot after encountering the monster.

Dungeons have been a staple in games for years, and with good reason. They offer an immersive experience that often follows a consistent format.

Examples of Board Games/Table top Role Play

  • Munchkin
  • Dungeon Drop
  • Dungeon Academy
  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Quest Kids

Examples of Video Games

  • Minecraft Dungeon
  • World Of Warcraft
  • Diablo
  • Terraria
  • Legend of Zelda

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

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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: PvE/PvP

PvE/PvP: Shorthand for Player Versus Environment and Player Versus Player. The phrases describe the type of interaction players will experience in the game and where they receive feedback and interaction from. Many games have both PvE and PvP components to their experience, each gaining benefits to the other.

PvE

Player Versus Environment (PvE) interactions are situations in which one or more players collaborate to interact/overcome a computer-controlled threat or problem.

Wii U Splatoon screenshot
Tower Control – one of the game modes in the ranked battles!

PvP

Player versus Player (PvP) puts players in competition with each other, often providing a direct threat or problem to each other. PvP often provides a short play experience for players, but since they involve other people they cannot be paused or stopped early without disrupting the experience for other players.

Entire PvE narratives have been designed as tutorials to bring players into the PvP experiences (eg. th story mode for many first-person shooters ).

Examples:

  • Splatoon is PvP: Players are shooting other players with paint and trying to send them back to start point for your team.
  • Super Mario Odyssey is PvE: Your challenges in the game come from the environment not other players.
  • World of Warcraft contains both PvE and PvP: most of the content in the game is PvE, but players can opt into a PvP experience or enter specific PvP battlegrounds.

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

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