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

The Origins of “Gacha”

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

Gacha in Video Games

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

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

Monitor Spending

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

Here are a few tips:

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

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

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

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

Discuss Randomness and Risk

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

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

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

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

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

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Bethesda had huge news during their E3 2018 press briefing. They may have just announced competition to Fortnite’s stranglehold on our collective consciousness.   They have just announced the release of their first foray into fully mobile Elder Scrolls game. The Elder Scrolls: Blades, coming this fall, will be free-to-play on iPhone, iPad Android devices, consoles, PCs, and high-end VR.  It appears to have all the trappings of what we have come to expect from Bethesda and The Elder Scroll franchise, character customization, swords, spells, beautifully rendered visuals, interactive environments, dungeons, and combat, combat and more combat.

Blades will have three distinct gameplay options:

  • Abyss: A never-ending, progressively more difficult dungeon crawl
  • Arena: Real-time one on one combat
  • The Town:  You are responsible for rebuilding your town after it is destroyed.  Bethesda has indicated that this will be a fully customizable environment that allows you to create to your own preferences and then share what you have created with your friends.  i.e. you get to visit them and they can visit you.

So what does this mean to us parents?  First of all the as with most Bethesda games, I expect that ultimately it will end up with a rating of T or higher so we will have to keep that in mind when our kids ask if they can download it.  Second, this is a mobile game and just like we have said here about Fortnite there are challenges involved in controlling screen time. Third, this will be a cross-platform game that you can play on your iPhone against someone playing on their PC or someone on VR. And finally, Bethesda has made this game one that could be played in either landscape or portrait mode on your phone so it can be played with one or two hands.  For parents, it means that while you could more easily play this during work meetings (their words not ours). It also means that you will have to be a bit more diligent if your kids have a tendency to want to sneak in games when they are not supposed to.

Ultimately though, as a fan of The Elders Scrolls franchise, I am excited to play this and am looking forward to putting this through all the paces.

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The Pokemon Company has announced Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu!, Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee!, and Pokemon Quest during a press conference in Japan.

Tuesday night started quiet enough. I was driving home from my sister’s house when I got a frantic phone call from a friend. They told me to pull over and watch a trailer for a new video game. They were being coy (and kind of annoying if I’m being honest), but it is E3 season so I pulled over at a local gas station and pulled up the trailer on my phone. It took a matter of seconds for my emotional state to go from mildly annoyed and sleepy to full hype mode.

They announced a new Pokemon game. The funniest part about the whole thing is that they had already told everyone that a Pokemon game would be coming in 2018. So, I knew, but it just didn’t feel right until I *knew*.

Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee!

These are two versions of a game that has been heavily inspired by Pokemon Yellow. Players control a young Pokemon Trainer who partners with either Pikachu or Eevee to go on an adventure in the Kanto Region.

The key features in the new game are as follows:

Pikachu and Eevee

“Explore the iconic Kanto region like never before. You can embark on your adventure together with Pikachu as your partner in Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! or choose Eevee as your partner when you play Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!”

Play in a whole new way

“Experience intuitive controls by using your Joy-Con to throw Poké Balls at wild Pokémon you encounter. Need some help? Your friend can grab a second Joy-Con to join in on the fun and even boost the chances of catching Pokémon for the first-ever collaborative gameplay in a Pokémon RPG.”

Play even when on the GO

“Connect your game for Nintendo Switch with the mobile game sensation Pokémon GO. Players can capture a Pokémon originally discovered in the Kanto region in Pokémon GO and transfer it into their Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu! or Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee! adventure.”

Have a ball

“Take your Pokémon journey to a whole new level with the Poké Ball Plus. More than just a controller, the Poké Ball Plus features motion controls, lights up with a variety of colors, vibrates, and plays sounds. When catching a Pokémon in the game, you will be able to feel it moving within the Poké Ball Plus. The Poké Ball Plus also works as a Pokémon GO Plus for those playing Pokémon GO. Using the Poké Ball Plus, you can bring one of your Pokémon from Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu! or Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee! with you as you explore the real world, even when you’re not playing the game. Additionally, you can receive a variety of rewards once Pokémon are returned to the Nintendo Switch games.”

Release Date

The games will be released on November 16th, 2018 (just in time for the holidays)!

Pokemon Quest

Pokemon Quest is a free-to-start action RPG that where you get to play with adorable, cube-shaped Pokemon! You explore Tumblecube island with your new friends to find hidden treasure!

Pokemon Quest is available on Nintendo Switch right now, but will be coming to mobile devices this summer.

The key features are listed below:

Familiar Friends

The Pokémon you know and love from Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue inhabit Tumblecube Island, become your buddies, and appear on your adventures.

Power up

Use Power Stones you find on expeditions to help your Pokémon improve their moves and change their characteristics. Power up your favorite Pokémon in your own unique way!

Battle by tapping

The simple controls make for lively and fun battles! Danger is lurking, so you’ll need the help of your Pokémon team on your expeditions. When wild Pokémon appear, your Pokémon will battle ferociously to try and knock them out one after another!

Befriend Pokémon to make your own unique team

You can use the items you get from your expeditions to befriend more Pokémon or make your Pokémon stronger. Cook up dishes that Pokémon love, and you’ll befriend more of them. Create a team that’s all your own and head out on more expeditions!

Basecamp decorations

Your base camp is your home for this adventure, and you can spruce it up however you like with decorations that look good and also provide in-game benefits.

What do you think? Are you picking up any of these games? Sound off in the comments!

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

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Nintendo surprised just about everyone tonight by taking to Twitter and making three significant announcements. It’s not unusual for Nintendo to take different routes than other companies to make announcements.  But, this is the first time I’ve seen three tweets in almost rapid fire succession making announcements that would have been worthy of a press release.

Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo finally confirmed the name of their upcoming online service aptly named Nintendo Switch Online. They also announced that the service will be releasing in September 2018. This is different from what they originally projected, but they have been giving the service away at no cost up until this point so no one can really complain.

According to an article on The Verge the Nintendo Switch Online service will cost either $3.99 per month or $19.99 per year. This is significantly lower in cost when you compare it to other online services like PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold. The service will obviously include online play, but it will also include access to a suite of older Nintendo games. These older games will be updated to include things like online multiplayer and leader boards. Nintendo has confirmed that they will be providing more updates on that feature later on in the year likely as we get closer to the release of the service.

Mario Kart Tour

Nintendo also sent out a tweet confirming that a game called Mario Kart Tour will be releasing in the fiscal year ending in March 2019 for mobile devices.

So far Nintendo’s mobile games have been a mixed bag some of them have been great while others have been less so. Super Mario Kart is one  Nintendo’s strongest franchises. This has especially been true in recent years so I’m excited to see what they bring to the mobile scene.

We don’t know any details but the fact that it will be here within the fiscal year that ends on March 2019 means that will have it in about a year. That in and of itself is pretty exciting.

Super Mario Brothers Movie

Lastly, Nintendo sent a tweet indicating that they are teaming with Illumination and partnering on a movie starring Mario. The movie will be co-produced by Shigeru Miyamoto and Chris Meledandri.

We don’t know any other details but we can assume that since Illumination is involved this will be an animated feature. Illumination is best known for the despicable me series and most recently the minions.

I think it is reasonable to have concerns considering the questionable quality of the recent Minions movies. But, The Secret Life of Pets and the original Despicable Me were great movies. Here’s hoping that the Super Mario movie is more like the latter and less like the former.


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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Pokémon Go is taking the world by storm. It was developed in partnership between Niantic (The people behind the augmented reality game Ingress) and Gamefreak (The people who make Pokémon video games). When it was announced a year ago it had a lot of potential. Pokémon is a well loved brand that is popular now AND old enough to have nostalgic players hungry to recapture the glory days of their youth.

The game itself can be difficult to describe. It is an augmented reality game. This means that is a game that layers game mechanics onto real world locations. In the case of Pokémon Go, this means using Google Maps data and dropping Pokémon all over the map for us to find. The difference is that we can’t just go there in a game, we have to walk their or drive there ourselves.

A lot of parents have been caught off guard by the game’s release. As a result we are publishing this guide to help parents understand what the game is and the basics of playing it. We will follow up with additional content including an FAQ and a deeper strategy discussion to help people play the game at any level they choose. Take a look below and be sure to share this with any of your bewildered friends.


What is Pokémon Go?Catch Pokemon in Pokemon go

It’s a hot new app developed by Niantic labs (makers of Ingress) that is being played by kids and adults alike all over the world. It’s making headlines everywhere, and here at EFG, we’ve got all of the details.

At it’s core, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality app playable ONLY on your phone. It uses the camera on your phone along with your phone’s GPS features.  As you walk various places, the GPS places your avatar on a map and you can discover Pokémon in the world around you.  You get to be a Pokémon trainer and catch Pokémon. The app also interacts with the map by bringing you to landmarks such as parks, historical sites, municipal buildings, churches, etc. that are Poké Stops where you can get free goodies to aid you in your endeavors to catch ‘em all!  There are even gyms where you can test your Pokémon trainer skills and have a Pokémon battle.

But, all of these cool features are based on the idea that you KEEP MOVING.  If you don’t walk, you quickly become unable to advance in the game. It’s designed to get people outdoors and moving.

How do I get started?

After downloading the app and FULLY CHARGING (more on that later) your device, you can go ahead and load up the game. You need a Google account or you need to sign up for a Pokémon Trainer Club account to log in.  Once you log in, you start by immediately choosing a Trainer avatar to represent you on the map. You can customize gender, skin tone, hair and eye color and basic clothing.  After you choose your avatar, you are introduced to Professor Willow. He will explain some very basic info about the game and ask you to choose your first Pokémon. The Pokémon that you can choose from are Squirtle(water type), Bulbasaur(grass type), and Charmander(fire type).  Anyone familiar with the earliest incarnation of Pokémon will immediately recognize these little guys.  That’s all there is to starting the game.

How do I play?


pokemon go map

When you start, your screen will look like a grid of unmarked roads.  If you look closely, you will recognize the map as the area that you are physically standing at. You may see rustling grass (marking Pokémon in the area), and local landmarks disguised as Poké Stops and Pokémon Gyms. As you move in the real world, your avatar does too. Pokémon will pop up on the map with a small vibration as you walk along. If you tap on the Pokémon that appears, you can attempt to capture it.

You will also see your avatar icon on the bottom left of the screen. You can tap on this to view your character’s level and achievements. In the center of your screen you will see a Pokéball. Tapping on this Pokéball will bring up other items such as your backpack, your Pokédex, your personal Pokémon inventory,  and the settings and tips for playing the game. On the bottom right of your screen you will see a grey or white rectangle with nearby Pokémon in it. You can tap it to expand it and see what else is nearby.

Once you’ve found a Pokémon, it’s time to throw a Poké Ball to try and capture it. You “throw” in game by touching and holding your Poké Ball. When you do this a glowing ring that shrinks and expands will appear around the Pokémon. When the ring gets to its smallest, you want to swipe your Poké Ball directly toward the creature and release your finger.  You want to aim towards hitting the Pokémon on the head. If you have successfully captured the Pokémon the ball will shake a few times and it will say “Gotcha”. If you are unsuccessful, the Pokémon will jump out of the ball after one or two shakes.

A note on the rings around the Pokémon: if the ring is green, it means the Pokémon is friendly and easier to catch. As you get farther into the game, it gets harder to catch Pokémon.  If the ring is yellow or red, you know this match will be a challenge. Don’t worry though, the game provides ways to make it so you can still catch plenty of those cute creatures.

More than one player can catch the same Pokémon; if you and another person see the same Pokémon on your screen, you can both capture it. There is no need to race each other to be the first to catch it.

Game Features

Poké Stops

Poke Stop in Pokemon Go

Poké Stops are the tall poles with blue cubes on top of them spread out across your map.  These typically coincide with physical landmarks in the real world. You can tap on it to find out exactly what the location is even if you are not in range. When a Poké Stop is within range, the blue cube will transform into a spinning circle. Inside the circle, you’ll see the Poké Stop symbol, the location’s photo, and maybe some historical info. Swipe the disc with the picture on it to spin it, and bubbles with pop up with items like Poké Balls, Poké Eggs, potions, lures, incense and more.

Please note: you can’t activate the Poké Stop to collect items, experience, and Poké Eggs unless you move within a close proximity to the actual landmark. As you increase in levels, you unlock new items to collect. After you visit a Poké Stop, the blue icon will turn purple and you will be unable to access it for at least five minutes.



When you reach level five and visit a Gym (Don’t worry we’ll explain that in a bit), you’ll be asked to join one of three color-coded teams:

  • Yellow – Team Instinct – Mascot: Zapdos
  • Blue – Team Mystic – Mascot: Articuno
  • Red – Team Valor – Mascot: Moltres

The teams do not affect the types of Pokémon you encounter, they only affect gym battles. Choosing a team of a specific color is the only way to interact with your friends (so far). You use your color to help take over and level up gyms.  If you possess a gym, you get rewards like Poké Coins and Stardust, which can help you level up and evolve your Pokémon.

Pokémon Gyms

Pokemon Go Gyms

Much like Poké Stops, Gyms are physical landmarks.  You interact with a gym by tapping it and activating it just like a PokéStop. This is where Pokémon battles happen. Players can claim them for their team, or help level up a Gym already claimed for your color to build up its prestige. Trainers can take over an unoccupied Gym and claim it for team Yellow-Instinct, Blue-Mystic, or Red-Valor.  If you encounter a Gym and your team’s color is already in control of it,  you can train your Pokémon in the Gym one at a time.  If the Gym is controlled by another color’s team, you’ll need to battle the Pokémon standing guard to lower its prestige and take over control of the Gym.

Gyms earn prestige when you train your Pokémon in one that your team controls, and lose prestige when opposing teams win battles against the Pokémon left there. As a Gym’s level increases, so does the number of Gym Leaders allowed.

Gym battles are mini-games where the goal is to attack the opposing Pokémon, and dodge their attacks. While battling, you have three options: You can tap the screen to attack, press and hold the screen to initiate a special attack, or swipe left or right to dodge an opponent’s attack. Your goal is to lower the opponent’s Pokémon to zero hit points.

To steal control of a Gym that is already occupied by an opposing color you have to defeat ALL of the Gym Leaders’ Pokémon in it. Beating leaders lowers the Gym’s prestige and it can take multiple attempts to actually take over the whole Gym.

Why do we care?  If you occupy a Gym, you help your team AND earn Poké Coins, too! Every 20-24 hours, you earn 10 Gold Poké Coins and 500 Stardust as reward for staying in the Gym.  You can use these Poké Coins to purchase items in the Shop and the Stardust to level up your Pokémon to make them more powerful.

The Shop

The Shop is where you can purchase items that are necessary to advancing in the game.  You can purchase these items with Poké Coins or with real world money via microtransactions and in app purchases. Items that can be found in The Shop include Poké Balls to capture Pokémon, Incense to lure them, and potions and revives to heal them after Gym battles.  Please note: You don’t ever HAVE to spend real money. You can stock up on most items just by visiting Poké Stops.


  • Incense- lures Pokémon to your location for 30 minutes
  • Potion- Spray type medicine for treating wounds. It restores the HP (health) of 1 Pokémon by 20 points
  • Revive- a medicine that can revive fainted Pokémon. It also restores half of a fainted Pokémon’s maximum HP
  • Lucky Eggs- grant you double experience for 30 minutes
  • Lure Module- draw Pokémon to a PokéStop for 30 minutes. Other nearby players also benefit from the effect. (This is a great way for friends to help each other!)
  • Razz Berries- feed it to a Pokémon, it makes it easier to catch on you next throw (use when Pokémon is circled red or orange)
  • Poké Eggs- which can hatch into new Pokémon with the use of an Egg Incubator (you hatch eggs in the incubator by walking a certain distance listed with each egg)

Advancing in the Game

Upgrading your Pokémon


If you want to battle at Gyms you need to have strong Pokémon. The strength of the Pokémon is displayed as CP (combat power). A Pokemon’s Combat Power determines how useful it will be in Gym Battles.

You can increase your Pokémon’s CP by either using the “Power Up” option or the “Evolve” option. Pokémon evolution is a major theme in both the cartoon series and the games. It is no different here in Pokémon Go. Evolving a Pokémon gives it a boost to its CP, health, and changes it’s abilities. It also turns the Pokémon into a new form, giving you access to more entries in your Pokédex. This gives you experience points and helps fill out the Pokédex to make you one step closer to catching them all!

Pokémon can only be Powered Up or Evolved using two specific items.  These items are called Stardust and Candy.  You earn both of them by capturing Pokemon and by leveling up or completing challenges. Stardust is universal. You can use it for any of your Pokémon. Candy is specific to different species and their evolutions. For example, capturing Caterpies will earn you Caterpie candy that you can use to evolve Caterpies into their various forms (Metapod and Butterfree)

To Upgrade your Pokémon you need to complete the following steps:

From the main screen of the game, tap the Pokéball in the center.

  • Tap on the Pokémon button.
  • Select the Pokémon you wish to level up or evolve.
  • Scroll down to the Power Up or Evolve buttons and select the one you’d like to use. (The cost for each is listed to the right of the button, with your total supply of Stardust and Candy listed above the buttons.)
  • The game will automatically either power up or evolve your creature.

Advancing your Trainer Level

Your Trainer Level advances in multiple ways. The easiest way to advance your trainer level is to catch Pokémon. Every time you catch one you gain XP. You also gain XP by interacting with Poké Stops and Gyms as we discussed above. One of the best ways to advance your Trainer Level is to Evolve your Pokémon. As your Trainer Level advances you can take on more difficult Gym Battles, you may encounter stronger and more rare Pokémon, and you get access to better items from Poké Stops.


This is our guide to Pokémon Go so far! Sound off in the comments if you have additional thoughts or if you think we missed anything! We’ll be updating this post regularly and adding even more content to Engaged Family Gaming in the coming weeks!



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Nintendo held a Q & A for Pokemon Go at the start of their second Treehouse Live @ E3 event. The panel was loaded with people from Nintendo, Gamefreak, Niantic, and even a few of the more active beta testers. The panel lasted for about an hour, where they went over some of the interesting things that they have learned during the beta process.

The first thing they did was clarify and reiterate exactly how the game works. Pokemon Go is a so-called “real world game.” This means that the game uses GPS data gathered from your phone to locate Pokemon that have been spread throughout the world. When you encounter a Pokemon you will be able to use your phone’s touch screen to throw a Pokeball at it. The likelihood that you can capture the Pokemon is based one whether you can actually hit the model of the character in field of play and if you can hit them when a targeting reticle is at the perfect spot in its cycle.

Pokemon in your collection gain experience and ultimately evolve by eating special Pokemon candy. They specifically mentioned that the candy is earned by capturing Pokemon during your travels, but I am pretty certain that you will also be able to spend real world money on it too. This is a free to play mobile game after all.

One item that got a lot of discussion was the Pokemon Go Plus device. It is a red and white device that can be worn as either a pin or a watch. It connects via blue tooth with your Android or iOS device and lets you play the game without taking your phone out of your pocket. The device has an led light in the center that will flash different colors to tell you what is happening. You can actually use the buttons on the Pokemon Go Plus to capture Pokemon without even taking your phone out.

They also let the release window for both the app and the Pokemon Go Plus slip. They will release in July of this year and the device will retail for $34.99.

Keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for more information as we get closer to release.



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Those of us who were waiting patiently for the long-awaited follow up to Plants Vs Zombies will have to wait just a little bit longer. PopCap Games confirmed via the franchise’s official Twitter account that the game is being delayed until later on this summer. The title was originally slated for release on iOS on July 16th.

This is definitely a disappointment as it was one of my family’s most anticipated games, but a few more weeks are a small price to pay if this means the game will end up being more polished by the time they release it.

We don’t know a whole heck of a lot else about the game so far. But we have been able to find a few interesting bits of information.  

First, and most important, is that the game will follow a free-to-play formula. They have indicated that you will be able to play every level and earn every plant without spending a dime. Now, before any of you cheer too wildly, you have to remember that free-to-play games often have features hidden behind a paywall. In this case, I’ll bet that unlocking different plants will require spending coins that you find on the field with the option to just spend cash to unlock them faster. This is actually a great system. Those people who don’t want to pay anything will be able to play through the game that way. Everyone else will be able to pick and choose their purchases.

Second, we’ve been able to confirm that the game will involve time travel this time around. We don’t really know what that means yet since they have been very cagey with the details. But, we can assume that this will result in a wider variety of zombie opponents to deal with like knights, cowboys, etc.

This game looks like it could be one of the highlights of the summer. How excited are you for this one? Sound off in the comments section!


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