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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 we are going to define pixels! Pixels aren’t talked about very often, but they are relevant when we talk about resolutions on modern consoles and the art on older games.

But… What are pixels exactly? Why were they called pixels in the first place?

Pixels

The term Pixel has a number of different definitions depending on the context. In general though, pixels are the basic building blocks of digital images.

The word “pixel” was first published by Frederic C. Billingsley of JPL in 1965. He used the term to help describe the different picture elements of video images from space probes to the Moon and Mars. You see, these pictures and images from back then weren’t exactly the hi-res images we get from Mars. They weren’t even as good as the images we received from the Rosetta probe as it crashed into a comet. He used the term Pixel (“pix” being short for “pics” and “el” being short for “element”) to help refer to the component parts of the images they received.

The volume of pixels in an image help to determine how clear the image is. More pixels also gives a greater likelihood that the captured image will be accurate compared to the subject.

More pixels means better-looking images and more clear animations. Just compare an image of Super Mario running in the original Super Mario Bros. Game and compare it to the same animation in New Super Mario Bros. Wii U. The Wii U is a much more powerful machine so it can display more pixels on the screen. As a result, Mario’s run animation is clearer.

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 we are going to define the game design term “gameplay loop.” This is, admittedly, a heavier word than we have defined before, but understanding what a gameplay loop is will help understand the games that our kids (and we) play a great deal!


A Gameplay Loop is a game design term that is used to describe the repetitive activities that a player will take while playing a game. It, essentially, defines what the player DOES while playing. Every level you complete in Super Mario Run, Pokemon you catch in Pokemon Go, and level you gain in Final Fantasy XV is an example of one (or more) gameplay loops.

Example

One gameplay loop example from a shooting game might work like this: (Shout out to Morten Grauballe for the killer example.)

  • a target appears
  • you aim at the target
  • you pull the trigger
  • the projectile moves towards the target
  • you hit the target
  • the target loses life

This is a “core” gameplay loop because, with a shooter, this is the activity that a player will be doing most often. It is worth noting, though, that games will often have more than one loop going at the same time. This is especially true in more complex games like RPGs.

Take a look a this example of a gameplay loop you might take from the game World of Warcraft. This is very complex game so each of these steps might include several other smaller loops that players would complete in the process.

  • You enter a new zone
  • You gather all of the quests from all of the different NPCs in the first quest hub
  • You move around the zone completing quest objectives
  • You return to the quest hub
  • You turn in all of the quests you have completed and collect your rewards
  • You move to the next quest hub
  • … and so on.

Thinking critically about the games our kids play and the way that our kids play them provides great insight. It is also a great way to connect with them. You’ll understand the games they enjoy better. You might even enjoy them a little better too!

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 are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between October 11th and October 17th.

Tuesday, October 13th

  • Forgone- Xbox One, Switch
  • G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Monster Truck Championship- PS4
  • NHL 21- PS4, Xbox One
  • Prinny: Can I Really Be a Hero?- Switch
  • Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!- Switch
  • Prinny 1-2: Exploded and Reloaded- Switch
  • Red Wings: Aces of the Skies- Xbox One
  • Robotics; Notes Dash- PS4, Switch
  • Robotics; Notes Elite- PS4, Switch
  • Robotics; Notes Double Pack- PS4, Switch
  • Torchlight III- PS4, Xbox One

Wednesday, October 14th

  • Cook, Serve, Delicious 3?!- Xbox One, Switch
  • Shadow Gangs- Xbox One
  • Vigil: The Longest Night- Switch

Thursday, October 15th

  • Along the Edge- Switch
  • Alpaca Ball: Allstars- Switch
  • Batbarian: Testament of the Primordials- Switch
  • Burst Shooter- Switch
  • Cake Bash- PS4, Xbox One
  • Castle of No Escape- Switch
  • Doodle God: Evolution- PS4
  • Dustoff Z- Switch
  • Hardcore Mecha- Switch
  • Raji: An Ancient Epic- PS4, Xbox One
  • Ring of Pain- Switch
  • Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Director’s Cut- Xbox One, Switch
  • Shoot 1UP DX- Switch
  • Space Crew- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 7- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • This is the Zodiac Speaking- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Tricky Spider- Switch

Friday, October 16th

  • 9 Monkeys of Shaolin- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Crown Trick- Switch
  • Mario Kart Live Home Circuit- Switch
  • Truck Driver- Switch
  • Two Parsecs From Earth- Switch
  • Zoids Wild Blast Unleashed- Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

My pick of the week goes to Nintendo’s newest “entry” in the Mario Kart franchise. There has always been remote controlled Mario Kart cars, but never ones that interacted with an app on a video game console. This is such a neat idea! My only concern is that people are not going to have enough space to set up the racetracks. It looks like you have to use all four of the arches, which I know will not fit in the living room of my house. Also, all videos show it working on hardwood floors. I’m curious to see how it will respond on carpet. Nevertheless, I’m super excited for the people who can get it to work in their houses!

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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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!


Video games, especially online games, provide players with great opportunities for self-expression.

  • Players can create avatars that look like them (or not).
  • Players can obtain skins to give those avatars exactly the style they want.
  • They can also obtain Emotes.

Emoting, at least in the context of acting, is all about expressing emotions and Emotes in games serve that very purpose. They can help express the joy of victory, the agony of defeat, the bond of friendship and much, much more.



Some emotes, like the infamous dances in Fortnite are more complex, (Look, I’m not a psychologist) but they are certainly an espression of SOMETHING, even if it is just a party.

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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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between October 4th and October 10th.

Monday, October 5th

  • Danger Gazers- Switch
  • RIDE 4- PS4, Xbox One
  • Space Grunts- Switch

Tuesday, October 6th

  • 9th Dawn III: Shadow of Erthil- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders- Switch
  • Charterstone: Digital Edition- Switch
  • FIFA 21- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Foregone- PS4, Switch
  • From Orbit- Switch
  • Hidden Objects Collection- Switch
  • Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Wednesday, October 7th

  • Shmubedi Boo- Switch

Thursday, October 8th

  • Adventures of Chris- Switch
  • Aery: Sky Castle- Xbox One, Switch
  • Falcon Age- Switch
  • Filament- Switch
  • Flipon- Switch
  • Game Dev Tycoon- Switch
  • Ghost of a Tale- Switch
  • Home: Postmortem Edition- Switch
  • I am Dead- Switch
  • Ikenfell- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Mortal Blitz: Combat Arena- PS4
  • Neighbours Back From Hell- Switch
  • Puddle Knights- Switch
  • Skatemasta Tcheco- Switch
  • The Ramen Sensei- Switch
  • Tiki Brawl- Switch
  • Torn Tales: Rebound Edition- Switch
  • WarriOrb- Switch

Friday, October 9th

  • Ben 10: Power Trip- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Street Racer Underground- Switch
  • The Survivalists- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

There is a lot coming out this week, but again nothing too big. I’m giving my vote this week to Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2 and hoping that they can right the wrong from the previous entry in the series. The first game in the series only had about 12-15 characters to choose from. This time there are 30 characters to race as and 70 that you can choose as your pit crew. This allows you to pick from 100 different Nickelodeon characters. With 28 different tracks, there are a lot of choices in this game! That is why my pick for this week will be Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix!

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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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!


An avatar is a graphical representation of a user or the user’s persona. Avatars can be two-dimentional (like a profile picture) or a three-dimensional forms in games like Fortnite or World of Warcraft.

The term has Hindu origins where it refers to the “descent” of a deity into an earthly form. But, it was adapted to video game and computer culture by Richard Garriot (the man behind the Ultima franchise) in 1985. He used the term in an Ultima game to encourage players to imagine their character within the game to be an extension of themselves within the game world. He felt that this would force players to express their own ethics and morals through the challenges he put into the game.

The emergence (and dominance) of online games has likewise increased the importance of avatars in daily life. Our kids spend hours and hours collecting bells in Animal Crossing so they can buy the perfect outfit from the Able sisters. They’ve asked us (frequently) for money so they can buy Vbucks in Fortnite so they can grab the latest skins.

These avatars give players a wonderful opportunity for self-expression. It lets them see themselves within the game as they are OR as they want to be.

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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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between September 27th and October 3rd.

Monday, September 28th

  • Undead Darlings: No Cure for Love- PS4, Switch

Tuesday, September 29th

  • Alwa’s Legacy- Switch
  • Bacon Man: An Adventure- Switch
  • Projection: First Light- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Table Top Racing: Nitro Edition- Switch

Wednesday, September 30th

  • 3000th Duel: The Wise Ones- Switch
  • Commander ’85- Xbox One
  • Detective Case and Clown Bot in Murder in the Hotel Lisbon- Switch
  • Feather- Xbox One

Thursday, October 1st

  • Candy Raid: The Factory- Switch
  • Farm Builder- Switch
  • Hot Shot Burn- Switch
  • Liege Dragon- Switch
  • Nubarron: The Adventure of an Unlucky Gnome- Switch
  • Powertris- Switch
  • Smoots World Cup Tennis- Switch
  • Super Mario Bros. 35- Switch
  • Ys Origin- Switch

Friday, October 2nd

  • 103- Switch
  • Birthday of Midnight- Switch
  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time- PS4, Xbox One
  • Dragon Lapis- Xbox One
  • Star Wars: Squadrons- PS4, Xbox One
  • Warsaw- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

For my pick this week, I have to go with Super Mario Bros. 35. This is a new battle royal type game where you play original Super Mario Brothers levels against 35 other opponents. Any enemy you defeat will be sent to the other players. The last one to survive wins! I am not a huge fan of battle royal type games. I’ve played Fortnight and Tetris 99, but neither of them could hold my attention for too long. But I do enjoy platforming games. I have been enjoying another battle royal game, Fall Guys. I love the Super Mario series and I cannot wait to put my skills to the test with other players!

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 talked about video games! Its time to talk about Xbox Series X and PS5.

This podcast is sponsored by:

The Virtual Economy Podcast 

The EFG Facebook Community

Around the Horn

Amanda

Star Renegades

Avengers

Stephen

WWE 2k Battlegrounds

Topic

Next Gen Shenanigans

Music from https://filmmusic.io

“Android Sock Hop” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Our podcasts are also available on Spotify!!

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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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 we chose the term “Skins.” Free to play games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Rocket League are dominant right now and this dominance shows no signs of slowing down. All of these free games make up for their incredibly low price by selling what are often referred to as “Skins.”

A “skin” is a kind of item that players can acquire in games. They change the appearance of the players avatar (the character on the screen that represents the player). Skins can be as simple as a change in color scheme (often referred to as a Palette Swap), or as complex as a new avatar with different lighting effects and animations. Most companies are very careful to make sure these skins don’t effect the actual gameplay though. The characters will still play the same. They will just look different doing so.


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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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between September 20th and September 26th.

Tuesday, September 22

  • 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim- PS4
  • Tennis World Tour- PS4, Xbox One

Wednesday, September 23

  • CastleStorm II- Xbox One, Switch
  • Orbt XL- Switch
  • Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure- Xbox One, Switch
  • Unrailed!- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Thursday, September 24

  • Alluris- Switch
  • Big Bobby-Car: The Big Race- Switch
  • Breakpoint-Switch
  • Going Under- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Gothic Murder: Adventure That Changes Destiny- Switch
  • Little Big Workshop- Xbox One
  • Lost Ember- Switch
  • Micro Pico Racers- Switch
  • Rivals of Aether: Definitive Edition- Switch
  • Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition- Switch
  • Wartile- Switch

Friday, September 25

  • Port Royale 4- PS4, Xbox One
  • Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

Guillermo Del Toro is best known for his not-so-family-friendly movies. He is the film maker of Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim. In 2016 it was a huge surprise when he announced that he was going to be making a children’s animated series. Thus, Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia became a smash hit. It has gone on to have 3 seasons, and 2 spinoff series. Now, in 2020 you can play as Jim Lake Jr. and save the troll universe!

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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Like us on Twitter!

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