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Stephen

I’m an elder millennial (1980) so I was around for some of the first online games. Our family computer wasn’t very powerful, so I was limited to text based games. The first online game I played for any length of time was Dragonrealms. Its a text-based MUD (that is still up and running) operated by a company called Simutronics. Since it was all text it was very focused on the roleplay and I loved every minute of it. 

Mike

Dragonrealms. A text based multiplayer RPG, I learned how to type *reaally* fast because of that game and it was my first exposure to reading and writing computer code through computer scripts. Never really got beyond entry level content, but it was my first roleplay experience outside my immediate friends and family.

John

Word Of Warcraft,  I apparently don’t know how to ease into anything as a rule.  This applies to running obstacle course races, taking up new hobbies or jumping into one of the largest MMORPGs ever.

Jonathan

DOOM because when it came out my friends and I mowed the lawn for this guy that had his house wired for gaming and we had voice chat and everything.


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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to both video games and roleplay games: Class

Class refers to a collection of attributes and abilities that define the overall play experience for a character. Class descriptors can either come from within the game itself using its own story and language to provide definition, or the descriptors can come from the community of players. A game that has classes will often include different, but connected styles of play that are encouraged by a choice of class. Class not only describes what a character is, but defines what that character does, and suggests a specific style of play and interaction with other characters.

Examples

  • Healer: In many games these are spell casters who focus on healing magic.
  • Fighter: These characters are proficient in a weapon or many weapons. They focus on taking damage and/or causing damage.
  • Mage: A spell caster, often their spells can be used offensively.
  • Rogue: These characters tend to be sneaky and do well hiding in the shadows.

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!

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Your Family Game On!

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Every other 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 video games: Compulsion Loop

Compulsion Loop describes a series of gameplay actions designed to be repeated multiple times. offering feedback in such a way as to encourage constant, continued play and discouraging or penalizing shorter play sessions.

The compulsion loop was first defined in game design by John Hopson, then a researcher at Bungie (now a business intelligence analyst at NCSoft), in a Gamasutra article about Behavioural Game Design. Compulsion loops are often confused with core loops, which is the loop that defines the gameplay experience. However, Adam Crowe defines a compulsion loop as “a habitual, designed chain of activities that will be repeated to gain neurochemical reward: a feeling of pleasure and/or a relief from pain.”

Compulsion loops are composed of three stages: take an action, gain a reward to trigger a biological response with either dopamine or serotonin, and build anticipation.

The key in compulsion loops is the biological response, which is how the game establishes the compulsion. Many mobile and free-to-play (F2P) games have compulsion loops built-in to ensure that players come back over and over again, otherwise known as user retention. It’s important to note that everyone is susceptible to this because of the biological response that the compulsion loops elicit.

For children and vulnerable players, compulsion loops can be particularly challenging to break out of, especially if the rewards might be locked behind paywalls or hefty in-game currency.


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

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

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

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

Your Family Game On!

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The PlayStation 5 is still incredibly difficult to find as a result of shortages. This shortage is likely to continue well past the holiday season. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be any available though. Start looking early if that is on your family’s wish list. 

The good news is that the PlayStation 4 should be readily available and still has life left in it for families who don’t have a console yet. Noteworthy titles you’ll want to find on deep discounts for the PS4 are Marvel’s Spider-Man, Horizon: Zero Dawn Complete Edition, and the Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Collection. 

Below is a list of games that are great gift ideas for PS5 owners. 

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

Buy here!

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is on my shortlist for the game of the year 2021. It is just that good. This is a new game in the franchise that has been built from the ground up to take advantage of the PS5 technology. The levels are designed in such a way that you use rifts to travel through completely different spaces within levels with no load times. It is wild to experience all the different ways that Insomniac takes advantage of the tech. 

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Buy here!

Kena punches way above its weight class. It is a budget title that has gorgeous graphics. It looks and plays like it was made by one of Sony’s high-profile studios. But, it is actually the first game from a company known for fan animations. This is another game in contention for game of the year and it will likely be on our PS5 essentials list for a very long time. 

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl

Lots of games have tried to clone Super Smash Brothers to find success. But, we haven’t seen anything like All-Star Brawl before. Game Mill Entertainment has combined the deep roster of Nickelodeon licenses like Spongebob, Avatar, and Ninja Turtles with retro gameplay that is reminiscent of Super Smash Bros. Melee. 

This is also as close to the original as one can get without owning a Nintendo Switch and actually buying Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. 

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 

Everyone of a certain age will have memories of playing Tony Hawk on their PS1 in their dorm room. (Ok. Might just be me.) This is a well-done remaster of the first two games of the series. It is gorgeously remade and includes some quality of life improvements that will help us share the game with our kids as we remember it (as opposed to how it actually was). 

PlayStation Plus/PS Now

Buy here!

Look. The reality of our situation this year is that it might be tough to find games in boxes to wrap up and put under the tree. Gift cards for PlayStation Plus and PS Now should be readily available though. These are “practical” gifts (or at least as practical as anything game-related could be). But, they will be appreciated nonetheless. 

Essential PS5 Games

If you are looking for more recommendations than what we list here, then check out our PS5 essentials list.

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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People buy a lot of games. That can make it incredibly challenging for those of us that want to buy cool games for the gamers in our lives. Fortunately, every console (including PC) has a subscription service. These make “practical” gifts that will always be appreciated.

These services  can all be purchased for various lengths of time to accommodate your budget. You don’t even need to worry about whether they are subscribed or not. You can purchase a subscription card for them and the time will be added to the end of their existing subscription!

Take a look at the options below to see what you might need!

PlayStation Plus

PlayStation Plus is a subscription service for PlayStation that is required in order to play online multiplayer games over the PlayStation Network. The service also includes periodic discounts on digital purchases through the PlayStation Network. It also includes a suite of free PS5 and PS4 games each month.

(We wrote a parent’s guide for PlayStation Plus. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

PlayStation Now

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

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Xbox Game Pass is a service that allows unlimited downloads of a wide range of Xbox games

We wrote a parent’s guide to Xbox Game Pass. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

Xbox Live Gold

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

(We wrote a parent’s guide to this service. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

EA Play

EA Play subscription service run by Electronic Arts that gives subscribers early access to EA games, discounts on digital purchases, and access to the “EA Vault.”

(We wrote a parent’s guide to this service. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pass

Nintendo Switch online is a service that allows online multiplayer for Nintendo Switch games as well as cloud saves. It also includes unlimited access to a suite of NES, SNES, N64, and Sega Genesis games. 


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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Nintendo has done it again. They have released multiple iterations of the Nintendo Switch console and had them on store shelves at the same time. This can be super confusing for parents who just want to buy a Nintendo for their kids. 

We’ve got just the solution! Below is a handy guide to the three different versions of the Nintendo Switch console and our thoughts on each one!

The Original Nintendo Switch

MRSP: $299.99
Weight: .66 lbs or .88 /w Joy Cons
Screen: 6.2 in LCD Screen @ 1280 x 720 pixels
Resolution: 1080 p resolution to TV // Up to 720 p in handheld mode

Battery Life: 4.5 – 9 Hours /w up to 3 hours max charge time

The original model of the Nintendo Switch is still available and is a great system. It is a handheld tablet that can be docked to allow gameplay on the television. Generally speaking the OLED edition (listed below) is the better option for new adoptees. But, this is worth grabbing if it is available!

Nintendo Switch Lite

MRSP: $199.99
Weight: .61 lbs (integrated joy cons)
Screen: 5.5 in LCD Screen @ 1280 x 720 pixels
Resolution: (Implied up to 720 p in handheld mode but not listed on the site)

Battery Life: 3 – 7 Hours /w up to 3 hours max charge time

The Switch Lite is a handheld version of the console that can’t be plugged into the TV. It is lighter, less expensive, and perfect for younger kids who are looking for a replacement for a 3DS. It plays all the same games with less of an investment. 

Nintendo Switch OLED Edition

MRSP: $349.99
Weight: .71 lbs or .93 /w Joy Cons
Screen: 7 in OLED Screen @ 1280 x 720 pixels
Resolution: 1080 p resolution to TV // Up to 720 p in handheld mode
Battery Life: 4.5 – 9 Hours /w up to 3 hours max charge time

The most recent edition to the Switch line is the OLED model that came out this fall. It functions similarly to the original model in that it can be used both handheld and docked to play on the TV. This newer model includes an OLED screen that is brighter and clearer so playing games in handheld mode looks better. 

This is definitely the model to look for if you haven’t owned a Switch before, but it isn’t worth buying as an upgrade if you already own one.

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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Nintendo specializes in family-friendly games and 2021 is no exception. They released a LOT of great games this year AND a new edition of the Nintendo Switch. Below is a list of some of the best!

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond + Shining Pearl

Pokemon Diamond and Pearl launched for the Nintendo DS back in 2006. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl bring the originals into the modern era including new features and quality of life improvements while maintaining the same story, Pokemon, and overworld map as the original. These games feature a familiar chibi art style while exploring and switch to battle animations akin to Pokemon Sword and Shield. These are must-haves for the Pokemon fans in your home. 

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury

The 2020 release of this exceptional WiiU title is a fantastic addition to your Switch library. This title includes the original Super Mario 3D World and adds in a whole new adventure with the Bowser’s Fury add-on. The addition of Bowser’s Fury, an open-world type Mario Game, is something that people of all ages can enjoy. If you have a little one, you can even have them play along with Mario as Bowser Jr.  If you know someone that loves Mario games, this would be a great addition to any library.

Mario Party Super Stars

Mario Party Super Stars is the 12th home console installment in the Mario Party that has entertained fans for more than two decades. This version contains 100 mini-games that pull from the previous versions of the game and also includes 5 boards from the N64 versions of Mario Party.  If you know someone who enjoys party games this is going to be the one on their list.

Bravely Default II

This turn-based JRPG is the third installment in the Bravely series from Square Enix.  Unlike the previous two installments, this is a completely new storyline with new characters and a new world.  It features several new classes, including a “cat-o-mancer”, and also has a feature that encourages you to take a break from the game in order for your minions to bring back rewards while you get up and move around.  This would be a great addition to someone’s JRPG library.

Miitopia

Miitopia is an RPG where you build a team using Miis (Remember those things we used to make on the Wii and 3DS?). The story is simple and the mechanics are accessible. This is a great introduction to the genre for younger gamers and an opportunity to tell some really funny stories. (Bonus points if you ad Shaq to your team!)

New Pokemon Snap

Released in April 2021 New Pokemon Snap is an on-rails photography game that is the sequel to the 1999 N64 game.  Travel the Lental region and take photos of your favorite Pokemon and add them to your Photodex.  Any Pokemon fans will enjoy this installment and it is a must-have in any collection. 

Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pass

Buy here!

Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pass is getting a little more expensive this year. So the Nintendo fan in your life will appreciate getting this service as a gift. Don’t fret though. This isn’t just a subscription to play games online. It will give them access to some of the best games Nintendo has ever made!

EFG Essentials

If you are looking for more recommendations than what we list here, then check out our Switch essentials list. 

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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It is well documented at this point that supply chain issues are going to make holiday shopping difficult this year. Phil Spencer, the big man in charge of Xbox, has said that they will have shortages throughout the end of the year as well. We definitely recommend looking early and often if the Xbox Series S or X are on your family’s Christmas list. 

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl

Lots of games have tried to clone Super Smash Brothers to find success. But, we haven’t seen anything like All-Star Brawl before. Game Mill Entertainment has combined the deep roster of Nickelodeon licenses like Spongebob, Avatar, and Ninja Turtles with retro gameplay that is reminiscent of Super Smash Bros. Melee. 

This is also as close to the original as one can get without owning a Nintendo Switch and actually buying Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. 

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2

Everyone of a certain age will have memories of playing Tony Hawk on their PS1 in their dorm room. (Ok. Might just be me.) This is a well done remaster of the first two games of the series. It is gorgeously remade and includes some quality of life improvements that will help us share the game with our kids as we remember it (as opposed to how it actually was). 

Game Pass

Buy here!

One of the biggest reasons to choose Xbox over other consoles is the immense value of Xbox Game Pass. Below is a list of just a few of the highlights that you may want to download ahead of the big day with your Game Pass Subscription. 

Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5 is the latest in the long running series and this time takes place in Mexico.  This is an arcade style racing game designed to be much more accessible to the general public than a lot of other racing simulators out there.  The gameplay and settings are gorgeous to look at and set the bar for all others out there.  This is the perfect fit for any racing fanatic on your list.

HALO Infinite

HALO is one of the biggest franchises on Xbox. Infinite is the latest entry and is going to be a highlight of the lineup this year. The story mode is taking a turn from tradition by including open world exploration which is exciting in and of itself. But, the multiplayer modes are going to be where a lot of the action is.

Mighty Goose

Longtime EFG fans know that we love games with a little bit of absurdity in them. Mighty Goose is a side scrolling tank game where you play as a goose. It is colorful, fun, and hysterical. Definitely worth a download. 

Marvel’s Avengers

There are few times where it is possible to absolutely maximize your “bang for your buck” during the holiday shopping season, this is one of those chances.  While this is not a new title, Marvel Avengers is a recent addition to Xbox Game Pass and includes all the available DLC.  If someone you know has been on the fence about downloading this game, now is the time.

Xbox Live Gold / Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Buy here!

Supply chain issues abound this year. It will likely be challenging to find games to wrap up and give as gifts. There will likely be chances to pick up gift cards for Xbox Live and Game Pass subscriptions. These are “practical” gifts (or at least as practical as anything game-related could be). But, they will be appreciated nonetheless. 

EFG Essentials

If you are looking for more recommendations than what we list here, then check out our Xbox essentials list.

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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Stephen

The very first thing I do when I get stuck in a game is search for a walk through on YouTube. The information is plentiful and can often help me find the answer to even the stupidest questions. (I get stuck on weird stuff on account of being hilariously bad at video games.

Mike

The pause button is your friend, both literal and figurative. You put the controller or keyboard down and you walk away. Nine times out of ten, the reason you are stuck is because of something that is completely beyond your control or something that is readily fixed. Drink some water. Have a snack. Look it up on your phone. Try again. And if it is already night time, consider sleeping on it and trying again the next day.

John

As a father with busy kids and a full time job I frankly don’t have a lot of time to be stuck in games, specifically video games.  If I am stuck for more than 30 minutes in one spot  I am not averse to lowering difficulty ratings if that is the problem or using the magic that is the internet to look up the solution to a puzzle.  I play games to relax and have fun, not pull my hair out.

Linda

With board games there are so many more options these days.  When I am stuck and do not understand a rule or step, my first move is to go back to the rules, and reread.  When we are able to play with our game group, there are two people who are excellent at deciphering rules. Sometimes if it is a small thing as a game group we make a call about how to proceed and just keep playing.  

Another tool that we use with more complicated games, are Youtube videos.  There is a huge library of videos teaching how to play a huge range of games.

Jonathan

If it’s because of needing to level up i’ll go back and grind. If I can’t find a key I turn to youtube a lot now as I have grown too old and tired…#facts

Mike Melkonian

There was a time when consulting a game guide felt shameful to me, but now I go straight to a walkthrough if I have trouble with a game! Time is limited when you have a family and full time job, so I’m content to merely imagine what being frustrated at a puzzle or boss fight would feel like. Of course, I’m going to tell the kid to figure it out on his own! No reason they should have it any easier than we did back in the day.


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 are often launched in an incomplete state prior to a full release in order to gauge player response and fix problems that would only arise from a large player base that would be otherwise difficult to find. These “Beta Releases” are often defined by whether it is “Open” to all comers or “Closed” and restricted to invitation only.

Fighting Games like Street Fighter and Smash Bros, will often feature a beta test before launch to test online connections and overall game feel from their player community.

Another wildly successful example is Fortnite. It has been around for years at this point, but is still technically in Open Beta.


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

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

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

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

Your Family Game On!

The EFG Essentials

Follow us on Facebook!

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