Hello wonderful people of the Internet. My name is Wesley Copeland and I’m currently a freelance news reporter for IGN. Before that, my work has been published by the likes of Edge, The Independent, Pocket Gamer, NowGamer, GameRanx, and ShopTo. I also used to run a small gaming site called Video Games Interactive.
I’m a married father of two boys aged 12 and 5, respectively. In terms of video games, my kids are “Can I play GTA yet?” (No!) and “How do I use sticky pistons in Minecraft?” (I haven’t the foggiest!).
Outside of working or playing games solo or with my kids, you’ll probably find me glued to my laptop either writing my first novel (Lazarus: How One Pharmaceutical Company Cured Death) or plotting to launch a YouTube channel for video (about kids’ video games shockingly enough).
Which games did you pick for your reports, and why?
- I am a huge Assassin’s Creed fan, and I’ve always wanted to sit down with one of the games in the series and really scrutinize them. Like, really take them to town in terms of what content they contain. Plus I don’t think parents are getting all the info they need when it comes to adult games like Assassin’s Creed. I mean, we have Assassin’s Creed Mega Bloks figures. I’m never going to tell a parent what toys or games their children should or shouldn’t play. But I do believe we in the games media have a responsibility to get as much info as possible to parents before they make a purchase, just so they know exactly what something is so they can make an informed decision.
- One of the other titles I covered was Mario Party 10, simply because if you’ve got multiple children it’s worth having a party game like that in your arsenal.
- Hyrule Warriors I picked because even though from the outside it looks like a kids’ game, it’s not an out-and-out kids’ game.
- Pikmin 3 I chose because it’s the type of game I’d let my kids play, so reporting on a game like that seemed like an obvious choice for GameHub.
- The final title I covered was Skylanders Trap Team. Not just because it’s a great game on its own, but it’s my go-to game when I’m recommending games for kids. It’s intelligent enough that it appeals to both children and adults, but it never forgets who its target audience is. Plus it’s co-op. Who doesn’t love a good co-op game?
How did you adapt to writing GameHub Game Reports, rather than reviews or news? It’s quite a different style!
It was a giant pain in the backside at first (laughs)! [-Boss: Sorry! 🙂 ] When I was starting out, I was told to look deeply into games, to explain why something is good or bad. If something stands out, your reasoning as to why it does needs to be detailed enough that our readers can relate to what we’re saying and will (hopefully) agree with us, or at least understand why we think something is good or bad.
When writing for GameHub, I had to unlearn everything I’ve been taught, because GameHub isn’t a site where I tell parents my opinion on a game. It’s a site where we talk in facts; specific elements in video games aren’t bad or good on GameHub, they just … are. It’s almost like “This is a thing, this is what happens in said thing,” then the reader/parent themselves get to decide if it’s good or bad.
So it was a giant pain in the backside at first, but once I got to grips with what was needed of me, I had an absolute blast!
What are your favourite games to play with your kids at the moment?
Glad you asked! Skylanders just released their latest offering (called Superchargers), so we’re all playing that at the moment. Then there’s Disney Infinity 2.0 which we keep going back to. And, of course, there’s always, Always, ALWAYS, Minecraft. At any given time of the year, you can guarantee we’ll be playing Minecraft. My eldest actually made a new game in it recently where we both ‘wake up’ above a field of molten lava, then we have to build towards each other’s base (without falling off or getting sniped), then we have to poke each other off of our platforms. First one to ten successful pokes wins.
Honestly, the amount of insane fun we’ve had in Minecraft is amazing. There’s nothing else like it.
A lot of parents, particularly Mums, feel very confused and overwhelmed about how to deal with video-games – how to find suitable content, how to police screen-time, how to deal with peer-pressure and bullying when it comes to owning certain games. How do you think the industry can better help parents with gaming issues?
I think the problem we’re seeing is that video game publishers don’t speak to parents. They speak to gamers, kids, geeks, nerds, but never directly to parents. We have advertising that parents see, sure, but that isn’t the same. An advert in between a TV show doesn’t elucidate what the game they’re selling is. It shows the viewer a glimpse of the game’s best bits, not a balanced overview of everything it entails.
Obviously you couldn’t have five-minute adverts to explain everything a game has or does. But publishers could easily link to sites likes GameHub, UKIE, or ratings websites, on their social media channels. Anything that gets parents more information is a good idea in my book.
You had some great anecdotes about your kids and seeing them learn and grow through play. Any fun new stories, or a particular family favourite you want to share again?
My youngest calls sweetcorn “Yellow peas,” and his toes are called “feet fingers.” I have got a new story, actually. Me and my eldest bought some Pokemon Playmo figures from Japan. They’re essentially DIY model airplane kits. We finished building them, then I had to get dinner on. I put mine away upstairs, my eldest shoved his behind a curtain for safe keeping. I’m not sure why that’s a good place to hide them, but it’s kid-logic so I didn’t question it. We both told my youngest not to touch them because they’re fragile. It was a sound plan in theory, but quickly fell apart.
I went to get dinner on, and my eldest went upstairs. When I came back into the living room about 15 minutes later, my youngest had all of my eldest’s Pokemon figures in front of him, and had built replicas of them all in Minecraft. Every single one. I know I should have said something about how not to mess with other people’s things, but when I entered the room and he turned to me with a gleeful look in his eyes and said “Look what I made!” I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. They were really good likenesses, too!
If you had one piece of advice that you could give to all parents about video-games, what would it be?
Ask people who know what they’re talking about what the game they’re buying for their child is. When I worked at GAME (this is going back many years now) I always made time to explain to parents what it is they’re buying, so they can decide if it’s suitable. Now, as a games writer, I still have all the time in the world for parents with questions. But parents need to be the one to find us and ask us.
If you had one piece of advice that you could give to all game creators about parents, what would it be?
Remember who your target audience is. Don’t assume because it’s a kids’ game you can take it easy. Kids – as well as adults – want good games, too. If that wasn’t the case, you wouldn’t see Skylanders selling loads on a yearly basis.
Which game would you like to see next on GameHub?
Skylanders Superchargers, Lego Dimensions, and Disney Infinity 3.0. Basically, the more information there is about toys-to-life games, the better. Someone who doesn’t know what these games are might hear something like “Lego Dimensions costs £750!!!!!” and be put off from it without realizing you don’t need to buy everything to enjoy it.
If you could show GameHub to one person, famous or family, who would it be and why?
My nan. She died when I was 13 so it’d be great to show her what I’m doing with my life (please don’t say this is the last question, this is a terrible note to end on!)
Did you enjoy doing GameHub Guest Games and would you be up for doing it again?
Definitely! Any chance I get to really look deeply into what makes a game is absolutely smashing.
Did you enjoy Wes’ interview? I loved the story about recreating the Pokemon toys in digtial form – so sweet! Let us know you thoughts – and any stories of your own – in the comments below!