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New Entries: My Chinese Coach

Our second game for the month of July is My Chinese Coach. Created by Ubisoft – the same studio that brought you the Assassins Creed game series – My Chinese Coach was part of a now slightly elderly series of self-improvement titles, including “My Japanese Coach”, “My French Coach”, “My Spanish Coach” and “My Health Coach: Stop Smoking with Allen Carr.”

We love educational games which can show the world the power of gaming for good, and though its menus and visuals may be a bit dated, My Chinese Coach still does a pretty admirable job of teaching the player Chinese! If your children are picking up a little Mandarin at school, whether in formal lessons or as part of an after-school club, you could support their learning with this little game. Click the icon below to learn more about My Chinese Coach:

mychinesecoach

 

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Norwich Gaming Festival – Our Thanks To The Organisers

We had yet another an amazing time at the Norwich Gaming Festival. Just like last year we were in attendance for the full length of the family-friendly event, answering questions on all topics to do with video-games and video-game culture. We’ve got some fab photos to show you, including some amazing examples of cosplay (dressing up as characters from films or games) and images from the show floor. But for now we just wanted to take the chance to thank the organisers for all their hard work. Everybody involved worked around the clock and grafted incredibly hard to make sure we had everything we need and that everyone, exhibitors and attendees, were taken care of and made to feel welcome. From exhibition days to the pub quiz, everything went off wonderfully and we were super pleased to be a part of it. Roll on next year!

 

Games Culture, Uncategorized

Neko Atsume Music

Trouble with getting Dearest Son or Dearest Daughter to do their piano practice? If they love one of our most recently featured games, Neko Atsume, you might be able to encourage them with this, which is the sheet music to the game’s restive wintery theme music. Click HERE, or the image below, to be taken to a transcription you can print out or save.

Screenshot 2016-02-24 18.14.31.png

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Merry Christmas From GameHub!

A very Merry Christmas from everyone here at GameHub!

We wish all our users a peaceful and joyous family Christmas, whether your children are young or old. Remember that people around the world are unwrapping new games and consoles today, so online services such as Xbox Live, Steam and Playstaion Network will be running very slowly under the weight of millions of new users. If things aren’t working out, leave it alone for a few hours and come back when the servers are less busy.

UPDATE: We have confirmed reports that something has gone really badly wrong with the PC game management system and online store Steam. Users are encouraged to not use the service at all until the engineers at Valve have got to the route of the issue. Though you may be nervous for your credit card security, credible sources believe the system has not been hacked, but is suffering from a technical problem related to account profiles. It’s Christmas folks! Something always goes wrong on Christmas!

New Entries, Uncategorized

New Entries: Saints Row IV

It’s Christmas and we wanted to have a bit of fun, so I [The Boss] have written up a GameHub report for one of my personal favourite games, Saints Row IV. It’s a fabulous romp; very silly, a bit rude and about as eccentric as a game can get. It’s perhaps showing its age a little bit now but the writing and voice-acting still make me smile. It’s a lovely familiar game to relax with when I’m stuck in a rut on the game I’m meant to be writing a report for.

GameHub reports are intended as reliable consumer advice for busy parents.  Hence, we try to provide as wide and varied a range of titles as possible, including educational games and titles for under-fives. It was nice to take a bit of fun Christmas time to analyse one of my go-to games under the stringent microscope of the GameHub reporting procedure, which aims to be impartial and exhaustively detailed rather than simply a mouthpiece for the staff member’s personal opinions.

It was also an important reminder that a game that suits one player will be completely unpalatable to another – and that the best way to avoid making expensive mistakes to learn a little bit about the content before you hand over your cash. The smutty jokes and sing-along sections in Saints Row IV undoubtedly won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I can’t resist a game that lets me jump over buildings and blow up spaceships with a weaponised boom-box – I’m a simple soul.

Click the link below for our official GameHub entry for Saints Row IV:

saintsrowiv
Saints Row IV
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Games Are Just For Kids – Right? – A Conversation With My Hairdresser

Last Wednesday, I went to the hairdressers’. Since May of this year, when a mad-man disguised as a professional hairdresser hacked my head into an approximation of a toilet-brush three hours before I was due to appear on television, trips to the hairdressers’ have been a common occurrence, as a series of talented and patient stylists try to gradually snip my hair back into something vaguely resembling A Style every couple of weeks.

Salon of the to-remain-nameless-madman aside, I have always had a sneaking respect for hairdressers, as they basically do The Hardest Job In The World. Hairdressing, in video-game terms, is 3D modelling, only the model moves, and talks, and makes incomprehensible requests like “can you just juzgh it up a bit so it’s got a bit more oomph?” And of course, if it isn’t working out the way you planned, you can’t just have a tantrum, delete the file and start over again from scratch. Or get distracted and start making a dragon. It’s hair, it’s attached to people’s heads. Hairdressing, in my eyes, is essentially magic, and it both fascinates and terrifies me in equal measure. And, being me, when I’m nervous, I talk. A lot.

As I sat in the chair, babbling away and keeping an eye firmly fixed on the pointy scissors, we got chatting about stuff – life, work, kids, the perils of bad hairdressing, sports and so on. As I am a boring person with one primary obsession in life, we eventually got round to talking about video-games.

We got talking about a game she had found her kids playing, and was not at all pleased with the content they were accessing. There seemed to be some kind of sexual event going on the screen, and, appalled, she had switched the game off and taken the controllers away. As she skilfully sculpted my cranial hedge back into something more pleasing, she commented thus: “I don’t understand why they [the game’s creators] would put stuff like that in there. You just don’t expect it in a game! Games are for kids!

I’ve (rather unfairly) picked on my lovely hairdresser for this particular example, but it is a comment I hear a lot. It’s easy to understand why this misunderstanding arises, but it’s a really important one to address.

Video-games are not just for children. Video-games, like books, films, and TV programs, are  created for a range of audiences. In The Night Garden and Luther are both television programs. Inside Out and Saw are both movies. Where’s Wally? and Interview With A Vampire are both books. And, in a similar vein, Solitaire and Strip Poker are both card games, though you would only consider playing one of them with your child or your Gran.

Just because it says game on the box does not mean the content is going to necessarily be suitable for kids. Cars, or Up! or Finding Nemo are all still films, even though they are primary enjoyed by children. In games, BioShock Infinite, or Amnesia, or Grand Theft Auto V  are all still games, even though they contain content unlikely to be suitable for anyone under the age of eighteen. We will talk about why a developer would choose to create a game with mature “not fun” content in subsequent posts, because the reasons are varied and interesting. For now however, keep in mind – not all video-games are for children.

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We Take All Our Own Screenshots!

You see this thing?

screenshot
You see it?

I’ll draw a big red circle around it.

Screenshot With Ring
Now you see it?

Thiiiiiiiiis thing here.👆

We are super proud of that.

We take all our own screenshots. BUT, why do you care? What difference does it make?

You know how magazines air-brush models to make them unrealistically skinny? You know how a house photographed by a professional photographer annoyingly looks far better than yours ever will and it’s not fair? The same happens with video-games. Next time you are in a video-games shop with your children, bored and perhaps even feeling slightly uncomfortable, distract yourself by examining their promo material for new releases. Somewhere, down the bottom of the display stand or poster, you will likely find the fateful words “image may not be representative of actual gameplay.

That’s right folks, we touch up our super-soldiers and squelchy aliens (that sounded better in my head.) But it goes beyond simply bringing in better lighting and removing visible pores. When creating promo and press-kit shots, the designers can set up scenarios and poses that never appear in the game, put characters side by side who never meet, and give the image a quality far greater fidelity than the machine that will ultimate run the game is actually capable of generating.

This has caused some slightly awkward scandals, but it also has a more insidious effect close to home. Children tend to be very visual and are easily seduced by impressive advertising. There are few things more upsetting (for all involved) than buying a game, only to see how disappointed your child is when it fails to live up to the expectations they had gleaned from flashy ads. Another, arguable more serious problem, is that these promo screens may misrepresent the game’s content. A vicious combat move may be erased, bleeding and visible wounds covered over –  a character may display abilities they don’t have, or simply be wearing more clothing than they do in the final product. This makes it very hard for parents to judge whether a game is suitable and in line with their values by promotional screenshots alone. And video-games press, working to tight deadlines and with harsh budgets, often choose to reuse these promo or press screenshots rather than taking their own. The Press-Kit shots, it is argued, show off the game in its best light. The problem is that light may be too flattering.

We take all our own screenshots. We never use promo shots from advertising or screenshots supplied as part of Press-Kits. Every screenshot has been taken by the game’s reporter and is checked by us for authenticity. Every single game in the GameHub database has been played extensively by one of our reporters, who sinks multiple hours into recording game content, running our tests and taking original, unedited screenshots.

PS: If you like the look of the game above, it’s called Toca Nature, it’s on GameHub, and it’s super cute. Check it out.