Hub Stuff

New for 2016: Shareable GameHub Pins

GameHub has a Pinterest account. Did you forget? If you did, that’s a shame for you, because we have an entire board of picture of cute puppies you are missing out on.

puppyimg
PUPPY!

Another thing you would be missing out on by not following our Pinterest boards is brand new. As of today, every single game added to GameHub will also be posted to a special Pinterest board in handy, shareable pin form. This is especially helpful if you have a gift planning board. Remembering exactly which game your son or daughter liked the look of can be a massive headache. At a glance, they really all do look the same!

Was it that one? Wait, no, maybe that one... CREDIT: VentureBeat
Was it that one? Wait, no, maybe that one…
CREDIT: VentureBeat

Just like on gamehubHQ.com, we put the most commonly used box art/icon front and centre, so even if you can’t remember the name, (or the name is so stupidly long no normal person would remember it – Super Mario Bros. Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, anybody?) you can still look for it by it’s most identifable image. Big rectangles of Dudes With Explosions are not helpful, so we try to space it out and put a focus on the unique sections of the image you might remember better. We hope you find it useful.

pinterest logo
Check it out here!

 

 

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New Entries

New Entries: Race The Sun

It’s 2016! And so it’s time for a brand new batch of games on GameHub HQ. Our very first game of the year is Race The Sun, a rather natty little space racer with a fun twist – the game map redraws itself every day. This gives the game a high degree of what we call “replayability.” Replayability – the likelihood of a game to retain its novelty value towards the player by allowing them new content, access to previously hidden content, or new ways to play – is sometimes used as an assessment of a game’s material worth by some players.

Click the icon below to access the GameHub HQ report for Race The Sun:

racethesun

 

GameHub Concierge

GameHub Concierge: Non-Shooty PS4 Games

Sometimes parents who come to us are embarrassed to ask for help, feeling like they should already know all the answers when it comes to games. This simply isn’t possible – no one person can know all the things there are to know about such a massive and varied topic as video-games; you wouldn’t expect a librarian to have read every book ever published?! The way that even people who know a lot about games find out new information is by sharing ideas and asking questions. Today, we are going to look at a question Jordan Erica Webber asked the games community on Twitter for help with.

Jordan Erica Webber, any way you want to cut it, is an expert on video-games. A full-time professional games journalist primarily with The Guardian, she has appeared on Woman’s Hour and is a co-host of the Not A Game Podcast, as well as writing for The Observer, PC Gamer Magazine, Kotaku, Vice, IGN and Games TM. So there is no disputing she really knows her stuff when it comes to games. (And socks, but that’s a different story.)

But she still taps the knowledge of the games community when she wants to learn about something new.

And she got so many great replies!

We are going to add our own at the bottom, but first lets take a run through people’s suggestions:

[See here for GameHub Report: Bastion]

[See here for GameHub Report: Dragon Age Inquisition]

So (and I’m going to get a bit serious here, so hang on to your hats) if you are feeling embarrassed about needing help with games, please don’t. Try to think of it in the context of asking for a book recommendation, rather than needing teaching in how to use the telly – it’s a media choice rather than a technical skill, and even people who live and breathe this industry will ask for an outside perspective. There is nothing to be ashamed of or defensive about. Nobody (other than perhaps your own children) expects you to know everything, so feel empowered by taking on advice rather than diminished by it.

Ok, that was very intense and unBritish (but worth remembering, even if it made you feel a bit cringey!) so let’s get back to the games. What else, if anything, can we add to the brilliant suggestions Jordan received?

Got a question for the GameHub Concierge? Contact us.

Words Worth Knowing

Words Worth Knowing *BONUS POST* – Floppy Corpses and Parental Concerns

You may have noticed that all of our games have a topic in the Violence & Gore subsection that asks the question “Does this game contain ‘ragdolling’ corpses?” Now, some of you may be wanting to know, what on earth is ragdolling?

Ragdolling on GameHub
Ragdolling on GameHub

The short answer is this is ragdolling:

Ragdolling is a way of dealing with death and injury in video-game animation. Ragdolling is a process whereby, on impact with an object, such as a bullet or sword swipe, the target object,(in this case a human form) responds in accordance with physics. Rather than falling flat to the floor and vanishing, or displaying one of a specially crafted set of “death animations” the body of the character reacts to the force applied to it –  a small shove may cause a topple, but a big hit could cause them to go flying. If no new forces come into play, the body just crumples into a heap. If the character or object is large and heavy, the player may not be able to move it, but if the object is smaller, or is not capable of creating a powerful enough resisting force, impacts may cause it to fall or move a long way. This is particularly relevant when a character dies, and all the physical forces attached to them as a living object, standing upright and exerting control over their body, are suddenly lost. If that loss coincides with a big new pressure on their form, such as a grenade hit or baseball bat swing, the resulting jangling of simulated physics can cause some fairly visually interesting and unexpected results.

As it can produce comedic results, ragdolling is a favoured tool of developers making light-hearted games, such as Goat Simulator. Gifs and images of silly ragdoll physics mishaps often “go viral” on social media

whilst the modding creation tool Gary’s Mod allows players to play with ragdoll physics to create games, animations and films.

Ragdolling can sometimes cause parents some concerns. The affects of physical forces on the characters’ bodies can sometimes look quite visceral

or extreme

or, when things go wrong, downright disturbing!

If a game contains ragdoll physics, we record that fact in the GameHub report, so that you know what kind of things you are likely to see. Ragdolling is a popular gameplay feature amongst gamers, and a prominent feature of games such as The Elder Scrolls Skyrim and Goat Simulator.

Parents should be aware that some players will take advantage of ragdoll physics to pose corpses in compromising positions, such as simulated sex acts. This is a player-created action and thus is not covered under age-rating systems such as the ESRB or PEGI. These boards also do not cover modding, where ragdoll physics systems are often exacerbated or enhanced for player entertainment.

Some players will dispassionately kill a character many times in a row, displaying a kind of morbid fascination with how the ragdoll physics system works, or trying to set up an amusing shot to share with their friends. As ragdoll physics is at its most extreme when there are strong dynamic forces acting upon a body, this often entails hurling a character from a high height or into fast-moving machinery. This activity, when viewed as an observer, can be extremely alarming to watch a player do over and over again. In video-gaming’s often disappointingly seedy early history, Lara Croft, built like a Barbie doll with long gangly limbs and more weight assigned to the chest and upper thigh areas, would often be a point of fascination.

The designers of the more modern Lara Croft games worked around this uncomfortable issue by giving Lara personalised death animations, whilst retaining some ragdoll physics for enemy characters. These new, gory, personal and at times distressing animations encouraged the player to aim to preserve Lara from bodily harm by their actions, rather than treating her a ragdoll toy to throw into painful situations.

GameHub Concierge

GameHub Concierge: Nearly Nine And Ready To Play!

Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday! Which first, cake, or games?

A question was asked: ‘Which games would be good for a 9yo (girl) on the Playstation 3?’ via Mumsnet

Here’s what we said:

GameHub: “Without knowing more about her personality, her personal likes & dislikes, it’s hard to make an accurate recommendation. However, in general, I would recommend LittleBigPlanet, a family-oriented exploration/puzzle game with lots of scope for creativity, voiced by everyone’s favourite Stephen Fry. The Sims franchise is almost universally popular amongst girls of this age – it’s a “life sim”, not unlike a virtual doll’s house, with scope for mischief! Additional content packs adding new clothes, objects or activities make great birthday or Christmas presents, especially the Pets pack, which adds puppies & kittens to the Sims household. It is age rated as a 12, however, due to the fact that you are playing with people, not blobs on a screen, so use your judgement as to whether it is suitable for her at this time. If she enjoying singing and dancing, there are a huge number of titles available, sometimes themed around a specific interest, eg: Disney Sing It: Pop Hits, which can be played with friends. If you are considering song & dance titles, please post a reply and I can advise you further, there are a lot of titles in this genre! Anything involving Mario or Sonic is also good bet. Finally, an excellent, more traditionally “game-y” game, ideal for a 9yo would be Mini Ninjas. You play as a small cute cartoon ninja, rescuing woodland animals from an evil curse. It’s fun, engaging and utterly adorable.

Got a question for the Concierge? Contact us.

GameHub Concierge

GameHub Concierge: Handhelds For Twins

It’s time for another GameHub Concierge question. Today’s question comes a mother who admits to being “completely clueless and mostly disinterested in computer games thingies.” Well, that’s what we are here to help with!

She is looking to make a double purchase of two handheld consoles, one for each of her 6-year-old twins. She is considering a number of options, including the Playstation Vita, an Ipod Touch, a pair of second-hand Gameboys, or a member of Nintendo’s DS family. But what to chose?

So lets see what we can do:

GameHub Concierge:

For 6-year-olds, I would recommend a Nintendo DS. They are ideal for this age range: bright, colourful hardware and games, very easy to use, and quite sturdy little units (it can be dropped off the end of the kitchen table with no ill effects!) The DS will grow with them as they age – it’s not likely to be one of those things that they decide is “babyish” and refuse to touch after the age of 7- and could be a device that is also owned by their friends, allowing them to play together and be social. The Nintendo company ethos is centred around playing together so there is a wide range of games that would suit your twins.
I would not recommend a Playstation Vita for younger children. An older child would get much more out the features – the improved graphics, big glass screen and 3 different input methods but I think it might be overwhelming for a six-year-old. More importantly, the device will be far too big for a young child to hold comfortably, as the Vita is long and thin with the touch panel in the centre, beyond the range of tiny fingers.
An Ipod touch would be a possibility, because you are familiar with the hardware (from owning an Ipad). The games are significantly cheaper but, you will soon get sucked into having to upgrade frequently when your children get succumb to next-Apple-product-itis! You will need to go through the rigmarole of keeping it up to date and locking down the controls to prevent in-app purchases bankrupting your credit card, and sourcing it a proper, sturdy case to protect the screen from scratches is a must. Unlike the Nintendo DS, an iDevice cannot be thrown across the room in an accident or a tantrum and come out unscathed. They are expensive and delicate machines and must be looked after properly.
A Gameboy is a vintage option! Older equipment is cheaper, but you will have all the associated problems of trying to find games for it: Ebay & Charity shops are your friend. My primary worry that after all that work sourcing games, peer pressure and curiosity will mean they will start wanting a more modern handheld like their friends have.

Got a question for the GameHub Concierge? Contact us.

GameHub Concierge

GameHub Concierge: GTA Alternatives

No means no, and if you feel a title is inappropriate for your kids, you have the right as a parent to put your foot down! Don’t feel cowed!

Today on GameHub Concierge, we are talking about Grand Theft Auto V. Or, more to the point, we are not talking about it! GTAV contains strong sexual themes, depictions of violence and adult humour, as well as nudity, prostitution and scenes of characters taking narcotics. At GameHub, we always strive to encourage and empower parents to make the decisions correct for their own children – their interests, their level of maturity and so on, and, whenever possible, to talk about the contents of the game they are playing with a friendly adult. Grand Theft Auto V however, is one of the few games where we really struggle to recommend it for a player below the age of 18, as the dark satire requires a grown-up understanding of humour, for example where the player graphically and protractedly tortures an obviously innocent character, then gives them a lecture about how torture is an ineffective method of gathering espionage.  However, the game also contains a lot of content that isn’t to do with murder, sex, drugs, or rock and roll. It’s an enormous open world, with secrets to find, puzzles to solve and vehicles to race. For the overwhelming percentage of players, it is this amazing freedom that primarily attracts them to the game. But you don’t need be playing GTA in order to experience an incredible open world. In this GameHub Concierge, we advise a mother on some alternatives for her son, who, at 15, she feels is too young for GTAV, but still in love with the idea of exploring and roaming around a digital playground. Here is what we came up with…

GameHub says:

  1. Infamous

  2. Any Assasins Creed game

  3. Batman Arkham City

  4. The Saboteur

  5. Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

  • Infamous is essentially a toned down copy of a rival game “Prototype” in which the main character is turned into a mutant and goes on a mission to work out what has happened to him. Basically a kind of superhero/antihero story. Electricity is his superpower, so its a GTA style of gameplay, but with sparks instead of guns.

  • Assassin’s Creed games are GTA in an ancient city from historical Italy. There are lots of games in the series, focusing on different cities, including Venice, Milan etc. You free-run across the city exploring rooftops and doing missions. Any game in the series is good really, except the first one, so just look for something along the theme of “Assassin’s Creed: Word or Number.” The side missions quickly get dull, as they are very repetitive, but the core gameplay is superb. Of the three, however, it bears the least graphical resemblance to GTA.

  • Batman Arkham City is the most critically acclaimed of the games in the list. Its a dark and gritty superhero story about…Batman! Big open city, lots of stuff to do. Unlike most movie tie-ins, the Batman franchise is extremely well respected as a video game, they are very high quality and something you want to be seen as having played.

  • The Saboteur is GTA set in WW2 era occupied Paris. You can race cars, kill Nazis and destroy munitions to liberate the city. Your actions are reflected in the colour scheme, as with each district liberated, the game goes from being Black & White back to colour. Be advised, it does have an in-game strip club, though the nudity can be toggled on and off. To be honest, however, the strip club is pretty tame, think sophisticated “ladies of the night” rather than “XXX Youtube PornStar” sex-workers.

  • The Elder Scrolls Skyrim is a superb free-roaming fantasy game, with a truly enormous map (a whole country instead of the other games I’ve listed, which cover a whole city) packed with ruins to explore, dungeons to raid, monsters to fight, quests to do, and dragons to kill. Big, long and full of content, we sometimes refer to it as “GTA with swords.”

And here is her response:

“Thankyou so much – my son read this and was really pleased and impressed with your suggestions especially infamous and the saboteur – big smiles all round as I am happy with 15 rating and he is happy with suggestions. Thankyou so much!”

Another successful outing for the GameHub Concierge! There is a whole world of video games out there and we can help you navigate it so if you’ve got a question for the Concierge, contact us via email, social media or the comments box below.