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!

 

 

GameHub Concierge

GameHub Concierge: Which Wii?

My Son (6.5) is really keen to get a Wii – he started being helpful in August because he’d decided on his own that that was the way to get one for Christmas. I don’t know much about them – but if I do get one, do I need a Wii or a Wii U? And why is this one twice the price of this one? If I get the first, can I then buy older Wii games second hand for it? Or might I just as well, at that point, get a secondhand Wii? Any advice gratefully received. Thanks in advance.” via  Mumsnet

WiiU
Wii U

I rather admire the lad. Being helpful to his Mum and with clear goal in mind as to what he would like for Christmas, good for him! Confusion over the Wii and WiiU is a common problem. GameHub Concierge is donning its Santa hat and riding to the rescue!

GameHub Concierge:

“The Wii U and the Wii are actually two different consoles, something that Nintendo have not been very good at all at communicating to their customers. Even the gaming press were confused when it first came out! The WiiU, the new console, was launched in 2012, whilst the Wii is the old console originally launched in 2006. In tech speak, the WiiU is a whole “generation” more modern than the Wii. Without boring you with lots of nerdy numbers, the difference between the two devices is quite substantial. If this is your first Nintendo console for your home, I strongly recommend you go with the WiiU.

With a WiiU, you will get the WiiU Gamepad. This is a flat, Ipad-like controller with a camera, touchscreen and microphone, designed for games that don’t suit the physical “flail about” input method. This means that the WiiU is a far more versatile console than the Wii, suited to lots of different kinds of games.

The WiiU is also “backwards compatible” with the Wii, which also means that you will be able to play any games which say on the box that they are made for a Wii, including second-hand games. By contrast, the Wii would not able to play WiiU games, or use the WiiU Gamepad.

Wii
Wii

In the WiiU box you linked, you would get the console and gamepad, lots of cables and stands, and free game called Nintendo Land. To make the perfect present, I would recommend you get him another 1 or 2 games for variety. I can advise on what titles are currently popular, or, if you can tell me a little bit about your son’s preferences and interests, I can come up with a more tailored list of suggestions. And if you have any more questions, please ask and I will do my best to answer them!”

Got a question for the 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: Game On, Dance Off!

Game on, dance off!
Dance like nobody is watching! Except, they are.

Today, we got asked about picking out a dance game for a 10yo girl. The dance game genre is incredibly popular and crowded, with titles for Xbox, Wii and Playstation all selling well and competing strongly. But dance games are far more a product of the music industry than of the games industry, and they bring a lot of issues with them, especially around issues like over-sexualisation, and gender stereotyping which cause some parents a great deal of concern. Music brands such as High School Musical, Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber cater to a “pre-teen” market of young adults who are neither teens nor children. We help our questioner, Garon, to try to pick through this issue to make sure they get a game which they feel is suitable for their daughter:

Hi, I saw you were offering to give some advice on PS3 dance games! I would like to get one for my daughter who’s about to be 10. I don’t have any idea what these things are like. Are the kids versions like Just Dance Kids really aimed at younger kids? She loves music but is not really into current pop music – we mostly listen to old tunes, then again it might be good to bring her a bit more up to date!
Any advice gratefully received. ” via  Mumsnet

Its a long reply, so buckle up!

GameHub Concierge:

“Hello Garon. I have done some research for you and this is what I have come up with. But first, a preamble:

Dance games are created under the iron thumb of the record companies, and they bring a lot of “baggage” with them. The occasional dance move that parents and on-lookers may feel is veering a little toward the “raunchy” may sail straight over the heads of the kids – they just think it’s being physical and dancey and silly. The sexy subtext of a song will probably be loud and clear to the teens and adults, but the under 10s might go along utterly oblivious, singing along without a care in the world. And the studios are looking to sign acts that are popular and famous, so no matter what you think of their conduct as moral individuals, it’s inevitable that you are going to get a song by Rhianna, Miley Cyrus or Chris Brown, whatever title you buy. Child stars are also obviously extremely popular, so Justin Beiber, Selena Gomez and ilk will feature strongly also. Additionally, all these games will have a “Work Out” mode for exercise and weight loss. Dance games do have “an agenda” pushed by record companies- pre-teen and young teen obsessive super-fans spend a lot of their disposable income on music, so there is a massive amount of pressure on this genre to be SUPER FUN, SUPER COOL, SUPER EXCLAMATION MARKS!

I’m not trying to frighten you, I just want to be as honest as I can in saying that, if you have concerns about some of the trends we are seeing in the music industry, you may well find them in these games too. Dance games are not really “video games” proper, they are an extension of the music industry. The video game community of players and developers doesn’t have peer influence over these titles, they are music industry products that happen to be played on game systems. The “baggage” that comes from how much influence music has over pre-teen and teen behaviour is still going to be there. For some people, this is a really massive concern and something they feel very strongly about. For others, it’s just part of growing up and making the transition from kid to teenager and not a big deal. I just wanted to be as up front and honest with you as I can about it, so that you can decide what is the most appropriate choice for your daughter and where she is at right now.

So, with all of that in mind, I have some titles to suggest to you. As it is a popular genre, its crowded, and it can be confusing to try to tell all the different games apart. I’ve picked out a few for consideration:

The kingpin dance title for Playstation is “Just Dance.” The track mixes are solid party and modern pop mixes, popular with pre-teens; Just Dance 4 was voted Favourite Video Game at the Kids Choice Awards! You can dance alone, with or against friends. There are 50 tracks, including:
Disturbia: Rhianna
Maneater: Nelly Furtado
Moves Like Jagger: Maroon 5
Oops I Did It Again: Britney Spears
Age Rated: PEGI 3+

“DanceStar Party” is a good bet also. It’s not as popular as Just Dance – anecdotal evidence would suggest the developers tried to hit the middle ground between music video/night club dance moves and big silly, kiddie shapes, and the end result makes you look fairly daft; it’s a bit “uncool.” Nontheless, its a solid title for dance, and you can turn on the Playstation Move microphone to sing along. Tracks include:
Do It Like A Dude: Jessie J
Get Down On It: Kool & the Gang
Born This Way :Lady Gaga
Age rated: PEGI 12

“Just Dance Kids” is aimed at younger kindergarten children and definitely has much more of a Cbeebies feel to it; songs include Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes, Jingle Bells and the (annoyingly Americanised ) Itsy Bitsy Spider, as well as hits from child stars like Will Smith’s daughter Willow Smith and the dreaded Justin Beiber. Also included are some Disney and Pixar film theme songs, like the title track from Despicable Me, performed by Pharrell Williams. The routines are much easier than the original Just Dance games and the dance moves are much more “kiddified;” doing star-jumps rather than shaking your booty.
Age Rated: PEGI 3+

The way these games work is like this: You select the song from the menu, and imitate an on screen avatar by copying their moves as closely as you can. Think of it as a physical game of Simon Says! You can play alone against the screen, or bring friends over for dance parties to compete against each other. To play, you will need to make sure you own a “Playstation Move.” This is a camera which connects into your Playstation, and a wand which looks a bit like a plastic tennis ball on a stick. You hold the wand as you dance, and the camera tracks the movement of the ball on the end to determine your movements. You only need one camera, but you need as many wands as you have players. Word to the wise: the wand has a wrist strap. If you value your household ornaments, make sure you put that wrist strap on nice and tight! You may need to go out and buy a Playstation Move kit, or it might have come bundled in with your Playstation when you bought it.

I hope this information is useful to you, and if you have any more questions, please feel free to ask!”

Got a question for the Concierge? Contact us.

Words Worth Knowing

Words Worth Knowing: NPC

One of the most challenging aspects of video-games culture for a newcomer, especially for a busy parent, is trying to learn and understand the many, many acronyms and specialised terms. GameHub HQ entries are jargon-free, so you can get the information you need as easily and painlessly as possible, but there are still some words worth knowing. Every Monday, we break down one Word Worth Knowing from the world of gaming.

For our second word, we are going to look at an acronym unique to gaming. What is an NPC, what do you need to know and why do you need to care?

What It Is: NPC = Non-Playable Character

What It Means: All the characters that occur in the game that the player cannot directly control. This includes pedestrians and passers-by in large open-world games, other racers in driving games, and, in games where the player is part of a group, their character’s friends, companions or gang.
Why You Care: Non-playable characters make up all the other people in a game world aside from the player. The NPCs are controlled by the computer. They may interact with the player in a meaningful way, as friends, team members or lovers, or they may be unimportant passers-by, enemy soldiers or simply members of a crowd. The ways in which the game allows the player to interact with NPCs may affect how you perceive the game’s content. For example, some games punish or prohibit the player from killing “innocent bystander” NPCs, whilst other actively encourage the player to terrorise a game’s inhabitants. A game may allow a player to have sexual relationships with one of their NPC companions, or allow the player to pick up NPC prostitutes for sex. How a game allows the player to interact with its digital citizens will depend broadly on it’s genre, but with a thousand subtle differences from title to individual title.
If a player, or their parent/guardian, has a question or concern about the freedoms they will be given to act with regard to NPCs, get in touch and we’ll try to answer your questions!