GameHub Concierge

GameHub Concierge: Minecraft, All Minecraft!

We get a lot of questions about Minecraft here at GameHub HQ.

“I don’t see the obsession with Minecraft. My DD 10 (soon to be 11) uses the IPAD to play Minecraft and watch the irritating videos on YouTube.
With her birthday being in the summer hols, I like to buy her something which I know she will get good use of. I was all set to get her an IPAD MINI….however she says she is hoping for a bloody XBOX so she can play Minecraft.
I am so annoyed. We had an XBOX last year but only kept it for 2 months as no one understood how to operate it!
Is Minecraft really any different on the XBOX than the APP? She says she will need headphones to chat with other players. Not sure I am liking the idea of this.
Please educate me – I am very naive with technology ” via  Mumsnet

Sounds like a job for the GameHub Concierge! Minecraft on the Ipad is a different experience from Minecraft on the Xbox. We spent some time with this Mumsnetter talking about understanding how to use the Xbox system and where to go for help if you get stuck. We also talked about her daughter’s reasons for wanting the console rather than mobile version of the game. Here’s a small extract of some of what we said:

GameHub Concierge: 

“If your daughter is showing an interest in gaming, a 2nd hand Xbox would be a great place to start. Minecraft is the perfect sort of game for her age group and will be a popular topic among her friends. Minecraft on the iPad and Xbox are two very different experiences. The iPad version (Minecraft Pocket Edition) is a much smaller and simplified game, whilst the Xbox variant has the full range of features.
For young girls, I would really strongly advise putting your foot down very firmly on the headset idea-its not a good plan. I would be extremely wary of her using her own voice, its likely to cause a lot of upset and unpleasantness which may well put you both off gaming. Ask her to use the typed chat option instead, and have a solid chat about keeping her account settings private, not giving out her age or gender.”

I also offered to help our Mumsnetter through any queries she might have and asked her to talk about some of her daughter’s other hobbies in order to suggest additional games.

Got a question for the Concierge? Get in touch!

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.