GameHub Concierge

GameHub Concierge: A Family of Three

A family of three kids aged 8, 10 and 12 are in the market for their first games console. Looking to keep within a sensible budget, they are torn between the Playstation and Xbox as to which will have more general family appeal. GameHub Concierge tries to give some guidance on what to consider for this important purchase:

ameHub Concierge: 

First things first, as I have a feeling this information is going to be important to at least one of the kids: Minecraft comes in both Xbox and Playstation versions, so that won’t be a deciding factor! Given the information supplied, I would be inclined to lean slightly towards an Xbox One over the Playstation 4. The Xbox, with Microsoft’s multiplatform clout behind it, has a slightly wider variety of game types than the Playstation, which means that if the children have different interests, they will all be able to find something that suits them personally from brands and franchises they recognise, from Angry Birds to  Assassins Creed. If gaming was a primary hobby, I would veer more towards the Playstation, as their range of games from independent development studios (indies) is very strong and would provide varied and interesting challenges to a hobbyist gamer. However, it sounds like the interest is more in a reliable, easy to operate family entertainment box with options for playing together and/or apart, rather than a dedicated gaming powerhouse. The “Just Dance” dance titles might prove popular with the youngest and are always a hit at parties, and if they all want to play together, a cooperative puzzler like Lara Croft And The Temple of Osiris would while away a rainy afternoon. For a bit of cheerful mayhem suitable for all ages, a LEGO franchise game is fun for everyone to give a go, -Mum included- such as LEGO Batman 3; or what about the silly gardening game Plants vs Zombies. If the elder son is starting to show an interest in sports titles, Madden NFL25 would hit the spot. And for any teenager, unwinding with a bit of bad dude blasting in HALO is a relaxing social ritual to share with friends. I think that an Xbox One, with the big franchises likely to be familiar to the children and their friends, would fit the bill for a general family entertainment box to span different ages and interests.

Got a question for the Concierge? Get in touch!

Games Culture

Minecraft Mum, Blog Recommendation

This is a great blog by Bec Oakley all about Minecraft and some of the issues parents can have with the game. The articles are well-written, friendly, clear and straightforward, with some great practical advice for Mums and Dads. Sadly, it doesn’t look as though it’s been updated in a little while, which is a shame, but the posts are definitely worth a read. It’s accessible writing and non-intimidating style means that Minecraft Mum definitely gets our GameHub Recommendation !

Our Top Three favourite posts

1)Ten Problems That Parents Can Have With Minecraft

2) Ten Things For Parents To Love About Minecraft

and, a pressing concern for many families:

3) How To Find Family-Friendly Minecraft Videos

Games Culture, Guest Posts & Interviews

Meet Our October Writer!

It’s October! The days are getting shorter, nights are getting colder, and Halloween is just around the corner. With all the nippy autumnal weather, its the perfect time to snuggle in with some video-games for some quality time together as a family.
Except, that’s not what I’m doing. I’m moving house! So, to ensure you guys are not left bereft whilst I try to manhandle a sofa up nine flights of external stairs in the teeth of a howling gale, I’ve brought it a guest poster to handle our GameHub HQ entries for the month. Wes is a fantastic games writer and a devoted father of two, so knows all balancing the worlds of games and family. We are delighted to have Wes on board with us, especially as he is a toys-to-life expert, so if you have questions about Skylanders, he’s the guy to ask!

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!

GameHub Concierge

GameHub Concierge: Minecraft, All Minecraft!

“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 GameHub Concierge! Minecraft on the Ipad is a different experience from Minecraft on the Xbox. Here’s some of what we said:

“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 its great to see her wanting to make the move from Ipad to Xbox, it shows she is really passionate about the game and looking for the best experience.
For young girls, I would really strongly advise putting your foot down very firmly on the headset idea – it’s 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 and so on.”

I also offered to help our Mumsnetter through any queries she might have with the installation process, setting up the hardware and the Xbox Live account, 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? Contact us.

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!