Parents guide to Virtual Reality (VR)

A Parents guide to Virtual Reality (VR)

What every parent should know about this new technology before your kids tell you otherwise!

Parents guide to virtual reality

Virtual Reality (VR) technology for use in the home is on it’s way. Gamewagon explores the current technology providers and their current guidance on age appropriateness for your family.

Click to download parents guide to virtual reality vr

Parents Guide to Virtual Reality (VR)

Gamewagon’s Family Friendly Minecraft Server

Gamewagon’s Family Friendly Minecraft Server launched at the start of the summer holidays. It allows your children are able to play on their favourite game in a safe and secure multiplayer World. We run weekly sessions with our Game Experience Managers taking the lead in a time focused way setting challenges, helping educate and running competitions.

Family Friendly Minecraft Server

Gamewagon’s Family Friendly Minecraft Server

At Gamewagon we truly believe that gaming is better together. We have proven this with our video game parties that bring everyone together for sociable, fun and interactive experiences that are really difficult to replicate at home.

Minecraft is a phenomenon that you will have done well to avoid. It is like a massive Lego set with interactivity, physics, engineering, exploration, communication, creativity and good old fun to boot.

 

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Many kids will have played on iPads, iPhones and some others on Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles (it has also just been launched  on the Next Gen consoles – PS4 and XboxOne). The Apple iOS versions are quick fixes and focus on individual game play. On the Xbox and PS3 friends can be invited to play together, if they are in your friends list.

However, on the MAC and PC versions Minecraft opens up huge worlds with hundreds even thousands of people playing in massive worlds. Some of these worlds are open worlds where anyone can join. Others servers have a level of protection and features that make them family friendly, allegedly!

As a parent this opens up a number of concerns; Is there bad language? Is the behaviour appropriate? Are these people who they say they are? How safe are my children online? Can I trust the companies hosting these worlds?

We are often asked for our opinion and for that reason we have decided to create our very own Family Friendly Minecraft Server managed and moderated by our Game Experience Managers.

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There are other family-friendly servers. Gamewagon has a high touch validation process to focus on safety of all our players in our community.

REGISTRATION PROCESS: Every customer wishing to use the Gamewagon Minecraft server must submit a request to join, as well as agreeing to follow the world’s rules. Every request is checked by a real person, Mojang account names validated and credit card details confirmed against registration details before being added to our list of validated users (known as a Whitelist).

CHAT MONITORING: One of the most popular reasons joining Gamewagon’s family friendly Minecraft world is to protect your kids from bad language, usually found on open servers. We maintain a strict chat censor that monitors every word, and turns an offending user offline. Our Game Experience Managers are trained on how to promote positive online behaviour and act as guides in Gamewagon’s online Minecraft world.

HIGH TOUCH PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT: In any cases of misbehaviour or not understanding the World’s rules, our GEMs work directly with you (Parent or Carer) in the communication process. This ensures that any undesirable actions are not continued and it is clear what they may have done wrong, why it’s an issue, and how they can continue to play in our world. Persistent offenders will be taken offline and will understand why.

APPROPRIATE TIME LIMITS: Balance in video gaming is important, too much time spent on any one thing can become a problem. We realise this and have implemented appropriate timings to help you manage your child’s access. The Gamewagon servers will be active during specific events that we advertise on a regular basis.

Anyone that has had a Gamewagon Party can request free access after their party. Their friends can join for a small  fee of £1 per annum and then they can attend our published events. We feel this is the best way to deliver a focused and fun event with the correct level of moderation and support.

Peace of Mind: As a parent or carer you can be reassured that your kids are playing in a secure, safe and protected environment, moderated by the same Game Experience managers that run our fantastic birthday parties.

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We look forward to seeing you and your family online. Gaming is fun but Gamewagon makes gaming better by bring people together.

Skylanders Trap Team™ will reverse the magic of bringing toys to life.

Skylanders Trap Team

I’m not sure any family of 5-10 year olds has managed to avoid the phenomena that is Skylanders. Three years ago, Activision brought merchandising to life by creating a game with real action figures that you could pop on a portal and see them appear as playable characters on the screen. The technology to parents is simply magic, to kids it is just the way it is and now simply expected as the norm.

We have had further iterations form the original Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure: Skylanders Giants and also Skylanders Swap Force developed the characters further. Swap Force  let you swap the tops and bottoms to create some great variations of the little critters for use in the game.

Activision created a way of turning a £40 game purchase into an ongoing investment in game play characters. Disney quickly followed suit with their Infinity game, using characters from their films but Activision invented the genre and look set to continue the innovation this year.

So what next? Well Activision has announced that in October 2014, Skylanders Trap Team™ will reverse the magic of bringing toys to life by letting players capture villains and play as them using Traps that bring life to toys with the new Traptanium Portal.

In practice this means that as well as putting characters on the portal and have them appear in the game, players can also catch and trap other characters and bring them out of the game and into the Traptanium Portal. The characters then chatter away to the gamer and can be stored in crystals that connect to the Portal for use in the game as well. get ready everyone sounds like an investment in another Portal, will it be worth it?

At Gamewagon we are big proponents of social video gaming and Activision has announced that this new play pattern also gives players the option to switch between playing as a Skylander hero or a villain at any time, creating fun and unique “tag team” gameplay. In addition, fans can even take their Traps and their Skylanders characters to their friends’ houses for fun, co-operative adventures across all console game systems. We like the sound of that and look forward to seeing it in action.

More Adult Women Than Teenagers Play Video Games (ESA)

A new report titled “Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Games Industry” by the ESA  found more adult women play video games than teenagers. The report shows that women aged 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing audience (36%) than boys aged 18 or younger (17%).

We could have told them that, you should see us trying to get Mums out of the Game wagon after a video game party!

more women play video games than teenagers

The report also goes onto mention that 68% of parents with children under 18 feel games provide mental stimulation and education.

“Parents across America recognize the widespread benefits of video games, including education, mental stimulation, and the bonding opportunities they create for families,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of ESA. “Video games are a favorite pastime enjoyed by men and women of all ages, and millions worldwide who share their game play experiences with friends and family.”

We have long supported the close family interaction with video game usage in the family home and the report also shows that parents monitor their children’s game play. In fact, 95 percent of parents said they are paying attention to the content of the games their children play, and 91 percent are present when games are purchased.

Additionally, 88 percent of parents whose children play games believe the video game ratings are either very or somewhat helpful in choosing games for their children.

Do you know what games your kids are playing? Do you time limit gaming? Do you play with your kids and get involved? We would love to hear your comments and opinions.

Lego Hobbit – Buddy up over Easter for family fun in Middle Earth

The Hobbit Video Game Party Heaven

Grab a friend and set forth on a perilous journey far over the Misty Mountains with Thorin and company to reclaim the dwarven Kingdom of Erebor. The Lego title are fantastic parent and child adventures in co-op mode. 

Never tried co-op with the Lego Titles? Give it a try you will be amazed at the problem solving and story telling that will make you both chuckle like naughty little hobbits. I have read The Hobbit to both of my kids when they were smaller and now this represents a great new way to experience the legendary adventures of Bilbo and Company.

“There is no better way for parents to share the beloved and classic tale told in The Hobbitfilms with their kids than with LEGO The Hobbit videogame, in which they can discover, explore, and build their way through Middle-earth together like never before.” said Tom Stone, Managing Director, TT Games.

We are so glad that the PEGI rating came out at 7 as it makes it an all inclusive title fo rthe whole family. Friends and family will enjoy discovering Middle-earth through the easy access drop-in, drop-out gameplay option available on the consoles. Together players will navigate 16 levels, unlock more than 90 playable characters and partake in diverse treasure quests, mine for gems, discover loot from enemies, craft powerful magical items, and collect objects as they triumph in a game of riddles and discover the power of The One Ring.

This is on our must have collection and will be putting it through it’s paces over the next week or so and keep you posted on our progress. Hopefully we can make it out of the Shire!!!

Great Family Games For The Summer Term

We’re heading in to the home stretch for kids before a glorious six or so weeks of freedom. Looking for some good incentives / rewards to encourage them to get their heads down before the summer holidays? Here’s a look ahead to the best family games coming out between Easter and summer, perhaps you can reward yourself as well as them!

Mario Kart 8 | Wii U | Out: 31st May

Gamewagon video game party favorite Mario Kart 8

This is the big one. It’s always a big deal when Nintendo releases a new Mario Kart. The speedy series has a near universal appeal from the youngest to the oldest gamers. This time around we can expect to see transforming karts, new characters and gorgeous HD graphics. You will need a Wii U to play it but we bet you’ll be hard pressed to find a better reason to upgrade to the the new system. With four-player competition, accessible controls and infinite re-play value, Mario Kart 8 could very well be the family game of the year.

SingOn | PlayStation 3 | Out: Spring 2014

Sing On PS3 Gamewagon Video Game Party Ideas

Sony’s own SingStar has long held the karaoke crown for game consoles. Now it may be time to pass the mic. Following a similar digital system to SingStar, SingOn uses a downloaded app to the PlayStation 3 to deliver the music. Plug in any USB mics, pick your song from thousands on the online store and away you go. With SingStar, the songs could get pricey fast but SingOn seems to have a great solution to this; instead of purchasing individual songs, would-be popstars only have to lay down £2.99 for three hours access to the whole library. This could be a great option for those that only break in to song at parties, giving you a great selection for less. They’re even adding a live auto-tune feature for the more musically challenged.

Trials Fusion | XBOX 360/XBOX One/PS4/PC | Out: April 16

Game wagon video game party

After the massive success of fiendishly addictive bike-balance games, Trials HD and Trials Evolution, Finnish developers, RedLynx, are almost set to unleash Trials Fusion on the world. Promising the same, finely tuned gameplay as its predecessor, Fusion adds tricks, track creation and multi-player action (although we’re not sure what form that will take yet). As a download only game the price will likely be a little lower but if it’s anything like the last, you’ll still be in for hours and hours playtime.

Invizimals – We did not see them coming!

Gamewagon Invizimals Kids Party IdeaInvizimals may have been a game that your kids have liked but not really clicked with. Now however with the Invizimals The Alliance on Vita and Invizimals Lost Kingdoms on PlayStation 3 the franchise has really started something that could grab their attention. So get ready as we did not see it coming (pardon the pun!!)

There are many components to this franchise and it takes a while for all the pieces to click together. Not only is there the ability battle  between Vita and PS3 but there is also a cartoon coming to the UK soon as well as a line of toys and collectable Panini stickers. Look out wallet!

Testing out the two games, as well as seeing the cartoons and the toys at a recent launch event for the game it was interesting to see how uncomplicated the offering felt. It all clicks  when you see a child pause the TV show and use a Vita to scan the QR code which then granted him access to the on-screen character in his game.

Then later on while exploring in the garden they use the Vita to scan a particular part of greenery to capture another hard to find Invizimal he had been searching for.

With both Invizimals games launching on 28th March we are looking forward to seeing how quickly it reaches that critical mass of becoming the characters of choice for imaginary playground games. We are looking to see if they will work for our Gamewagon kids video game parties where Skylanders really struggled.  We focus on social interaction and four player games and we hope more developers continue to support social gaming in creative ways such as Invizimals.

Below is a video from our friends from Family Gamer TV so you can learn a little more from the Invizimals Launch Party;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAzjgHCJUuU

Look out parents here come The Mixels from Lego

You and your wallet may have survived the Skylander phenomenon that linked collectable characters with a video game. Well get ready for Mixels from Lego.

Lego Mixels

Lego Mixels are a range of unique characters that belong to one of nine tribes, each with a distinct colour and style to differentiate them. Made from Lego parts they can all be combined to create a mix (combining Mixels of different tribes), max (combining Mixels of the same tribe), and murp (when a mix goes horribly wrong).

Lego Mixels is a quite unique approach as the cartoon shorts (Cartoon Network) and the toys were developed in unison, with both debuting at the same time.

Supporting them on the video gaming front is the Lego Mixels App, “Calling All Mixels”, which allows you to play with your Mixels in a virtual environment as you mix, max and murp them together to defend against the evil Nixels.

Lego Mixels

Lego could have a huge hit on their hands with the Mixels; and at only £3 per character, they’re a little less of a hit for parents too!

 

 

Gamewagon Video Game Birthday Party Review

Gamewagon Video Game Party Review for 9 Year Old Boys

“What an idea! Our Gamewagon video game party went fantastically well. All the boys had a great time, one boy wants to hold a gamewagon party for his party, my son wanted the van to come back and another friend said ‘awesome party!’.

From my perspective it was the most peaceful party I have held (well for the 90 minutes) before they bounced off my walls in excitement before being picked up. Everything went very smoothly, my son had a fantastic party and all the staff I dealt with from booking to the actual day were very friendly and professional. Thank you….:-)”

Mandy: Marlow, Bucks

BAFTA Video Game Awards – Family Video Game Nominations

BAFTA has published the nominations for its awards for games in 2014. Of particular interest to us at Gamewagon are the family video game nominations shown below. Two of our huge favourite video game party titles are featured; Rayman Legends and Super Mario 3D World.

Family Video Games

These awards are great, not only do they recognise the talent that is behind these incredible games but they also put games in the same context within the arts as film and television.

Video games have come a long way and it is important that parents understand this and appreciate why video games are rated in a similar way to films with regards to age appropriateness.

A full list of the nominations is available at BAFTA Games. In the category for “Family”, nominations are: Rayman Legends; Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons; Tearaway; Animal Crossing: New Leaf; Super Mario 3D World; and (unsurprisingly) Skylanders SWAP Force.

Below is a link to more news on the BAFTA Awards and other family gaming news from Andy Robertson of Family Gamer TV.