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.
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!
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.
We would like to thank everyone for his or her entries into the Gamewagon Easter cartoon competition. They have been tough to choose from and in the end the judges had to choose two winners to make it fair on the younger artists.
Here are the two winners final cartoons.
Our judges loved the high tech shading in Bailey’s cartoon and we liked the characters and flow to Isaac’s cartoon. In both cases I am sure you will agree they have done themselves proud. Well done.
You have both won a Gamewagon Party to enjoy with your friends. Congratulations, make sure you book in your date early as we book up very quickly.
We will keep you all posted on our next School Holiday competition soon. Thanks again for all the entries and good luck next time if you were unsuccessful this time.
Many thanks to every one that came down over the Easter school holiday to come and play, chill out and have some fun. We will look at doing another family friendly pop up over the summer holidays. For those that missed it you can see what we did below and make sure you catch us next time.
Looking for something to do to entertain the kids this Easter? Gamewagon have set up a Video Game Cafe for family friendly fun on the latest consoles and games.
So, gather a few friends together and kick back, chat and sample some of our fine tea and coffee whilst we entertain the kids. We also have some video game themed cup cakes that are to die for.
To keep up to date on the latest news about our Easter Pop Up follow this link to our Facebook Page.
We have the latest consoles (PS4, Xbox One and WiiU) so you can try before you buy. We will also be holding some week long competitions for a chance to win a free Gamewagon Birthday party!
Breaking News!!! – Skylanders Swap Force are coming to the Pop Up
Activision’s Skyklanders have been a long time favourite of friends of Gamewagon and we will be showcasing the Next Gen console versions of the Swap Force characters.
Warner Bros. have also provided the latest release of their family friendly lego video games – The Hobbit for you to try out. It has only just been released and is a great chance to play with friends.
Video Game Cafe Pop Up – Opening Times
The Pop Up will be open at 11am – 4pm from Monday 14th to Thursday 17th April.
Location: The Kings Head Pop-up, 100 Clapham Park Road, Clapham, SW4 7BZ.
There is no need to book and no entry fee, simply pop along and chill out with the Gamewagon team in the lovely surroundings of the Kings Head Pop-up which is only a 3 minute walk from Clapham Common Tube.
To keep up to date on the latest news about our Easter Pop Up follow this link to our Facebook Page.
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!!!
This years Easter holiday competition is a little different. This year we will be holding a Gamewagon video cartoon drawing competition and giving away a free Gamewagon Party to the winner!
We have provided a basic template for you to use and Jack has given you an example of his talents as an idea. Let your imagination run wild and enter as many times as you wish as inspiration grabs you. We are looking for a great characters, action and a lesson to the learned from the story.
So, start putting your thinking caps on then simply send us a photo of their video game based cartoon. It can be based on real characters or ones you have made up the choice is yours.
Download the template for our video game cartoon competition here and print as many copies as you like.
Gamewagon Comic Template
A photograph of your cartoon should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org before Monday 21st April 2014.
We will judge the entries and announce the winner on the 25th April 2014!!! The winner can choose a party for up to 12 guests at any time from Monday to Thursday during 2014.
Good luck and may the most creative mind win!!! (Sorry Jack nice try but no your example does not count.)
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
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
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
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 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;
Online retail giant, Amazon, have just launched the Amazon Fire TV in the US for $99. It’s a very slim black box, not much bigger than a smartphone, and plugs straight in to your HDTV. Once connected to the internet it offers access to loads and loads of the biggest TV and film streaming services like Netflix and Amazon’s own Prime Instant Video (just launched in the UK and free for Amazon Prime members). It’s a safe bet they’ll be offering the likes of BBC iPlayer and 4OD when it crosses the Atlantic too.
There’s certainly no shortage of ways to get TV and film at the moment with many families enjoying on demand video via their set-top box and games console, or using one of Apple or Google’s similar devices. Amazon is looking to distinguish themselves in a few big ways though.
On the video front, they’re able to offer a bigger selection of services by basing the system on Android (the same software then runs loads of non-Apple smartphones). The remote control is unique as well as boasting a microphone in the top for voice control. Ask for Doctor Who and it’ll show you the ever-changing Time Lord. How well this feature works though, remains to be seen. We have been less than impressed with most voice control systems even those in the new generation of Playstation and Xbox.
But the biggest surprise is how much Amazon seems to be pushing the Fire TV as a mini-games console. We’ve seen the Ouya and the Mad Catz M.O.J.O. try to offer smaller, mobile-style games on the big screen in recent years with little success. Amazon is taking a slightly different approach, hiring some big name games talent into its Amazon Game Studios and buying existing game development studios with a view to having them create exclusive content for the Fire TV. They’ve also announced a number of existing games playable on the box too, Minecraft being the biggest.
Early reports on the controller are promising, likening the fully featured gamepad to the superlative XBOX 360 controller. It needs to be bought separately but because the Fire TV runs on Android, you should be able to use most other Bluetooth devices like the PlayStation 3 controller. Coupled with the impressive power in the technical specs and a special, kid-friendly mode called FreeTime, the Fire TV could at last be an affordable, attractive miniature games console for the family.
It’s yet to be seen whether the Fire TV will be able to compete with Google and Apple in the video space or succeed where others have failed as a micro-console but with the money and might of a huge company like Amazon, it certainly stands a very good chance.