Do Video Games Need More Girl Power?

We are often asked about the suitability of our video game birthday parties and entertainment for girls. My own daughter is a FIFA fanatic but also has grown up playing Jak & Daxter, Mario Kart, and Super Mario Bros on consoles and not just Singstar and dance mats. There is no doubt in my mind that girls love video games of all genre as much as the boys. We see them every week playing together and having an absolute blast.

However, it is interesting when you take a view from afar and start to consider what kind of female characters exist inside the games that she historically played. There is no doubt there is a huge bias towards male characters but we talked about it and it was not something she was really aware of, or that ruined her fun at the time.

Our friend Andy at Family Guy TV recently posed a similar point to Activision at the New York Toy fair. Skylanders has been an amazing phenomenon but the character set has been predominantly biased towards male characters. Although the development team felt they were gender neutral!

We have recently seen Angry Birds Stella announced, which is a version of the game targeted specifically at girls (judging from her colour and types of toys being sold). While boys will likely enjoy playing this as well it will be interesting to see if Skylanders goes a similar route.

With the Swap Force figures seemingly all being male, does Skylanders 4 need to re-address the balance? What video games do your daughters play? Do they have any favourite female video game characters?

We will take a close up look at some of the favourite female Skylanders in preparation for announcements on the new game. Here is Sky who packs a fiery punch.

Girl Video Game Character SKY

 

Win a Gamewagon Party in our Christmas Holiday Competition!

This years Christmas holiday competition is a little different. This year we will be giving Gamewagon video game model competitionaway a free Gamewagon Party to the winner of our video game modelling competition.

Models can be made out of anything you have available; Cardboard, toilet rolls, paper, tinfoil, plastic, lego, modelling clay, plasticine are all ideal for model creation.

So, start putting aside what they need over the holidays and then get ready to send us a photo of their video game character or scene. It can be based on real characters or made up the choice is yours.

A photograph of your model should be sent to drawing@gamewagon.co.uk before Monday 6th january 2014.

We will judge the entries from the 6th January and announce the winner on the 10th January 1014!!!  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 best model win!!!

Is this video game suitable for my child?

At Gamewagon, we often get asked our opinions on a whole range of game-related topics. Usually it’s as simple as troubleshooting controller problems, or advising on compatibility between consoles. One question, however, that we’re asked again and again, has a less straightforward answer.

“Is this game suitable for my child?”

 It’s a complicated question that, unfortunately, doesn’t have a yes/no answer. It’s certainly not our place to decide what’s best for your children. We do, however, feel a responsibility to be able to advise on what is in place to help guide your decisions.

The best place to start is with the PEGI age rating system; the little coloured boxes you see on the front of games. It gives each game a rating from five possible options of age appropriateness (3, 7, 12, 16 or 18).  Each number corresponds to the recommend minimum age of the player, based on the content of the game.

PEGI Video Game Ratings

So, according to PEGI, a 10 year old should not be playing LEGO The Lord of the Rings, because they’ve labeled it as only suitable for children aged 12 and over!

The top three ratings (12, 16 and 18) are actually legally binding for retailers, meaning they cannot sell, for example, a 16-rated game to a child under that age, without breaking the law in the UK.

To compliment the age ratings, PEGI also implements content descriptor icons. These tell PEGI Advisoryyou why a particular game was awarded a specific age rating and can range from Fear and Gambling to Online and Violence. If you’d like to know more about PEGI, you can visit the family-focused website, askaboutgames.com

“At Gamewagon, we take this system very seriously and will only allow games that are age-appropriate for the whole audience to be played at our events, whether supplied by the customer or by us.”

When it comes to what you allow your children to play at home, it’s no longer a question of the law, but your own personal judgment.

Games have evolved drastically in recent years. It’s a medium that’s constantly pushing boundaries in the pursuit of realism. Games are capable of creating (or recreating) worlds with such accuracy that, now more than ever, you could easily find yourself mistaking footage of a game for a video recording.

This heightened fidelity is not just found in the visual presentation, but the story, dialogue and even audio, of modern games. They’re deeper, longer and more involved than films or television. Something like Skyrim, one of the most popular games of all time, would take hundreds and hundreds of hours to completely absorb.

A few hours watching something like Grand Theft Auto V could never be enough to assess the content. You may see nothing but the harmless exploration of rolling hills, with little idea that the game contains a short segment that forces the player to commit horrific acts of torture on an innocent civilian. Depending on your opinion it’s either a brutally honest, political comment on US foreign policy and homeland defence, or a gratuitous and unnecessary scene, only inserted to shock. Either way, it is entirely inappropriate to allow a child to try and process this.

So what does a busy parent do when a child is begging for the latest 18-rated release? You can’t play every game to completion before making a decision (even if you wanted to). So here are our 5 top tips for making sure your kids are playing fun and suitable games.

  1. Use the PEGI system – particularly the 18, 16 and 12 ratings. It sits on the conservative side so if they don’t think it’s right for your kid you’ll be better safe than sorry.
  2. Find the best new games that are suitable – askaboutgames.com publishes a weekly list of the top selling games, by PEGI rating, so you can see what’s popular in your child’s age bracket.
  3. Play with your kids – it may seem daunting to the uninitiated but playing along with your kids is the very best way to understand what games can be and how they affect your children.
  4. Indie and mobile games – as big console releases are increasingly aimed at adults, smaller, downloadable games can be great for kids. They’re weird and wonderful and there are all sorts out there. Minecraft is an Indie game! (most indie and mobile games aren’t rated by the normal PEGI system so do read reviews prior to handing a game over to your child).
  5. Keep an eye on Gamewagon – finding the best games for kids of all ages is our business. We won’t recommend a game if we don’t love it and we’ll always let you know who we feel it is right for.

Support For Special Effect

Special Effect has invited teams from across the games industry to a charity five-a-side football tournament on 5th September 2013, taking place in the shadow of Wembley Stadium. Gamewagon will be fielding a side and also sponsoring the Fair Play Award.

Gaming charity SpecialEffect has today announced their five-a-side football tournament to take place the 5th September 2013. The tournament will be a Champions League format, played within walking distance of Wembley Stadium at the Wembley Stadium Power League venue. As well as a trophy up for grabs, prizes will also be given to the winning team supplied by the Games Industry and players will get the chance to win signed football memorabilia in the event raffle.

Gamewagon has supported Special Effect since visiting the head quarters and seeing the magical moments they create in people lives. If you have not seen what they do take a look at their web page www.specialeffect.org.uk.

First Touch Games have kindly agreed to become match ball sponsors for the event with New Star Games sponsoring the Star Man player of the Tournament and Gamewagon sponsoring the fair play trophy. All three companies have also entered teams alongside the likes of Gamer Network, Codemasters Racing Studio, Konami, and Marmalade.

You can offer your support for the amazing work that special effect do at www.justgiving.com/SpecialEffectWembley. We will keep you posted on our progress and hopefully have some photos to display although I feel the trophy may be a step too far!!!

Half Term Drawing Competition

You do not have to wait a year for your kids birthday to come around to enjoy a Gamewagon party!

Your son or daughter and up to 10 of their friends can play all their favourite games together in the Gamewagon by entering our special half term competition.

All they need to do is draw or model their favourite video game characters, include a caption and send to Gamewagon a chance of winning! Read More>>

Lovely Feedback from Gamewagon Birthday Party

We just had a lovely thank you note from Alican after his 10th Birthday.

“Thank you for making my party extra fun. I hope to play on the Gamewagon again.”

Alican and Friends at Gamewagon Video Game Party

Gamewagon Video Game Party in Full Swing

We are so glad you and your friends had a good time in and outside the Gamewagon. We love the picture of them all as they played inside and outside of the Gamewagon.

GAMEWAGON – BEST BIRTHDAY PARTY EVER! (BABES-ABOUT-TOWN REVIEW)

I’d been scouting around online for birthday party venues when I stumbled across an amazing sounding concept called Gamewagon.

Gamewagon Video Game Birthday Parties

Launched in September last year, the Gamewagon is the ultimate fun ride — a big luxury truck pimped out with 3 large HD screens inside, all the latest gaming consoles and stacks of video games for players ages 3 and upwards.

When I watched their boys’ birthday party video, I knew I’d found the dream event for my little gamer. Ezra was going to LOVE this!

I’d earned major cool points with the parents at school after our Disco Loco birthday party last year. But nothing could prepare them for the thrill of the Gamewagon.

Here’s how it works: you call up Gamewagon and arrange a time and place (preferably your home, but they also can set up at schools, community halls etc) for your event. The Gamewagon rolls up and parks outside, the party people get on board and for 2 hours they play a selection of their favourite video games — ours had Skylanders, Fifa 13, Super Mario to name a few.

I had booked the party on a Sunday to avoid any parking issues on our street. At 12.15 exactly the truck pulled up outside to squeals of excitement.

The Gamewagon usually relies on a power source from your home, but since we live on a 2nd floor maisonette they’d brought their own mini generator (it’s not that noisy, but do alert your neighbours if you require a gen).

It took them about 15 minutes to set up and by the time the first few guests arrived — eyes literally popping at the sight of the truck — they were raring to go.

We’d invited 12 of Ezra’s buddies for a boys-only party as the Gamewagon only fits 12 to 15 people at a time. Some might find this limiting but I call it a plus as it forces you to keep numbers down — parties where the whole class comes can be stressful!

The real bonus was being able to kick back indoors with a glass of wine, chatting with a couple of mums who stayed behind, knowing the kids were safely playing in the truck.

Every time I popped in to check on the boys I was amazed at how engrossed they were, how well they were taking turns and also cheering each other on. And there were 2 extremely chilled out Game Experience managers on board who kept things running smoothly.

Kins love Gamewagon Video Parties

Gamewagon parties are recommended for ages 6+, although my 4-year-old and another younger brother sat happily watching the big boys play.

I’d put out nibbles in case the boys got hungry but they were so caught up that only one of them took a toilet break (let alone a snack break) during the entire 2 hours of gaming!

After the wagon drove off, the boys came inside for some Big Apple Hot Dogs and birthday cake. Those brief but manic 30-45 minutes with 15 boys bouncing off the walls indoors made me even more grateful I’d hired Gamewagon!

I honestly can’t recommend this experience highly enough. The service was smooth, friendly, relaxing and the best part is how much fun Ezra and his friends had together.

More than a week after Ezra’s birthday I still had people coming up to tell me ‘thanks so much, my son had the best time EVER!’ and ‘that was a cracking birthday party, you’ve really raised the bar!’ and ‘Jake says for his birthday he wants a Gamewagon’!

Game over.

Read the original review on Babes About Town

After School Video Game Birthday Party

What a great bunch of Gamewagoners these lads were. They played a rotation of FIFA13, Sylanders Giants, Sonic Racing and various iPad and PS Vita games.

The Birthday Boy melted our hearts when he told his Mum that “She was the best Mum in the whole world”.

Gamewagon a great Birthday Party idea

Gamewagon creates a unique after school birthday party

Rumour has it the burgers and pizza were to die for. What a lucky birthday boy he was.

Gamewagon Orchastrate Event with Mini Mozarts

Another ambitious event with over 20 kids with Clare Shaw in Mill Hill. Clare knows her stuff as she runs Mini-Mozarts in various locations around London.

“Awesome concept, kids loved it and I loved locking them up for 2 hrs!!!” Clare Shaw, 21st September 2012 (Mill Hill).

We enjoyed the event as well and wish Clare all the best with her Mini Mozarts business. Hope to see you all again soon.