Thursday, March 29, 2012

Video games review ( or how did it all work out)

In 1972 a video game called Pong was released. It was a simple game with two little white bats and a square ball, all you had to do was get the little square ball past the opposing bat and you got a point. It was simple and very addictive.

image courtesy of

Nowadays people would only play Pong  if it was at a party and everyone was either drunk or trying to win money off each other. Then in 1977 Space Invaders was released and the rest they say is history. The games got better and better and the way you played them got wider.

Which leads us to today. Computer games dominate our children's lives (and adults ! Apparently the average age of a gamer is 35 ) and the range to purchase and play is staggering. How on earth do you determine what's  what ?

A little while back I posted about the video games we had decided on as a family. The time has come some months later to detail what worked and what didn't.

The games were

Lego Star Wars 3                          PC                                Steam                         USD39.95
Minecraft                                        PC                               Minecraft                      E14.95
Plants vs Zombies                            PC                                Steam                          USD9.95
Lego Indiana Jones                     Wii                                EB Games                 AUD39.95

So they have completed all the levels in Lego Star Wars. The youngest one goes back from time to time to play in free play mode and overall it has been a lot of fun to play. The graphics are great and it is quite funny at times. The violence levels are fine as it's all Lego, so it is quite family friendly. After all nothing is quite as funny as watching a little Lego man pop apart in to little Lego pieces after being shot.

Plants vs zombies got a bit repetitive and the challenges were a bit overly simplistic. They enjoyed it for probably about the first 5 weeks and then it hasn't been played since. It wasn't an expensive game so I'm  not too worried. I had a go and lost interest after 5 minutes, mind you I was supposed to be helping clean the house so I was interrupted as well.

Lego Indiana Jones has exactly the same engine as the other Lego games so the game play is very similar. Once they had finished all the levels they started to go back and free play them which seemed to suit them better. We have had issues around battery life of the wii remotes which has lessened the time spent playing. They still enjoy playing every now and then.

Minecraft is another story all together. They are still going strong on this one and it's playability is still going after the final version was released. It has even drawn in the youngest son into it's caverns, open plains and vast treasures to mine. They would play it 24/7 if we let them. They talk about it, they plan it. They make videos about it. The eldest is now coding mods and worlds for other users, so I can't see this one going away any time soon.

I'm very comfortable about all aspects of the the game, there's no violence to speak of (there is griefing, and some zombie like creepers and others that can kill you but its surreal in it's portrayal).

A couple of new games have also somehow crept in ( Curse you - easy to use Steam), Terreria  is a side scrolling game which we have all enjoyed very simple and lots of fun. Team Fortress 2 has also crept in with it's cartoon style shoot em' up game play. The newest is Dungeon Defenders and is so graphics intensive it cause the graphics card to over heat and shut the PC down, much to The Beloved's relief.

Anyway the issue now is how to get them off the damn things because I mean I think by accident I created a substitute babysitter. It's not the same as TV which presents the information in neat little packages that require little or no thought. No these games demand your constant attention and then feed you little rewards along the way to keep you incented to play.

If we don't get the to turn the computer off and go outside or literally drag them out ourselves they would just keep on going.

And going. So now we have instituted a series of times that games can be played for, of course on completion of other everyday functions.

I just have to work out how to give them more chores so I can get on with the serious business of getting my Galaga scores back up........

1 comment:

  1. All hail Galaga - greatest game of them all.
    My eldest (9) is all over Minecraft as well. He's got his own server now and all the kids from School spend hours on it planning, building, demanding I install mods, using up my bandwidth...
    At least I know who is on the server and can monitor their behaviour and language (yay console of godlike power).