5 Things You Should Know About ‘Unravel’

Just one look at this stunning game and its charming lead character is enough to capture the imagination of gamers of all ages.

Unravel from EA and ColdWood Interactive is a gorgeous puzzle platformer now available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Here are 5 things you should know before you bring Yarny home to the family.

Continue reading 5 Things You Should Know About ‘Unravel’

Introduce Kids to the Marvel Cinematic Universe With ‘LEGO Marvel’s Avengers’

We haven’t had much luck getting into LEGO video games at our house, even though we know they’re full of humor and brick-kicking. But the allure of an Avengers game featuring not just the Marvel cinematic universe but also some of our favorite characters (Squirrel Girl! Ms. Marvel!) was too hard to pass up—so my 7-year-old and I settled in to give the new LEGO Marvel’s Avengers a try.

And we’re having a blast.

While I’m mixed on pulling the audio directly from the films, my daughter is beside herself at finally getting to see the Avengers in action without worrying about seeing or hearing anything inappropriate. If you’re looking for a way to introduce the MCU to young kids without tuning into countless episodes of the animated series, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is an experience your whole family can enjoy.

Continue reading Introduce Kids to the Marvel Cinematic Universe With ‘LEGO Marvel’s Avengers’

5 Things You Should Know About ‘Mario & Luigi Paper Jam’

Mario and Luigi’s newest adventure is now available for the Nintendo 3DS! Mario & Luigi Paper Jam combines the action of a Mario & Luigi game with the adorable 2D characters of Paper Jam to make a fantastically fun title.

Here are a few things you should know about Mario & Luigi Paper Jam before you pick it up for that new 3DS you gave the kids for the holidays.

Continue reading 5 Things You Should Know About ‘Mario & Luigi Paper Jam’

Avengers, Assemble… LEGO! ‘LEGO Marvel’s Avengers’ Giveaway

The newest LEGO Marvel game is all about the Avengers of the Marvel cinematic universe. In the upcoming title you’ll play through some of the key moments of that universe, including the clash with Loki in the Battle of New York and fighting against Ultron in the sky over Sokovia.

Continue reading Avengers, Assemble… LEGO! ‘LEGO Marvel’s Avengers’ Giveaway

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks – Video Game Style

I adore video games. Ever since I played that first Atari game when I was a kid I’ve been hooked. Later I had a Nintendo NES and I’ve yet to find anyone that can beat me at Dr. Mario. Let me know if you’re up to the challenge, though. I’m more than happy to show you how wrong you are.

I’ve tried many different types of games through the years and found my favorites in MMORPGs. In my 20’s I discovered Everquest and would spend hours every evening camping spawns, training to zone (I was epically notorious for this one), and running all over the place turning in quest items for special gear. Even more hours on the weekends were spent questing with my guild. And there have been many other games since then.

So when my son (age 10) asked me if I’d play Minecraft with him I thought it would be a great experience. For him. I’d be able to teach him a few things since I’d been playing games for so many years. Little did I know he’d be the one teaching me. Continue reading Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks – Video Game Style

3 Geeky Games to Play Anywhere…With Anyone

There’s always the need at parties or get togethers to fill in those awkward gaps with something other than just small talk, but sometime there’s not a board game or set of dice in sight.

Other times, there’s a need to change the subject from some heated political differences, or calm down the frustrated “how much looonnngers?” on a car trip.

Been there, done that, created some anywhere party games to remedy it.

Just in time for those end-of-the-year and beginning-of-the-year celebrations, I’m passing them along to anyone in need of an ice breaker or a subject changer.

Each of these three games can be played pretty much anywhere (including cars) and need no more than a notepad and pencil. Continue reading 3 Geeky Games to Play Anywhere…With Anyone

Gamin’ Up New Year’s

Image By Rebecca Angel

Previously, I wrote about games that take a long time to play, which is perfect for New Year’s Eve. Here is a list of games for lots of people to play (seven or more!)

First, here are a few games that only require paper and pencil:

Celebrity: I played this with a group one New Year’s Eve a decade ago and some of us who were there still refer to it as one of our favorite parties. Hand out small strips to paper and a pencil. Everyone writes the name of one celebrity on each strip (alive, dead, real, fictional…) Depending on how many celebrities each person writes, the game can be long or short (4 – 10). Here is the complete gameplay. Be sure to do the Alternative Version which has three rounds.

Drawing Telephone: One of our favorite party games because the less-skilled you are in the art department, the better! Everyone gets a piece of paper and pencil. Each person writes a random phrase on the top of their paper and passes it to the person on their right. That person illustrates the phrase. Then everyone folds back the phrase so only the drawing is showing, and passes their paper to the right. Now the next person only sees the illustration and writes a phrase they think matches it. And so on. Here is a more detailed description of the game. We have some games taped up permanently in our house because they were so hilarious.

Round Singing: You all know Row, Row, Row Your Boat. And Are You Sleeping? Get everyone to try a round. No one needs to sound like a pop star, it’s just for fun. Here is a nice resource. Don’t be shy. If everyone is singing, who cares what individual voices sound like? (By the way, making live music together lights up more of your brain than any other activity, so this is good for you!)

And here is a list of great games to buy for lots-o-people to play!

Mad Libs You’ve got one around the house somewhere, right? If not, get one! Every theme imaginable is available.

Tsuro: The Game of the Path Explanation takes less than five minutes so perfect for non-gamers at the party. Also, it’s a really perty board.

7 Wonders Explanation takes awhile, but once the first round is played, people get it. New Year’s Eve is a perfect time to introduce a new game!

The next three games are ‘apples to apples’ types that can have multiple people, and end whenever you feel like it:

Snake Oil Card Game My son received this as a gift last year and it has become our go-to when we visit other people to have fun. I guarantee this game will make you laugh.

Mad Scientist University This game takes creativity and the ability to just go with it. How can you write your name on the moon with only rubber bands? With science!

UnNatural Selection Silly, silly game that will probably become ludicrous with alcohol…

What games do you recommend for a group?

In It for the Laughs: A ‘Schmovie’ Review

Every year while I was growing up, Santa brought our entire family a tabletop game to enjoy after Christmas dinner, or, if the game was fun enough, New Year’s Eve.

Santa’s still pretty cool about doing that in my family’s home every year, although I have to say he’s getting quite a bit quirkier in his old age. He’s always seeking out something that challenges both the intellect, and tickles the funny bone.

The offbeat minds at Galactic Sneeze have come up with a game they feel might just do the trick with their recent bestseller, Schmovie. They gave me the chance to see if this is something in which I might recommend to everyone’s personal Santa or gift-giving service.

Continue reading In It for the Laughs: A ‘Schmovie’ Review

Interview: PlayStation First and the Gaming Community

Hour of Code has come and gone; the reviews are jumping all around the interwebs (my own is coming shortly). But was it enough for your kids? Did your spawnlings savour the taste of coding … and then ask for more? And is coding really enough for them to start their career in-game development?

Continue reading Interview: PlayStation First and the Gaming Community

Getting the Non-Geeks in Your Life to Try (and Have Fun!) Playing a Tabletop RPG

In our family, holidays often mean gathering around the table twice: once to eat (duh!) and once to play board games. As our daughter has gotten older, this has become more fun; we’re no longer confined to the excitement of Candy Land and have instead moved onto Scrabble, Monopoly or Apples to Apples. But as our daughter has gotten older, she’s also gotten geekier… and it didn’t take long for my husband to recruit her to try a tabletop RPG.

The problem? Those games require at least two players plus a game master. Great. Dad’s the game master. Kid’s one of the players. That leaves Mom for the second player, and Mom has absolutely no experience or interest in playing. What are a geeky dad and daughter to do? Well, they convinced me… and we all learned a few things along the way. Continue reading Getting the Non-Geeks in Your Life to Try (and Have Fun!) Playing a Tabletop RPG

D&D for Young Players and New Dungeon Masters: 2 — Making the Characters Real

Welcome back to Dungeons and Dragons for Young Players and DMs. Last time, we covered kids choosing classes and races, to determine the basics of their character. In preparation for next week’s Dungeons and Dragons game, the kids were tasked with writing a character backstory. I also had to design a character that filled the needs of our small party.

The kids were a bit lost, not having written anything like this before. The idea of number crunching also made them both a bit cross-eyed. But the math is important! Dice rolls, skills, abilities and attacks are all critical components to play.

Continue reading D&D for Young Players and New Dungeon Masters: 2 — Making the Characters Real

Road Trippin’: Creative Games for the Whole Family

When it seems like the inside of your car is shrinking with every mile of a long distance journey, when your kids can’t focus long enough to listen to an audiobook without having to skip backwards a million times, and when no-one can agree on what music to listen to, there is only one thing to do:

Pull out some games.

I don’t know about you, but there are only so many times I can play “I Spy,” and now that my children have outgrown the lull of the road and no longer succumb to sleep, I’ve had to get a little bit inventive on our road trips.  Continue reading Road Trippin’: Creative Games for the Whole Family

GeekMom Holiday Gift Guide #5: Video Games and Apps

Since Pong, video games have been of great interest to the geek community. The games and graphics have gotten much more sophisticated, but the appeal hasn’t waned. See what games the GeekMoms are playing this year!

Image: Telltale Games
Image: Telltale Games

Back to the Future: The Game (30th Anniversary Edition)
About $20
If you haven’t yet gotten enough of Back to the Future this year (and who has?), check out Telltale Games’ fantastic Back to the Future: The Game, put out in a 30th Anniversary (for the movie) edition. Set six months after the story of Back to the Future III, you’ll take Marty through time once again to save Doc Brown, making choices for him as he tries to stay out of trouble himself. It’s a bit like the old Secret of Monkey Island game, except much more up to date, and with time travel!

Super Mario Maker Wii U Bundle © Nintendo
Super Mario Maker Wii U Bundle © Nintendo

Super Mario Maker Wii U Bundle
$299.99
Super Mario Maker not only puts all of your game designer dreams to the test, it also challenges all of your Mario skills with a staggering amount of brilliant levels created by players around the world. If you don’t already have a Wii U, there’s no better time to buy one than now with this bundle including both the game and the console. Continue reading GeekMom Holiday Gift Guide #5: Video Games and Apps

D&D for Young Players and New Dungeon Masters: 1 — Getting Started

Since 1974, millions of geeks have dug their teeth into the lore, magic, and adventure of Dungeons and Dragons. Over 40 years of shenanigans and sleight of hand have carved a backbone in the Geekyverse, before many of us were born, and each of those 40 years has seen a new crop of newbies join the ranks of Dungeon-crawlers. Embracing the idea is the easy part, in the end. That hard part? Learning thousands of concepts, rules, and options.

No one can learn it all overnight, and sometimes, you won’t have a teacher. D&D for Young Players and DMs is a journal of the lessons our family learned while introducing my kids to D&D.

Continue reading D&D for Young Players and New Dungeon Masters: 1 — Getting Started

Finding My Tribe – Gaming Guilds

A gaming guild is a group of individuals who get together to play a game. My gaming guild is like my family. We play together, laugh together, and share in each other’s lives.

The guild I am a part of, Alea Iacta Est, is actually more than a guild. It’s an online community that grew out of a World of Warcraft guild. It started as a fan guild for The Instance Podcast and it now spans multiple online role playing games and game networks. If an online game exists, odds are there is an AIE guild active in it. I am only one of several thousand people who call themselves a member of Alea Iacta Est, but whenever I get to meet up with fellow guildies, it feels like I am meeting long-lost relatives. We know that we have at least one thing in common, if not more.

I’ve been able to meet other AIE guild members through several different events. Not only is AIE a large community, but we are very active as well. I’ve gone to several local meetups, not just where I currently live but also during my brief stint in the Bay Area. There’s a convention called Nerdtacular I’ve attended for the last three years that celebrates the Frogpants podcast network community, which The Instance Podcast is part of. So while it is not only AIE guildies that attend, they make up a large part. This year we took our four-month old, and so we had a little different experience than previous years. Continue reading Finding My Tribe – Gaming Guilds

Forget Pepe. #ifoundmurky at BlizzCon 2015

Throughout October, leading up to BlizzCon 2015, one hashtag ruled them all as far as Blizzard games were concerned. The tag #ifoundpepe took off as players tweeted images of their characters with the beloved bird on their head.

When the Blizzard Gear store released a plush Pepe, the frenzy around him reached a fevered pace. But while there were dozens of Pepes to be seen throughout BlizzCon, another character also seemed to have caught the eye of crafters throughout the fandom. So I would like to propose a new hashtag, #ifoundmurky.

Murky is a murloc, a small creature that most World of Warcraft players would recognize as one of the many mobs that characters plow through in their quest for experience and gear. Heroes of the Storm players might recognize him as a niche character that shocks everyone when a player selects him.

No one really gives the poor creature much of a thought, outside of being a humorous addition to any game. But he has found love among a small group of crafters and I caught up with a few of them at BlizzCon. Continue reading Forget Pepe. #ifoundmurky at BlizzCon 2015

Screenshot Photography: Where Does it Fit in the Art World?

Screenshot photography is a newcomer to the art world. Screenshots have been around since the beginning of computer video games. PC gamers would use screen captures to document moments in games and capture vast virtual landscapes and character customizations.

With the introduction of screen capturing on new generation consoles, this new art form has made way into casual gaming.

In most instances, screenshots are basically candid snapshots. However, screenshot photography is gaining popularity with artists who are looking for an additional medium to explore. This new attention is due to the growing demand for video games. Games are worlds to experience, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that artists have begun to embrace screenshots as a new medium.

Continue reading Screenshot Photography: Where Does it Fit in the Art World?

Should Parents Sign Those Sports Media Permission Waivers?

It was time to sign up my kid for futsal, so I followed the link in the email from the team manager to sign him up. Only, in addition to digitally signing a waiver recognizing the health risks and holding the organization free from blame, I was also expected to sign a media release waiver:

“I, the parent/guardian of the above named Registrant, in consideration for accepting the Registrant for their Futsal programs and activities (collectively the “Programs”) hereby grants to [The Organization] and its member clubs and organizations, the right and permission, free from approval, review or cost, to photograph, record or otherwise capture the Registrants likeness in participating in the Programs for use in media, now or hereafter known, including, but not limited to pictures and video, to copyright the same in its own name, and which may be included in whole or in part for commercial or promotional use”

A quick perusal of the organization’s website shows that they pretty much just show group pictures of winning teams, maybe a couple action shots of groups, and that the likelihood of my child being singled out for ridicule or being the subject of a “what not to do” article is low.

But that’s not the point, is it?

I’m talking about digital images of my child that will live on to perpetuity and granting the rights to that picture to someone else forever. In whatever way they choose. Without my approval or review.

Do I sign?

Continue reading Should Parents Sign Those Sports Media Permission Waivers?

GeekMom Holiday Gift Guide #3: Tabletop Games

Many geeks sure love their tabletop games. From family game night to weekend-long game fests to gaming conventions, tabletop games play a pretty big role in our lives. We’ve come a long way since the days of Monopoly and Sorry (though those games still have their uses). What are GeekMom’s favorite games this year? Check them out!

Continue reading GeekMom Holiday Gift Guide #3: Tabletop Games

Get a Head Start on the Holidays Thanks to Nintendo [Giveaway!]

My six-year-old and I recently attended an event at Nintendo to get a firsthand look at some of their best offerings for the holiday season. Not only did my daughter make her own Nintendo-themed holiday wish list, we are ecstatic to share an incredible prize back with Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival and her other top picks with one lucky reader!

Continue reading Get a Head Start on the Holidays Thanks to Nintendo [Giveaway!]

PAX Australia 2015 (Part 2): Indie Video Games Steal the Show

PAX – where Gamers go to Loot.

Walk the exhibition hall and the first thing thrown at you is every big name in the video game industry, and more. The hype is about new and upcoming games; the atmosphere is about promoting the most unreal gaming experience.

In between all the glitz and glory are the indie developers, stealing all the tweets. Part 2 of my PAX review is aimed squarely at the video games: the games planning to conquer the world… and the ones I predict will succeed.

Continue reading PAX Australia 2015 (Part 2): Indie Video Games Steal the Show

6 Things You Should Know About ‘The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes’

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes knows it’s dangerous to go alone, so the game invites your friends and family to go along with you.

The new Nintendo 3DS release takes place in the kingdom of Hytopia, where a witch has replaced the princess’s stylish clothes with a drab unitard that she can’t remove. (The horror!) It’s up to the heroes of the land to save the princess…’s awesome fashion style.

This lighthearted take on Zelda is a one-of-a-kind co-op title that takes teamwork between friends and family to save the day. Here are six things you should know before you pick up the game.

Continue reading 6 Things You Should Know About ‘The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes’

Beware the Horsemen! Mark Lawrence Brings on the Apocalypse With New Game

When I found out that Mark Lawrence, a popular grimdark/dark fantasy author (The Broken Empire series, The Red Queen’s War series) was designing a new game, I had to check it out. It looks like irreverent dark comedy gold, to be honest. Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a card-based game where players try to evade the horsemen as long as possible by throwing others under their hooves. The cards themselves have color art on them by Cathy Wilkins (Numera, No Thank You Evil!), and stretch goals include contributions to cards from additional authors like Brent Weeks, Robin Hobb, Peter V. Brett, Anthony Ryan, Michael J. Sullivan, James Lovegrove, Myke Cole, and more.

I asked Mark why he decided to create a game. He was kind enough to tell me all about it. Please welcome him to GeekMom!

Image: Ragnarok Publications
Image: Ragnarok Publications

Hi, I’m Mark Lawrence, a late-starting novelist, long time research scientist, and father of four. My main occupation is actually looking after my youngest child who is 11. She’s very severely disabled and takes an enormous amount of looking after. My first book was Prince of Thorns, published in 2011.

I came up with the idea for the Horsemen of the Apocalypse card game the same way I come up with ideas for my books. I just sit and get on with stuff that needs doing, and while I do it ideas bubble up. I have a restless imagination—it’s always throwing ideas at me, occasionally some of them stick. Continue reading Beware the Horsemen! Mark Lawrence Brings on the Apocalypse With New Game

Fun & Spooky Games Whatever Your Halloween Plans

Whether you’re throwing a big neighborhood party, or staying home with the drapes closed this Halloween, chances are there’s a game to suit both your tastes and this spookiest of seasons. To help you celebrate Halloween I’ve picked out six games in six different styles including board games, video games, and games to play with kids.

Continue reading Fun & Spooky Games Whatever Your Halloween Plans

We Bought Our Sons a New Gaming System…and a History Lesson

"Like" this post if you have ever used one of these! Image credit: Patricia Vollmer.
“Like” this post if you have ever used one of these! Image credit: Patricia Vollmer.

You’ve said it to your kids when they complain about how difficult life is. Go ahead…admit it.

“Back in my day, we had it hard!

“We walked uphill in a blizzard to school…both ways!”

“Your Dad and I had only seven TV channels! And if you missed your favorite show, you were doomed until the rerun came on!”

“If you didn’t rewind the video cassette rental before returning it, you were charged a fine!

Recently, my husband and I had heard some commentary from our 10- and 13-year-old sons about how primitive their Wii video game system is compared to their XBox 360. That seemed to spark quite a family conversation one evening.

Continue reading We Bought Our Sons a New Gaming System…and a History Lesson

Tabletop Game: ‘Rattus Cartus’

Think you can survive the Black Death? Think you could become the ruler of a Plague-torn nation? Here’s your chance to try! Rattus Cartus is a fun game for families ready for a life-and-death challenge to shake things up.

Not very heavy on the history,  the mechanics add up to fun and engaging play. However, given its elaborate setup and sometimes complicated game play, this is a game that is more suitable for teens than younger kids.

Rattus Cartus is a worker placement and press your luck game. Set in 1347, there is only one goal: become the ruler of your kingdom. The biggest challenge? Not dying from The Black Death.

Without risk, you can’t gain supporters, but you also gather rats along the way. Careful—if you have too many rats at the end of the game, it won’t matter if you have the most points, because you’ll be dead.

Continue reading Tabletop Game: ‘Rattus Cartus’

Tabletop Games: ‘Super Genius’ Series

Super Genius is a series of educational flashcard games. Normally, I avoid flashcards. They have one job, they do it well, but then you never need them again.

But instead of your normal flashcards, Super Genius players match questions and answers in a variety of different games. Each game comes with several rule-sets, allowing each one to be played in a half-dozen different ways, including cooperative, matching, and ditch-your-cards style games.

Image: Rory Bristol
Image: Rory Bristol

Opening the first box was both underwhelming and exciting. Each box is exactly the size it needs to be, not bigger or smaller. Each of them comes with brightly colored cards, covered in a collection of numbers, pictures, or words. Setup was easy and took maybe a minute, including reading the rules. Continue reading Tabletop Games: ‘Super Genius’ Series

‘Covalence’ Game: Cooperative, Educational, Chemistry Fun

I love cooperative games because the dynamics of the group shift from finding any possible way to beat the live humans hanging around with you to exploring all possibilities within a game system to triumph together.  I also appreciate educational games that keep the fun.

Is it possible to have all three in one?

Why, yes, and the game is called Covalence: A Molecule Building Game recently put out by Genius Games. This is the latest in their series of science-based table-top games.

How does it work?

Covalence uses deduction. Continue reading ‘Covalence’ Game: Cooperative, Educational, Chemistry Fun

6 Tips for Throwing a Video Game Playdate With ‘Yoshi’s Woolly World’

Having your friends over to play video games isn’t a new idea. If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, you probably had some buddies over to check out the rad new Super Mario World or Sonic the Hedgehog. But “playing games together” back then was more your friends staring at the screen while you play, instead of playing together.

Thanks to the attention spent to co-op play in games like the upcoming Wii U title Yoshi’s Woolly World, video games now are more social than ever! Plan a perfect video game playdate for rainy day fun with the help of these six tips and Yoshi’s Woolly World. Continue reading 6 Tips for Throwing a Video Game Playdate With ‘Yoshi’s Woolly World’

Let’s Be Bad Guys: Time for Some Thrilling Heroics With ‘Colt Express’

In Colt Express, you take on the role of a bandit holding up a train in the American Wild West. Players use their cards to move around the train, gather loot, attack rival players, and influence the Marshall—at the end of the game the player with the most loot is the winner.

Continue reading Let’s Be Bad Guys: Time for Some Thrilling Heroics With ‘Colt Express’