AskAboutGames is a joint venture between the VSC Rating Board and games trade body Ukie, run with input and advice from across the games industry. AskAboutGames is supported by video game publishers and retailers in the UK – who are keen to ensure their products are enjoyed by suitable audiences.
You no doubt have a big box of Hot Wheels cars and track in your house. There’s nothing quite like setting up a huge vertical drop and sending small metal cars to their doom.
Today, Mattel announced a new Hot Wheels video game that uses smart toy cars to track progress as they whizz around the track. The technology is a little like Skylanders. An NFC chip in each car records every lap, top speed and distance travelled as they pass over the Hot Wheels portal.
The portal connects to an app with a range of video game challenges. When you plug the new track together it knows the layout you have done and can set specific challenges and track how far your car has travelled.
The game itself is made by Studio Gobo, who was responsible for the Star Wars and Marvel levels in Disney Infinity. So they have lots of experience combining toys and games.
You can play the game for free by downloading it from the Apple app store. Or you can buy a car or two and scan them in on your phone. Buying the Portal lets you play with an iPad and opens up some clever challenges where you have to whizz your cars down the track to knock over virtual barrels and fly through hoops.
Parents will appreciate a nice feature that tracks how many games kids have played. When they’ve used up their credit they have to play with the physical cars and track to get more screen time.
Hot Wheels id vehicles, Race Portal and Smart Track Kit are available today at Apple.com and some Apple Stores. The Hot Wheels id free-to-play app is available for download from the App Store. A single Hot Wheels id vehicle is £6.99, Hot Wheels Race Portal is £49.99 and Hot Wheels id Smart Track Kit is £159.99.
Here at AskAboutGames, we’ve loads of resources and information to help parents and carers get to grips with the gaming world.
As part of this month’s Must Play May campaign, that celebrates the biggest and best games for every age group, we chatted to award-winning parenting podcasters “Scummy Mummies”, Ellie Gibson and Helen Thorn to find out how they navigate video games with their four children aged between 4 – 10 years.
You can listen to their irreverent but ever so useful Must Play May Parenting podcast, here.
What would Scummy Mummies want parents to know about video games? “Knowing that games have an age rating and understanding how they work is important. Play games yourself then make a decision for your child.”
“Playing games can be a good bonding experience. Which can be great for kids because they can enjoy being better than you at something. We often do things for our kids we don’t want to do — read Postman Pat for the 100th time. Sometimes you need to make yourself do something because they will enjoy it. Games are like that. Give them a go, yourself and you’ll be surprised how much fun they are.”
“I love how games bring fun into important life skills, like turn-taking, teamwork and healthy competition,” said Helen. “Ellie introduced me to Monument Valley which I loved. The strategy behind it, the calming music and the puzzles. And I finished it!”
“Games have changed and broadened out a lot since we were children,” said Ellie. “You can get some really beautiful games with artwork and a slower, more relaxing pace.
“I’m a big fan of Forza Horizon too,” added Helen, “because I can’t drive in real life so I can get the thrill of feeling like I can. And the Lego games are great for creative play with my kids.”
“FIFA is huge in our house”, continued Ellie, “my son gets to feel like the world’s best footballer and plays with his friends without leaving the house. It’s very sociable.
What about the games they play when the kids are in bed? “I love the new God of War,” said Ellie, “It’s a great example of how far games have come. It’s an action game and there is violence but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The narrative says something about parenting — how it’s difficult and having a child is not just about biological creation and keeping it alive, but about developing a relationship as well.” We can all relate to that!
To help you and your family get most out of video games safely check out these resources:
Parental Controls – All of today’s consoles and handheld devices offer inbuilt parental controls to help families keep track of the games they are playing, and how long they play them for. Setting these up not only offers parents a greater degree of management over online and gaming activity but provides families with an opportunity to agree how and when they will enjoy games. These can be implemented on each system automatically.
Patents’ Game Guides – We’ve everything you need to know about the latest games. Our experts spent time researching and playing new popular games, to create short videos that outline how to get the most of the games your family plays. From the game ratings to the best settings to stay safe online, in a few minutes our game guides make sure you are fully in the picture.
Top Family Games – Every week we check the store sales of all the games in the UK, and then compile a list organised by PEGI rating. It’s a great way to find out what other families are playing. It’s also perfect if you are looking for a great game for a particular age group.
Family Gaming Stories – A great way to figure out how you want to play games in your family is to see how other parents and carers are doing it. We speak to families of all shapes and sizes to find out what’s worked best for them. These family stories are the perfect way to get practical advice on gaming, that’s been tried and tested in real homes across the country.
Understanding Ratings – PEGI Ratings are an amazing resource for families. Not only do they ensure you can make an informed choice about what children play, but they help you find brilliant games of the right rating. The PEGI app is a great way to get information on games while out and about, and the Games Rating Authority website offers the same information at home.
If you’ve heard the Scummy Mummies podcast or caught them on the radio, here are a great list of games you can try with your children, along with plenty you might enjoy playing yourself.
PEGI 3+ Games Games suitable for those 3-years-old and over.
PEGI 7+ Games Great games for children 7-year-olds or over.
PEGI 16+ Games Great games for older teenagers.
PEGI 18+ Games Great games for parents to play once the kids are in bed.
For more about how PEGI ratings are decided, here’s a video at the Video Standards Council offices seeing what happens:
How PEGI 12, 16, 18 Ratings Are Decided (Rating Overwatch with the VSC Rating Board) - YouTube
The PEGI app is a brilliant tool to help you look up game ratings, and find other games to play:
Wondersong is a musical adventure where you use singing to save the world! Play as a silly bard who embarks on a globe-trotting journey to learn about the mysterious Earthsong, said to prevent the universe’s imminent end. It’s up to you to sing your songs, unlock the world’s secrets and make new friends!
Wondersong PEGI 3+ (Switch, PS4, PC) - YouTube
In the beginning, the universe was set into motion by the music of the goddess Eya. Now, as she does every epoch or so, she’s going to sing a new song and reset existence. One lowly bard sets off on a journey to preserve the world by collecting pieces of a mysterious melody called the Earthsong.
Wandersong is a musical adventure game where you use singing to try to save the world! Along the way there’s a huge cast of characters to meet, puzzles to solve and songs to sing. After a successful kickstarter in February 2016, the game released on September 27, 2018 to PC & Nintendo Switch!
The games industry is really big. There is a lot of potential for all sorts of careers. But it can be hard to know how to start children on a track into discovering how to get involved.
One way is to make their own games, which is becoming simpler than ever. Case in point is yesterday’s release of Dreams. It’s a PlayStation 4 game that makes it easy and fun to create all sorts of interactive experiences. You can make games, music, movies, art. Anything imaginable in an ever-expanding universe of creativity.
Girls Make Games With Dreams on PS4 - YouTube
Last week I went to an event put on by Girls Make Games at the developer’s studio. We spent the day with a group of girls making a game with Dreams for the first time.
“They are making a game, inside a game at a game studio. It doesn’t get more perfect than this. What they were able to make in Dreams looks complex but the simple process really lowers the barrier to entry of making a polished game.That feeling of confidence they get of creating their own game is something you carry forward into life.” Laila Shabir – Girls Make Games
It was impressive how quickly the girls started making things. But more than that, there was a real atmosphere of creativity. It didn’t matter if what you made turned out well or not, everyone was just happy to give it a go.
I spoke to some of the girls about their experience with Dreams.
“I watch a lot of coding videos on YouTube and they are always men doing it. I never see any girls. So this has been great to see other girls who are interested in things like this.” Girls Make Games Participant.
“It’s easy to pick up once you’ve mastered the basic controls.” Girls Make Games Participant.
“You get to let your creativity burst and be yourself and create whatever you want.” Girls Make Games Participant.
“A lot of people think that making games is a boy thing. But it’s better for girls and boys to come together because it’s more creative.” Girls Make Games Participant.
“It was a little bit challenging, but when you got into it, it was easier. I might think about this as a job because it’s really been fun.” Girls Make Games Participant.
“It was tricky, but it was also easy. You could make it up on your own. I loved understanding how you make games. After playing Dreams I’d love to work in the industry.” Girls Make Games Participant.
After the event, I had some time with studio head Sibahn Reddy. “Video games are the medium of our time and it needs new voices. I’d love to see game making being something parents encourage as much as learning guitar or learning a language. We love the idea of families making stuff together. It is for the next generation of game designers, architects, fashion designers. But mostly, it’s for the next ‘question mark’. It’s these young people who are going to take us to the future and I don’t know what they are going to do but they are birthing it now.”
“Skin betting” is when players exchange virtual goods that they’ve earned in online video games for real money and virtual gambling chips. The “skin” is something in the game that can change the appearance of characters in video games.
Because video games don’t allow this kind of illegal activity, it happens outside the game on unauthorised websites. A recent ruling by the Danish Gambling Authority has requested that telecoms companies block fifteen illegal skin-betting websites in Denmark. ISFE CEO Simon Little commented on the news, saying, “We call on gambling authorities across Europe to follow the example of the Danish Gambling authority to further support efforts to stop illegal practices such as “skin-betting”. Video games businesses do not allow, facilitate, or condone the conversion of virtual items or currencies into money or the use of them outside the game such as within unlicensed third-party gambling sites”.
Here’s everything you need to know about skin betting as a parent.
How Trading Game Items Happens
In most games, you can earn game items (mostly tools you use in the game like football shoes or weapons) or currencies (virtual money you can spend in a game). In some games, you can also trade these game items or currencies within the game, but you can never exchange them for real money.
But there are illegal third-party websites that offer to buy or trade your game items or currencies outside of the game. Buying or trading items in this way is in violation with the rules of the games and illegal. It distorts the gameplay and can lead to players being excluded from the game.
What Are The Risks
Players who are active on these sites run the risk of being exposed to ill-disposed actions by people they do not know.
In order to trade, people often have to give their account information, passwords or other personal information – that is very risky.
External trading is an illegal activity.
There is no guarantee that you will actually receive the money or the item you are betting on.
The terms and conditions of games do not allow external trading of in-game items: they can get your child banned from their favourite game.
How To Guide Your Child
Because this kind of trading and betting doesn’t happen on the game console itself, it’s important that in addition to parental controls on these systems, you also have appropriate settings on other devices in the home.
Playing games with your child ensures you understand and discuss how in-game purchases and character “skins” work. You can discuss whether they are good value as well as highlight the importance of keeping any trading or purchasing of these within the game itself.
As with any online activity, it’s important your child knows not to share personal information with people online, particularly unofficial websites that offer incentives like trading skins. This can be a good way to lead into a discussion about gambling and how to keep their gaming safe and fun.
It’s also good to recognise the value of earning these items in video games as a mark of success. This is often the result of considerable hard work and skill on the part of the player and is an opportunity to congratulate them.
London, 4 April 2019: BAFTA has announced the winners of tonight’s British Academy Games Awards, which celebrated the very best in games of the past year. The ceremony was hosted by Dara O’Briain at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.
BAFTA Games Awards 2019: Live from London, UK - YouTube
God of War, the mythology-based action-adventure game, won Audio Achievement, Best Game, Music, Narrative, and Performer for Jeremy Davies for his role as The Stranger.
Return of the Obra Dinn, the puzzle game developed by Lucas Pope, won Artistic Achievement and Game Design.
Nintendo Labo, the creative cardboard-based game that brings toys to life with the Nintendo Switch, won Family and Game Innovation.
Fortnite, the hugely popular online multiplayer game, won Evolving Game.
Another six games won BAFTAs on the night. The turn-based strategy game Into the Breach won Original Property. Florence, the interactive love story, won Mobile Game. Yoku’s Island Express, the platforming pinball adventure game, won the BAFTA for debut Game. A Way Out, the co-op adventure game, won Multiplayer. The open-world racing game Forza Horizon 4 won British Game. My Child Lebensborn, the story-driven nurture game about the child of an enemy soldier, won the BAFTA for Game Beyond Entertainment.
Old School Runescape collected the EE Mobile Game of the Year, the only award voted for by the public.
The Awards are supported by BAFTA’s official games partners Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, PlayFusion, PlayStation, SEGA Europe Ltd., Tencent Games and Ubisoft Entertainment with EE sponsoring the only award voted for by the public.
EGX Rezzed is a video games event brought to you by the team behind EGX. It’s a smaller event but still features many playable pre-release games on both PC and console (with a strong focus on indie titles), developer sessions by well-known game designers and the opportunity to chat with developers on the show floor.
There’s also a career bar run by Ukie which may be of interest if your children want to get into the games industry.
This makes it a nice low key event for families wanting to try out their first video game Expo. It’s also a great way to discover loads of brilliant games.
EGX Rezzed 2019 will take place from Thursday 4th to Saturday 6th April at Tobacco Dock in London, from 10am-6pm daily. For more information on the getting to the venue head to their location page.
Visitors of all ages are welcome to attend, however, under 16s need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
EGX Rezzed will feature a number of 18+ rated games and developer sessions. Under 18s will not be permitted to play these games or attend these sessions even if they are accompanied by a parent.
It’s worth noting that Tobacco Dock has some strict rules on bringing food into the venue. While it will be fine to bring in unbranded food (such as packed lunches for kids), venue staff won’t allow you to bring in meals brought from outside restaurants such as McDonald’s etc.
There will be a number of stalls from which to buy food at the event. Alternatively, there are plenty of restaurants, pubs and cafes nearby. You are welcome to leave the event and return at any point using your wristband.
It’s worth checking out the mobile app for EGX Rezzed. Please bear in mind that although the app is available to download now, the guide itself will not be released until a week or two before the event. iOS users can download the app here. Android users should head here.
It’s time to find out who’s the top banana with the Chimparty companion app. Challenge up to three friends and compete in a blitz of 18 wacky party games across 90 levels.
Launch, wobble and bounce your chimps using simple and intuitive one-button controls, with your smartphone or tablet as the controller. The whole family can play; all you need is skill, timing and animal instinct to become the Ultimate Chimpion.
Compete across five wild settings, including haunted castles with spooky ghosts, alien planets with crazy gravity and a pirate harbour filled with cannons and cutlasses. Collect outfits and accessories on your app and customize your own funky monkey. You can even play with your chimp on your friends’ PlayStation®4 systems.
Make sure your PlayStation4 system is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your compatible mobile device and then you’re ready to go. Simply follow the in-app instructions to connect.
Use this app to:
• Access the chimp customization screen.
• Save your customized chimp.
• Snap a selfie to use as your chimp’s in-game icon.
This app turns your compatible mobile device into a controller. For more information, visit www.playstation.com/playlinkcompatibility. PlayStation®4system, Chimparty and the Chimparty Companion App are required to play. PlayStation®4 system and Chimparty are sold separately.
Here’s a look at Wordhunters on the PlayStation 4. The globetrotting party word game for PlayLink!
Dive into a whole new world of competitive word games with your guide, Amy the Aviator. Fly around the globe to different cities, win rounds and claim letters from each location while blocking your opponents.
Use the free Wordhunters smart device App as a game controller to compete in 15 party-play word games suitable for the whole family. Test both your skills and your brain power in fun challenges like “Word Sushi”, “Alphabetty Forgetty”, and “Disemvowelled”, with endless replayability!
– 15 party word games suitable for the whole family!
– Take off to 20 global destinations from London to Tokyo and beyond!
– Drop-in / drop-out multiplayer for 2-6 Wordhunters!
– Easily change language within the game and practice your foreign vocabulary in French, Italian, German, and Spanish!