Generations of gamers who have not only the arcade but also years of computer, Nintendo, and PlayStation games in their pasts are now, themselves, raising children. In a world of wall-to-wall screens and endless gaming options, it can be hard to find just the right game for game-loving parents and their inquisitive kids to enjoy together.
Over at Brainy Gamer, Michael Abbott describes the challenge of finding games that engage his four-year-old daughter, Zoe. Games designed for kids don't always do it. But Skyrim does.
"Kids quickly learn that parents save the best stuff for themselves," Abbott wisely observes. "Zoe is happy to while away twenty minutes with a Dora game, but she knows whatever I'm playing is likely to be a hundred times more interesting, and she wants a piece of that action." Enter Skyrim. While clearly some parts of the game are too violent or explicit to be kid-friendly, Abbott finds that with some planning and prep work on his part, Skyrim is perfect for his daughter to enjoy.
There are eight ways parents can help make Skyrim great family fun time, Abbott explains. Some are more obvious than others. For example, no matter what system the game is running on, a game pad will be easier for small, young, relatively uncoordinated hands to learn to use than the keyboard-and-mouse combination is. Likewise, establishing an ethical code of action in advance—such as "help people who ask for it"—can make the wide and murky waters of a game easier to navigate.
"Be a mage," Abbott also advises. "I prefer Zoe casting spells to wielding swords and axes. It feels less ‘realistic' to me and more suitable for a child." And of course, parents should review the game, or sections of the game, before sharing them with a child, to make sure the content in question stays appropriate.
But Abbott's best advice is all about letting kids explore and learn from games the same way their parents do. Creative problem solving can be the best part of Skyrim:
Let your child discover there can be more than one way to solve a problem. I spared Zoe the Fellglow Keep gore, but let her face The Caller boss at the end of the quest for a reason. We were given the choice of fighting her or negotiating with her, but we found a third option we liked better. We cast an Invisibility spell, grabbed the stolen books, picked her pocket for the exit key, and escaped the dungeon. "We were smarter than her, Daddy!" You bet we were.
Thanks to the time she's spent in Skyrim (and with her brainy gaming dad), four-year-old Zoe can now read maps and count currency. And she's young enough not to care about things that may not matter: " Just remember that a small child thinks less about leveling up or RPG mechanics," Abbott cautions, "and more about having fun, moment to moment, in an imaginary world."
Sounds good to me. Maybe we really should try seeing games through the eyes of a child more often.
Skyrim for Small Fry [The Brainy Gamer]
Jul 30, 2012
Last week Bethesda VP of marketing Pete Hines had us a little bit worried when he said last week that Bethesda "have not announced Dawnguard for any other platform." Follow up messages suggested that the tweet was designed to diffuse expectations of an imminent Dawnguard release on PC and PS3, but it was all a bit vague.
This post on Blue's News suggests that the situation will be resolved shortly. In a response to a twitter question asking if Dawnguard has been cancelled for PC, Hines reiterated that "nothing has been said/announced about it," but added that "we should have info later this week."
"Just sit tight," he tweets in response to another Dawnguard PC cancellation query. "We'll have info soon."
Dawnguard's been out for a month on the Xbox. We exposed Andy to the console build, and he came back with ten reasons be excited about Dawnguard.
It's been a month since Dawnguard arrived on the Xbox 360, which means the typical length of your average Microsoft exclusivity deal has expired, but there's still no news of any further release dates. So ... when can we expect Dawnguard on PC?
"We have not announced Dawnguard for any other platform, nor given a timeline for any such news," says Bethesda maketing VP Pete Hines in a tweet spotted by IGN. "If we have news, I promise I'd tell you." Oh.
Dawnguard is surely coming to PC, though, right? "I was simply stating that expecting/demanding something today is unfounded. Not that news is never coming," said Hines coyly in a follow-up tweet. "Sometimes it's better to say nothing until you can provide solid info than say something before you can," he adds.
Bethesda have been very quiet about the PC and PS3 versions of Dawnguard, but it's hard to imagine them keeping it back for Xbox 360 players when Skyrim is doing so well on PC. It's barely dropped out of the Steam top-ten most played games list since it launched in November last year. Hines' comments suggest that we'll have to wait longer than expected for more Dawnguard PC info, which is sad.
We couldn't stop ourselves from getting a peek at Skyrim's first expansion, we picked out ten reasons to be excited about Dawnguard's eventual arrival on PC. Take a closer look in the Dawnguard trailer from E3.
Wondering when you can get Skyrim's downloadable content Dawnguard for your PlayStation 3 or PC? So is Bethesda.
"We have not announced Dawnguard for any other platform, nor given a timeline for any such news. If we have news, I promise I'd tell you," Bethesda vice president of marketing Pete Hines wrote on Twitter yesterday.
But in May, Bethesda told me that the Xbox 360 would have a 30-day exclusive on the DLC. Dawnguard was first released on June 26. Today is July 27.
I've reached out to Bethesda to ask why the Xbox's exclusivity period has exceeded 30 days. I'll update if they respond.
Jul 27, 2012
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Jim Rossignol)
That’s not to say that it’s not coming out, just that there’s no announcement, and that we should therefore not expect its imminent release – which was something we wondered about with the advent of the recent patch. Pete Hines, who tweeted the news of the non-announcement, followed up by saying “I was simply stating that expecting/demanding something today is unfounded. Not that news is never coming.” SO MAYBE IT WILL BE ANNOUNCED. IT’S ANYONE’S GUESS.
Oh well, anyway, that’s a shame. We’d just imagined it had been announced. I’m going to pass the time waiting for announcement by installing one bajillion mods from Skyrim’s Steam Workshop and seeing what happens. Crabs wearing monocles, probably.
Jul 24, 2012
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Alec Meer)
It’s odd to look back to the many frustrations of Skyrim’s launch, all those PC-specific oversights and technical flaws that drove us spare, and how so many (but not all, I know – modding the UI is still all but vital, for instance) of them have since been addressed. New textures, 2GB RAM cap lifted, sound quality bug sorted, mounted combat added… What seemed to be a fairly perfunctory PC version has been nurtured to fuller health in the days since launch, and that continues with patch 1.7, now in beta on Steam. There isn’t much in the way of big revelations, but “General memory and stability optimizations” is the kind of thing that’s always good to hear. I wish someone would optimise my> stability. (more…)
Skyrim is a much more stable game now than it was on launch. You'll still find the odd horse wedged halfway into a rock, but bar the occasional physics freak out, it all sort of works. That's the result of constant patches since launch, the latest one of which is live now in beta form through Steam. It's a straightforward update that delivers some "general memory and stability optimizations" and fixes some crashes, bringing Skyrim closer to perfect working order.
If you've just picked up Skyrim in the Steam sale, consider augmenting your copy with a few choice picks from our round-up of the 25 best Skyrim mods around, or use this one to go adventuring with Minecraft Steve, a slightly disturbing companion mod that adds Minecraft's block default bloke to Tamriel. If you're more excited about what's coming up next for Skyrim, check out our ten favourite things about the upcoming Dawnguard DLC.
Now for the patch notes. They're brief, so let's take an extra moment or two to remember the Skyrim that was, back when it was full of flying bears, and giants that could punt you into the stratosphere.
Accessible through the beta participation section of the account tab of your Steam settings.
General memory and stability optimizations
Fixed crash related to new water shaders
Fixed rare crash related to dragon landings
Mr. Minecraft aka Steve is a too good an adventurer to stay in one game. The Minecraft man has tunnelled his way out of Minecraft into Skyrim. Look, there he is, eating some bread. It's like meeting a celebrity. He can become a follower and aid you with a Minecraft bow and a diamond pickaxe, all with the help of a series of Skyrim Minecraft mods on the Steam workshop. Read on for a video of the mod in action.
The mods even add a Minecraft pig with a tiny saddle so that you can ride him. You can populate the world with Creepers and Minecraft zombies to fight. No Endermen, yet, thankfully, but it's probably only a matter of time. The mod isn't entirely stable at the moment, but if you fancy doing a bit of dragon slaying with Steve at your side, grab the files from the Minecraft Mods collection page.
Here's Aussie Tech Team's video of the mod in action. It is really quite surreal.
There's nothing quite like a bard in a tavern, strumming his medieval proto-guitar of choice (here a mandolin, there a lute, sometimes a harp) and humming dulcet tones.
Then there's this bard. He's a little more 21st century than those other minstrels and troubadours. As he says: "You see, I bear some rare amazing information / and you look like someone who's used to strange situations." Because he's the rapping bard. And his Skyrim-wide rhymes are funnier than they have any business being.