Posts tagged #parenting

Circle with Disney in Canada

This is the Circle with Disney. It's a cool internet monitoring and parental control device that lets you set time limits on internet, monitor app usage, and so on. I've been on the lookout for something to allow me to control access to the internet in a more finely tuned way than what my dlink router offers me.

Doing some Googling led me to the Circle. Originally a failed kickstarter, now offered in partnership with Disney (way to go, people!) the Circle is, despite its name, a white cube that connects to your wifi and lets you do all that parental stuff. I was blown away by a review, and looking at the features on the Circle site itself, it looked like the perfect device for what I need.

Only downside, you can't order it from the US to ship to Canada. And the iOS app that's needed to set it up is only available on the US iTunes store. So to get this thing working up here I'd have to ship it to a US address, pick it up or have someone travelling bring it back with them, and also set up a US iTunes account in order to get the app. A little too much work for me right now, as I'm in the middle of moving house.

And then today, I decide to try searching for Circle on the best buy canada site, and lo and behold, it's available for pre-order! Shipping September 15th, it looks like Circle is indeed coming to Canada! I'm hoping that the iOS app will be available in the Canadian iTunes store on that day as well.

I'll report back when I get it set up. - E

Posted on September 6, 2016 and filed under Reviews.

Get hype! I'm launching a new show tomorrow!

I'm not usually one to promote myself. Maybe it's my reserved Asian-Canadian nature, or a carry over from the lack of self confidence I had as a teenager. Whatever it is, I'd rather build up others than toot my own horn.

But when you start something new, you have to get out there, be active, and show and tell people what you're doing. And once you've done that, you have to do it again. And again.

So with that in mind, I've got something to talk about.

Tomorrow is the launch of my new project, The Magic Hour Show. It's a weekly audio show hosted by me, about games, kids, and parents, and everything in between. I'll be joined by Ryan Thompson and Mikey Rollins, who are gamer parents just like me.

You'll be able to listen to the show right here at and also by subscribing on iTunes and RSS.

You can help me by following us on twitter @GPmagichourshow, liking us on Facebook, and subscribing and leaving a review in iTunes.

Thanks for your support, and I hope you enjoy the show!

Posted on March 10, 2015 and filed under News.

My Interview about Family and Gaming on GamesReviews

I was recently interviewed by Adam Roffel of GamesReviews about games and family.

I wish that we could all stay in our early 20’s forever, but eventually some of us have to get jobs and start families, and yet somehow still find space for games. As more writers, game developers, and gamers have kids of their own, I can see that games we can play with our kids will become an increasingly important topic.
Posted on February 12, 2015 and filed under News.

Can gaming make you a better parent? Well duh

Monica J. Vila writes in the huffington post today:

Although some parents are still reluctant to embrace video games as an approved family activity, it's easy to see how kids might benefit. There are dozens of video games that are geared towards learning but even the most basic games teach us to think logically and quickly process large amounts of data. Rather than passively absorbing content from, say, a TV show, a video game requires a player's constant input to tell the story.

Most video games are designed to allow players to succeed and be rewarded for that success. Different skill levels and a risk and reward culture mean that most video gamers are not afraid to fail and will take a few chances to achieve their goals. Better yet, video games offer instant feedback on our decisions, helping us learn our strengths and weaknesses.

If you're a parent and you're not playing games with your kids, a) what are you doing here? (just kidding, welcome!) and b) why not? There's no time like the present to spend some quality gaming time with your kids.

via huffingtonpost

Posted on September 12, 2013 and filed under Article.

Literary Link - "A Letter to my would-be Gamer Child"

I came across this lovely article by @SpaceKazz on GameSkinny today, "A Letter to my would-be Gamer Child". She adapted Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" in a most MMO kind of way, check out an excerpt:


If you can keep your head, and /smile and /apologise,
Never daring to blame it on the "lag"
When all about you are losing their cool, and blaming you for “leeroy-ing”,
If you can trust your build when all others doubt your heal/dps combo
But make allowance for their doubting and read up on your class
Then be prepared to test and to get it wrong and then to be honest in your findings,

If you can wait for hours on end for that battle-ground or epic fight
And not tire of the waiting nor indulge in smack-talking your group leader
After rushing home from work to gear up only to log off with no fight 6 hours later,
If you can read the stats, do the math and equip that terrible looking gear set
Because it does the job your group needs you to do
Even though that elf in the sexy-but-useless-bikini-armor looks way prettier

Read the full poem here

Posted on August 13, 2013 and filed under Article.

Happy Anniversary!

A haiku:

It's been quite a year
I think games have much value
Keep playing them, ok?

Today is the one year mark for and it's been an interesting and rewarding experience for me. Thanks for sticking it out with me this past year, and for coming by to read the stuff I write. I really appreciate all your comments and feedback. I'm looking forward to a bigger and better year two.

Stay tuned for more exciting news, I have something to announce, but I can't tell you what it is just yet! Sorry for the tease, but I think you'll like what it is!

Posted on March 22, 2013 and filed under Article.

Why Criterion's Need For Speed Most Wanted on the Wii U is a litmus test for parent child relationships

There are a few things that speak to me, as a parent. And usually driving games are not one of those things. But in this rare case, I must make an exception. The upcoming Wii U version of Need For Speed Most Wanted, developed by Criterion, has managed to sneak its way into my heart.

How, you may ask? It's not just that Criterion has come out and said that this will be the "definitive version" of the game, nor is it that the team has challenged itself to do right by the Wii U, returning to their roots and making a "bespoke edition" for each console. It's not even that Criterion really likes the Wii U and they want to push the technology as far as they can.

No, what really warms the cockles of my heart is the new "Co-Driver" mode, internally and affectionately called "father-son mode". This is the mode where you, the "father" take the Gamepad, and the "son" takes the Pro Controller, or Classic Controller, or even the Mario Kart wheel with Wii mote, all of those will work. The kid does the driving, but the parent, oh boy, the parent gets to assist. From the Gamepad the parent can change day to night, turn traffic on or off, slow down police cars, and even change the car that you're driving at will. If needed, the parent can even take over control of the vehicle. The degree to which you interfere with assist your child is up to you. You can completely take over (if they let you), or you can just give a gentle steering input now and then to keep them on course.

My oldest is 10. That means in 6 years, she'll be learning how to drive. And most likely I will be the one sitting next to her as she takes the family car out for her first tentative drives around the parking lot. How will I react? Can I keep my cool, without being overly critical? Can I provide just enough assistance without completely taking over?

I realize now what Criterion has done. This is not just a driving game, no. Need for Speed Most Wanted is a litmus test for my relationship with my daughter. A simulation of things to come, in which mistakes are not as costly as in real life, but where the ramifications are every bit as real.

Wish me luck.

Posted on February 22, 2013 and filed under Article.

I'll make a gamer out of you yet, my pretties!

Last month, at our annual New Years Day brunch at a friend's house, I noticed an interesting occurrence. My oldest daughter was sitting on the couch, happily playing Skylanders with the younger kids of our host. She had never played it before, but she was getting the hang of it, more or less.

This is a marked difference from even just a few years eariler, where she either would have a) not been interested, or b) found it too difficult to control and given up. I blame myself. You see, we don't have a PS3 or an Xbox 360, we have a Wii. And so she's grown up with motion control as the norm, and traditional controllers aren't really what she's used to. I'm sure she'll pick it up eventually, not too worried about that.

In a parallel development, she received the first Professor Layton game for Christmas, finished it in about a week, and then got the second Professor Layton a month later for her birthday. She's hooked, as she loves the puzzles, and the cut scenes / storyline. It's right up her 10 year old brain's alley.

It's all part of my plan to make her into a gamer, and I think it's working.

Before Christmas, the DS had been pretty much sitting in a drawer, neglected and forlorn. The kids having exhausted their interest in Pet Shop and Cooking Mama games, had moved on to playing on our i-Devices. This could not stand, I said to myself. That's not real gaming, I protested.

So I hatched a plan. First, I bought Professor Layton. Ostensibly it was for my wife, who also loves that kind of puzzle game, but I knew that my daughter would be interested. She was. Second, I got the NEXT Professor Layton game ready to give to her for her birthday. Third, I ordered a copy of the first issue of Nintendo Force, and left it around for her to read.

In the space of 8 weeks, she's gone from wanting an iPad Mini as a reward for chore points (I give stars instead of cash, redeemable for prizes... each star is worth about $0.25) to wanting a 3DS. A 3DS! Good choice, my offspring, good choice.

When I asked her why she made the change, she said, "I don't know, some of the games look interesting. Well, I want to play the latest Professor Layton, and that game with Layton X Ace Attorney... with all the finger pointing! Oh, and Animal Crossing."

If you end your reason with the words, "Oh, and Animal Crossing" I think you automatically win. QED.

Posted on February 17, 2013 and filed under Article.

Dad changes Link's gender in Zelda for daughter's sake

Mike Hoye, I salute you.

The father of three and half year old Maya painstakingly edited the data files of Nintendo's Wind Walker so that every reference to Link would be changed from male, to female.

Hoye had been playing the game with Maya in attendance, and been reading the story to her as they went along, changing Link's gender on the fly as he read aloud. However, he decided to take things a little further, and took a hex editor to the original files to alter the text in the GameCube game itself. Mike blogs:

It’s annoying and awkward, to put it mildly, having to do gender-translation on the fly when Maya asks me to read what it says on the screen. You can pick your character’s name, of course – I always stick with Link, being a traditionalist – but all of the dialog insists that Link is a boy, and there’s apparently nothing to be done about it.

Well, there wasn’t anything to be done about it, certainly not anything easy, but as you might imagine I’m not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don’t get to be the hero and rescue their little brothers.

Ever since having kids (both girls) I've become much more sensitive to the prominence of female role models in TV, and female protagonists in gaming. They are few, and add to that the difficulty of finding Asian female heroic protagonists, my hat goes off to Hoye for going the extra mile for his young daughter.

Posted on November 8, 2012 and filed under News.

Have you ever grinded through your kids games for them? That's love...

Kotaku headline reads: "Mother Grinds Through Online Game So Her Daughter Doesn’t Have To".

This happened in China, where a daughter's restricted screen time lead to many tantrums. And so, like any loving parent would do, her mother did the only thing she could. She plays the game, Mole Manor, and grinds through to level up her daughter's character.

Yeah right.

The headline should read, "Mother secretly loves Mole Manor and purposely restricted her daughter's screen time so she could play"

Have you ever played your kids games for them? I have. Mostly when the game is on my iPhone, which the kids don't always have access to, I am 'requested' to check Snoopy Fair or Pocket Frogs during the day.

At least we're not doing their homework for them, right?

Posted on November 8, 2012 and filed under News.

Parents need more information, not less, Kotaku

In a sarcastic post, Kotaku's Jason Schreier blasts ABC Local News for a story warning parents that when playing games with online interactions, your kids might be exposed to language and content that are definitely not kid-friendly.

ABC Local is on top of its game this week, warning the world that, according to experts, there is cursing on Xbox Live. And racial slurs! And cyber-bullying!

While it may be obvious to gamers that online interactions are laced with profanity and racial and sexual slurs, many parents are unaware of what happens when a game has an online chat component.

Because none of this happens, on, say, a playground. Or at school. Or anywhere that 11-year-old kids hang out because this is what 11-year-old kids do.

Sure, it happens. But it doesn't happen without consequence. Kids get expelled, parents get called in, a lot of things happen if a child behaves inappropriately at school. And just because it happens elsewhere, does it mean it's ok? And surely schools aren't allowing adults to come to the playground and taunt the kids, are they?

Yet that's what could happen online, because online game chat is open to everyone and anyone.

The ABC article does give some good tips, namely, be involved in what your kids are doing, no gaming in their bedrooms, that sort of thing. It also highlights the work that Microsoft is doing on Xbox LIVE to look out for bullying and predatory behaviour.

Remember the target audience for this article is not us, the gamers and gamer parents. We already know this stuff. It's for the average mom and dad who don't know, and who need to know.

Parents need to be more informed, not less.

Posted on March 28, 2012 .

Parents, do you need a dictionary of Gaming terms?

Scott Steinberg has a handy guide for parents to commonly used gamer terms in an article on ABC News' site. If you're a gamer already you probably won't need this, but if you're not, Steinberg will take you through the basics.

Basics like the definitions of avatar, free-to-play, and gamertag. More advanced things like 1337-speak and what a sandbox game is, and even things I didn't know, like the definition of machinima.

He also has a new book (wow, really? how coincidental) that I'm going to help plug but I haven't read yet. So I have no idea if it's any good or not. It's called "The Modern Parent's Guide to Kids and Video Games", and it's actually available as a free download, so hey, check it out at:

Posted on March 28, 2012 .