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October is right around the corner. Dust off the Halloween decorations, put the final touches on the costumes and get ready for all the scary movies coming to television and streaming services. While the common Halloween activities are fun, there’s nothing quite like playing a scary video game. The interactive unpredictability of a scary video game is unmatched compared to watching a scary movie. Ever had a zombie sneak up out of nowhere and bite you in Resident Evil?  If you have, you know what we mean. In honor of Halloween, we take a look at the top 5 scary video games and series.

1. Resident Evil Series

Long time no see! This series is the epitome of an interactive scary video game. You’re fighting off challenging zombies with various weapons you’ve picked up throughout your survival adventure and you’re finding herbs to heal wounds. Tip: Be careful when walking around corners.

2. Read Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

A little twist from the regular Read Dead series, this edition features zombies … what else?! The zombies are incredibly real looking even though zombies technically aren’t real. These zombies have serious speed and make crazy sounds. Enjoy with the lights off if you dare.

3. Blair Witch

You saw the movie, now you get to play the video game. Travel through the rigors of Black Hills Forest with your trusty steed as a police officer named Ellis.

4. Silent Hill 2

Sequels are rarely better than the original, but in this case, Silent Hill 2 challenges that belief. It’s an old game, but it never seems to get old. Spooky scenery, disturbing characters, creepy sounds, tricky puzzles and mazes, Silent Hill 2 will keep you up late for all the right and wrong reasons.

5. Call of Duty Series (Zombie Mode)

Zombies seem to be a common across this list and why not, they’re scary! The zombie game mode of this first person shooter can go on forever depending on how well your squad sets up. The scariest part might be when you must start back at level one after hours upon hours of work / play.

For kids of today, it is hard to imagine a time when you couldn’t sign-in online via your gaming system to drop into a virtual world to compete against online friends in various mini games, ie. Fortnite.  It was, however, a reality during the 90’s, as video games made their march toward what they have become, that you needed to have your friends over the house to compete. Oh the horror! Joking aside, the 90’s boasted some of the best video games ever.  We take a look at our top 5 timeless classics:

Super Smash Bros

This Nintendo 64 classic was a childhood favorite for any 90’s gamer. It’s one of the few games on this list that’s still played today. There was nothing like having three other friends over to compete, 2v2 or in a battle royale, with some of your favorite Nintendo characters like Zelda, Mario and Kirby. The title expanded over the years with new levels and new characters, most notably the Pokemon era. Was there anything better than being Super Smash Bros champ of the house?

Roller Coaster Tycoon

Who wasn’t an expert at running a theme park in the 90’s? This PC simulation game allowed users to construct and manage their very own theme park. From building the wildest roller coasters, managing prices at the park and concessions, overseeing park staff to ensuring the safety of guests, Roller Coaster Tycoon was the first business experience for many children growing up in that generation.

Mortal Kombat Series

Here is a classic title that has expanded through the years into something far bigger than developers ever could have imagined when the first version was released in arcades. Yes, you used to have to go to an Arcade to play this video game. As the game evolved through the years into versions with better graphics and response times, the classic characters remained. Choosing your destiny with the likes of Liu Kang, Scorpion, Sub Zero and Jax was a staple throughout the series. There was nothing better than “finishing him” at the end of a flawless round.  Mortal Kombat even had a movie made in honor of it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as the game.

Mario Kart 64

Yet another Nintendo classic, Mario Kart 64, was the first racing game for thousands of kids throughout the 90’s. Users selected their favorite Super Mario franchise characters, raced through tracks such as Rainbow Road and Bowser’s Castle, all the while dodging shell missiles and banana peels in the process. The power-ups made the races the most fun and there was nothing better than picking up a star when in second place on the last lap.

007 Golden Eye

One needs to look back at the graphics from Nintendo’s 007 Golden Eye to really understand how far gaming has come. At the time, it was the best and coolest shoot’em up game out there. Based on the James Bond movie, Golden Eye had an interactive story mode that built around the movie as well as a super competitive multiplayer mode for up to four players.

Other notables:

  • Legend of Zelda Series
  • The Sims Series
  • Sonic The Hedgehog Serie
  • Super Mario World
  • Doom

September is big video game release month – sports games, especially, release in time to take advantage of the beginning of the football, basketball and hockey seasons.  But there are many video games for every interest.  Here’s a quick list of what’s coming out this month.

September 3rd

  • Catherine: Full Body (PS4)
  • Children of Morta (PC)
  • Final Fantasy VIII Remastered (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Last Oasis (PC)
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy (PC, Switch)
  • Torchlight II (PS4, Switch, Xbox One

September 6th

  • Monster Hunter World: Iceborne (PS4, Xbox One)
  • NBA 2K20 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC, Stadia)

September 10th

  • Caravan Stories (PS4)
  • eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Gears 5 (Xbox One, PC) Note: Early release for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers.
  • Greedfall
  • Utawarerumonou Zan (PS4)

September 13th

  • Borderlands 3 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Daemon X Machnina (Switch)
  • NHL 20 (PS4, Xbox One)

September 17th

  • AI: The Somnium Files (PS4, Switch, PC)
  • Lego Jurassic World (Switch)

September 20th

  • The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)
  • Untitled Goose Game (Switch, PC)
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (Switch)
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered (PS4, PC)

September 24th

  • Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear (PS4, Switch, Xbox One
  • Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Contra: Rogue Corps (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Planescape Torment: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • The Surge 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

September 25th

  • Mario Kart Tour (iOS, Android)

September 26th

  • Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition (Switch)
  • Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX (PS4, Switch, PC)
  • Ys IX: Monstrum Nox (PS4 – Japan only)

September 27th

  • Code Vein (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age (Switch)
  • FIFA 20 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Memorrha (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC, Mac)
  • Ori and the Blind Forest (Switch)
  • Tropico 6 (PS4, Xbox One)

Remember how awesome it was to play Snake on your phone?  Cell phone games have come a long, long way since those early days and so have those early games. You had the likes of Tetris, Solitaire, Black Jack, Texas Hold‘em and other card games that evolved into Words with Friends, Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja type games. Now games are at a whole new level, they’re practically console quality in your hand.

Here are five of our favorite interactive, smartphone gaming apps:

1. Fortnite

The uber popular, free console game is also available on your phone and you can “drop in” with players across all platforms – PS4, Xbox, PC, etc. The game is constantly providing new content, weapons, maps and worlds, which makes it easy to come back to on iOS and Android devices. Did we mention the best part, its free!

2. Pokemon Go

After dropping back in 2016, Pokemon Go quickly became the hottest game on the market and it remains one of the most popular, fun smartphone games to this day. Available on iOS and Android, Pokemon Go, like Fortnite, is a free to download and play. There are in-app purchases available, which is the way they make money. Wherever you go, there are Pokemon to be caught and gyms to be won and defended.  So catch them all, if you can, and hold down the gyms like you’re defending your own home!

3. Peter Panic

is a musical adventure game where you get to combine the fun nature of mini-games (think Super Mario World) with the musical aspect of Broadway. Your character is Peter, and by completing games successfully, you help him save the town theater where he loves to perform. The game is available on Android and iOS, however, if you want to save your progress, it will cost you a onetime fee of $2.99. Great for children of all ages!

4/5. Telling Lies & Her Story

We combined the two in a tie for fourth and fifth because they are practically the same game, just different versions. Created by Sam Barlow, who did Fortnite and Pokemon Go, these games are solve-the-mystery thrillers that feature real interactive clips from real actors to help you get to the bottom of the cases. Her Story is a murder mystery while Telling Lies is a multi-character story in which all characters are connected in unknown ways. Both games only available on iOS devices and cost $6.99 and $3.99 respectively. Check out video clips of each game.

 

When talking about video game streaming, we aren’t discussing sites like Twitch that allow gamers to broadcast their game play online for others to watch. Video game streaming is a new way games can be delivered and played – it’s la carte. Think Netflix for video games, where the games are stored in the cloud and can be accessed on a device to be played without the disc and without the console.

Play devices could be your TV, phone, PC, laptop or iPad … all the above. Currently, Sony’s Playstation Now is the only full version available, but it’s accessibility is limited to PS4’s or PC’s for a subscription of around $100 dollars a year. For that users get access to a library of nearly 1,000 old and new games.

Competition is on the way from GeForce Now and Google Stadia, both of which are in test stages. Google Stadia is set to release a version of its service in November.  It will work on pretty much any device that has access to Google Chrome. You will be able use your mouse and keyboard on a PC/Laptop or buy a controller for TV gameplay. If you already have a controller that has Bluetooth capabilities, you can use that or buy Google’s own controller product that will surely have a faster response time since it is specific for this service.

It is important to remember that you will need a very stable internet connection to enjoy these services the way they were meant to be enjoyed.  After all, you’re playing a game that is stored in the cloud and is played over an online server.

Is this the future of gaming or will a console and disc services always have their place? Time will tell, but we will have a good idea of how popular these services are within the next year as the betas become full products.

Many parents today are trying to get their children interested in and knowledgeable about STEM subjects. The economic benefits of STEM knowledge are significant. Games, books and other tools can be used to spark STEM knowledge and passion from an early age. One important STEM subject which is sometimes overlooked is data science. Data science is the practice of organizing and analyzing massive amounts of data. This practice is also very much about understanding the patterns which can be found in these data collections. There are certain simple methods for parents to teach their kids the basics of data science. One of these methods is to collect objects of different shapes, sizes and colors. Let’s say the parent uses 11 objects. Then the parent rearranges 5 of these objects in order to explain a pattern to the kid. Then the parent should ask their kids how they think the remaining objects will be used if the same pattern continues. The next step is to let the kid point out what the pattern is; this skill of pattern recognition from data is at the core of data science. Using certain objects in a random way is also an important part of the teaching process because data science is also about dealing with randomness in data. Small games like this can explain the basics of data science to kids at an early age. These types of intellectual tasks are good for the mental development of children.
America’s epidemic of gun violence has been linked to video games by President Trump and some commentators.  The data suggests otherwise.  Naturally, the first to object was Stanley Pierre Louis, President and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association who claimed that video games have a positive influence on society. He cited examples of video games being used to support health and education efforts. He also claimed that scientific studies showed that there’s no link between videogames and violence.  What studies? Benjamin Burroughs, a professor of emerging media at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas says, “There are no longitudinal studies that show a link between violence and video games. Certainly, there is no linkage to gun violence.” An AP article in the subject states, “Indiana University researchers found [in a small study] that teenagers who played violent video games showed higher levels of emotional arousal but less activity in the parts of the brain associated with the ability to plan, control and direct thoughts and behavior.” Research by Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University, led him to conclude, “The general story is people who play video games right after might be a little hopped up and jerky but it doesn’t fundamentally alter who they are. It is like going to see a sad movie. It might make you cry but it doesn’t make you clinically depressed.” It is pretty clear the video games do not lead to gun violence.  Still, some of these games can be disturbing to young kids and teens.  Their parents have a monitoring role to play. To help them, since 1994 The Education Software Rating Board has provided ratings designed to help parents decide what games are appropriate for their children with ratings that range from “E″ for “Everyone” to “Adults Only” for those 18 and older.  Reviews of games designed for parents can be found through Common Sense Media.