As my kids were unwrapping our family gift of a Wii U on Christmas morning, I was reminded of just how excited I was at age 7 to unwrap a new Atari 2600 from Santa. Which of course led to my next thought on how crazy far video games have come since then!
The rapid improvements in hardware and graphics over such a short period of time are pretty mind-blowing. And who would have ever thought that there would come a time when we didn't even need an actual handheld controller to play a video game? I'm still amazed every time we turn on our Xbox 360 with Kinect and control a game via our voices, hand motions and gestures...
Family video game nights are still a regular occurrence in our household, though we typically hold them on Sunday evenings now instead of Friday nights due to sports schedules. We recently picked up a couple of new game titles courtesy of Walmart to expand our fun. The girls chose Just Dance 4, and the boys selected Madden NFL 2013.
I can't tell you how much fun we've had playing Just Dance 4 as a family -- the boys even jumped in. One of my favorite aspects of Just Dance 4 is that up to four people can play at a time. This means we can rotate through turns fairly quickly, and no one gets too bored while waiting for their chance to dance.
Many of the tracks are favorites of ours, and we've had a ton of laughs dancing to Call Me Maybe, What Makes You Beautiful and more. Oh, and the kids begged me to download Gangnam Style from the online store, and I have to admit I caved. Watching my 9-year-old trying to dance like PSY is priceless!
When we were all out of breath, the boys settled down to give Madden NFL 2013 a try. All I can say is, "Wow..." This is a far cry from the football game I had for my Atari! The graphics are nothing short of amazing, and even cooler, you can control the line of scrimmage via your voice with the Kinect.
There is so much packed into this game that we've barely scratched the surface as far as its capabilities go. We haven't had a chance to try the Connected Careers feature, but from what I've read, I have no doubt that this game is going to keep my boys entertained for a very long time.
BTW, if you've had your eye on Madden NFL 13, I recommend buying the Walmart exclusive version so you get the Madden Ultimate Team!
Of course no family game night would be complete without snacks! I threw together this yummy Greek veggie crescent appetizer pizza, which didn't last long with the appetites we all worked up. You can make it up to a day ahead of time, which leaves you free to play along with the rest of the family.
A few family video game night tips from my household:
- Research games before buying. Walmart has launched a new resource that will provide video game education and tools for finding family-friendly gaming solutions. Just follow @GamerNetworkHQ on Twitter for real-time access to live gaming experts 24/7!
- Parents should give games a trial run before game night. Many games have updates that need to be installed before you can play that can leave kids impatient for the activities to start!
- Mix new games in with old favorites. Some games have a steep learning curve which can frustrate younger gamers. Rotate among games to keep everyone involved in the fun!
Do you host a regular family video game night? If so, what's your favorite family-friendly video game?
Disclosure: I am a participant in the Walmart Moms program. Walmart has provided me with compensation for the time and effort spent creating this post. However, my participation in this program is voluntary and my opinions are my own -- always have been, always will be.