Our Thoughts on PAX Unplugged

Penny Arcade has been running their PAX conventions all around the world for years now, but they have always been very broad. They have reached out to all corners of the gaming world and tried to bring them together. This wide net approach is great, but it isn’t a perfect match for the board game community. Board game culture is dominated by massive board game focused conventions like GenCon, Essen Spiel, Origins, and others. So it only makes sense that PAX would eventually expand in that direction. PAX Unplugged was their first attempt at doing so.

The EFG team has had some time to reflect on our experiences there now that we are home, unpacked, and survived the holiday season and I’m happy to report that we had a blast. Unplugged was a great show and it still has room to grow into a major event.

The event took place in the Philadelphia Convention Center. Its a massive facility located in the heart of Philly. It is also right across the street from the Reading Terminal Market for easy access (during the day) to all sorts of awesome food. I was impressed by the facility compared to some of the other convention centers I’ve been to in the past. It was sprawling, but I never felt lost while inside.

There were just too many games for us to cover all of them. We would have driven ourselves mad. Take a look below at our impressions of the games we DID get a chance to see.

Games we came home with

Eleminis

Flying Meeple

Eleminis is a game for 2-8 players ages five and up.  This is a light set collecting game.  In this game you are trying to collect five different elements, but there are limitations to what you can trade and other players can use action cards to thwart you.  This game is reminiscent of Hoagie with building a set and the ability to spoil the other players’ sets.

Gimme Gimme Guinea Pigs

Flying Meeple

This is a very fast paced and simple game for 2-6 players ages 3 and up.  In Gimme Gimme Guinea Pigs you are trying to be the first to collect a set of all the same pet, but you can only hold 7 cards in your hand.  Discarded cards are placed face up for other players to take.  This was super quick and easy to play, and a very simple game for the youngest gamers.

Down Force

Restoration Games 

Downforce is a old game, know under other names which has been given a modern update.  In Downforce players bid on cars and each car the win gives them a power.  The cars are raced around a track using a deck for moving the cars.  There are choke points build in so you can block other cars.  Players also bet on the cars, and the winner is the player with the most money at the end of the game, regardless if you win the race or not.  The board is also double sided with two levels of play.  Suggestions for how to scale the game down to younger players is also included in the rules.

Stop Thief

Restoration Games

Stop Thief is a revival of the game that was originally published in 1979.  In this game player take on the roll of investigators trying to catch several thieves to collect the reward money so they can retire.  This game incorporates an app that provides sound clues to the location of the thief.  The app provided different levels of difficulty in play as well as a retro mode with vintage sounds.  There is also a cooperative mode in development.  This is a great deductive reasoning game for the whole family.

Indulgence

Restoration Games

Indulgence is a trick taking game similar to Hearts.  In this game, which is set in Renaissance Italy players take turns playing the ruler and putting out three edicts (rules) to follow with which cards to collect or avoid.  One players per round can also decide to play the sinner and do the opposite of the edicts.  The risk is high and the reward great if you accomplish the sin.  The game has beautiful components that play up the opulence of the Renaissance theme.

Duck! Duck! Go!

Ape Games 

Duck! Duck! Go! is a game for 2-4 players for players 8 and up.  Using movement cards you move your ducky around the board so it makes the rounds and touches all three buoys.  The first ducky to do get back to the drain after touching all three buoys wins. The game board is build using two sided tiles so each game has a unique board.

Games We Played

Bubblee Pop 

Quick Simple Fun Games

Bubblee Pop is an two player strategy game that attempts to mimic game play elements from match-3 puzzle games like Candy Crush and Puzzle Quest. It does remarkably well considering how Video Gamey I thought those mechanics were.

The designer managed to capture an lot of the strategy elements from the two player versions of these types of games and threw it onto an board game. This is interesting because it removes the sometimes frantic nature of the video game version and encourages deeper strategies.

Stuffed Fables

Plaid Hat Games

Stuffled Fables is easily our most anticipated board game right now. We’ve where excited about it since it was announced. Our hype intensified when we interviews Jerry Hawthorne on our podcast. We’re even MORE excited now that we’ve played it.

The theme is adorable. Players take on the roles of a little girl’s stuffed animals as they defend her while she sleeps. The game is played by pulling dice from an bag and rolling them to perform various skill checks. These things are cool, but they aren’t what sets the game apart.

Stuffed Fables is separated from the crowd by its Adventure Book. It’s an spiral bound, choose-your-own adventure style book where each

Shiba Inu House

Renegade Game Studio

In Shiba Inu House you are matching pictures from a card with one two or three Shiba Inus sitting on a colorful dog house.  Using the cards you match the dog image and build a doghouse. The pictures can get mashed up as long as the image is correct of each dog with their house.  The graphics are very bright and colorful

Doggy Go

Renegade Game Studio

Doggy Go is a speed  game for 1-4 player game for ages 6 and up.  Players are trying to complete a pattern on acrobat cards with their doggie tiles and acrobat item cards.  You gain the acrobat cards for correctly completing your pattern first.  The player with the most cards wins.

Castles of Caladale

Renegade Game Studios

Castles of Caladale is a tile laying game for 1-4 players ages 8 and up.  In this game each player is trying to rebuild their castle using the mixed up pieces left from all the castles being destroyed.  The player to build the largest and most complete castle, and scores the most point on their castle wins.

Adapt

Gate Keeper Games

Adapt is a card and dice game for 2-3 players ages 14 and up where you start as a guppy and your fish evolves over the course of the game, and then uses their adaption to battle at the end of the game with the other players.  The game has a reversible mat to simplify the game and make it a game for ages 7 and up.

Kaiju Crush

Fireside Games

Kaiju Crush is a light strategy game for 2-4 players ages 10 and up.  Each player takes their turn as a Kaiju with unique powers and they move to crush a City Tile and fight other kaiju. Players earn victory points and when they run out of movements the player with the most victory points wins.

Dicey Peaks

Calliope Games

Dicey Peaks is a 2-6 player game for ages 8 and up, and is the newest game from Calliope Games.  In this game players are trying to climb a mountain.  They need to manage their Oxygen levels by deciding when to climb and when to rest.  They also need to watch out for the Yeti. The first player to the top of the mountain is the winner.

‘Minecraft’ is a microcosm of Microsoft’s gaming strategy

Helen Chiang has been with Microsoft for 13 years, and the past 11 of those were spent in the Xbox division, managing the Live team and working with developers in the Xbox Live Arcade program. She helped Minecraft get settled on Xbox long before Microsoft’s acquisition, and now she’s in charge of the entire game.

“It’s really important for the overall gaming strategy,” she told Engadget. “What I like to think is that we’re out in front thinking about a lot of different things.”

Chiang says Microsoft can use Minecraft as a proving ground for new ideas and features that might make their way to other Xbox projects. For example, Microsoft recently partnered with NetEase to release a version of Minecraft in China, and Chiang says the game is doing well in the region. This opens the door for other Xbox games to make the international leap. In the coming years, players might also see more Microsoft games coming to a range of devices, just like Minecraft.

“We’re one of the games that’s on all of the platforms outside of just Microsoft platforms,” Chiang says. “When I started at the company, and it’s really evolved over time — that is something that’s changed in our strategy. I’m really excited to work on a game that, really, it doesn’t matter where the players are playing. Part of what’s important to Minecraft is that we make it available to anybody, anywhere they want to play, on any device that they want to play. And that’s something I think we’ll see Microsoft do more of.”

With more games on more platforms, an obvious question looms: What about cross-console play? Currently, Microsoft allows PC and Xbox players to join select games together, including Gears of War 4, but the list is limited. The company is even willing to enable cross-play between Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch — here’s looking at you, Rocket League — and it wants to work out similar deals with Sony’s PlayStation 4. Cross-platform play is possible from a technical standpoint, and both Microsoft and Nintendo have expressed interest in connecting their consoles. However, Sony has historically rebuked these efforts.

Minecraft is an ideal test case here. The Better Together update unifies all versions of Minecraft, from consoles and PC to mobile, allowing players to interact with people on different devices and receive updates at the same time. Better Together is live for Xbox One, Windows 10, mobile and virtual reality versions of Minecraft, and Chiang’s team is working on the Switch version right now. It should be available “shortly,” though there’s no concrete launch date.

Sony, meanwhile, is still playing coy.

“In my role as the new studio head for Minecraft, I’m looking forward to continuing the discussions with Sony about bringing the Bedrock engine over to players on PlayStation,” Chiang says. “I think that is something that is very important to us and I’m looking forward to continuing to have those conversations with Sony.”

If everyone decides to play along, Minecraft‘s future will be more connected, communicative and open than ever, and Microsoft’s broader game strategy could follow suit.

“I think games are such a dynamic industry, one that really builds on everything that’s happening in technology,” Chiang says. “So I’m really excited about what we’ve done in games and how much farther we still have to go.”

Save $50 on an Ecobee4 smart thermostat

Aukey Mohawk Drone

 

Street Price: $65; Deal Price: $38 w/ code 5H86P2FT

Use code 5H86P2FT to knock over $25 off the price of the Aukey Mohawk, our sub-$100 drone pick for more experienced pilots. We’ve seen this drone hit $50, then $40, both with similar promo codes, but this is a new low at $38 after the code is applied in cart. This deal is slated to last until 1/31, but there’s no telling if stock will last that long.

The Aukey Mohawk is our experienced pilots pick in our guide to the best sub-$100 drone. Signe Brewster wrote, “If you’ll accept a more difficult learning curve in exchange for faster flying, or if you’re already a capable drone pilot, the Aukey Mohawk might be the right drone for you. In our tests, it responded nimbly to flight controls, performing the best of the larger drones we flew through our obstacle course. It also has a few autonomous features, such as returning to home and flipping.”

Anker PowerDrive 4

Street Price: $16; Deal Price: $12 w/ code ANKER312

Use code ANKER312 to drop the price of this 4-port USB car charger to $12, the lowest price we’ve seen for it in a few years. As this car charger typically goes for $16, this is a nice savings. If you’re tired of running out of USB ports for charging, the PowerDrive 4 may be a nice option for you, especially at this price.

The Anker PowerDrive 4 is our more ports for more gadgets pick in our guide to the best USB car charger. Nick Guy wrote, “It might seem crazy to some people, but if you really need to charge more than two devices at once in the car, the Anker 4-Port USB Car Charger is a great pick. It puts four USB-charging ports that can handle a total of 9.6 amps in a package that’s of course much larger than the PowerDrive 2 and ReVolt, but still impressively compact.”

Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat

Street Price: $250; Deal Price: $200

At $200 (price reflects in cart), this matches the pricing we saw during the holidays and again in early January for our upgrade smart thermostat, the Ecobee4. While we anticipate the price falling further eventually, right now this is as low as we’ve seen this new generation’s pricing go. This deal is slated to end 1/27.

The Ecobee4 is our upgrade pick in our guide to the best smart thermostat. Grant Clauser wrote, “Thanks to a built-in Alexa, the Ecobee4 can play music, relay the news, and control your home’s smart lights as well as adjusting the heat and air conditioning. Like other Ecobee thermostats, the 4 also works with remote sensors, which is useful if your thermostat isn’t in the best part of your house to measure the temperature: Ecobee4 uses the remote sensors’ readings, along with occupancy detectors, to achieve the target temperature in multiple occupied rooms, rather than just wherever the thermostat is installed. (One sensor comes with the unit, and you can add up to 32 more.) Because it has Alexa built in, you don’t need a separate Echo to control it by voice, and if Alexa isn’t your smart-assistant choice, Ecobee4 also works with Google Assistant and (via Apple’s HomeKit) Siri. However, it doesn’t have the level of intelligence of the Nest Thermostat E for automatically figuring out your schedule, and it’s worth spending the extra money on only if you have real issues with cold spots in your home, or really want an Alexa in your thermostat.”

Because great deals don’t just happen on Thursday, sign up for our daily deals email and we’ll send you the best deals we find every weekday. Also, deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, please go to thewirecutter.com.

Potential Risks and Rewards

Nintendo announced their new line of DIY Cardboard STEM toys last night: The Nintendo Labo. Its a collection of kits that include pre-punched cardboard sheets and instructions to turn them into peripherals for the Nintendo Switch. Two kits will launch on April 2oth, 2018. The first is a Variety Kit that will include the components to make a piano, a toy house, a fishing pole, a pair of “remote-control cars,” and a set of handlebars for a motorbike. The second is a backpack harness that lets players control a giant, building-smashing robot a-la the Jaegers from Pacific Rim.

The announcement was met with mixed results last night. I’m willing to throw out some of the concerns though. Single adult men don’t really get to complain that a children’s plaything doesn’t appeal to them. Comedy Writer Mike Drucker said it best in this Tweet:

 

Mike Drucker

@MikeDrucker

NINTENDO: Nintendo Labo is for kids and those that like kid stuff!
ADULT GAMER: Okay, but what if I don’t want it?
NINTENDO: Totally fine. It’s for kids.
ADULT GAMER: Yes, but cardboard? Really? Not in my game room!
NINTENDO: It’s for kids.
ADULT GAMER: But how is it for me?

With that said, I don’t think the kits are without risk. I’ve spent the last day thinking about it and have some thoughts about the risks and the potential rewards of purchasing, and playing with, Nintendo Labo Kits.

The Risks

Durability

The Labo kits are made out of cardboard. All signs are pointing to the cardboard being of the thicker variety, but at the end of the day it is still cardboard. This means that these things have the chance of being very, very flimsy. I can imagine a lot of families will buy these things, build them, and have them broken after a few uses by a rambunctious child or pet. Some of the early previews from places like The Verge have said that the kits seem pretty durable, but we really won’t know how much punishment they can take until they are out in the wild.

The Cost

The Variety Kit and the Robot Kit are $70 and $80 respectively. That is a lot of cash. Now, both of those kits come with a cartridge that includes software, but we have no idea what’s going to be on it. $150 for both kits is a TON of cash in today’s economy and I think that will, unfortunately, leave a lot of families out of the fun. Also, these kinds of toys can’t really be shared so the price will never come down like they do on most video games.

The Games

The fact is that we really have no idea how fun any of the mini-games will be. If the cartridges are filled up with a bunch of trash and tech demos a lot of kids will just bounce off of them and create a LONG line of resentful parents. I don’t really see that as a good look for a company that is just starting to build momentum.

The Potential Rewards

The Joy of Creation

What kid DOESN’T like building things? LEGOs and other building kits have never been more popular so this does seem like a natural success. I can absolutely see a bunch of kids getting hyped to build their own game peripherals. A lot of younger kids learned to play Super Mario Kart using the plastic steering wheels that you put Wii-motes in. These kits give them the change to build stuff that is way cooler.

Discovery/STEM Learning

The piano kit works by using the infa-red sensor on one of the Joy-Cons to detect the movement of silver tabs to play music. The remote controlled cars work by using the precise vibrations from the HD rumble in the Joy-Cons to move themselves. That’s just two of the projects in one of the kits. Kids are going to learning some very interesting engineering tricks that are being used by a company that is used to achieving miracles using relatively simple technology. The learning potential is incredible for kids who are interested in taking advantage of it.

Family Time

The instructions for building the Toy-Con kits are all displayed on the Switch tablet. They are manipulated using touchscreen controls. This makes building the different kids ideal fort a two person team. I expect that a lot of parents will be teaming up to build these toys and play with them. That kind of family time is invaluable.


What do you think? What are you concerned about? What are you excited about? Sound off in the comments!

A Line of DIY Cardboard STEM Toys

Every time I think Nintendo is going to act predictably I end up looking foolish. They announced this morning that they would be posting a new video tonight that would demonstrate a new “interactive experience” that was “specially crafted” for kids. I assumed that they were just talking about a game. I like to give myself partial credit, so I’ll give myself 1/10th of a point.

Nintendo showed a new video announcing Labo. This is a bizarre line of DIY cardboard kits that let kids (or adults) build attachments for their Joy-Cons and play various mini-games. On a high level, Labo works by providing a set of pre-cut cardboard sheets that you punch out, fold, and connect in order to build different attachments called Toy-Cons (ADORABLE name btw). Once the Toy-Cons are built you can use them to play a set of mini-games either on the Switch Tablet or using the Switch tablet as a controller. There will be two Toy-Con sets at launch on April 20th, 2018, but I am certain that more will be launched over the course of the year.

Labo is a STEM toy at its core and represents a huge shift for Nintendo. When the Switch launched last year Nintendo focused on games that appeal to the standard gaming audience. They did a great job releasing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey in one year. But, they definitely played it safe. Labo is different. This brings Nintendo back to where they were with the Wii. They are releasing a product whose core attraction isn’t a traditional game. Instead, Labo focuses on three core experiences.

Make

The experience of punching the cardboard sheets and following on-screen instructions on the Nintendo Switch tablet evokes the same feeling as building a complex LEGO set. Reports from around the web on places like The Verge are telling us that some of the sets can be completed in as little as 15 minutes, but will be best when done by a parent and child working together. This kind of social experience is something that was missing during Link’s solitary adventure last year.

I never would have expected Nintendo to try and capitalize on the growing maker movement among families and in educational circles now, but this is a great way to do it. Our kids are already excited about it and they’ve only seen a 2 minute long promo video.

Play

It wouldn’t really be a Nintendo product if it didn’t include a game. Each of the Toy-Con sets includes a cartridge full of mini-games and other software that will help kids play with their newly built creations. We don’t know many details yet, but I am super hungry to play the robot game if for nothing else because that robot can transform into a car!

Discover

Once kids have built their Toy-Con Accessories, and played their mini-games, they can then use the Discover mode to get information about how the Toy-Cons work. For example, the piano works by using the Joy-Con’s camera. When you plug the Joy-Con into the back of the box it can see the cardboard pieces moving when you press the keys. The software translates that movement into song! This learning component is something that is a perfect fit, too. The market has been flooded in recent years by toys and games that let kids figure out their inner workings, but none of them have the polish of a Nintendo game. This has the chance to be something special.

I will admit that I am very excited to see the Piano included in this set. It reminds me of when Nintendo packaged the music maker alongside the Mario Paint game for SNES. This Piano is going to see a LOT of use. I can’t want to see the cool YouTube videos that kids will create with it.

The Nintendo Labo Announcement Video

The Toy-Con Sets

Toy-Con 01 Variety Kit (MSRP $69.99) includes:

Nintendo Labo Variety Kit box

  • 2 RC Cars
  • 1 Fishing Rod
  • 1 House
  • 1 Motorbike
  • 1 Piano
  • The game cartridge

Toy-Con 02 Robot Kit (MSRP $79.99) includes:

  • The (awesome) robot kit
  • The game cartridge

Toy-Con Customization (MSRP $9.99) set includes:

  • 2 stencil sheets
  • 2 sticker sheets
  • 2 colored tape rolls

Nintendo Labo will be launching on April 20th, 2018 and we can’t be more excited for it. Is this something that your family will be picking up? Sound off in the comments!

Google gives users more control over the ads they see

You know how you search for an item online and then for weeks, that particular item follows you around the internet, popping up in ads on nearly every website you visit? Those are reminder ads and Google says advertisers usually set them to show up for about a month from when you visited their websites. But now, Google is letting you mute those ads. You just have to head over to Ad Settings when signed into your Google Account, go to the “Your reminder ads” section and hit the “X” next to any ads you don’t want to see anymore. It’s a temporary solution — the muting only lasts 90 days — but since that’s substantially longer than most reminder ads stick around for, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t see them again.

In 2012, Google began allowing users to block certain ads they didn’t like. It’s now expanding that feature and it will start to become available on more apps and websites that partner with Google for advertising. And now, it will also work across devices. So if you mute an ad on your phone, it will also be muted on your laptop.

Google isn’t the only company changing how users experience ads. Last year, Apple announced that High Sierra’s Safari would stop advertisers from tracking users as they visit different sites, which also got around the reminder ad problem. And Google has said that this year, new versions of Chrome will automatically block annoying ads like pop-ups, autoplaying ads, countdowns and large ads. Chrome 64 is also expected to have an option for users to mute websites that have autoplay videos.

Google’s new ad tools are rolling out today but keep in mind, they only work on ads delivered by Google.

5 Things You Didn’t Know Could Be Done With LEGO

Everyone loves LEGO. They’re fun, colorful and offer a world of possibility. It isn’t all about cool toy buildings and LEGO spaceships, either. Here are five things you didn’t know  could be done with LEGOs!

LEGOs are a great way to exercise creative and out-of-the-box thinking. It’s no surprise that we have many cool and interesting creations both from the LEGO company itself and from fans. Some people, however, managed to make incredible things with these plastic interlocking bricks. In no particular order, here are five of them to show you, courtesy of Ninja Brick!

A LEGO Harpsichord

The LEGO Harpsichord is a full-sized, fully-functional musical instrument made by Henry Lim. The harpsichord is an older version of the piano, smaller and simpler, which makes it a perfect candidate for LEGO bricks. This build is entirely made of LEGOs, the only non-brick pieces being the strings themselves. You can check the build in Henry Lim’s official website, which includes a sound sample. This isn’t the only musical instrument made of LEGO: there are others out there, including a ukulele.

Other than the harpsichord, Henry creates full-sized sculptures of various things, such as dinosaurs and people, out of LEGO.

The LEGO Car

This creation isn’t just a life-sized LEGO car. It actually works! Made entirely of LEGO bricks (including the engine) except for some structural parts such as wheels and tires, this car moves on compressed air and can reach speeds of around 15 to 20mph. Steve Sammartino and Raul Oaida, with the help of 40 patrons and over 500,000 LEGO bricks, designed and built the car themselves. Raul Oiada, a teenager from Romania, built it and then shipped it to Melbourne, Australia, to an undisclosed location. Once there (and after some repairs due to damage to the pieces), the car took to the streets, a full-sized success.

A Starbucks Coffee Machine

Yes, it makes real coffee. Yes, it’s made of LEGOs. This amazing design does use some extras, mainly SAM Labs’ motors for some of the mechanisms, and it includes a heating coil for the water and coffee. It uses powdered instant coffee, so it’s not exactly the same a just-ground coffee, but for a LEGO creation, it’s pretty impressive nonetheless.

A Full-Sized House

This LEGO house was a full-sized, fully functional home. Located in Denbies, Surrey, over a thousand volunteers put the house together with over 3 million LEGOs. From chairs to goblets, from a bed to a hot shower and working sink and toilet, the full thing was perfectly livable! It even included a little LEGO cat and decorations. Unfortunately, this fantastic feat of LEGO creativity came to an end in 2009. Attempts to sell it to Legoland failed due to shipping costs, and conflicts over building permits caused the house’s demolition.
James May, who initiated the project to build the house, later hosted the James May’s Toy Stories where he talked about favourite toys of the past and how they came to the modern world.

A Functional 3D Printer

Yes, you read that right. This isn’t 3D printing LEGO bricks; it’s making a printer out of the bricks themselves. Surprisingly, there are several LEGO 3D printers out there, and some designs are available for anyone to build for themselves, but we found this one particularly interesting. In this design, developed by Arthur Sacek, the printer carves any 3D design out of floral foam. The only part of it that isn’t LEGO is the drill.

So there are some remarkable things that can be done with LEGOs. Did you know of them? Do you know more? Let us know!

Nominees for Best Casual Game of 2017 Announced

A panel of twelve judges made up of media personalities in the board game industry teamed up to make their nominations. All of the submissions were judged based on game play, aesthetics, and originality. They also had to meet the following administrative criteria:

Players lay out donuts from the deck equal to the amount of players plus one. Each player has a number card for each donut that is out. Players all pick a donut they want by placing one of their number cards face down on the table. Players simultaneously reveal their number. If two or more players have matching numbers, that donut is discarded and no one gets it. If you’re the only player that bid for the donut, than you take it and place it face up in front of you. Collect sets, unique and powerful donuts, and pairs of donuts to maximize points. (Source: BGG)

About Stephen Duetzmann

Editor in Chief

So…who am I?

And, what makes me qualified to do this?

Well, I can tell you that I am not a web developer, or a journalist, or even a game designer. I am a Dad. I like to game. I want to game with my children. And, I have some ideas that I want to share with the world.

I’m 32 years old and I have been gaming all of my life. I’m into all kinds of games, and not just video games. Board games, tabletop games, card games and yes, even LARP games.

I’ve got a full time job, and I’m going back to school. I have an amazing wife and 3 wonderful children. My oldest is a 7 year old boy who is super smart and a total spazz. He’s extremely excited to share his VAST (lol) video game knowledge with the world. My middle child is just learning about video games. He’s 4 and he spends his time obsessing over his favorite super heroes or ponies, depending on the day. He LOVES playing games with his Daddy and big brother. My youngest is 6 months old and is learning to explore her world. She can often be found sleeping on her Daddy while I play test new games.

So, that’s who I am. I’m just your typical super busy Dad who wants to share my gaming experiences with all of you.

Oh, and another thing! This website isn’t all about me. I happen to have a wonderful group of friends and experts along for the ride with me. They are going to share terrific gaming information with you, too.

Behold, the bouncing selfie ball

“These devices were found at festive gatherings that our ancestors threw,” a future museum guide might say. “Each of these beach ball-sized orbs housed a camera and a touch screen framed by a ring light, so party-goers could take photos and videos of themselves with professional-level lighting. After that, it would generate a short video clip with quirky effects that people could send to themselves via what was known as a text message.”

The people who made the Eye noticed that traditional static photobooths of yore were being neglected at the corporate parties they worked for. Even the funniest props and quickest downloads weren’t drawing partiers anymore. The drinking and dancing was “out there” not in the dark confines of some throwback picture booth. They had to make corporate-branded photos and videos relevant again and decided to put their cameras in the middle of the action.

To protect its fragile hardware from damage on the dancefloor, Hypno encased the Eye in a hardy, rubbery foam shell that felt sturdy enough to survive a few bounces. “This allowed people to toss the camera into crowds of people without fear of injury to the device,” the docent might explain. “Though we imagine a few humans may have been hurt by the five-pound ball.”

“But why couldn’t they just use their smartphones? They had those at the time, right?” A curious visitor might ask.

Excitedly pointing a finger up in the air, the guide would respond, “It’s all about facilitating social interaction!” Since people didn’t feel like they could simply discard the orbs after they were done, they were compelled to make contact with other attendees.

“They would pass these orbs around, often to people they didn’t know. This caused them to join each other in group photos, and encouraged the social phenomenon that was known back then as ‘photobombing’.” At this point, the guide might invite visitors to peruse the video archive of 2018’s trendiest partiers. “Like the photo booths that came before, the clips from the Eyes could be posted on individual social media accounts, which you all remember was the primary means of interaction in that time.”

Although the Hypno Eye wasn’t designed for widespread use in people’s homes, the company did entertain the thought of selling the device to general consumers. As the guide might point out, “Remember the ‘influencers’ that rose in popularity during this time? Couldn’t you just see them embracing this, literally?”