Nocked! True Tales of Robin Hood

Get Ready to Become Robin Hood

While I accepted that getting to Hogwarts, Narnia, or Middle Earth may prove impossible, the next best thing would be to get a little agency as a character in said story and get to influence the course of events. Enter interactive fiction, which places the player firmly in the middle of the story.

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Getting ‘SuperBetter’: Exercises to Curb Distractions for Kids

The app requires users to be 13 or older, so I’ve been using the exercises in the book with the kids. She writes about collecting and using power-ups during your day, fighting bad guys, and going on quests. And because everything ties into video games, my kids have been able to easily make the jump from how they feel playing a game on their iPod to recreating that feeling in the real world.

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Machinations: Fog of War

‘Machinations’: You’re a Steampunk Robot

In ‘Machinations,’ you play as a robot, created by an inventor of your choosing, who is serving the merchant-king (or queen!) and doing his/her bidding. It’s a kingdom tottering on the edge of war, and your actions will either help or hinder the people of the land. Sneak into a neighboring ruler’s castle, diffuse a tense situation amongst workers at the docks, and chase a shopkeeper who is holding answers to a puzzle across the rooftops.

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heroes guard, the game

‘Heroes Guard’: Magic, Cards, and Adventure

I am always looking for games I can play together with my kids, so I was especially excited about ‘Heroes Guard’ because it strikes a fantastic balance between story and luck. It’s one thing to make a choice in a game. It’s quite another to make a choice and then have to roll a die to see if you’re successful. We all started holding our breath every time the die flashed on the screen.

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WordsEye Image

WordsEye Turns Your Words Into Pictures

Welcome to WordsEye, currently in beta, where you can turn your words into images by the simple act of description. Open a new project and start typing, almost as you would if you were writing a story. Except that instead of leaving the words on the screen for the reader to translate into an image inside their mind, WordsEye takes the extra step to turn those words into a picture–one that is printable and sharable in high definition.

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What Are Your Favorite Geek Podcasts?

Though I’m partial to Welcome to ‘Night Vale’ or the ‘Nerdist’ podcast, I’ve been listening instead to Adam Cadre’s new ‘Radio K’ podcast, an hour discussion about interactive fiction. My only complaint is that there are only two episodes currently in the queue, so I’m anxiously awaiting for Cadre to make more.

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‘A Sailor’s Dream’ Is Like Going on Vacation Through Your iPad

I don’t really want to tell you any part of the story because part of the joy is finding each clue on your own, but I can tell you that if you can’t get to the beach, spending a half hour with ‘A Sailor’s Dream’ is the next best thing. It will make your heart ache while it simultaneously makes you hopeful that there are still gorgeous, unique games to be made.

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Make Your Own Board Game Cafe

Part of the allure is the fact that you have access to hundreds of games you don’t own, which means that they’re all new and exciting. The other allure is that you’re out and about, eating junk food while discovering that Professor Plum did it in the dining room with the candlestick. But it would be easy enough to recreate the board game cafe with friends for free (or, at least, less than the $20 rate per 4 people).

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sign post

Computer Club: Playing Adam Cadre’s ‘Endless Nameless’

I chose this game because I was immediately struck by its nod to the early text adventures, especially bringing in the sense of humor that permeated games such as Zork. I also realized on my first play-through that the map was very very easy to draw. This isn’t always the case. As someone who has been spoiled by Infocom’s maps, being able to draw the map easily is very important to me.

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A Very Lord of the Rings Christmas

A few years ago, we dreamed up our own December tradition: Rings Day. Starting on the 25th and running until the 31st, we watch all three Lord of the Rings films back-to-back. We start at Bilbo’s 111th birthday party and try to get Frodo’s trip to Valinor to unfold on New Year’s Eve. It gives the kids our own December tradition to look forward to and occupies us when all the stores and restaurants are closed and our friends are ensconced in Christmas activities.

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Lost Treasures of Infocom

Rediscovering Infocom Games With My Kids

To solve my spelling problem, my father brought home an Infocom game called Zork. He explained how it worked. I would be placed inside a story, much like my Choose Your Adventure Books, only this time, instead of being contained to two choices, I would have open possibilities. The only catch was that I needed to spell things correctly in order to have the game recognize my commands. It only took a single night to fall in love with the underground world of Zork; fall in love enough to learn how to spell in order to explore.

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Tynker App

Tynker: An App to Teach Kids Programming

My son is nine, and very familiar with Scratch, so I’ll start by saying that this app is most helpful for a younger child, perhaps kindergarten age, who hasn’t had experience with drag-and-drop programming yet. While three games came with my app preview — Puppy Adventure, Lost in Space, and Sketch Racer — only the first game comes for free on the downloadable app, with in-app purchases providing more games for the player at around $2 per game.

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Flappy Bird

What Developers on Kickstarter Can Learn from Flappy Bird

Months ago, I started sending out what I call a canary-in-a-coal mine email when it comes to Kickstarter. People are asking me for money, and if they are, they better take the time to be accessible. If they don’t have the time or energy to deal with the outreach necessary to raise funding for a project, they probably shouldn’t undertake the project at that time. And frankly, with the fact that there is little recourse if the project isn’t delivered after raising the money, it behooves investors to do some research into what sort of developers they’re funding beyond the basics of the project: are they reliable, accessible, and most importantly, will they have the emotional bandwidth to see the project through to its end?

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What I Learned from Hour of Code (x12)

Each day, when I returned to the school like the Pied Piper of Circuits to lead another round of workshops, more and more kids started gathering at the computer lab door. I think that’s a sign of how interested kids are to keep exploring STEM fields. I had a fifth grader who told me at the beginning of the workshop that she didn’t really like computers who informed me later that she’s now thinking about studying computer science. I think that’s an hour well spent. After all, there are going to be 1.2 million new jobs in STEM fields in 2018. Who is going to fill them if we don’t raise the next generation with that information?

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