Raising a gamer girl, with help from the Xbox One S (Minecraft Edition)

As a dad of a daughter, I’ve always been keen to undermine the idea that some activities or pastimes are for boys only – whether it’s climbing trees, being into Star Wars, or playing video games…

So gaming is an area I’ve been keen to explore with my daughter, especially before any sense of ‘that’s for boys’ seeps into her consciousness.

We’ve just upgraded our existing console (which predates my becoming a parent) to an Xbox One – specifically the Xbox One S Minecraft Favourites Bundle.

To me, the Xbox brand has always been synonymous with serious gaming, aimed at older kids and adults – so how does it work in a family environment? Are there games that my young daughter can play? What other uses are there for it? How easy is it to set up? (This is our first Xbox).

Xbox One S: What’s in the box

You get a white 500gb Xbox S, a wireless controller (with batteries), power lead, and a HDMI cable. You also get download codes for any games included in the bundle (in this case Minecraft) and a 14-day Xbox Live Gold trial. And it’s all in very cool Minecraft packaging.

The initial set-up is very easy. There’s a pamphlet showing you how connect it, but it’s so simple you don’t really need it – connect HDMI lead from Xbox to TV, plug in power, insert batteries into controller, and power up.

You also have the option of running any set top box through the Xbox, but this is something we have yet to explore. I would recommend downloading the smartphone app. Among other things, it doubles as a remote control and makes entering redeemable codes a whole lot simpler.

So – easy, you’re ready to go! Ok, not so fast.

Configuring your Xbox One S: Think of the Kids!

Once it’s on and hooked up to your screen – the real set up begins. You will be guided by onscreen instructions to set language, region, and display settings – as well as the most time consuming, the big bad system update. Have your wifi details standing by. And a glass of wine.

This set up – while easy to do – is time consuming, with all the downloads and installing.  You’ll even need to update the controller software, download a DVD/BluRay player, set parental controls, and sort out an Xbox live account. You’re looking at a good hour or 2.

If you’re buying this for the kids, they are going to want to play with this as soon as possible. My advice is to get this set up done prior to the big reveal to your kids.  After you’ve completed it, you can still package it back and wrap it up to maximise their surprise. If this is for Xmas, this is a good activity to have running in the background while wrapping their presents and drinking mulled wine. 🙂

This console came bundled with Minecraft. I’ll go into the game more in another post (as Minecraft deserves a post of it’s own), but as there was no physical copy of the game – it was a redeemable code – this was something else that needed to be downloaded and installed prior to use.

For more on how to set up your console, especially if you’re buying it as a present, head to the Xbox One S family hub and check out this video too.


The Xbox One S: Gaming console and media hub

For me, as well as getting my daughter into to the fun of gaming early, having access to other girl empowering media is vitally important. So it’s great that we can watch the likes of My Little Pony, Young Justice, and The Legend of Korra via our Xbox, with streaming apps like Amazon Video and Netflix. There are also plenty of movies downloads to rent or buy.

It’s also worth noting that the Xbox One S offers 4k streaming (from available services) for those already with, or looking to upgrade to, a new 4k UHD TV.

The Xbox One S: A console for all the family 

There’s lots more to explore, but so far it’s easy to see that the Xbox One S is not only a powerful gaming console, but a versatile media hub – and is perfect to have at the heart of a modern family living room.

While Minecraft is a great game to enjoy with your kids, I am really looking forward to upgrading our existing family games – especially LEGO Dimensions. And browsing the Xbox games available to download, it’s clear there are plenty of other great titles for kids too.

My daughter is increasingly keen on gaming, and the addition of the Xbox One S into our household has only encouraged it. So far, it looks like we have a gamer girl in the making.

Also raising a new generation of gamer girls is Darren of Love All Dads. Check out his Xbox video with his daughters:


The Xbox One S Minecraft Bundle (500GB) has an RRP of £249.99.

**This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Xbox UK.**

LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack (PS3) Review

There was a moment while playing LEGO Dimensions with my daughter when I  knew it was clearly the toy & game for us.

To be fair, it was always likely to be a winner – what with it being LEGO the toy (big fans) combined with LEGO the video game series (big fans).

But the moment it truly spoke to us was early on in the game. LEGO Batman – along with Gandalf and Wyldstyle – ended up in a LEGO version of Oz from The Wizard of Oz (1939). Continue reading LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack (PS3) Review

Review: LEGO Marvel’s Avengers Videogame

Review: This fun LEGO Marvel’s Avengers videogame sees a multitude of great female characters hit the screen, putting the movies to shame.

A sequel of sorts to LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, this latest LEGO videogame takes it’s inspiration mostly from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with particular focus on the two Avengers movies.

It begins with a LEGO recreation of the opening of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the game pretty much had me at hello with the fact that my first playable character was Black Widow the female Avenger often missing from licensed merchandise.

You eventually tag team through all the core Avengers until you successfully complete this stage and unlock the free play mode – but you unlock new characters as you progress through the main story.

It has a large open world, that includes New York, Asgard, the Helicarrier, plus Malibu, South Africa, and even Hawkeye’s farm! Once you delve into the game, the shear number of characters is terrific (around 200, 100 of whom new to the series), and despite ostensibly being based on the Marvel movies, you get to play as whole range of female characters yet (if ever) to make it to the big screen.

So as well as Black Widow, Maria Hill, and Scarlett Witch, there’s also the likes of Ms. Marvel (Kamla Khan), the Jane Foster version of Thor, Miss America, and even Squirrel Girl!

The characters also include New Avengers Hulkling and Wiccan – possibly the first openly gay couple to feature in a LEGO product?

If you’ve played any of the previous LEGO video games, the style and gameplay will be very familiar. The controls are relatively easy to get your head round, and the tone is a mixture of being faithful to the source material with doses of in-jokes and knockabout comedy.

Occasionally we’ve been a bit stuck, wondering exactly what the given objective of a scene/set piece is. And the save option isn’t as often as I would like (extended gaming sessions have become a thing of the past since becoming a parent). Plus, the link to the official MCU means the likes of Spider-Man, X-Men, and Fantastic Four are missing from this game (unlike it’s predecessor). But these are niggles in what is a very fun game.

I was worried that their might be a bot of franchise fatigue setting in, a charge that could be be levelled at the Marvel cinematic universe. However, there is just something so irresistible about these LEGO games that I am enjoying this as one much as any of them.

Is this worth purchasing in addition or instead of the previous LEGO Marvel Super Heroes game? I’m not entirely convinced, but the extra open world playability and playable characters make this a fine LEGO superhero game in its own right.

This is clearly a very family friendly game, but the control system is still a little beyond my 4-year-old – despite her obvious love of what she is seeing onscreen.


LEGO Marvel’s Avengers videois rated PEGI 7 and is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (RRP £49.99), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U (RRP £39.99) and PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS (RRP £29.99).


Family Fever