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Talk to me like I came from prehistoric times about video game systems

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Madden3

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Long story short, my husband and I have never purchased a video game system for our kids and have never in our lives used them ourselves. Kids play some things that are available online on the computer, that is it.

Now we are looking for something to keep 2 teen sons and 7 year old daughter entertained this summer and if possible, doing something fun together (at least the boys.) I am picturing the kind of games you use a hand held controller for and play on the TV and can play with someone else if there are two (or three?) controllers.

Our TV is only a little over a year old and we have wifi so can get internet on the TV. So I think the TV would be ok to use as the monitor? Is that possible? And then what else do we need? A console?

What am I looking for? Xbox? Play station? Is this even right? Can you get them used and is that advisable? How do I know which one to get? What is “disc free?” …etc.

Please help and remember I know nothing. Thanks!
 
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amiandjim

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We have a Nintendo Switch, an XBox, and a PlayStation (well, and a Wi-U, a Wi, a Game Cube...you get the point). I would say an Xbox will probably get the most play from all of your children, although the 7 year-old would probably do better with a Switch. It’s nice to have in the main TV area because not only can they play games on it, you can watch movies on it as well, either with streaming or a blue ray disc. As far as getting a used system, you can get them, but I don’t have personal experience with that. We have purchased pre-played games before, though, and never had an issue. Most consoles come with at least a controller, but you will need to purchase additional controllers so they can play together.
 
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Geoffrey Taucer

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My nerd senses were tingling! I sensed a disturbance in the force, and it lead me to this thread!


Long story short, my husband and I have never purchased a video game system for our kids and have never in our lives used them ourselves. Kids play some things that are available online on the computer, that is it.

Now we are looking for something to keep 2 teen sons and 7 year old daughter entertained this summer and if possible, doing something fun together (at least the boys.) I am picturing the kind of games you use a hand held controller for and play on the TV and can play with someone else if there are two (or three?) controllers.

Yessssss...... congratulations on the first step of your journey to the dark nerd side. I will be happy to guide your journey, young apprentice.

Our TV is only a little over a year old and we have wifi so can get internet on the TV. So I think the TV would be ok to use as the monitor? Is that possible? And then what else do we need? A console?

Correct; your TV should work fine for any modern console as long as it has HDMI in (which, if it's only a year or two old, it almost certainly does).

What am I looking for? Xbox? Play station? Is this even right?

The current-gen major consoles are the Play Station 4, the X Box One X, and the Switch. Of those, I'd definitely go with the Switch for you guys. Several reasons for this, but the biggest is that the Switch is much more heavily designed around the idea of multiple people playing together in the same room, whereas the PS4 is more geared towards playing with people remotely over the internet.

Note that there are two versions of the switch: the regular one and the Switch Lite. You want the regular one; this has the advantage of being able to easily connect to a TV, and the controllers are more flexible (it effectively comes with two controllers).

Can you get them used and is that advisable?
Yes, though in the case of a switch I'd probably look for a refurbished one (ie, one that's been used, but examined and cleaned and tested to be in full working order, and often comes with a warranty).

How do I know which one to get?

Here's a rough breakdown:

X Box One X:
Most of its games are aimed at teens and adults. Designed for remote multiplayer. Most of the best games -- as far as I know -- are also available on other platforms. That said, it has a very comfy controller, and there probably are games that are kid-friendly and beginner-friendly; I just don't know what they are.

PS4:
Games for all ages, but most of the big titles are aimed at teens and adults with a decent amount of gaming experience, though there are certainly some games that are fine for kids and for less-experienced gamers. Also intended for remote multiplayer -- I don't off the top of my head know of any PS4 games that allow for local multiplayer. That said, it has some truly phenomenal single-player games.

Switch:
Designed to be played together with friends and family in the same room. Most of the flagship titles are kid-friendly and newbie-friendly, while still having enough depth to stay entertaining to more experienced players. The classic switch (not the switch lite) can be connected to a TV, or used as a handheld system.

For a family of non-gamers looking to get into gaming together during isolation, I would definitely recommend the Switch first.

What is “disc free?”

Back in ye olden days of gaming, games were sold as physical discs or cartridges. And while those still exist, they often aren't necessary these days; modern consoles have hard drives, and you can buy games and then download them to the console -- this is what "disc free" means.

Please help and remember I know nothing. Thanks!

Everybody's gotta start somewhere!

Anyway, my advice would be to get a Nintendo Switch. Let me know if you'd like recommendations for specific games as well!
 
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Sk8ermaiden

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I was going to recomend a Switch, but since I don't know a lot about other systems, I wasn't sure. We have a switch and it's awesome for multiplayer and so easy to connect to the tv. You can download the games or buy the little cartridges. I buy the cartridges because we have two kids (and a switch and a switch lite) and my understanding is that the downloaded games are a lot more constricting about sharing or reselling.
 
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JBS

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One thing I would advise is... make sure you play too. You need to be familiar where the world of gaming can take you.

Know the difference between something like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Doom Eternal.

The original Wolfenstein 3D and Doom back in the early 90's were violent. I grew up playing these... I remember getting the shareware version of Wolfenstein back in the day... then Doom came... then Quake. Welcome to today...

WARNING... This video is violent... it is here to help people learn where video games can go...

Doom Eternal Trailer

EDIT: I removed the video preview and just left the link... it is violent.
 
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Geoffrey Taucer

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Yes, there are many games that are great for kids, and many that emphatically are not. Do your homework on a game before buying it. Familiarize yourself with ESRB ratings
 
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Madden3

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Thanks so much all. Of course I have heard of Nintendo but did not know there was something called a Switch. That sounds perfect. Does it allow for remote player(?) games via internet or is it only in house(?) Currently my sons play something on their phones with friends. (?) = sorry if I am using wrong terminology but hopefully you understand.

So each system is proprietary(?) You can only play games designed for that system?

I used to keep up on ratings and content for games because the boys would play games at friend's houses, but have not looked at that stuff for a while as time for those opportunities faded away as sports and school hours ramped up. Is there a good parent focused rating website specifically for games you would recommend? I would like reviews with specifics because I am ok with certain things other parents might not be ok with, and not ok with things some parents might be fine with.

And this may be a weird question, but are certain brands considered cool or uncool generally? My sons are at that age where appearances matter if you know what I mean. I do not want them to be embarrassed about a gift after we have spent so much.
 

Sk8ermaiden

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I love common sense media for those type of reviews. They will list the exact things in a book/movie/show/game that any person could have a problem with, from cussing and smoking to X rated stuff.

I do believe the Switch offers online multiplayer, and yes, the games on the systems are proprietary.
 
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JBS

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We have a Switch... didn't have anything for a long time.

@Geoffrey Taucer Say someone wanted to jump back in "fully"... what do you recommend? Xbox Series X... PS5 or a custom PC (like crank up a AMD Ryzen 5 3600X or something)?

EDIT: Obviously I'm talking about me and obviously I can wait until the new systems come out because I've been out of that world since the 90's.
 

amiandjim

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The Switch can be taken and played anywhere via the console! It’s funny, I play our Switch much more than the kids do, but I grew up a Nintendo fan!
 
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Geoffrey Taucer

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Thanks so much all. Of course I have heard of Nintendo but did not know there was something called a Switch. That sounds perfect. Does it allow for remote player(?) games via internet or is it only in house(?) Currently my sons play something on their phones with friends. (?) = sorry if I am using wrong terminology but hopefully you understand.

Yes, the Switch can do remote multiplayer.

So each system is proprietary(?) You can only play games designed for that system?

Yes and no. If you get a physical copy of a game for a particular console, it will only work on that console. Some games are exclusive to a particular console, though a lot of games get released on many different consoles. Nintendo probably has the biggest library of big-name exclusives.

One other thing you mich consider that's slightly out-of-the-box, but cheaper and you'll still have a blast, is an NES Classic. It's a mini-console that comes pre-loaded with a ton of old classic Nintendo games from the 80's and early 90's (like the old Super Mario Bros games and the like). It won't have top-of-the-line graphics or sound, but a lot of those old games are still held up to this day as examples of really great game design.

We have a Switch... didn't have anything for a long time.

@Geoffrey Taucer Say someone wanted to jump back in "fully"... what do you recommend? Xbox Series X... PS5 or a custom PC (like crank up a AMD Ryzen 5 3600X or something)?

EDIT: Obviously I'm talking about me and obviously I can wait until the new systems come out because I've been out of that world since the 90's.

Depends on how much money you want to spend and what kinds of games you like. A souped-up gaming PC will always be the most powerful and flexible, but in most cases probably unnecessary; also, there's always more finagling to be done on a PC with regards to graphics settings, sound settings, updates, controller setup, etc. Whereas a console is generally plug and play (modern consoles do occasionally need firmware updates, but they generally do a good job of streamlining that process for you)

I'd probably go for a PS4. Probably the overall strongest library for adults who want to play more serious games. Btw, my current favorite-game-ever is a PS4 exclusive at the moment (Horizon: Zero Dawn), though it is scheduled to release on PC later this year. Also, Journey (my second-favorite game) and the Uncharted series (which I haven't played but hear good things about) are both currently free to PS4 owners on the online store.
Plus, I find the PS4 controller to be the most comfortable, and a lot of the big multiplayer games (CoD, Fortnite, Rocket League, etc) have PS4 releases.
 
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bogwoppit

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We love the switch too we have trivial pursuit nights using it. I think we have owned pretty much every gaming system, and the Switch seems to be the one that is good for everyone. Coming with two controllers makes it a bit more cost effective. It is also small and light. You can playit in the car, but also connect to the tv.
 

Madden3

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The Switch can be taken and played anywhere via the console! It’s funny, I play our Switch much more than the kids do, but I grew up a Nintendo fan!
So how can you play it anywhere? Does it come with it's own monitor?
 

Madden3

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Oh and are there various versions of the Switch, any to avoid at all costs or that are particularly good?
 

Sk8ermaiden

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Yes, It's like a super modern gameboy. A bit bigger of course, and the two controllers can be attached at the sides or come off. And then when you dock it, what you would have seen on your screen comes up on the TV instead.

You don't want the switch lite - some games won't work on it and I don't believe it can do multiplayer or dock for use on the TV. I mean, we have one, but it would be bad for what you want.
 
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Sk8ermaiden

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Also, since you have three children, I'd buy an extra set of controllers, so someone isn't odd man out if there's anything they all want to play. The controllers are called "joy cons" if you do any searches, they usually come in pairs and you can get them pretty much anywhere that you can get a Switch, including Amazon.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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So you wouldn't wait for the PS5?

Are you looking for something to do while staying at home during the pandemic, or are you looking for something in general? PS5 doesn't launch until the end of this year, which means it'll be difficult to get one without camping out for it or paying exorbitant amounts of money until part way through next year.

PS4 is available now, is about $200 used, and has a great currently-available library.

(That said, Horizon 2 will likely be a PS5 exclusive, which means I'll likely buy it eventually even if it's just for that one game)
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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Oh and are there various versions of the Switch, any to avoid at all costs or that are particularly good?

To the best of my knowledge, there are two versions of the switch.

The switch lite is strictly a handheld console. The original switch can be handheld or can connect to your TV, and comes with detachable joycons. I highly recommend the original, not the lite

The switch itself has a built-in monitor, which is what allows it to work as a portable system.
 
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