'Tis the season for all of us technogeeks to raise our children (and grandchildren) in our image. This means, of course, our Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Christmas gift list needs to be dominated by a few items geared toward geek development.
Here are a few suggestions:
Disney and Activision have probably developed the ultimate geek-inspired gaming packages with Infinity and Skylanders - - - the game that reportedly started this trend. We've had a chance to play with both on an Xbox One gaming console and the result was not only a lack of sleep after hours of play, but an addiction to two constantly expanding gaming universes.
This is the second incarnation of Disney's Infinity package (suitibly dubbed version 2.0). You can pay as much as $179.99 for a collector's edition, but we recommend the basic "starter pack" ($74.99), which includes three plastic toy figures (ours were Marvel super heroes), two Toy Box game disks, a Disney Infinity base, one play set piece, software for the game console, a poster and a Web Code Card.
Game play is fairly simple: you install the software, place a game disk on the Infinity base and put one of the toy figures on the game disk. Almost by magic, your character shows up on your TV screen and you begin your adventure. In our case we smashed through the various levels of the game as The Hulk
There's an endless line of toy figures you can purchase separately, ranging from Disney Princesses to wicked witches, for $13.99, plus you can use any of the figures (but not play set pieces) from the original version of the game.
The game is available for any console in including the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and the Wii U. There's also a "tablet" edition.
Activision's Skylanders Trap Team Starter Pack ($74.99) has basically the same features as the Disney package, except gameplay is a bit more elaborate as you battle Kaos and try to stop him from dominating the world as we know it.
As with Infinity, you can purchase additional characters and other accessories at a wide range of prices, ranging from $4.99 to $99.99.
The game, which is also in its second year, is available for any console including the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and the Wii U plus there are editions for most tablets.
The starter pack includes one Skylanders Trap Team game, a Traptanium Portal (ie: game disk), two Skylanders figures, two Traps, a poster, two sticker sheets with secret codes and two trading cards.
Set up for the game is identical to Infinity, but that's where the similarity ends. Instead of smashing your way through the game (as we did as the Hulk), you need to capture the villains using Traptanium and get them to fight for you.
The last item on our list is a bit different.
Enter, stage left, Ozobot ($49.95), the world's smallest intelligent robot from Evollve Inc.
Basically this is a robot that can follow basic intructions given to it using combinations of colors, which it recognizes as code. But the fun doesn't stop there. The robot can react to more than 1,000 digital codes disguised as strategy games, but actually "teaching" children the basics of code language.
A few of the basic games available for the robot include:
- OzoLuck, where Ozobot travels a maze and randomly chooses the outcome
- OzoPath, in which the robot tries to maneuver opponents (other Ozobots) to get to "home base"
- And OzoDraw, which is a drawing and exploration app designed to test the robot's intelligence
All of the games are free and can be downloaded to any Apple or Android device.