Why ‘Bluey’ Resonates with Adults, Too As I’ve evolved into a parent in my mid-forties, cartoons have similarly grown into a more mainstream medium acceptable on both sides of the kid/grown-up age divide. But Bluey is different. My partner and I often stay up watching episodes by ourselves and also with the kids. It’s mature enough for adults, playful enough for kids (and vice versa) and makes me want to ‘Be More Bandit’.
I treated myself to a Steam Deck after finding one secondhand on my last trip to London. Since then I’ve been re-discovering all of the Steam games that I piled up on my account for the last however-many years – as well as playing some that were either price-prohibitive or unavailable on consoles.
Enter Vampire Survivors, which has been out for a while and ticks every single one of my ADHD-dependent dopamine receptors. It’s simple as hell, only employing use of the left analog stick as you dodge and weave to destroy waves of the undead and then retrace steps to gather XP gems to level your character. Every time you level up, you can choose where to allocate your point – upgrade an existing weapon perhaps, acquire a new one, or allocate to defence etc. It sounds simple and gameplay can be pretty unforgiving, but then you get situations like this:
Vampire Survivors is available pretty much everywhere. Check it out.
I’ve been playing a lot with Midjourney lately, trying to see what – after image generation – can be done with it. It’s been a source of some amusement on our Discord group. I think sometimes the simpler commands can yield the best results, such as the above, which only went through one variation before I was happy with the results.
I’ve also seen that people with a strong background in how filters, lens and other aspects of photography are getting some incredibly detailed images out. I only wish that the export resolutions were a bit larger.
Over on Reddit I posted three ‘soundtrack’ shortcuts that I run on my Apple Watch and play through the watch’s speaker.
🔗 What a blockhead!: Plays a snippet from ‘Christmas Time is Here’ by the Vince Guaraldi Trio – also known as the ‘sad Charlie Brown music’ used in Arrested Development. Use when you need to leave a room in a dejected manner.
🔗 Horsey ride!: Plays the theme music from ‘Bonanza!’. Use when, like me, you need to give one of your children a horsey ride.
🔗 Theme from Police Squad!: Plays the intro to ‘Police Squad!’ by the Tom Kubis Big Band. Use for when you really need to make an entrance.
“The fun exercises it includes can easily be done at home, in the library or the classroom without the need for a computer. As a result, this book will be an invaluable resource for community libraries and schools that do not have ICT facilities (or even electricity) but which want to give young readers and learners the opportunity to keep up with their counterparts across the world.”
Copies of “How to Think Like a Coder…” will be distributed to many of their partners with community library networks including the Uganda Community Library Association’s libraries.
Book Aid International works with public, community and prison libraries to ensure the books they provide are available to all without discrimination. They also work to increase the support available to people as they begin to read by training librarians and teachers. More information on “How to Think Like a Coder: Without Even Trying!” is available here and here.
Bradford Literature Festival was formed in 2014 to create a cultural and literary extravaganza celebrating the written and spoken word. The festival curates an atmospheric blend of voices, combining the work of leading writers, performers and poets with emerging talent. In 2017, over 350 events took place across 10 days, capturing the hearts and imaginations of more than 50,000 people.
We are passionate about education; inspiring a love affair with words and boosting literacy is at the heart of all our public and schools events. The festival’s schools initiative, which runs alongside the general programme, holds free events for students throughout the Bradford District. In 2017 our events engaged and inspired more than 12,000 young people.
It promises to be a great opportunity – really looking forward to it!
Since introducing my son to the Nintendo Switch, he’s taken an interest in more than Mario Kart. He likes to navigate the user interface on the Switch (and most other devices he has access to), and has found the Mii creator to his liking.
When I first brought home the Switch, I also had The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which I tested playing at the table. Tanooki took one of the Joy-Con controllers and was helping to push buttons as we went along through the world of Hyrule for five minutes or so. However, after we encountered some monsters to fight, I soon changed my mind about him having access to age-appropriate titles. As a three-year-old, he doesn’t understand his own emotions and how to express them yet, let alone comic/fantasy violence.
He’s allowed to look at an older Zelda (Wind Waker, originally a Game Boy game) on the 3DS, purely because of its simpler interface and inability to really convey violence or scary enemies, but I digress.
However, one day I had my Switch out on the counter, and had been collecting various food stuffs in-game to craft food and potions for my Zelda adventures later on. Different combinations of the varied ingredients available in-game grant the player various status-augments (such as stealth) as well as replenishing hearts and stamina. The player has to go through the motions of selecting up to five ingredients from inventory and combining them in a pot (the fire which they may have to find a way to light themselves). It’s not overly-complicated nor tedious, and the mechanic has real in-game benefits for the player. My son was naturally curious to what was on the Switch so I switched it on to show him.
Making Apple Pies
To make something like an apple pie in-game, you need the following ingredients:
Apples (up to 2)
A little short of ingredients, we travelled to the village of Rito, where we could purchase what was missing.
Now, I’m not “every moment has to be a teaching moment” Papa, but I figured this was probably an opportunistic moment to show the little guy how much things cost. In the game, to purchase items in shops, you simply approach them at a table and select them. Your display changes to show more details about your choice, including how much in-game money you have (in rupees), the price of the item, and how many are in stock.
Looking at the display I can ask him what ingredient we are buying, how much it costs, and how much money we have left. If anything, he’s getting a sense for what the number represents in essence, and definitely not what the mathematical (or financial) impact is, but I think it’s good exposure.
After collecting our ingredients, we warp back to Link’s house in Hateno Village.
My son sometimes likes to have a look inside the house, but what we’re really looking for is the big cooking pot outside the house (side note, we can technically cook at a stable or town etc but there’s something familiar about going back to the house at the end of the day and doing it there).
He helps me go through the (extensive) inventory, then presses the button on the correct ingredients to hold them in Link’s arms.
After that, we put it all in the pot to cook…
… and then nom!
Now at the weekends we kick off the gaming half hour by spending a little time cooking with Link! It’s great fun to watch him experiment and I’m never quite sure what dishes I’m going to end up with in my inventory.