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Who's Got Game Now? A Parent Video Game Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Oct 12, 2012

You need to know about: Game platforms and consoles

Have you heard the terms "game platform" and "game console"? They're kind of the same thing, but slightly different. A game platform is a fancy term for the system a specific game is played on, e.g. a PC, mobile phone or game console. A game console is a non-PC/Mac customized gaming system that hooks up to a TV to play specific games, like the Xbox or Wii. You're probably more familiar with game consoles, but if your kids want to start playing games, you don't have to go out and buy one. If you have a PC or Mac computer, you can begin there.

You've Already Got Game

If you've got a computer (even if it's a little old), you have a gaming platform! You may need to update your operating system, check to see how much random access memory (RAM) you have available and buy a graphics card, but there are many games out there that don't need a huge investment in computer updates.

First, check to see what operating system your computer is using. Macs use OSx, while PCs use a version of Windows. You will also need to know what processor you have (like an Intel Core 2), and what, if any, graphics card you have.

Next, you'll want to know what a game requires to run. Check online before you buy it at the store; you can run a search for "computer requirements for [fill in the blank]." Another easy tool is to use a website that automatically scans your computer to see if it matches a certain game's specifications. Though not totally foolproof, websites like www.systemrequirementslab.com and www.yougamers.com let you select a video game and click a button to find out if your hardware is compatible.

Console Types

Gaming consoles prevent your kids from tying up the computer, and make multi-player family fun night possible. These connect to your TV, and may even let you play music, movies or stream Netflix videos. Some even have fitness, sports or dancing games that encourage you and your family to get your groove on! Here is a breakdown of three popular consoles and their features:

<table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td valign="top">

Console

</td><td valign="top">

Features

</td><td valign="top">

Accessories/Updates

</td><td valign="top">

Online Service

</td><td valign="top">

Price

</td></tr><tr><td valign="top">

Xbox 360

</td><td valign="top">

Online gaming capability, multi-player functions, video streaming, parental controls, available in 250GB or 4GB consoles

</td><td valign="top">

Available with Kinect for controller-free gaming, limited edition consoles

</td><td valign="top">

Yes: Xbox Live

</td><td valign="top">

MSRP: $199.99 to $299.99

</td></tr><tr><td valign="top">

Nintendo Wii

</td><td valign="top">

Motion-control gaming, multi-player functions, parental controls, Netflix streaming, TV/video streaming

</td><td valign="top">

Wii Fit/Wii Fit Plus, Wii U available November 2012

</td><td valign="top">

Yes: Wii Internet Channel

</td><td valign="top">

MSRP: $149.99

</td></tr><tr><td valign="top">

Sony Playstation

</td><td valign="top">

Blu-ray player, built-in WiFi, file storage capability, Netflix, TV/video streaming

</td><td valign="top">

Latest model: Playstation 3

</td><td valign="top">

Yes, built-in Wi-Fi

</td><td valign="top">

MSRP: $249.00

</td></tr></tbody></table>  

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