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24 Jigsaws and Puzzle Games For Kids to Work on While Home From School – POPSUGAR

As a nation, we're all having to do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by staying indoors as much as possible, which, as parents know and are learning more and more each passing day, is not always easy with young kids. There are tons of educational shows and free learning websites available to keep kids mentally stimulated while they're off from school and stuck in the house, but another indoor activity we're turning to with our own little ones is puzzles.

Whether it's a jigsaw that teaches about the human body once it's put together, a puzzle game that requires critical thinking, or just a fun movie-themed puzzle that still requires mental thought but is rooted in pure fun, these are all great options for kids. While Amazon is still delivering packages to us all (thank you, Amazon employees!), check out these puzzles that you can order now to keep your kids busy in the days and weeks to come.

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24 Jigsaws and Puzzle Games For Kids to Work on While Home From School - POPSUGAR

Supercell soft-launches match-and-solve puzzle game with meta similar to that of Wildscapes – Game World Observer

The makers of Clash of Clans are preparing to release a new game. For the first time in a long time, the title is intended for a casual audience, rather than midcore players.

The game is called Hay Day Pop. The original Hay Day is one of the first Supercell games and, perhaps, the only other one designed for casual players.

The gameplay of the new title suggests that Supercell is borrowing ideas again. Hay Day itself was a reimagination of Farmville, while and Clash of Clans reinterpreted Backyard Monsters.

Hay Day Pop takes inspiration from obvious sources. The core mechanic comes from the Peak Games blockbusters (Toy Blast and Toon Blast). As forits meta, it is very similar to the meta of the latest Playrix game, Wildscapes, which came out last summer.

The player completes levels by collapsing matching tiles, earns gold, spends it to build structures which give experience. The more experience, the more locations unlock and the more decorations become available.

There are three key differences that set its meta apart from that ofWildscapes:

Right now, the game is only available for download in three countries: Australia, New Zealand and Finland. Supercell says it will continue to launch the game in other regions. Thatsalso different from how the company usually tests its new games.

By the way, its the first time that Supercell has rolled out a puzzler. In 2014, the company soft-launched a match-3 game titled Spooky Pop. The company killed it off a few months later because it did not live up to its expectations.

Supercell soft-launches match-and-solve puzzle game with meta similar to that of Wildscapes - Game World Observer

Bust stuck-at-home boredom with these Target game and puzzle deals – Real Homes

School has been canceled, parents are working from home, and kids are bored. Even with e-learning during this coronavirus pandemic, children are craving extra entertainment at home and you need a solution -- fast. Enter: Target game and puzzle deals.

Target has a plethora of games and puzzles on sale that will help you and your family self-isolate and still have fun. You can order online to avoid heading to the stores and be playing a new game in a few days.

UNO| Was $5.99, now $4,99 at TargetSave $1 - The classic card game UNO helps build math skills in children and can be played with only two players, perfect for self-isolation. UNO requires no reading and takes only a few minutes to learn. You and your child will each get seven cards and discard the cards based on color, number, or a special suit. The person who plays all of their cards first wins! But dont forget to say UNO! when theres only one card left. View Deal

Soggy Doggy Board Game| Was $9.99, now $6,99 at TargetSave $3 - In the spirit of good hygiene during this pandemic, Soggy Doggy Board Game asks players to move around the board before Soggy the Doggy gets drenched in the tub. While it looks like hes getting wet, really the dog just starts shaking, so theres no real mess for parents to clean up. Youll need two-to-four players for this game.

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Trouble Disney Frozen Olaf's Ice Adventure Game| Was $13.99, now $9.79 at TargetSave $4.20 - You might remember Trouble from your own childhood, but Disney put a spin on it for the Frozen lover in your family. Trouble Disney Olafs Ice Adventure will spare you from having to listen to the Frozen soundtrack but still entertain your child. This game is perfect for two-to-four players. Each player will get a different colored Olaf. While facing obstacles based on the movie, whoever has the last Olaf standing wins the game. View Deal

Twister Scrabble| Was $15.99, now $7.99 at TargetSave $8.00 - Get your kids moving and thinking about words while theyre home from school this month. Twister Scrabble is fun for kids and teens and allows two-to-four players to compete. Players need to make words on the mat, by putting their limbs on letters that spell out a word. View Deal

Mini Cornhole| Was $22.99, now $17.99 at TargetSave $5.00 - The beloved outdoor yard game cornhole can be played inside during these uncertain times if you buy Mini Cornhole. Two-to-four players can toss miniature bean bags at the mini-cornhole board for points. The first to 21 wins. While this game recommends at least two players, individuals can still have fun practicing their aim and throwing from different distances.View Deal

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Bust stuck-at-home boredom with these Target game and puzzle deals - Real Homes

Heres Looking at You, Grid: A History of Crosswords and Their Fans – The New York Times

It is in the modern era that this book loses its lapidary elegance. Raphel profiles some of the pastimes modern titans, including the reigning monarch Will Shortz, current Times puzzle editor (and NPR puzzlemaster). We meet many constructors and their artful creations, and we visit the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, founded by Shortz and held each spring in Stamford, Conn. But none of these people seem as vivid as their long-dead predecessors.

Raphel relates how Ruth van Phul, that first tournament champion, eventually set puzzles aside to become a world-renowned scholar, enamored of James Joyces wordplay. Or consider the romantic, elegiac chapter in which Raphel describes how Vladimir Nabokov maintained his connection to his wife, Vera, then a patient in a sanitarium, by sending her love notes filled with crosswords to solve, revealing his devotion letter by letter. But no one now alive seems quite as, well, alive.

Raphel includes a few quotes from the blog of Prof. Michael Sharp, who posts often savage reviews of every daily Times crossword under the pseudonym Rex Parker but she never talks to him about his obsession or his adopted persona as the curmudgeonly scold whom every constructor resents but many secretly want to please. Raphel herself competes in the crossword tournament (she does poorly), but the winners go unnamed and unquoted. Who are these people, who have devoted their efforts to become the greatest crossword solvers in America? If Raphel had talked to the tournament announcer Greg Pliska, she would have discovered hes a talented constructor who wooed his wife with a series of original puzzles, the final one of which was a crossword with the solution: WILL YOU MARRY ME? Perhaps not as elegiac as Nabokov but unlike Nabokov, hes still here.

Instead of solvers Raphel gives us philosophy, in a chapter on representation and reality in crosswords that begins to feel stretched. Some of her assertions seem disproportionate, as when she claims: We tell ourselves games in order to live. (Somewhere, Abraham Maslow mutters, Really?) I am a philistine, socially awkward with a face made for radio, but I would rather associate myself with the less cerebral explanation offered by Thomas Harris, in a very different context, in his novel The Silence of the Lambs: Problem-solving is hunting; it is savage pleasure and we are born to it.

In my favorite memoir chapter, Raphel visits a writing retreat to construct her own crossword. After much technical discussion of grids and themes and fill, she writes: I became a mechanical god. I shifted gears; I tuned each letter individually. I was a chemist, titrating my micro-universe; a lepidopterist, shifting a butterflys wing onto a pin. She was also, in this and only this, a failure. Her puzzle was rejected, as so many are, by The Times. But her affectionate exegesis of this pastime, this passion, this temporary madness, succeeds. Like a good crossword, her book challenges us to back away from our assumptions, allows us to think differently and apply ourselves again.

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Heres Looking at You, Grid: A History of Crosswords and Their Fans - The New York Times

Five new Steam games you probably missed (March 16, 2020) – PC Gamer

On an average day, about a dozen new games are released on Steam. And while we think that's a good thing, it can be understandably hard to keep up with. Potentially exciting gems are sure to be lost in the deluge of new things to play unless you sort through every single game that is released on Steam. So thats exactly what weve done.If nothing catches your fancy this week, we've gathered thebest PC gamesyou can play right now and a running list of thenew games of 2020.

Steam pageRelease: March 12Developer: Price: $9.99 | 7.19 | AU$14.50

Bright Bird is a Chinese side-scrolling puzzle game with a lush hand drawn art style. The game features two protagonists in the form of Yao and Xuan, who are both on a mission to find the nominal bird in order to "solve the smog crisis". One glance at the trailer above, and you'll quickly see that the game is very far from drenched in smog: rich colour schemes and gorgeous vistas are the order of the day, which should take the edge off some of the more head-scratching puzzles.

Steam pageRelease: March 14Developer: 100Hr GamesPrice: $19.99 | 15.49 | AU$28.95

Artificial Extinction has a fascinating premise: you're a colonist on a strange planet, tasked with finding a safe environment for your family. There is (as always) a problem, though. This planet is harried by once-benign terra-forming robots designed to make the place inhabitable for humans, except they've gone rogue, and now they want the place for themselves. Played from a first-person perspective, Artificial Extinction blends tense resource acquisition and base defence, against a backdrop of AI scepticism.

Steam pageRelease: March 12Developer: Serenity ForgePrice: $19.99 | 15.49 | AU$28.95

Here's a "slice-of-life" game that blends the usual visual novel trappings with an over world design reminiscent of 16-bit RPGs. It's about the intersecting love lives of "six ordinary people", including a tech CEO, some investor guy, a tea connoisseur and a retro game collector (among others). The art style carefully blends an isometric 3D environment with ye olde sprites, and has been getting rave reviews from Nintendo-oriented websites (it's also on Switch).

Steam pageRelease: March 14Developer: SkyBox LabsPrice: $19.99 | 15.49 | AU$28.95

Described as a "cinematic, atmospheric" platformer, Stela bears more than a passing resemblance to Playdead's (Limbo, Inside) creations. Set in a crumbling ancient world, Stela blends platforming with puzzles, but the star attraction is the landscape itself, all grandiose ruins and lonely vistas. It's definitely one for fans of set piece laden sidescrollers, like the aforementioned Playdead games or Forgotten Anne and Gris.

Steam pageRelease: March 12Developer: Crazy Monkey StudiosPrice: $7.99 | 5.99 | AU$11.50

From the creators of Guns, Gore and Cannoli comes an entirely different (and far less gory) game. Rather than murdering folk, you're looking for things in what appears to be a light twist on the hidden object genre (or more directly, a take on Hidden Folks). The maps take place in different time periods, and once you've completed them there's a map editor to tinker with and, hopefully, a pool of user-created content to keep you going.

These games were released between March 9 and 16 2020. Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read ouraffiliate policyfor more info.

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Five new Steam games you probably missed (March 16, 2020) - PC Gamer

Fun and educational games, activities to save your sanity during coronavirus school break –

CLEVELAND, Ohio Suddenly, parents all over Ohio are scrambling for ways to keep their kids entertained during the state-mandated extended spring break and schooling from home courtesy of the coronavirus pandemic.

If youre working from home at the kitchen table while your little ones are complaining theyre bored -- or searching for weekend family fun with entertainment venues and restaurants closed or deemed off-limits, dont panic.

Weve compiled a giant list of educational and fun games and toys below. They are sorted by age group but dont scroll too fast. For example, the first grouping of ages 3+ includes games that appeal to any age over 3 so youll find lots in there that appeal to teenagers, too.

At the bottom are more suggestions, including DIY activities that can be done with everyday items and activities to keep your kids occupied aside from electronic devices.

Related: Tips on working from home with kids during the coronavirus pandemic

Boggle Junior

Pre-schoolers can transform letters into words with this beginning level word game.

Buy it on Amazon ($30) | Buy it at Walmart ($34.94)

Boggle Jr. Board Game - Amazon photo

The Ladybug Game

This game uses a clever combination of colors, numbers, words and symbols to help even the youngest players encounter all the adventures, challenges and characters in the garden on their own.

Buy it on Amazon ($17.99) | Buy it at Walmart ($20.09)

The Ladybug Game - Amazon photo

HiHo! Cherry-O

Kids master basic math skills while picking fruits to fill their basket and win the game.

Buy it on Amazon ($12.79) | Buy it at Walmart ($12.79)

HI-Ho! Cherry-O - Amazon photo

Picture Sequencing

Pre-schoolers can master the logical order of things when only the right pieces fit together on this picture sequencing game.

Buy it on Amazon ($9.99) | Buy it at Walmart ($9.99)

What Happens Next? Picture Sequences - Amazon photo

Busytown Eye Found It!

Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm search for hidden objects as they drive through busy streets, a farm, an airport and a bustling harbor filled with boats as they race through Busytown!

Buy it on Amazon ($22.04) | Buy it at Walmart ($36.99)

Busytown Eye Found It! - Amazon photo

Tangrams Plus

Tangrams Plus is based on the ancient Chinese tangram puzzles. Kids can build an infinite number of designs using just five triangles, one square and one rhomboid.

Buy it on Amazon ($17.72) | Buy it at Walmart ($20.95)

Tangrams Plus - Amazon photo

Snug as a Bug in a Rug

This matching game encourages kids work together to get all the little colorful bugs under the rug before the three stink bugs stink up the place.

Buy it on Amazon ($20.02) | Buy it at Walmart ($20.02)

Snug as a Bug in a Rug - Amazon photo

Hoot Owl Hoot

This matching board game grows along with your child by offering multiple ways to play. The objective is to move all the owls from start to the nest before the sun rises. Fostering cooperation and collaboration, this family-friendly game helps children develop color recognition skills.

Buy it on Amazon ($15.99) | Buy it at Target ($15.99)

Hoot Owl Hoot - Amazon photo

Zingo 1-2-3

A fun interactive number matching game that brings fast-paced learning to the classic game of Bingo.

Buy it on Amazon ($18.03) | Buy it at Target ($19.99) | Buy it at Walmart ($31.99)

Zingo! 1-2-3 - Amazon photo

Robot Turtles

Preschoolers can learn programming one turtle move at a time. Through fun play and code cards, players move their robot turtles around the game board to learn programming

Buy it on Amazon ($19.97)

Robot Turtles - Amazon photo

Coder Bunnyz

Coder Bunnyz is an accessible game which introduces young children to the basics of coding, develops coding skills in older children.

Buy it on Amazon ($34.85)

Coder Bunnyz - Amazon photo

Pigs in Pants

The aim of this matching game is to collect the most pairs of pants on your pig by both matching patterned pants and pinching pants cards from other players, whilst shouting Im going to pinch your pants!

Buy it on Amazon ($13.49) | Buy it at Walmart ($18.22)

Pigs in Pants - Amazon photo

Little Red Riding Hood Deluxe

Little Red Riding Hood is a puzzle game where young children help Red Riding Hood find grandmas house in the forest then out-smart the wolf when he appears.

Buy it on Amazon ($26.99) | Buy it at Walmart ($26.99)

Little Red Riding Hood Deluxe - Amazon photo

Funny Bunny

Help the funny bunnies reach the succulent carrot at the top of the hill. But be careful, the path is full of holes which suddenly open under the feet of the bunny.

Buy it on Amazon ($26.22) | Buy it at Walmart ($26.22)

Funny Bunny - Amazon photo

Sum Swamp

Math becomes an adventure with this award-winning addition and subtraction game that takes kids on a journey.

Buy it on Amazon ($17.72) | Buy it at Walmart ($35.02)

Sum Swamp - Amazon photo

Monopoly Jr.

A great game to teach for future money management skills.

Buy it on Amazon ($10.79) | Buy it at Target ($10.79) | Buy it at Walmart ($13.15)

Monopoly Jr. - Amazon photo


This is a fast-paced, easy-to-learn strategy game. The 30-minute playing time is perfect for short attention spans and can also be repeated for an evening of fun.

Buy it on Amazon ($23.85) | Buy it at Target ($19.99) | Buy it at Walmart ($19.90)

Blokus - Amazon photo

Brain Freeze

Using strategic thinking, memory, deduction and logic, kids race to correctly guess the secret sweet treat that the other player or team have chosen before their square is guessed.

Buy it on Amazon ($24.95) | Buy it at Walmart ($52)

Brain Freeze - Amazon photo


Loosely based on Rummincube and Scrabble, players must place tiles in a line which share either a matching shape or color.

Buy it on Amazon ($24.95) | Buy it at Target ($24.99)

Qwirkle - Amazon photo

Zingo Sight Words

A fun and interactive word game that brings excitement and learning to the classic game of Bingo. Players learn to quickly recognize and read sight words, which are words with spelling that is not always straightforward.

Buy it on Amazon ($19.99)

Zingo! Sight Words - Amazon photo

The Ungame

Young children experience the fun of learning how to communicate more effectively as they share thoughts, ideas and feelings.

Buy it on Amazon ($24.99) | Buy it at Target ($24.99)

The Ungame - Amazon photo

Animal Mastermind Towers

Players secretly stack their animal tiles in their towers. The player who guesses the order of their opponents tiles first wins.

Buy it on Amazon ($9.98) | Buy it at Walmart ($24.27)

Animal Mastermind Towers - Amazon photo


There are several games one can play with dominoes, but they all only have one common rule -- you can only connect sides that have the same number of pips.

Buy it on Amazon ($8.99) | Buy it at Target ($5.89) | Buy it at Walmart ($5.88)

Dominoes - Amazon photo

Connect 4

Like tic-tac-toe, drop the discs into the slots, and connect 4 to score.

Buy it on Amazon ($7.88) | Buy it at Target ($7.99) | Buy it at Walmart ($7.88)

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Fun and educational games, activities to save your sanity during coronavirus school break -

The creator of Dicey Dungeons and VVVVVV is giving thousands of copies of his games away for free – PC Gamer

Terry Cavanagh, the creator of Dicey Dungeons and VVVVVV, is giving his games away for free over on In his tweets announcing the sale, Cavanagh says that he wanted to do something in light of the coronavirus outbreak and give players a chance to play his games as a "distraction to take your mind off things." You can download the games over on Cavanagh's Itch profile.

Cavanagh is currently giving away 1000 copies of each of his three commercially released games which include the gravity flipping platformer VVVVVV, the tough-as-nails arcade game Super Hexagon, and his deckbuilding roguelike Dicey Dungeons. At the time of writing, the 1000 copies for Dicey Dungeons have already been claimed but you can still get VVVVVV and Super Hexagon.

Other developers have also released their games on sale as a reaction to people around the world having to self-isolate because of the coronavirus outbreak. You can find the full list of games on discount on Itch's store sale page.

Included in the game on sale is Julian Glander's Art Sqool about producing silly drawings that are marked by an AI professor in an attempt to pass art college. Alongside Art Sqool is Fidel Dungeon Rescue, a puzzle roguelike where you play as a cute pooch who can rewind time. If you're after something with a bit more action then you should check out Minor Key Games' first-person adventure game Eldritch which has been discounted by 70 percent.

If you're after more free games to play then check out our best free games of 2020 and we also cover a bunch of free games every week like the strange musical game Karambola and freaky horror game Sentient.

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The creator of Dicey Dungeons and VVVVVV is giving thousands of copies of his games away for free - PC Gamer

Games Inbox: Are you impressed by the Xbox Series X? –

Xbox Series X what do you think of it so far? (pic: Microsoft)

The Tuesday Inbox hears a defence of the Prince Of Persia sequels, as a reader offers more submarine game recommendations.

To join in with the discussions yourself email

More infoSo once again we see that Microsoft is willing to discuss the Xbox Series X quite openly and with essentially no fanfare. Its a surprising policy to be honest, as to me it really underlines that they are the underdog and have to push themselves much harder than Sony. But theyre putting the work in and as much as I understand it the specs are impressive (and no doubt as irrelevant as ever when it comes to the reality of the situation).

They still havent announced any games, just that one glimpse at Hellblade 2 and the promise of Halo Infinite, so that would presumably have been the focus at E3. Which I guess theyre now trying to convert into some kind of Microsoft Direct livestream.

The big question though is whether the Xbox Series X will be delayed. Nothing thats happened so far suggests it will but can even Microsoft know that. And if it is put back to next spring what happens to Halo Infinite? Surely they wouldnt release that this Christmas only on Xbox One? Or would they? They have nothing else scheduled so I cant see them wanting to go almost a year without releasing any kind of new Xbox game.

Thats why I think Microsoft will try and push for a launch this year even if stock is very low. Well see, but it is interesting how much theyve shown so far and how little we still know about the PlayStation 5.Gazza

Surprise launchThe Xbox Series X full specs are pretty incredible to be honest.

It seems incredibly early though to be revealing it all if the release is late this year at the earliest, possibly next year because of the current pandemic. I do wonder if Microsoft is planning a mic drop moment and release well in advance of Sony.

As part of the full spec details Microsoft said the console is designed on the principles of power, speed, and compatibility. If they do see the Series X as part of a family of devices then maybe they will be happy to put it out early with a premium price with a limited number of units to sell.

While Sony is following the traditional console path it feels like Microsoft is trying a different road. Who knows, probably not and next year seems most likely for a release. Regardless of their plans the confirmed specs are very impressive.Simundo

GC: Microsoft has never suggested itll be any earlier than this Christmas. Given the current situation coming out earlier than expected seems incredibly unlikely.

Non-game quandaryGreat Animal Crossing review, but theres one thing that Im struggling with and thats whether its a game for me.

I like to think I like all types of games but have always worried the slightly meandering nature of these games would leave me bored and without much to keep me going.

I love open world games but also appreciate the objectives and tasks within those games as a sense of direction.

Is Animal Crossing for me then?!John

GC: Thats hard to say. New Horizons is the most structured of the games but theres still no overall goal or story. Perhaps a reader whos been in a similar position can comment.

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Expensive lessonOh well, there goes a lot of the goodwill that Microsoft have manage to generate.

Sony proved with the PlayStation Vita that all you have to do to sound the death knell on a great piece of hardware is to announce proprietary memory expansions for it. Those little 1TB SSD cartridges are going to be expensive. Ideally youd want something like that to be available in massive abundance and be somewhere in the region of about 25, but we all know theyre going to be rarer than hens teeth and closer to 80 100.

I get why Microsoft are doing it, because larger size SSDs are megabucks, so I do glean a modicum of hope that these things will be affordable for that reason, but I wont hold my breath.Phil Spearpoint

GC: Its just an optional extra.

Never-ending consoleAnother late entry regarding the PlayStation 2 20th anniversary. Many great games played, although I am going to mention my most memorable experiences.

I remember buying it back then in 2001 when my most played console at the time, the Dreamcast, was releasing less games due to Sega pulling out of console manufacturing in the same year. The reason I bought it was for Gran Turismo 3, after seeing an advert on TV and showing off its incredible graphics, which was a no brainer for a petrolhead like me.

Later I got Pro Evolution Soccer, which I would still say is the most realistic football game made.

Of course, I also played the GTA games, with Vice City being my favourite. This included buying the soundtrack to the game on CD so I could play the likes of Hall & Oates Out Of Touch and more when out in my car (rest assured I did not drive GTA style).

Even going into the 2010s I was still playing on the PlayStation 2 despite already owning an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The reason was because of Persona 3 and 4 being released in the late 2000s, showing that older hardware can still have great games. In fact, I am still finding out about games for the PlayStation 2 I never heard of back in its heyday. One I recommend is Dual Hearts, a platformer released by Atlus which never came to Europe.

And being a Japanese role-playing game fan, the amount of games released from that genre for the console is still impressive to this day and this is when you dont factor in the Final Fantasy series. orionz25 (PSN ID/Steam ID)

Dive inBodhi was asking about submarine games. He didnt specify what kind of gameplay he wanted but if hes like me he will probably be happy with anything as long as hes controlling a sub. With that in mind, I would like to give him some examples of submarine games he might enjoy.

The Battlestations games on Xbox 360 and PC (Midway and Pacific) feature submarines, both in the story missions and as part of the challenge scenarios. The gameplay is an enjoyable mix of stealth, strategy, and action.

Naval Assault: The Killing Tide on Xbox 360 is a specialist sub game. Its mainly an action game but there are some stealth elements.

Bodhi didnt say what formats were available to him but if he has a 3DS he could do a lot worse than picking up a copy of Steel Diver. This is similar to The Hunt For Red October game that was released for the original Game Boy. Its a fun, side-scrolling underwater adventure shooter with some light tactical components involving choosing the right moment to surface and make repairs without being sunk by the various enemies. There is also a separate mode which involves hunting an enemy fleet with your sub. This mode is not in 2D and is a much more tactical affair with some absolutely gripping moments.

Finally, if youre the one person on the planet who hasnt played it, GTA 5 has a small sub which features in some of the missions and can also be used to explore the sea around the island which is good fun when you find a shipwreck or find yourself being followed by a shark. At one point I triggered a cut scene in a naval yard and saw a full-size sub in dry dock in the background. When the cut scene was over, I went to have a look to see if I could get it into the water and maybe take it out to sea. Alas, when I approached it I realised it was still under construction with the entire front end missing! Why does Rockstar enjoy teasing us? Maybe GTA 6 will have a bigger map, a wider ocean and full-size submarines.

Anyway, I hope that helped. Maybe some other readers will know of some other submarine games. In the meantime Dive! Dive! Dive! Kehaar

All or nothingAnd just like that the video games drought is over and everything seems to be happening all at once. Why is it the games industry only seems to have two gears? Fifth and park. Excited to see some high-scoring games out at last though and also the Resident Evil 3 demo this week. Hopefully thats going to be one of the best games of next month.

Very interested to see what happens to Final Fantasy 7 Remake as well. I have no vested interest in it, and probably wont get it at launch, but I have a feeling the Internet fights over it will be epic. My prediction: good reviews but the fans will nitpick it and eventually turn against it before the next one is out. Austin

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Late to the partyIve long put off playing Prince of Persia: Sands Of Time sequels Warrior Within and The Two Thrones because of the criticism expressed by fans of the original game, particularly directed at Warrior Within. I see from the Inbox that opinion persists.

Sands Of Time I enjoyed and particular locations/puzzles especially. But I did not revere the game as some people apparently do. Nevertheless, I took their word for it that Warrior Within was a poor follow-up and The Two Thrones, better but still not as good.

In the absence of having any alternative new games of that type I decided to play those two back to back recently. It was almost a case of getting them over and done with, although I was sure Id squeeze some worthwhile entertainment value out of them. I did and quite honestly I ended up failing to understand what those Sands Of Time fans found so objectionable.

With Warrrior Within was I bothered by the now grimdark Prince? No, but I was never invested in the originals character either. That brickbat has been used to beat the game up ever since and overshadowed any objectivity in relation the gameplay which as far as Im concerned is as good as, if not better, than the original.

The Two Thrones I have more trouble defending as the type of QTE-based gameplay schtick, used over and over again, I have always disliked and often positively hated. But whilst Ive not had my mind changed on that, The Two Thrones uses it more imaginatively than any other game I can think of Ive played. Again, sidelining my bias on that matter, I found much to enjoy, although it is my least favourite of the trilogy.

The lesson: be sceptical of any criticism of a game which has become common currency.Malcolm Lawn

GC: Turning the Prince into a charmless, grimdark anti-hero was a large part of the original criticism, so if that, and the similarly try-hard visuals, dont put you off then the games are still decent; although we still remember the level design as being better in the original.

Inbox also-ransThere are some Witcher goodies available for free for the next 48 hours on GOG.Andrew J.

So even though there is an indie Direct this week we still dont know if that means a proper one next week? The suspense is killing me!Jasper

This weeks Hot TopicThe question for this weekends Inbox was suggested by reader Gifford, who asks you to imagine your ideal next gen sequel.

Take any game or franchise that already exists and imagine it for the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. How would it differ from current versions and how would it take advantage of the superior graphics and faster load times? What other features do you hope it will have and what wouldve been impossible in the current gen?

How likely do you think what youve suggested is? What are you most excited about in the next gen: sequels or brand new titles that havent been announced yet?

E-mail your comments to:

The small printNew Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Readers Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and dont forget to follow us on Twitter.

MORE: Games Inbox: Video games to play at home, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Silent Hills redux

MORE: Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: PS2 20th anniversary memories

MORE: Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: PS2 20th anniversary memories

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Games Inbox: Are you impressed by the Xbox Series X? -

The Gamification Of Cybersecurity Training – Forbes

In recent years, a steep rise in demand for cybersecurity professionals has resulted in a huge shortage of experienced employees. By 2021, there will be 3.5 million unfilled positions.

The growing demand for cyber professionals makes many young people consider a career in cybersecurity, which creates a demand for educational opportunities in the field. However, in many cases, classroom lessons are not enough. Many experts claim that there is a need to change the way we provide education

There are many new approaches on how to improve this learning experience. One of these approaches is called gamification, which involves transforming the classroom environment into a game.

Playing games is a natural way for us humans to learn. We practice by playing games, and we obtain new skills. We learn a lot by playing, and most importantly, we have fun.

Therefore, if we incorporate gaming elements into the learning experience, we will learn a lot more -- because we enjoy the process

I personally believe that this approach is especially relevant to cybersecurity education, where there is a need to experience real-life scenarios in order to really understand and digest all the data learned in a given class.

One of the popular and old-timer games in the cybersecurity industry is the CTF. This is a capture the flag challenge that requires participants to prove their skills in fields like hacking and reverse engineering, all with the goal of finding a flag and winning the contest. Although participating in CTF challenges is both fun and educational, it appears that this game has one serious limitation: It is mainly a game for advanced security professionals.

We gathered some statistics from our own CTF game and found that they've remained relatively consistent for several years now. We can see that most of the people who register for the challenge score zero points. That means they were not able to solve even the simplest challenge. Other than this group, about 80% solve the entry-level challenges only, and less than 3% solve all challenges. These statistics suggests that CTF is an educational game that targets advanced and expert players only. There still is a place for a game that will help entry-level students learn and experience cybersecurity theory.

So we released an open training game for beginners, and feedback we received from the community after releasing this game was very positive. In developing our own gamified training system, we learned a few important lessons that you, too, can apply to your training efforts. Start with these first steps:

1. Choose A Game Format: Inventing a new game is not an easy task. You should not try to build everything from scratch. There are many well-established game categories that actually define a framework for a successful game. Some examples include simulation games, puzzles, adventure games and many more. We chose the visual novel style for our training project, which is an interactive storytelling genre that originated in Japan. This format allows us to present information to players in a more linear way. No matter what you choose, following an established framework assures that people can actually play and enjoy such a game.

2. Define Your Target Audience: The first thing you need to do is to decide the level of your players. Are you approaching beginners? Are you approaching experts? What preliminary knowledge is needed in order to play your game? Then, you need to define the content your game will include. If you approach beginners, you might choose topics like understanding the security log, getting familiar with the right tools, etc. If you approach advanced students, you might choose topics like performing memory analysis, understanding the anatomy of an attack, etc. Either way, in the end, you really just need to concentrate on building your game for the right people. If it doesnt include everything you planned, that is not such a big problem, but if it does include everything you planned and people dont play your game in the first place, you kind of missed the whole point.

3. Be Flexible: When building a game, you need to be creative. Many times, this includes allowing yourself to deviate from the original plan and go in directions you did not anticipate. You might find yourself removing an entire section of the game or choosing a different concept. One of our team members once told me it reminded him of the process of making a film. You might even want a technological infrastructure that allows such constants to change. Such flexibility is crucial, since your content is ever-changing, and your game needs to adapt to new tools, new tactics and new methods.

There are so many different things you need to plan for and consider when building a new game, but the most important is to not be afraid of the unknown. Let your imagination thrive and enjoy the ride. Remember, the process of educating your cybersecurity personnel should be fun and engaging -- so, too, should your creation process.

The Gamification Of Cybersecurity Training - Forbes

Early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s cases are on the rise; here’s how to take action now – Omaha World-Herald

Newly released findings are expanding the conversation about early-onset dementia and Alzheimers disease, serving as a call to awareness and action for younger Americans.

A Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Health Index, compiled in 2017, found that early-onset dementia and Alzheimers disease are impacting the lives of a growing number of Americans ages 30 to 64. Dementia is a general term for cognitive decline beyond typical age-related changes. Alzheimers disease characterized by progressive brain deterioration, memory loss and an inability to independently care for oneself is the most common form of dementia.

In 2017, about 131,000 commercially insured Americans under age 65 were diagnosed with either early-onset dementia or Alzheimers disease, a 200% increase since 2013.

A closer look at the data reveals the average age of someone in the commercially insured population living with either condition is 49, and women account for 58% of those diagnosed with early-onset dementia and Alzheimers disease combined.

Diagnosis rates of early-onset dementia and Alzheimers disease, according to the BCBS Health Index, are higher in the East, the South and parts of the Midwest though both Nebraska and Iowa are on the lower end of the diagnosis rate spectrum:

Iowa: 4.0-5.5 per 10,000 adults (ages 30-64)

Nebraska: 5.6-7.1 per 10,000 adults (ages 30-64)

Looking specifically at early-onset Alzheimers disease, 37,000 commercially-insured Americans, between ages 30 and 64, were diagnosed in 2017, a 131% increase since 2013.

Among its conclusions, Blue Cross and Blue Shield says these health trends indicate a need for a focus on appropriate care and support for individuals with either form of dementia and support for their caregivers as the disease progresses.

The Alzheimers Association is on the job, supporting people living with dementia and their caregivers. The local chapter offers information, resources and a broad array of services throughout the progression of the disease, including a free, 24/7 helpline, 800-272-3900.

Specialists and masters-level clinicians offer confidential support and information to people living with the disease, caregivers, families and the public. In addition, we provide community education programs, support groups and early stage support groups and engagement activities, says Sharon Stephens, executive director of the Alzheimers Associations Nebraska Chapter.

The largest non-profit funder of Alzheimer's research, the Alzheimers Association is also investing more than $185 million in more than 540 active best-of-field projects in 30 countries.

Additionally, thanks to the incredible work of our Alzheimer's Association advocates, federal funding for Alzheimer's research has increased dramatically from $448 million in 2011 to $2.8 billion in 2020, Stephens says. (Learn more about the Alzheimers Associations impact here.)

Early signs and symptoms of Alzheimers disease or other dementias, according to the Alzheimers Association, include:

Memory loss that disrupts daily life

Challenges in planning or problem solving

Difficulty completing familiar tasks or having a conversation

Confusion with time or place

Decreased or poor judgment

Changes in mood and personality

If you notice one or more signs in yourself or another person, the Alzheimer's Association says its important to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

On the side of proactivity and prevention, there is growing evidence that a combination of healthy lifestyle habits is associated with better cognitive aging and less risk of developing dementia and Alzheimers, says Daniel L. Murman, M.D., director of the Behavioral and Geriatric Neurology Program at University of Nebraska Medical Center.

That includes exercising regularly, engaging in brain games (including crossword puzzles, Sudoku or computer-based games), eating a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, and getting plenty of sleep.

While these lifestyle suggestions still dont have absolute proof, Dr. Murman says there is enough evidence that each, in general, contributes to improved wellness and, potentially, less development of disease, whether thats dementia, Alzheimers or other diseases.

Learn more about how the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index works.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska is committed to ensuring members have the care they need for coronavirus (COVID-19). View the latest here.

Early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's cases are on the rise; here's how to take action now - Omaha World-Herald

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