Hello Pixelkiners! We’re back from a busy weekend at Portland Retro Gaming Expo. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth and signed up for our newsletter. And thanks to that one guy who bought our only Pixelkin mug. You know who you are.

Recently Project Spark was released for Xbox One and Windows 8. It’s a game that lets you build games–with practice. Project Spark lets users create their own worlds and add gameplay elements. You can create enemies, obstacles, paint entire landscapes–it’s kind of intimidatingly huge. You can also play games that other users have created. Project Spark encourages you to “remix” those games by adding your own modifications. Above all, Project Spark teaches you that designing games is hard work. So if game design is your passion, Project Spark is a cool way to jump into it. Project Spark is a available as a free download from projectspark.com. If you like what you see, you can buy the Starter Pack, which has more content and advanced tools. Read our review to learn more.

This week we’re putting the spotlight on Star Wars: The Old Republic, a free-to-play online roleplaying game. If you’re looking for a multiplayer game for your family that has some substance to it, The Old Republic is a great choice. Because you’re making decisions that put you either on the Dark Side or Light Side of the Force, it’s a good opportunity to talk about ethics–for example, why is it sometimes harder to make the “good” decision? Tough moral questions aside, The Old Republic is a cinematic game with a great story, so if you like Star Wars–well, take the opportunity to start ruling the galaxy with your kid. For more on The Old Republic check out Jason de Kanter’s editorial on the site.

Is anything better than cute kids, robots, and science? I don’t think so. Our coverage of GeekGirlCon has all of the above–including an interview with an awesome little girl who was selling her own comic at the convention. To hear her story, and find out what else kids got out of GeekGirlCon, watch our video.

Nancy Drew and the Labyrinth of Lies recently came out for PC. Like the rest of the Nancy Drew series from HerInteractive, this is a challenging puzzle game. Make that a very challenging puzzle game. Nancy has to solve the mystery of some art thefts, and along the way you actually end up learning a bit about Greek mythology, architecture, and even a little bit of Greek writing. The game is rated E10+ but make no mistake, the puzzles are lot harder than that. If you like intense mystery-solving and cool female protagonists, this could be the game for you. Read more about it in our review.

Finally, Skylanders: Trap Team recently came into our lives and it’s here to stay. This action-adventure game is available for every console, and like Disney Infinity, it uses collectible figurines to represent the character you’re playing. And Skylanders has lots of characters to choose from. As a Skylander you go through tons of gorgeous, magical levels beating up bad guys and searching for treasure. The game made me laugh out loud with its dialogue and colorful characters. Read more about how to play and what we thought about the game in our review.

That’s it for this week! On Saturday the 25th I’ll be participating in the Extra Life gaming marathon to raise money for children’s hospitals by playing video games for 24 hours. I’m on a team with the folks at Engaged Family Gaming. If you’d like to donate, check out the link to my fundraising page below. If you have any suggestions for what I should play, leave them in the comments! Finally, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for our newsletter at Pixelkin.org. Have a great weekend!

Looking for more info on Extra Life? Here’s my fundraising page. Check out the rest of the site for more info on how you can help children’s hospitals!

Have a great weekend!

This article was written by

Simone de Rochefort is a game journalist, writer, podcast host, and video producer who does a prolific amount of Stuff. You can find her on Twitter @doomquasar, and hear her weekly on tech podcast Rocket, as well as Pixelkin's Gaming With the Moms podcast. With Pixelkin she produces video content and devotes herself to Skylanders with terrifying abandon.