[This giveaway has closed: Over 450 entries were received (my eyes are still bleeding) and WE HAVE A WINNER -- Congratulations, Alfred Guillen!!!]
It's no secret, my family is totally into gaming. We love finding new video games and sharing fun ways in which to spend more time, together. Even the grandparents, love their new Wii. Best of all, the kids and I had the opportunity to work very closely with the Entertainment Software Rating Board (seriously, they came to my house, filmed my kids playing video games and everything) to help promote a cool new internet tool to help parents (like me) figure out just what in the heck all those cryptic game rating symbols really mean.
Still, there are parents (like me) who can't help but wonder if online video gaming is safe for kids and Xbox vs. Wii, what's the diff?
Well, I'm pleased to announce This Full House of used games and cheat codes recently partnered with Microsoft (who are extremely generous for sending us an Xbox 360) to help learn about the importance of safe online gaming.
Aaaand, I am equally excited to be able to share it with you!
What is Xbox LIVE?
It's the online gaming and entertainment network for Xbox 360 and Silver Membership is a free service that allows any Xbox 360 user with a broadband connection to get online and interact with Xbox LIVE community, offering:
- Avatar: Create a customized Avatar that represents your online identity. [This Full House Give & Take: My kids love playing dress ups - especially, in video games and online virtual worlds - okay, me too!]
- Profile: Showcase your online reputation and achievements for your friends to see. [This Full House Give & Take: A fun feature for online gamers and bloggers, alike :)]
- Friends list: Add other Xbox LIVE users to your friends list and chat using the headset or send text messages. [This Full House Give & Take: See above!]
- Marketplace: Download free content from Marketplace such as demos, trailers, music videos, dashboard themes, and lots more. [This Full House Give & Take: I love the idea of demos and that, if we don't like it, I didn't have to buy a game to find out, or have to return it to the store!]
- Microsoft Points: Redeem Microsoft Points (available at retail stores or through Xbox LIVE) for extra game content, Arcade games, movies and TV shows, independent videos, and more.
When you're ready, you can upgrade to an Xbox LIVE Gold subscription (makes a great gift, you can purchase GOLD subscription cards at your favorite game retailer) features include:
- Multiplayer games: Invite your friends into a multi-player match and compete against each other or play co-op through expansive adventures. [This Full House Give & Take: We recently received Scene It? for Xbox Live and I look forward to posting our review of this feature at a later date.]
- Marketplace: Gold members get early and exclusive access to select downloads, trailers, videos, and more. [This Full House Give & Take: I asked and found out that...yep...once you download, games are yours for the keeping, forever!]
- TrueSkill matchmaking: For every ranked game you play, TrueSkill finds the best match for your skill level. [This Full House Give & Take: Invaluable, for kids and challenged-gamers...like me!]
- Parties: Invite a group of friends into an Xbox LIVE Party, then you can all join games and play and chat together. [This Full House Give & Take: The webcam feature is awesome and a great way to connect to family on special occasions, holidays, or family members living far away.]
- Gamer feedback: Use the feedback system to select players you want to play with (or avoid) the next time you're online. [This Full House Give & Take: Yes, one of the few times that parents get to pick (and choose) your kid's friends!]
- Watch Netflix movies: Xbox LIVE Gold members who also belong to Netflix can watch Netflix’s extensive library of streaming movies and TV shows right on their console at no additional charge. [This Full House Give & Take: This is an atractive feature for movie lovers, like us. No videos to forget, or return - I may just renew my Netflix membership, after all!]
I had a chance to chat online (the Xbox Live Vision Camera and Wireless Headset are very, very cool) and meet with Christa Phillips (Mother of 2 and Xbox LIVE Community Manager) because, I was very interested to learn just what sort of safety measures Microsoft offers gaming families, like ours:
- Xbox 360 Family Settings are built into every Xbox 360 console and automatically appear the first time you turn on your console.
- Family Settings help control the types of games and movies that family members can play or view (based on their content rating) and can help families manage and you can choose to block Xbox LIVE and the online interactions on Xbox LIVE.
- Xbox LIVE child accounts have the most restrictive settings and are defaulted to "Friends Only" for online play.
- Limit how a gamer's identity and personal information is shared - EVEN WHEN PLAYING ONLINE AWAY FROM HOME!
- Family timer allows parents and caregivers to set up how much time each day or week their children can use Xbox 360.
All this information, and more, is available in on Xbox.com (http://www.xbox.com/en-US/support/familysettings/) along with parent how-to videos on setting parental controls on Xbox 360 and Windows Vista.
Final Verdict: We love our Xbox 360. The graphics are phenomenal (seriously, from the exotic locales and beautiful screen shots in Tomb Raider, to the realistic looking rain on Madden Football) and my kids play Rock Band 2 together, all the time (thank you Microsoft!) and even got my husband, Garth (not his real name) to play along.
No, I don't have it documented, or anything -- the man won't let me use his real name, for goodness sake.
Xbox 360 LIVE is a great way to get more fun out of our video games, is easy to use (thank you Microsoft!) and their Family Settings helps empower parents (like me) by offering a laundry list of parental controls. And I am ALL about laundry!
To help promote the New Xbox Experience (an on-demand, high-definition and social network, all in one game system) one very, VEry, VERy, VERY lucky reader will receive an Xbox 360 ELITE, including a black wireless controller, a black headset, an HDMI cable, two video games (LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures and Kung Fu Panda) along with Xbox Silver and 1 month free Gold Membership, courtesy of Microsoft Corporation - you can check out the FULL package, here - how cool is that?!? Makes it feel sort of like Christmas, all over again.
Because, we roll like that.
(Retail Price: $399.00)
Sponsored by Microsoft.com -- the makers of Xbox brand of products.
FIND IT HERE: BestBuy.com
WIN IT HERE: GO TO THE GIVEAWAY ENTRY FORM ON THIS PAGE: Before 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 20th (you must fill out an entry form for a chance to win) and enter your name and email. One (1) winner will be picked (via random.org) and announced via email and post on PRIZEYWinners! See the bottom of entry form for more details, including extra ways to win.
Good luck and don't forget to check out these giveaways for more awesome stuff we're just itching to, you know, giveaway!