How To Get Up And Running On Xbox Live
Microsoft's Xbox 360 is the ultimate entertainment console, and when it's hooked up to the internet via Xbox live, it'll also give you access to exclusive download-only games, demos and content for your existing games. Plus, you can do loads of other cool stuff like watch movies, build avatars, chat to your mates and soon you'll also be able to access social networking sites. Here's how.
Step 1: The Tech Stuff
The first thing you need to do is to connect everything up. It's not tricky – there's a very specific slot on the back of the console for an Ethernet Cable, which comes with your console. You can't put the wrong cable in here as nothing else will fit, so don't worry.
The other end goes into your router. If your console's in the living room, and your router's miles away, you'll need to get a Wireless Adaptor instead –plug it straight into the back of the console, switch on, and it should be instantly detectable on your home network.
Once all that's done, you can switch on and get connected to Xbox LIVE.
Step 2: Setting it all up
Once your Xbox is on, you'll need to tell it to connect to The Internet. Simply navigate to the console's Network menu – that's in ‘My Xbox', then scroll all the way over to ‘System Settings' and select ‘Network Settings'. Click Configure network, and the console will do all the hard work for you using magic technology.
Step 3: Your Account
There are two types of Xbox Membership – Silver and Gold. Silver is completely free, and gets you access to loads of great stuff over Xbox LIVE. Gold costs just £39.99 for a whole year, and gives you access to extra perks, like being able to play games online against your friends, have video chats, hold Xbox LIVE 'parties' and get exclusive discounts on Xbox LIVE marketplace. Plus, you'll soon be able to get Last FM, Facebook, Twitter and Sky TV . And you get a month's free trial first, so you can sign up and see what all the fuss is about without having to shell out a single penny.
Step 4: What you should do when you first get online
First things first, you need to set yourself up with an Avatar- that's a cute little animated cartoon version of yourself. Give it your eyes, nose and hair, but make it slightly slimmer and better-looking - everyone else does! Finish of by putting some cool new clothes on it - it's entirely up to you. Then, get yourself some Microsoft Points, which are the essential XBox currency that you need to buy cool stuff at the marketplace. You can buy these online or at loads of high street retailers.
Once that's done, the world's your oyster! You can download some game demos, trial a couple of arcade games, rent a movie for tonight or even have a video chat with your mate across the world
Step 5: Tips
Be nice. No one likes rude, obnoxious people, and the same goes online. So if you're going to be a sweary, trash-talking little noob, do everyone a favour and watch TV instead.
Show off. Games have ‘achievements', which are points for completing certain special challenges. These add to your gamerscore on your Gamertag card – the higher your score, the more everyone will respect and admire you!
Shop around. Some of the best games can't be bought in a shop – they're download only. Do some research into some of the hit arcade games like Braid, Castle Crashers or Shadow Complex – they're just as much fun as the big budget titles, and all come with a demo so you can see what they're all about before you buy.
And don't forget to keep checking back as loads of cool stuff like new tracks for music games and movies are added weekly. In fact, there's just too much awesome stuff going on in Xbox LIVE to list it all here - the smartest thing is just to jump in and get exploring.