There is a reason why I don’t own a video game console. It’s not that I’m a crazed gamer who must have the latest and greatest video games. It’s something far more insidious; if I start a game, I must finish it. Even if the game in question is awful, I will see it through. Considering that the average game probably takes about 40+ hours to complete, it’s no surprise that I’ve learned to inoculate myself by just avoiding the things. This “cold turkey” approach has served me well through all the latest game changing technologies of the past decade or so – even Nintendo did not tempt me with the Wii to go out and buy one. But the turkey is about to go back in the oven.
After dinner at a friend’s home on Sunday, the father, who had just returned from the USA the night before, was eager to let the kids try out his new Kinect for the X-Box 360. Kinect is Microsoft’s latest throw down in the gaming industry – a hand’s free gaming experience – no joysticks. Literally, you are the controller. Or rather, Kinect is a smart video camera that detects your movements as you navigate menus and carry out actions in games.
If that sounds a bit wonkish, look at it this way, after their kids went to sleep (Reina knows better than to leave adults alone with new toys), our host put on Microsoft Dance Central. Within minutes, we were challenging one another to a dance competition on a boardwalk to the toe-tapping, booty-shaking “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga. There were no mats to step on and no controls to hold. Kinect simply saw how we danced and scored our performances accordingly. After a couple of rounds, Reina wanted to dance too – especially whenever the game made a high speed video during the freestyle section.
Granted, the game was not specifically geared towards 3 year olds, but it did a good job of encouraging her to follow the moves while trying to keep pace with the dancer on the screen. And she loved it. Combine something that family-friendly with specific games that are age appropriate, and you’ve got a great recipe for fun for everyone.
Of course, Kinect is not in China stores yet (that I know of), but if you are going to the USA in the coming months, or anywhere else it has been released, you might want to order one in advance as they are flying off the shelves this holiday season.
Full disclosure, Savvy does work for Microsoft, but as you may have read in previous blog posts, that does not cause any bias for this fruit-based computer user.