I am in awe. As a high tech junkie and previous high tech entrepreneur, I consider myself pretty tech savvy and always on the look out for the latest & greatest tech toy. This week I had the opportunity to attend the Microsoft Xbox Kinect reveal of the newest games coming into the market place. To say I am speechless is an understatement. To say that I feel like we have surpassed the Star Trek age and blown past it in technology (although I would still prefer to teleport than fly) is no exaggeration.
I am now officially part of the Kinect fan club (do we get a geek badge or anything?) because they proved to me that they are willing to push the envelope and yet still make a game that I am happy to have my kids interact with.
Some of the highlights of this weeks press conference included:
Haven’t had the chance to take the kids to Disney yet? Still working on the budget to be able to afford the trip? This game is for you. Not only does your child get the opportunity to experience Disneyland park through this game, they now get to do it using their own bodies and voices. It’s amazing. Kinect will scan your image and insert it into the game so you, not your avatar, now get to hug Snow White. How cool is that?
Kinect Fun Labs allows you to turn yourself into a bobblehead, bring your favorite stuffed animal to life, mutate your shape (although I’m convinced my mirror already does this) and rock out with your air guitar in this controller free game. I know, you are in total disbelief. When you see it live, you will really understand how utterly amazing this technology is.
So, ok, a few cool games but really, why should I spend the money on yet another gaming system? Well, frankly these are just the tip of the iceberg. Microsoft has partnered with some pretty amazing companies to bring you and your kids the ultimate in fun, education and interaction. Pixar? Heard of them? Yup, they’re a partner so expect games featuring your favorite characters from Toy Story, Cars, A Bug’s Life etc. Pixar is renowned for being innovative, imaginative and storytellers beyond their times so naturally this is an amazing fit.
My top 2 favorite announcements out of this event were the introduction of something called Kinect Sesame Street TV, and Nat Geo TV (National Geographic).
Let me explain why these stood out. So in case you weren’t wowed enough by the fact that you could put your actual image into a game, perhaps the ability to interact with a TV show with your own image will wow you? Yup, you heard it here first (I hope). With Sesame Street TV, kids can watch the TV show like they usually do, but instead of Cookie Monster counting cookies on his own, your child can participate in the counting and can throw cookies at Cookie Monster which sometimes may or may not bop him on the head depending on your aim. But not only are they interacting with it, there are times that they (or their image at least) are in the show! If this is confusing because its so new, then imagine that looking into the TV will be like looking into a mirror at your reflection, only your reflection will be surrounded by your favorite characters like Elmo or Cookie.
National Geographic TV is for the naturalist in all of us (ok, maybe except for me who is even afraid of dogs!) but really, this game is all about teaching our kids about the world around them and the wildlife that exists. Roll around with a grizzly bear like Casey Anderson, the host of National Geographic does. Travel the world using the amazing visuals that National Geographic has inspired us with over the years and learn about what exists beyond our four walls of our homes. Casey wowed me with his charm, his love of nature and his obvious kindness and respect for the animals which allows him to have a bear as a best friend! Not kidding! He actually showed us a picture of his bear joining them for supper. Yup. Makes my fear of dogs seem a wee bit silly.
It is pretty rare for me to get so excited about a new technology but what I have to say I loved most about this press conference is that Kinect (Microsoft) has put within reach a world that only a few years ago seemed ages away from reality. At the same time, they are making sure that education is at the forefront of the games they are focused on. The experts they are relying on to develop these games (like the team at Sesame Street) are people who are experienced at making sure our kids minds are being stimulated. At the same time, Kinect’s controller-less system allows young children who might otherwise not have the dexterity to use a controller, to participate in a new world of learning. I for one, can’t wait to bring these magical games into our home and into our family game time. Also, I’m hoping that someone extends this platform to watching Greys Anatomy so maybe McDreamy and I could decide together whether he should stay with Meredith or not.
What kind of games do your children enjoy and do you put a limit on how long they can play with video games?