Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
Last week the gaming community assembled in Los Angeles for E3, the Electronics Entertainment Expo that served as the industry’s opportunity to take a look at the much anticipated game titles and systems that will be out this fall and in the near future. The event brought together tens of thousands of attendees from all over the country and world for three days where Disney-like lines formed for the chance to try the latest video games. Companies such as Ubisoft, Sony, Nintendo, Activision, EA, Sega, Capcom, and more provided sensory experiences designed to immerse attendees in the games.
What new family games and new gaming experiences can you expect to see this fall and throughout the holiday season?
Sony unveiled their new Wonderbook and the first title, Book of Spells. This Playstation Move family title represents a collaboration between Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, to bring immerse young Muggles into the wizarding world in the comfort of their own homes. Wonderbook uses augmented reality where a physical object is required for game play with the PlayStation and PlayStation Move controllers.
PlayStation Book of Wonder transports children to Hogwarts through game play
Sitting on the floor or couch, the camera associated with the PlayStation Move recognizes the child and the book but the technology transforms the ordinary physical book into a spell book on the screen akin to what Harry, Ron, and Hermione might use in their Hogwarts classes. Using the PlayStation Move controller, players engage in various tasks to learn proper wand usage before tackling challenges that Potter fans will recognize from the books.
Continuing with the Harry Potter theme, Xbox with Kinect owners will enjoy the new Harry Potter for Kinect. With your body as the controller, Harry Potter for Kinect immerses players in challenges that require whole body movement. Those who have always wanted to play Quidditch will love mounting a broom and flying as Harry as he takes on the Slytherins in a Quidditch match. Game play is fun and easy for the whole family as your body serves as the controller. Lean left or right to turn and follow the golden path around the stadium, side jabs at Draco Malfoy help to throw him off your shoulder as he tries to interfere, and when you spot that Golden Snitch, simply reach out to grab it to win the match.
Image courtesy of Sony PlayStation.
Friday, April 13th, 2012
Do you play video games as a family? Are you ashamed to admit it?
Video games often get a bad rap because they’re viewed as conduits to excessive screen time and game addiction but did you know that there are positive benefits to gaming?
High-tech parenting expert, Scott Steinberg, and author of The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games and the free Why Video Games are Good For You believes that it’s time to stop criticizing video games because “research is quickly demonstrating that gaming can be a perfectly beneficial and well-rounded part of a healthy, balanced media diet.” Steinberg says the new family friendly games “promote exercise and physical activity, encourage socialization and leadership, and foster dynamic problem-solving and decision-making skills – all areas of tremendous benefit to kids and adults alike.”
There’s no doubt that gaming platforms like the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 with Kinect, and Playstation 3 with Move encourage physical activity more than the Atari and Commodore 64 did for previous generations but the games themselves are improving thanks to constantly improving technology and thoughtful development by game designers. Everything from the look and feel of the game’s graphics to audio and interaction with content is an important part in creating an immersive experience that draws kids in to the game whether they are holding the controller or waiting their turn.
Earlier this year my daughter and I were invited on a press trip that included a preview of the not yet released Kinect Star Wars. Game designers carefully watched as kids played the game and as a parent on the sidelines, the level of physical activity and interaction between kids stood out. Kids were invited to test the game one at a time, leaving an anxious group on the sidelines who waited patiently but shouted out tips and suggestions for their friends as they navigated the pod racing course, making the experience increasingly social.
The level of social interaction, healthy competition, and problem solving that I witnessed among the kids playing Kinect Star Wars is something that Harvard Medical School researcher Cheryl Olson, ScD, found in her research with 1,000 public school students. Through her interviews and data, she found that “parent-approved video games played in moderation can help young kids develop in educational, social, and physical ways.” Olson said that games don’t have to be labeled as educational teaching in order to encourage planning, creative self-expression, exercise, healthy competition, and leadership.
As you keep an eye on screen time and balance it out with a variety of other activities, do these recent findings make you feel better about playing video games as a family? Do you believe the research based on your experience watching your kids play?
Animated family playing video game via Shutterstock