Kinecting the kids

I’m writing this while my daughter explores Disneyland – not the real one, the one that resembles Hell with cartoon characters, but the Kinect one. Kinect Disneyland Adventures is really rather good if your child is the right age for it.

I bought the Kinect motion controller a long time ago, partly out of curiosity and largely because I thought it’d be fun for my wee girl. She was a little too young for it, though, so what I’d hoped would be fun was just endlessly frustrating. It seems that, for us at least, five is the right age – so instead of wandering around, getting lost and frustrated as she used to, she’s currently dancing with the space monster Stitch.

Get the age right and Kinect really is brilliant for kids: titles such as Pixar Rush and Once Upon A Monster are fantastic fun, their jumping around assuaging any parental guilt about letting the children play videogames.

For grown-ups, though, it’s the same kind of thing as the Nintendo Wii’s motion sensing, with the initial excitement and wow factor fading until it’s gathering dust. That might just be me – voice control of the console needs more volume than I can risk when the family is in bed, which is pretty much my only gaming time, and it’s patchy anyway; I don’t use my console for video so Kinect control of that doesn’t matter; Kinect fitness titles require the same enthusiasm as a trip to the gym, but unlike the gym I don’t have anyone forcing me to do it; I prefer to do my gaming from the sofa, in low light, not standing in the middle of the living room until I get gorilla arms – but I do think it’s clever tech that’s of limited appeal to grown-ups.

For kids, though, it’s great. If you have an Xbox, children and spare cash – and don’t mind buying something that’s likely to be revamped next year for the next Xbox – it’s not a bad investment now that lots of good titles are really cheap. It’s a good time to get the kids Kinect-ed.

5 thoughts on “Kinecting the kids

  1. mupwangle says:

    I buy any crap. I’m probably one of the 20 people who actually own the xbox vision camera which has only given me one moment of satisfaction in that my xbox avatar is uniquely weird. I also have the wii balance board which is currently rotting under my sofa.

    The kinect is uniquely disappointing when you look at the really cool crap that various researchers are doing with it. In my case it doesn’t understand my voice in the slightest and my room, despite being the largest living room I’ve ever had, is still too small. All the games that are “better with Kinect” so far aren’t. If I bought the kinect orignally and it blew up my xbox. The only good thing I can say about it is that I now have a quieter xbox. Unfortunately this also means that I am a couple of hundred quid less well off and I could’ve had the same result for a lot less money.

  2. Gary says:

    I get the same thing with the voice recognition, and until very recently it ignored Sophie completely. My room’s just big enough… you’re right, though, it’s all potential and little real use.

  3. Stephen says:

    We’ve used the Kinect very little, the Wii a fair bit more. It’s all about the software I think. Xbox is mainly used for Guitar Hero. We recently got a PS3 with the Harry Potter Book of Spells, it needs the PS3 camera, the fake Wiimote, the works. After I set it up my daughter used it once.

  4. Gary says:

    Yeah, I think you need to be very wary when you’re buying hardware for kids. The cost per play can be frightening.

  5. Stephen says:

    Fortunately it was all free! Given to her when she attended the launch of the game through journalistic connections. Otherwise I would have been well annoyed.

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