Why I’m buying a Kinect

KinectNow that Kinect for XBox360 has officially released, i’m allowed to say that we participated in the beta program for Kinect, and that we’ve been playing it now for a few months. (i even got a avatar t-shirt and a 0 point achievement, yay!)

There’s a very simple reason that i’m buying it: Easton can play it. He’s only 2, and doesn’t have the dexterity to do anything with a wii-mote or an xbox360 controller, but he can run in place, and he loves to play Kinect. Supposedly, the recommended minimum height for players is 3 feet, but for the most part he can play some stuff.

In our part of the beta, we only got to keep the kinect sensor for a week, then had to return it, and check it out again later, library style. The first week we had it, we played a little bit of everything: Adventures and sports, mostly. We played it for the week, and i returned it. A couple days later, Easy is just standing in the living room, pointing to the TV and saying “Boat? Boat?” We had no idea what he was talking about. We asked him all kinds of questions, and you could tell that he was frustrated because he couldn’t explain what he wanted and we obviously didn’t understand. The next day, he did it again. Only this time, after we didn’t understand what “Boat?” meant, he pointed at the TV, said “Run? Run?”, and then ran in place. Eureka! “Boat” was the rafting game in Kinect Adventures, and “Run” was the 100 meter dash in Kinect sports. A couple weeks later after we’d had kinect for another week, he was doing it again, so i got it on “tape”:

Towards the end of the beta, there were enough Kinects available that the “library” would let you have them longer than a week, so we had it for a while. Easton figured out that in Joyride, he could put his arms out to start driving in a stunt mode game, and then just lean back against the couch and do absolutely nothing and he would just rack up the points. He’d end up with like 300k points, to me getting 60k working my butt off. He figured out that you generally control Kinect by waving to start, so he’d stand next to you and wave to try to steal control. He figured out that you have to put your arms up to signal that you’re “ready” to run in the running game. He hasn’t figured out that you have to keep running, though. he’ll run in place for about half the race, then he sees that you’re done running, so he stops running too. So even though you’ve long since finished the race, you have to keep running so he keeps running.

We were pleasantly surprised when we realized that Kinect can track you pretty well while holding a toddler. As long as you’re not playing the wierd bubble game where you have to use both of your arms, you can play most of the Adventures games while holding him, although 20,000 leaks is hard to get some of the leaks. A lot of the games work just fine with him on your shoulders too!

Is the Kinect aimed at more “hardcore” gamers like me? probably not. Is it aimed at more “casual” wii-like gamers? definitely. And if there’s one thing that Nintendo has shown with the wii is that there are a ton of casual gamers out there. We’ve had a 360 for 4 1/2 years. how many times has laura turned it on? Until we got the kinect, she’d turned it on twice to play tetris. Since we’ve had the Kinect beta, she and Easton have played a bunch of times without me. She even invited the neighbor kids over a couple times to play. In fact, she posted about kinect on facebook tonight before i even posted this.

stuff we played and our notes:

  1. Kinect Adventures: we played this one a lot. Easy likes the rafting game (boats) and 20,000 leaks (fish), and sometimes likes rallyball (ball). Leaks is fun, and i like the rail game (can never remember what its called!). having to jump to go faster takes a lot of energy.
  2. Kinect sports: the beta rotated the games available, so i don’t think we even played them all. soccer was surprisingly fun, for how simple it was. i really like the volleyball. pingpong was ok, never got javelin. easy loves 100 meter dash. bowling was pretty good.
  3. Joyride: i really like the “stunt” game. It seems to have some kind of “autopilot” mode for kids or something, as it seems that easton can get really high scores by just standing there with his hands behind his back!
  4. Dance Central: i think i was the only person to play it, and i thought it was pretty good. definitely a party game.
  5. Fitness Evolved: the demo was pretty short, but i think i might try the full game out.
  6. ESPN “The Ocho”: this one is all about content.
  7. Voice Control: i didn’t use it a lot, but it did work. i mostly used it to start games before i picked up the controller 🙂
  8. Video Kinect: i think this one is going to be pretty big. It could be huge if they would/could integrate it with the FaceTime video chat stuff on iphones/pods, and/or Skype. We video chat with laura’s mom sometimes, but doing it on the big TV instead of a laptop you have to keep open and pointed.
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