Xbox 360 Kinect & Active Gaming for Kids

Will The Kinect Make Me Healthier? Week 11

In this holiday preview post we take a look at two new titles from Majesco that fit the active gaming bill and take a break from reporting on our own workout activity. Recently we had the opportunity to preview these games and learned about the push to engage kids in active games that will bring health benefits without them being aware that they are exercising.

Anyone who has spent any amount of time at all in the American news knows about the push to get our nation's kids more active. The rates of childhood obesity in this country have not been decreasing and many families point the finger at video games. Not being fans of shirking responsibility or blaming tech, we at Unplggd are interested in ways in which technology is used to solve problems.

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Similar to the Kinect games that were targeting kids at the Microsoft Preview event we went to recently, the audience for these two titles from Majesco is younger but does seek to involve the whole family. Where these games differ however is in how much of a focus is aimed at the level of activity that is needed to play the game. In both of the Majesco games much movement is required, and since they are not labeled as "fitness games," the children playing them are probably not aware of just how much exercise they are getting.

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Take Shape like its name implies is all about shapes and movement. In this game players move their bodies into various shapes that appear on the screen. Imagine the twists and turns that are normally reserved for Twister but with quicker changes. Because there are modes in which the changes are quite quick there are certainly fitness benefits, but since the game is not marketed as a workout tool the exercise is a bit sneaky. Watching others play this game is quite amusing and we imagine that when the kids are not playing it, it would be quite a hit at a party for the grownups.

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Mind ‘n Motion, the name says it all. This game is all about putting your motor skills to the test. Gameplay requires a large range of movement and uses hands, elbows, knees, feet, and even player's heads. Like many titles that contain mini-games, this one has 12 different activities including: Juggling, Hopscotch, Robot Stroll, and Hacky Sack. From what we have seen of this game, it looks quite promising as a way to engage kids in physical activity that is also fun and we would not mind running a demo through its paces ourselves.

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Although we strongly believe there is no substitute for a healthy diet and outdoor activity we do think that these games are moving in the right direction in kid friendly active gameplay. We think the overt exercise focused games work well for weight conscious adults but we are not sure how well they would do with children.

What do you think? Do your kids enjoy active video gaming? Would they play a game where fitness was more of a focus?

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Weeks 1-10 with the Xbox 360 and Kinect:

(Images: Joelle Alcaidinho and Flickr member Robert Scoble licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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Tech, Gaming

Joelle loves technology and making things and is in an almost perpetual state of problem solving. She's quite fond of airplanes and coffee and is pretty sure she will eventually read all of the books in her library.

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