This month on Apartment Therapy, we are all about entertaining so I have to mention what happened in my own home yesterday — we opened a box and a party popped out! We were celebrating my husbands birthday and one of his presents was Kinect, the new sensor for the Xbox that allows you to play with absolutely NO controllers at all… and it's honestly magically, amazingly fun.
After dinner and birthday cake, the Kinect got hooked up. It took just a few minutes and then we set up our avatars. For the rest of the evening, we were fully immersed, playing games, dancing and laughing. You don't need to be a "gamer" to get the fun of it (although we can only imagine how this will change gaming for the less casual player as well) - it is a "gee whiz, it's like magic" experience that gets people talking and active and involved, which is just the combination of things that makes for a good time at a party.
The Kinect uses a combination of motion sensors, skeletal tracking and both facial and voice recognition which allows you to simply PLAY without using any controllers at all. It's much more of a full body experience than other gaming situations (including the Wii, which we also know well and enjoy) - we kept moving back the sofa to make more room, especially during the soccer match - you find yourself kicking and blocking wholeheartedly!
Controls and interfaces were easy to navigate and use. To get started or join a game you simply wave at the Kinect and then hold your hand over whatever icon you want to choose from your tv screen to select it. You can also use your voice to give commands, making the experience pretty intuitive right off the bat. When you need to pause play or return to a menu, you simply hold out your left hand, and voila!
We tried a few games over the course of the evening. We started with the one that comes with the Kinect, Kinect Adventures, which was fun - although I admit I was doing the dishes during most of this, so I'm no expert. We followed up with Kinect Sports which was double fun - everyone got really active, the cheering crowds are hilarious and overall it's pretty amazing how well it keeps up with two players both going nuts during a suddenly super-competitive "soccer match". We wrapped up the party with Dance Central which was the winner! It's that sort of goofy, weirdly empowering fun that is perfect for parties, in the same way Rock Band is (not surprisingly, both games are developed by Harmonix). You think you are going to be terrible at it, but it (very kindly) coaches you through and you emerge victorious in your disco battle!
Best part of the Kinect experience? Kinect is also recording video of you and your opponents playing in real time and then edits together clips of the action to play back (to often hilarious effect) throughout the game play. Trust me, the video component is very good.
So, to wrap up, a simple entertaining equation : People + Kinect = Good Party
MORE INFO: Kinect