The XBOX Experience

Others may disapprove but I’m afraid it’s true – my boys are gamers. From the Nintendo DS to the PSP and PS 3 to online PC games and the WII – you name the system they’ve tried it. The prefer RPG (role playing games) to sports games and enjoy watching Daddy play M games. (Don’t judge). My husband hopes they’ll eventually design their own video games in the future. So who knows? It isn’t impossible, I mean after all, they’re tech-savvy enough to have blog of their own right now at the tender ages of 9 and 5.

So when I got the invitation to E3 the Electronic Entertainment Expo, our house was over the moon. We left Orange County three hours before the event to escape traffic which we did. When we got to the Galen Center in LA, a line had already started to form. Before too long, we were ushered onto the red carpet where a painted man (savage? lost cast member of Avatar?) from Cirque du Soleil beat on a drum. There was a photographer that snapped our pix and what was cool was that instead of prints, they simply uploaded the image onto the USB flash drives they gave us which we wore on our wrists.

My kids, weary from the trip from the OC to LA and from waiting in line, were unimpressed by the red carpet and were ready to dismiss the whole event until we got to the VIP room. Like a cool living room or a swanky lounge, my boys’ eyes widened when they saw all the Xbox game stations. And oh yes, there was food (chocolate fountain!) and an open bar. And that’s where the MAGIC happened.

So it turns out the newfangled game system we kept calling Project Natal was actually called KINECT for XBOX 360. We tried out Kinect Sports and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved and experienced first hand how Microsoft’s Kinect for XBOX 360 can transform the living room into a fitness studio or sports arena with NO CONTROLLER – just ourselves. Think of the WII without a controller. Yup, that’s it – Kinect is a full body motion controller.

It was so awesome that even I who don’t usually play video games at home, enjoyed moving and using my arms, legs and body to control the game. There was this game where my son and I were on a raft and we had to work in tandem, moving left and right to move it, grabbing points and actually jumping to get over obstacles. “Mom, MOVE! You’re going the wrong way,” my son said in frustration. In all, it was a fun bonding experience.

Finally, it was time to watch the show. We were all given these white ponchos to wear. The “show” began as soon as we made our ways through these wide openings (not a door) and were greeted by a family of four – it was supposed to be like we had literally “stepped into someone’s living room.” As it turns out, WE were part of the GAME. The Galen Center was transformed into a lush forest straight out of the movie Avatar. A cast of dancers, acrobats and other Cirque du Soleil performers interacted with the crowd on the floor. The show itself featured 25 foot high projection screens (bigger than a football field!) that wrapped around the center, a gigantic 9 foot tall elephant puppet with a projection screen on its side. The music was pulsating, the story of the show nothing earth shattering but good enough to showcase what KINECT can do for families – get you moving and get you connected with each other (and other gaming families around the world!) It was a multimedia performance. Screens, dancers, music, a thin story line and ponchos?

Ok, so there we were in our white ponchos, looking like members of some kind of cult, when our ponchos’ football pad shoulders light up –first in xbox green then later in other colors as part of the show. The effect wasn’t so much “Whoa cool!” as ” oh so that’s why they had us wear these.” After all the games that we had tried earlier were shown in context of the “story,” the show kind of just ended and by then we were all ready to go home.

Sure the Kinect still has kinks, but hopefully they’ll work it all out by the end of the year when it becomes available. I’m not too sure about the name because it sounds too much like K’nex (Project Natal was cooler) but I do know that I WANT ONE.

2 Replies to “The XBOX Experience”

  1. I love that i can tell me gamer hubby and son about this before they even knew about it. I am in the know. 🙂

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