I've been asked by several friends with different gaming systems at home whether they should invest in Xbox 360 with Kinect this holiday season or stay with their Wii or Sony Playstation . Here's my general thoughts. . .
To recommend or not
Do I recommend my family members and friends purchase Kinect for Xbox 360? Yes. (So start watching for holiday deals! Oh, and I'll post my things to consider before buying it tomorrow. . .hang tight.) We've thought since we first heard about it during E3 2009 that it would likely be our "big family gift" for the holidays this year, and after several opportunities to try it throughout the year, we now know it. Microsoft Xbox sent me a Kinect for Xbox 360 and we've been playing it several times a week and streaming movies and catching up on football highlights and rankings every weekend. It's very, very cool.
So what's so cool about it?
Well, right off the bat, you'll be AMAZED the first time you begin interacting with a game without clicking a controller, or use video Kinect and freely move around, yet stay within frame because of the tracking sensor. It streams music, movies (plus Netflix access) and allows for video chat and access to photos, AND if you're a sports fan, clips through ESPN. Your kids and grandkids will be asking for it once they play it for the first time - I can tell you that right now, just based on the friends we have shared it with.
Most people chuckle or giggle when they first see someone playing it in person or try it out for themselves. It just makes you smile as you play it in amazement (because it is kind of unbelievable) and the potential for the technology seems limitless. Oh, yeah, and no cords or cables to find laying out and trip over . . .or batteries for the controllers to replace. (OMG - I think I'm becoming my mom.)
The Xbox Live Family Center
Which leads me to the other reason I like the Xbox 360 for families: the Family Center interface and management options. I like that I can control what movies and television programming my son can watch on his own, as well as what game title ratings he can access and play. I can also control privacy settings per family member, set gaming time limits per day, and even award allowance via Xbox LIVE Microsoft points. Although I'm not rewarding my son with Xbox LIVE points right now, I like that it offers the ability to do so as he grows.
A Dual Console Family?
While I like Sony Playstation and their users are a loyal bunch - some will invest in the Xbox 360 and Kinect peripheral so they have this cool technology, but I don't see TOO many of them switching over to Xbox instead of maintaining their investment and compatibility with Sony gaming products. Who I see hurting most from Kinect is Nintendo.
Yes, a TON of families purchased a Wii these past couple of years. It was - and still is - a fantastic starter gaming device for families with young kids, or non-gamers wanting the physical activity and gaming options that are relatively simple to figure out and get up and running. Li'l Boo can start it up on his own and play some Baseball Blast or Sandlot Sluggers or Wii Fit on Saturday mornings while c2cDad and I are eeking out a few more precious moments of sleep.
However, as @mominthecity and I were talking while we were in L.A., the kids have figured out how to outsmart the Wii remote. Li'l Boo loves running with Wii Fit and will play multiple running sessions in a row. However, he's learned that as long as the Wii remote is jostled or senses the slightest motion, it counts as running ...so he tucks it in the back of his waistband and by the end of his second 20 minute run, he's doing less running in place and more moving his heels up and down in a modified barely active "run." Kinect combats that because the motion sensor is several feet away and tracks the different points on the body to know if you're really moving or faking some motion.
In the near-term, I can see families purchasing Xbox 360 with Kinect, but still using their Wii systems too. There's just so many great family and kid friendly games out for the Wii. I know that we'll continue to use ours as we continue to play with our current Wii games (like Wii Party, Just Dance 2, Sesame Street or Rock Band and all of the music video games that we've amassed with it), but alongside that, we enjoy competing with each playing Dance Central or Kinectimals or Kinect Adventures for Xbox 360 with Kinect. c2cDad and I like playing Your Shape in the early mornings or after the kiddo's in bed. (I've been reading up on EA Sports Active 2, but I haven't played it yet.)
I suppose this makes us sound like we've become a fanatical gaming family. . .but we're really not off the deep end. We balance it with the rest of our offline lives. I still bake and knit and find time to write and take care of the kiddo with daily walks to the playground or trips into NYC, and reading to each other and making karate class and soccer and now ice skating for hockey.
We just like variety. Sometimes you just want to get into the zone with the repetitive button pushing of the controller remote. Sometimes you want to bowl or dance untethered with your family while it's raining out and everyone's antsy. . . or channel your inner rocker or back-up dancer with Dance Central. (Seriously, I can see my sisters running out to buy Xbox 360 and Kinect to go alongside their Wii systems, SOLELY because of Dance Central. Lol!)
So these are my thoughts I've been sharing with friends around town. I'll post the things I tell my friends to consider before buying it tomorrow...
Have you seen Kinect for Xbox 360 in action? Have you played with it? Are you running out to pick it up this holiday season?