Posted in communication and networking, design and architecture, education, electronic imaging and displays

Kinect-ing for kids

Ha ha, you knew I had to go for the pun, right?

But seriously, there are a lot of cool games coming out right now for little kids on Kinect. And it’s the perfect kind of game play for them, if you think about it; they don’t have the best dexterity yet, and the LOVE to move.

And of course game companies feel they have to make these games EDUCATIONAL. But actually, games, especially games that incorporate movement, are great ways for learning, for grown-ups and kids alike.

Here are two examples of just such scenarios:

Sesame Street, for example, has developed a game for Kinect that they are dubbing “emotional entertainment” and education, a sort of sensitivity trainer for little kids:

The game uses Kinect’s hands-free controls to teach lessons about “real human themes like shyness, friendship, bravery, sensitivity, empathy,” said Martz, adding that though videogames often capture human emotions, they rarely teach sensitivity. How often are gamers really asked to think about the impact of their actions on other peoples’ lives?

As an example, Martz pointed to Once Upon a Monster’s opening scene, in which players meet a monster named Marco who looks absolutely miserable. It’s his birthday, and nobody’s shown up to celebrate with him. Using Kinect’s camera-based motion controller, players interact with onscreen visual cues and strike poses in response to Marco’s body language in an effort to cheer him up.

“As the game progresses, you do sillier and sillier poses together, until at the end you’ve made a new friend,” Martz said.

Schools are also using Kinect for educational purposes:

Body and Brain Connection, a sort of brain-training game from software giant Namco, takes the education concept to a whole new level with fun games, questions, and a way for you to have fun while learning.

Hopefully teachers and students will hop on the 360 Edutainment train as we roll into a new semester of schooling in August/September. I for one am looking forward to what else MS has to offer us in terms of games that are not only fun and cool, but help you learn something new.

Know of other applications for Kinect and education? Post it in the comments below.


Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.