LONDON — Oct. 18, 2011 — What if you could learn the ABCs and 123s with Grover? What if you could explore the wonders of nature as a bear? What if you could experience a beloved children’s book from within the story? Working closely with trusted children’s brands such as Sesame Street, produced by Sesame Workshop, and National Geographic, featuring TV programming from Nat Geo WILD, and leading academics and learning research institutions, Xbox 360 today reveals how its “playful learning” experiences revolutionize interactive television, allowing children and their families to engage, interact and learn in an entirely new way — all through the magic of Kinect for Xbox 360.
Microsoft Studios also announced plans to expand its award-winning portfolio of family games through an extended collaboration with Disney and unveiled a new game codenamed “Rush.”
Learning Through Play
Working in partnership with experts from Sesame Workshop and National Geographic, Microsoft Corp.’s initial “playful learning” experiences — “Kinect Sesame Street TV,” “Kinect Nat Geo TV” and codenamed “Project Columbia” — seek to inspire kids and their parents to get off of the couch and into the action, working cooperatively with their favourite characters to have fun and learn at the same time.
“We know that the most effective learning environments for children are those that are engaging and exciting, and that foster collaboration and a positive attitude toward learning,” said Alex Games, Ph.D., curriculum and learning sciences expert and educational design director for Microsoft. “With the controller-free magic of Kinect, we can encourage kids to use their motor skills and to learn using their body in immersive experiences. This new way to play allows children to learn by interacting with their favourite characters and engage with content in novel ways.”
Xbox 360 is filming a season of interactive shows in partnership with Sesame Street production, bringing a whole new level of interactivity to educational television with “Kinect Sesame Street TV.” With interactive versions of shows from the current television season, new content written and filmed just for Kinect and access to classic clips from the “Sesame Street” archive, “Kinect Sesame Street TV” is bringing educational television to life.
“Sesame Workshop and Microsoft are committed to producing rich engaging content in a new media platform for children that will have positive educational experiences,” said Rosemarie Truglio, PhD, vice president Education and Research, Sesame Workshop. “This partnership is an opportunity to combine the interactive platform of Kinect with Sesame Workshop’s 42 years of innovative and research-based approaches to educational content. This new media experience allows for meaningful learning — leveraging kids’ gross-motor abilities by creating exciting, gesture-based movements that allow them to connect with our characters and content.”
“Kinect Sesame Street TV” and “Kinect Nat Geo TV” transform interactive television, blending play and television experiences to evolve children’s traditional watching habits and promote active and dynamic on-screen engagements. Kids and families can jump into the action with this next generation of TV entertainment, helping Elmo and Cookie Monster with tasks on Sesame Street and exploring the natural world with Nat Geo WILD TV shows — using full-body and voice recognition.
“Nat Geo WILD is an ideal partner for Kinect, turning passive television viewing into a creative, immersive experience where kids and families can actually interact with our unique content,” said Brad Dancer, senior vice president of Digital Media and Research, National Geographic Channels. “By partnering the stories, images and information from Nat Geo WILD with the Kinect platform, we are pushing the boundaries of traditional television and gaming to help inspire and train the next generation of explorers.”
Codenamed “Project Columbia,” another experience being designed in collaboration with the Sesame Workshop Curriculum Team, encourages a love for books and changes the way children read. This new portal allows children to play an active role in bringing stories to life — interacting with words and illustrations, and immersing themselves in the story. By using the multisensory and active nature of Kinect, the power of play can help emphasise understanding and the meaning of what is written, not just decode it. With titles like “Project Columbia,” Xbox 360 is just beginning to scratch the surface of what is possible.
In partnership with the New York University based Games for Learning Institute, a joint research endeavour bringing together game designers, computer scientists and education researchers committed to pursuing the art and science of educational games, Xbox 360 will maximize the learning value of its “playful learning” experiences for children and families. Applying education theory and research-based models of learning, Games for Learning Institute researchers examine the intersection between Kinect play and children’s learning. These studies and collaborations with experts will determine the best ways in which Kinect experiences can be optimised to create content that is both fun and academically enriching.
Games for the Whole Family
Microsoft Studios also shared today plans to work with Disney to continue bringing the worlds of DisneyPixar to life through Kinect, building upon its growing, award-winning portfolio of family games. Following the debut of “Kinect: Disneyland Adventures” launching November 18 th, Microsoft today announced codenamed “Rush,” which arrives in spring 2012. “Rush” will invite children, their parents and fans of all ages to experience the worlds of beloved DisneyPixar movies like never before. Using Kinect, kids can scan themselves into five Pixar worlds to team up with their favourite characters from “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” “Up,” “Toy Story 3” and “Cars 2” in a race against time to solve exciting challenges.
“Creating amazing games is part of Microsoft Studios’ DNA, and with Kinect, we have the power to transform these experiences beyond what was thought possible,” said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios. “By joining forces with iconic brands like Disney and Pixar, Kinect and Xbox 360 can bring families together more than ever.”
Created by famed developer Tim Shafer and Double Fine Productions Inc., “Double Fine Happy Action Theatre” is a series of vibrant, exciting activities designed to activate gross motor skills, inspire imagination and entertain players of all ages, from preschoolers to grandparents. Available globally this Christmas on Xbox LIVE, each of the 18 “Happy Action Theatre” experiences are like “toys” players can interact with on screen through the magic of Kinect. Dive into an undersea adventure, play with hot lava, or become a giant monster and stomp buildings to the ground. “Happy Action Theatre” is a virtual playground for all ages that is immediately accessible and intuitively responds to players’ body movements. No rules, no menus, no instructions — just pure fun.
Through new games such as “Rush” and “Happy Action Theatre,” Xbox 360 continues to broaden its family portfolio with something for everyone. Titles available this Christmas include “Kinect: Disneyland Adventures,” “Kinectimals Now with Bears,” “Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster,” “Kinect Sports: Season Two” and “Dance Central 2.”