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Be Kung Fu Panda and a Jedi? I. Am. SO. In.

In gaming, Kinect, Product on March 31, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I’m being honest here.  I saw this news on Facebook Kinect for Xbox360 and gasped out loud at my computer:

Kung Fu Panda 2 is coming to Kinect.  Aside from the obvious good news, the other good news is that my brother’s family has their own Kinect, so I won’t have to fight my nephew for Shifu time (see posts: A New Decade. Another Day of Kung Fu Panda and I Am A Bad Auntie).

Only slightly better than this (with a little more drool):  getting to be a jedi in Kinect Star Wars.  Ohhhhh….   My nephew and I are going to be bonding big time over that one.  Every time I hear the music or see the Kinect trailer, I get goose bumps.

John Williams, what a composing genius…such an iconic theme with emotionally swelling notes.  You could probably put that theme to a scrolling grocery list, and I would get a tear in my eye.  Two games to look forward to…

Kinect Saves a Manhattan Mom From Meltdown

In family, gaming, Kinect, relationship, workout on December 28, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Me to my friend Robin via phone:  “Are you having fun with Kinect?”

Robin: “Fun?  Kinect is not fun.  Let me tell you.  Kinect is saving our sanity.”

You see, the December 2010 East Coast blizzard has created cabin (or Manhattan apartment) fever for my dear friend, her sick husband and two little boys.  The older one, Gabriel, is a six year old with energy that could power the entire island of Manhattan in case of blackout.  When there’s a blizzard of this magnitude, the concept of containing kid energy of this magnitude in a two-bedroom New York apartment sparks…parental survival instincts.

The family has been snowed in for days; however, Gabriel has not been bouncing off the walls.  Instead, he’s been bouncing around in a 3×3 square foot space in the apartment’s living room… playing Kinect… instead of acting out and wearing out his mom.  (There are only so many snow angels you can make, you know?)

“Let me tell you how much Gabriel loves Kinect.  He doesn’t even realize there’s a box of Christmas cookies on the table.” (Robin again, who can’t stop raving about the Xbox in her living room, which was formerly devoid of any video game technology.)

Several months ago, Robin’s husband (the dad), a cerebral chap, was truly suspicious and dubious about having an Xbox and/or Kinect in their apartment at all.

This week, I greeted him on the phone with: “Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Kinect.”

His response?  “Yes.  Kinect is a Godsend.”

At the very least, it is a parental coping mechanism providing a little boy with exercise in a record-breaking snowstorm.


Kinectimals Quagmire: Bornean Clouded Leopard or Golden Retriever?

In dog, family, gaming, Kinect, relationship on November 22, 2010 at 6:26 pm

My obsession with Dance Central and Bust A Move leaderboard status was starting to get a little unhealthy, I guess you could say, so I busted out Kinectimals for what I thought would be a kinder, gentler game for my emerging Kinect addiction.

Little did I know that Kinectimals would be… so freaking adorable.

I proceeded to play frisbee and soccer with my Bornean Clouded Leopard, run around the beach with it, clean it and feed it.  I even bought it a bed for the island homestead.  I thought: my niece, a junior high school aged animal lover and aspiring veterinarian, is going to freak out when she plays this next month.

I was unaware that some time during my immersion, my real dog had snuggled up in the area near my feet, which is quite unusual when we’re moving around in the living room.  Usually, she knows to stay out of the way.

I stepped right to kick the soccer ball – and I accidentally kicked the dog.  Oh no!   Not hard, just a little.

Hugs, apologies and a treat or two later… I think she forgot what happened.

But I suddenly felt guilty… like my real pet deserved a little more attention.  She has been around much longer, after all.  My Bornean Clouded Leopard has only been in my life for two days.

 

 

Kinectimals Takeaways:

  • Make sure real pets are away from your feet or area of play.
  • Give them much love in advance of a play session.
  • Love your pet a lot after your play session.
  • For kids – some of the levels of play are pretty fast-paced, but the game itself is pretty encouraging and forgiving.
  • For adults – you may be surprised that this is a fairly active game for a kids’ game.  You might even break out in a sweat during the crab-booting on the beach!


A Mom and a Pilates Junkie Walk into My House…

In dance, dog, fashion and style, gaming, Kinect, Product on November 13, 2010 at 4:47 pm

No joke.  Two girlfriends who have no interest in video games broke free from their Nordstrom jeans shopping (serious stuff here) and came over to the house for a super-fast sampling of Dance Central on Kinect before picking up the kids.

It all happened so fast that the dog got really excited and didn’t quite “stay”.  Out she went on the deck for the time being. (More on what happens with Kinect with a big dog in the picture in the next post.)

I pop in Dance Central. and the intro to the game rolls…

“I’m so excited.”  (the Mom)

“This is a good video.” (the Pilates Junkie)

I sign in.

“I love how it’s so futuristic… that you’re just using your hand for the commands.” (the Mom)

“Okay, which song?”  (this is me)

“PUSH IT.” (Both, almost simultaneously, after seeing a few songs)

I pick the Easy mode just to get started.  The Mom jumps in first.

“This is hard!” (The Mom, after a few steps to the music.)   “This is so much fun!”

Pilates Junkie is laughing at the nerdiness of it all.

“I’m totally sweating!” (The Mom)

Pilates Junkie jumps in, laughing at herself for getting about half the moves right.  She also lets out a little gasp when a move isn’t quite right, and the dude tells her, “That’s alright, everyone messes up on that one.”

And just like that, their inaugural Kinect Dance Central session is over.

Final thoughts from them?

The Mom: “OMG I’m totally getting this.  My kids will love it.  I love the no-controller thing.”

Pilates Junkie: “I don’t like the Freestyle so much… when they take your pictures.  I don’t really want to see that.”

I agree.  I’m not a fan of the photo Freestyle feature.  (Xbox – can we disable this?   Don’t mind the Freestyle, don’t need to see the sweaty playback.)

When they leave, I’m back on Bust A Move, trying to stay in the Top 10.  A few rounds later, I post my highest score yet (another blog post, another time).

Young MC Made Me Sweat!

In dance, dinner, dog, gaming, relationship on November 4, 2010 at 11:12 am

“If you want it …you’ve got it…” (this is me, my living room)

I am in my living room, the dog in the corner watching me with a bit of confusion.  I am singing the Young MC classic “Bust A Move” and doing same hip hop moves I remember for the late college years in California.  I. Love. It.

Before I knew it, I was a little bit obsessed, trying out new moves in and via Kinect.

I channeled my inner Kylie in “Can’t Get You Outta My Head”.  I fed my long standing obsession with the disco era in “Brickhouse”.
I wasn’t crazy about The Pony move in the choreography for “C’mon Ride The Train”, but it was still fun.  Oh, and I tore it up in “Push It” (did you know the famous Salt-n-Pepa hair was a result of a relaxer mistake?  Watch Chris Rock’s Good Hair.)

By the end of my half hour session (was it an hour?), I was sweatin’, happy to burn off the calories from dinner.  Could the Kinect sense my sweat?  I was also impressed by the Kinect command-with-hand function to choose titles and scroll.  Very smooth, I have to say.  Even that was fun.

One more thing I liked:  if you get the move on the first try, the game gives you a diamond for a score.  How about that for a little extra sparkle for your day?

Finally, all of this bustin’ a move  made me try to remember what year I was actually jammin’ to “Bust A Move”.  I think I had a Sony Discman at the time. I looked it up and found out something really cool on Wikipedia about “Bust A Move“:  Young MC wrote the lyrics in 90 minutes in his campus apartment at USC, and they were never edited.  And – he recorded his first draft to the track!  What?!!!  Serious.  I knew I loved that Marvin Young from Cali.

By the way, I let my husband play a little too.

Xbox is the new mayonnaise.

In fashion and style, gaming, Product, TV watching on October 11, 2010 at 11:29 am

Sometimes I look at our Xbox 360 and think: this thing is a time suck.  But I also think: this thing is saving us money – we have a seemingly endless amount of content for less.

The big spend is, well, unfashionable these days…a trend likely to stick long after the recovery has begun.  During this downturn (are we still calling it that?), we’ve come up with new rules about how/where we spend our cash.  Is that good news for Xbox?

According to a new study published in Ad Age, absolutely.  We watch our budgets, but we still throw down money for an entertainment device.  I know someone who doesn’t have a job but just bought an iPad…in fact, I know several.  Do you? We have a bunch of video games at home, but I am looking forward to Kinect so I can dance like Michael Jackson (July 2010, Can Barely Contain My Excitement…), and Fable III so I can hang out with my virtual dog again (Dec. 2008, I got a dog.  A Fable Dog).

Once upon a time, according to the study, Americans ranked Hellman’s (as in mayonnaise) at the top of list for beloved brands.  We’d throw down a little extra money for a good spread.  Today, we love the brands that provide an escape to entertainment, people and peaceful moments.  We also love the brands that empower us with information (e.g. Google).

Now that you know this, what’s your next purchase?  Will you spend a little extra to give your avatar a new accessory?


Close your mouth, honey, or you’re going to get flies in there.

In family, gaming, Halo, Product, relationship, zombie on October 4, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Last week, around 2am, I stirred in my sleep to find that my husband still hadn’t come to bed.  Battling an ugly cold, I went back to sleep.

Several hours prior, around 9:30pm, as I said goodnight, Richard had logged onto Xbox Live to start a multi-player Halo: Reach session with his two brothers and brother-in-law (two of them on Eastern time, so 12:30am there, already).

Flash forward to the morning after.  I wake up.  He is stirring…barely coherent.

“What time did you come to bed?” (this is me)

“Around five.” (this is him)

Silence.

“Are you serious?” (me)

“Yes.  At least I won’t have to play Halo:Reach anymore.  It’s done.”

“You finished the entire game?” (me)

“Yes.”  (him)

“All of you.” (me)

“Yes.”  (him)

Mouth agape. (me)

“Close your mouth, honey, or you’re going to get flies in there.” (this is him)

“They stayed up all night and played until 8am their time?” (me again, wondering how my sisters-in-law dealt with the little kids and everything)

“Yes.”

I really couldn’t say anything, based on my New Year’s Day obsession with Kung Fu Panda (see post: A new decade. Another day of Kung Fu Panda), but at least I played during the day…on a holiday…and I stopped to walk the dog and eat.  These guys were zombies.

Reflective pause. (me)

“Was it good?” (me again)

“Yes.” (him)

“Do you want me to let you sleep some more?” (me)

“Yes.” (him)

Zombies, I tell you.  Zombies.

Thank goodness we started talking about Family Guy.

In dance, dinner, dog, family, gaming, Halo, Product, TV watching on September 29, 2010 at 5:50 pm

And… cue the quicksand.  I’m sinking deeper into geek-land.

The other day we were visiting friends, whose pre-teen sons were, let’s just say, brilliant and enlightening (it was like talking to two Stewies from Family Guy, but with less anger).  However, they are boys, and they’re very excited about the recently released Halo: Reach (as in Spartans and multi-threat armor, etc.).

They also can’t wait for controller-free gaming with Kinect.  Suddenly, over hors d’oeuvres, I found myself explaining the benefits versus drawbacks of playing shooter games on Kinect.

“Does Kinect work with shooter games?” (John)

“Well, it’s really not for shooter games, because of the timing.”  (This is me… and I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth.)

“How does it work with shooter games?” (Trevor)

“It’s not what you really want for shooter games to be effective in your game.  By the time you react, tell it to do what you want, then it reacts and shoots… it’s a little too far past the moment.  In that type of situation, you really want the immediacy of the controller to just hit the button and fire the shot.”  (WHO. AM. I?)

“Oh.  Yeah, I guess you would just want to hit A.”  (John)

“Exactly.”  (I pause.  Please pass the red pepper dip and celery.)

Soon afterward, conversation shifted to the brilliance of Seth McFarlane and the season premiere of Family Guy.

Whew.  That was fun, but just a little bit alarming.

(That being said, I am excited to dance MJ moves on Kinect.)

Are You Too Busy Watching Project Runway to Video Chat?

In dog, fashion and style, gaming, interior decorating, Product, relationship, travel, TV watching on September 6, 2010 at 11:32 am

When we first moved in together, Richard tried his best to convince me we did not need cable because we had a ton of content options through Xbox Live.  I told him, no, I needed cable to a) do my job…sometimes, and b) because I wanted to watch shows like American Idol real-time (as detailed in my post, Sept. 25, ’08:  How Do I Watch Cable?  Really, Just Cable).

So, we hooked up one television for cable.  Problem is, it is the living room’s 64″ television, where Richard prefers to play shooter games, watch his action/violence movies and test new technology.  Most of the time, he gets there first, and I’m blocked out of my cable shows.

Richard, visiting family, calls me the other night. Predictably, I’m catching up on my cable shows and at one with my armchair with the dog at my feet, curled up in an orange ball and snoring.  I have no competition for the remote(s).

Here’s how the phone call went:

“Do you want to try to video chat over Xbox Live?  Or are you too busy watching Project Runway?”  (this is him)

“???” (the bubble over my head…wondering how he knew I was, at that very moment, waiting to see who would get the Auf Wiedersehen from Heidi.)

“Okay, what do I do?” (I know this will make him very happy, so I put Heidi on pause.)

“You have to get a headset and plug it into the controller.  Then you have to log on as xboxbride.” (him)

I reach into the boxes in which I’ve stored all his gaming accessories (see: Sept. 8, ’08 post, I Made Friends With the Container Store) and fish out a headset.  Then, I follow his directions.

He tells me how to do something else, but either I can’t “make it work” a la Tim Gunn, or I am too uncreative at that moment to problem-solve.

“Never mind, sweetheart.”  (him)

“Can we just talk on the phone?” (I am thinking… “like normal people”?)

We do.

It wasn’t long before I found out that Peach (below) got the Auf Wiedersehen and Michael C. won the challenge of turning an ugly bridesmaid’s dress into a wearable party outfit (black dress below) in Episode 6:  “You Can Totally Wear That Again”.  Why is it that bridesmaids dresses are always so ugly, anyway?

Why Does One Need Multi-Threat Armor? It’s about more than Halo: Reach..

In dog, family, fashion and style, gaming, Halo, movies, Product, relationship, TV watching on August 26, 2010 at 11:16 am

“Do you want to watch something while we eat?”

This is a normal question Richard poses to me as we sit down to dinner. However, also normal: having to sort through all the new videos on Xbox Live before we can even get to something like, say, Mad Men (you know, the amazing, award-winning show on AMC).

The other evening, this was the video that I experienced as I was taking my first few bites: Game Stop – Halo: Reach

It is a promotion to pre-order one of the most highly-anticipated titles in the video game world through Game Stop. If you pre-order, you get exclusive, multi-threat armor. Multi-threat armor. Again for the nosebleed seats… multi-threat armor.

My initial reaction of a raised eyebrow of confusion/bubble over my head: “seriously?” changed when I thought of Reach as a metaphor. By the end of the Game Stop promo video, I understood. If you really think about it, sometimes… on the job or in life… life changes so drastically, one needs multi-threat armor to cope or fend off the bad guys, the bad times, and the hardest challenges one faces (e.g. family illness, job loss, etc.). After all, we are in the middle of an economic downturn that is unique in many ways, and many of us just don’t know how to predict what will happen…what to expect.

Would it be such a bad idea to have multi-threat armor right now? Anyone? Bueller? What does that look like? For me, it’s entertainment like Mad Men, my yoga practice, the dog, growing my own herbs and cooking from them, and of course, my husband. That’s my multi-threat armor. What’s yours? If you can’t think of anything right away… maybe Game Stop can help. We all need a little multi-threat armor now and then.