Sesame Street, Kinect, and Edutainment

Here’s a brief report on Sesame Street for Kinect as seen on Engadget:

Kinect — it’s the Xbox 360 peripheral that just keeps on giving, now with more edutainment. Yes, that collision of worlds typically yields cringe- and boredom-inducing interactive experiences. Not so with this marriage of MS’ motion-controlling sensor and the fine folks behind TV mainstays like Sesame Street, National Geographic and Disney. (Source)

I thought this looked very interesting. Xbox is not usually geared towards very young children, but the more I considered it, the potential for pre-schooler age development is vast with the Kinect and properly implemented game design. Sesame Street has been honored time and time again for its achievements in education for kids. A cross over with the video game industry with their already time-tested content is pretty cool. Here’s what a spokesperson from the Sesame Street people said about the game:

“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,” Rosemarie Truglio, PhD, vice president Education and Research at Sesame Workshop said in a statement. “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.” (Source)

I think the biggest fear that you have with something like this is making sure that this “edutainment” draws a line between simple (and boring) gamification. It seems that most reports indicate optimism for the creation of games that will keep kids active, working on motor skills while getting that quality Sesame Street content delivered through a unique medium (introducing kids to things like “fundamentals of reading”). Microsoft is planning on partnering with other groups like National Geographic to do similar work. The biggest thing to watch out for in the future is if these games start to lose quality and just become a cash show for a new demographic.

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