Last year our Elementary School started a booster club devoted to Geography. This surprised me as growing up in Mexico, I had assumed geography was an essential part of the elementary curriculum – areas such as learning the South American, Asian and European capitals was a must in most parts of the world and yet not in the US….hmmm…this was going to make for an interesting home teaching subject!
But just as the kids groaned with my home made version of iSpy Geography I received most welcome news. Microsoft launched an innovative new game for Xbox 360. Kinect Nat Geo TV.
But this is no ordinary video game – this is a whole new category of entertainment which the company calls “2-way TV experience,” where players can watch a regular TV show but also interact and influence what’s taking place on the screen.
Imagine the playful learning possibilities?
In the case of Kinect Nat Geo TV, Microsoft teamed up with wildlife expert and Nat Geo WILD host Casey Anderson to produce eight 30-minute TV episodes, in which kids get to learn about grizzly bears, mountain lions, wolves, and more. Each episode is accompanied by a series of mini-games, which give kids the chance to interact with the animals on screen and even take on the role of the animals themselves, whether it’s Papa Bear hunting for that day’s food or Mama Owl protecting her young.
There is a point system for the mini-games, so kids can go back over them and try to improve their score. Mr. Anderson’s narration adds encouragement and it’s hard not feel a sense of accomplishment – and a renewed respect and love for animals – when a task is completed or a problem solved.
The unique blend of stunning scenery, great storytelling and interactive gameplay makes for a wonderful learning experience, and it’s not hard to visualize the enormous possibilities for the 2-way TV format. However, parents should be aware that Kinect Nat Geo TV while educational involves a significant amount of watching time in between the calls to action, so it may not be the game to play when your kids still have to finish homework!
Kinect Nat Geo TV also comes with access to archived episodes of the actual Nat Geo WILD TV series. If your child is interested in nature and the great outdoors, or if you are just looking like me to complement school’s curriculum in a fun platform that kids love, then Kinect Nat Geo TV is the perfect way to go.
Kinect Nat Geo TV is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older). Some footage depicts predators hunting and feeding on other animals and there are occasional images of bloodstained snow or prey. Here’s a brief tutorial on how video game ratings work)
Monica Vila is “Chief Technology Mom,” born and raised in Mexico and co-founder of The Online Mom, the market leader in providing online and off-line tools to make parents of kids K-12 smarter and more comfortable with the technology that touches their family. The Online Mom is a website, an online newsletter, a forum for discussion, a network of certified experts and a social community devoted to promoting a healthy understanding and appreciation for the positive role technology can play in a family’s life.