Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pretending to be Jeff Gordon

When you hear CES (Consumer Electronics Show) you think – Sony, Panasonic, Microsoft, Apple.  Did you ever think you’d hear Hot Wheels?

Toy company Mattel is supersizing the age-old racetrack with a miniature camera so kids can see what it’s like to do loop-de-loops at 1/64 the size.

Per CNET

The vehicle has a VGA video camera mounted at the front… There’s even a small LCD on the undercarriage that lets you play back the clips.

There’s no external memory storage option, but the Video Racer is able to capture up to 12 minutes of footage. There’s also an optional case that allows you to clip the racing recorder to a skateboard or bicycle.

Mattel is supplying a simple-to-use video editor with the Video Racer that allows users to edit clips and add sound and effects.

Kids can pretend to be Jeff Gordon without even getting in a racecar, but can also capture themselves on their bike and skateboard with the protective optional case.  Now all Mattel needs is to tap into their Hot Wheels website where kids can safely upload and share their best stunts and video captures for all to see.  Maybe even let kids rate the best stunts of the week…

The new Hot Wheels Video Racer should be in stores this fall and will retail for $59.99.

Puffle Power?

I was sitting with my boss yesterday and she told me yet another fascinating story about her son (the 7 year old).  Her son had received an awesome iPod docking station from his grandparents, a gift valued at around $150.  Just this weekend, her son had a total meltdown (tears and all), begging mom and dad to return the gift from his grandparents and instead use the money to buy an assortment of $6.99 Club Penguin “puffle” plastic figurines.  puffles

While online may be the thriving and emerging mode of play for kids, I don’t think anything will ever replace individual or group play in the real world.  Despite having an entire virtual world to play with, the kid was crying for plastic figurines!

Which brings me to my next point – I was floored to hear that Club Penguin had crossed the divide into physical in-store merchandise.  I suppose lots of online children’s brands move from online to real world, but Club Penguin seemed different to me.  I didn’t expect toysrus.com to have an entire “Character/Theme” page to Club Penguin.

But then again, kids want and can consume their favorites on all screens and apparently all stores – virtual goods from virtual stores and real life Puffles at brick and mortars.  Forget content is king… kid is king.

Six Days in Fallujah

Video game developer Konami has decided to cancel a realistic video game called “Six Days in Fallujah”.

Konami officials said in a statement, “After seeing the reaction to the videogame in the United States and hearing opinions sent through phone calls and e-mail, we decided several days ago not to sell it. We had intended to convey the reality of the battles to players so that they could feel what it was like to be there.”

Video game developers push the envelope with games like Halo and Grand Theft Auto, and while war is a sensitive subject in America, is Six Days in Fallujah any worse than the others?  Is this the kind of material we want kids and teens to see in GameStop?  Advertised in the Best Buy weekend circular?  How much worse are armed conflicts in Fallujah than acting as a criminal whose missions include robberies and assassinations.  Do these games belong at all for teens/kids and for that matter, for adults.

Wiggle Time!

wiggles_band

Australia’s favorite musical group The Wiggles are moving from the stage to the page, as they launch their first interactive online world on April 24th.   The site invites preschoolers and their families to safely explore the internet and learn through play.  Kids can play games, listen to music, do activities and watch videos, while parents can find forums for discussion, information and techniques, new promotions as well as an update on how their child is performing on the site.  The site is free, but premiums services are also available: $5.99 per month as a one-off subscription; $5.35 per month for a six month minimum; $60 per year as a one-off subscription.  Or… parents can pay for a bundled package, in which part of the fees include a UNICEF donation and access to “very secret content to unlock and play in Wiggle Time too!”

Edutainment Strikes Again… Nintenducation

If you’re a student in Japan or Great Britain, you’re loving life right about now.  According to an article from Kotaku, schools in both countries are using Nintendo DS systems in K-12 classrooms.

nintendo-ds

How would a school use the DS to teach – consider the curriculum a Scottish school is developing around the DS.

“We suggest that schools follow [the Brain Age] methodology although they are free to trial other approaches,” said Robertson. “Our main approach is not to prescribe a series of lesson plans but to suggest how the game, be it Nintendogs or Hotel Dusk, can be used as the contextual hub about which learning in a variety of curricular links can grow from.”

Teachers are using Nintendogs, for example, to interest kids in reading, creative writing and art.  Some use it as a “mental starter to warm up” or as a literacy lesson.

Ethically, the article questions not only the value of games as teaching tools – everyone will have their own opinion – but, at $129.99 plus the cost of games, could US schools justify the spend when some school districts in the US can’t afford textbooks, let alone computers or Nintendo DS systems for every student.

A parent of a 3rd grader said, “”Ultimately, I don’t think they should have DSs in school because we have so many other things we could be spending money on.”

Which is worse for our students, being concerned with the value of edutainment or the dollar value of non-traditional learning?

DVD Players in Cars

A few years ago my aunt got a new car and my little cousins were so excited… over the DVD player in the backseat.  More recently, I was driving home with my friend on the Northern State Parkway last weekend, just after midnight, and saw a minivan with not only one DVD player in the backseat, but one behind the driver seat and one behind the passenger seats.  Two DVD players for kids in the back!?

childrenwatchingdvd

For long car rides, I kind of understand.  It keeps them entertained.  It makes the ride go faster.  And, of course, for the parents it eliminates the question “Are we there yet?”

However, aren’t long car rides the time for family bonding, playing alphabet and license plate games?  I fondly remember when my family was moving up from Florida to New York, my sister and I piled all the Barbie dolls and accessories into the backseat and played for hours, literally.  I even remember my mom commenting on how nicely we were playing.

Then, there are the trips that aren’t hours to grandma’s house, but rather quick spurts to the supermarket, the dry cleaners, the hardware store.  Do kids really need to watch six minutes of a “Dora the Explorer” episode between the house and the destination?  Have we handcuffed our children to the screen?

Furthermore, were these technologies created to enhance the car experience for kids, or for mom and dad?

Gaming Gadget and Nitrous Oxide??

A very special thanks to my friend and fellow blogger for sending over this disturbing article from BoingBoing.

pedisedate

PediSedate is a medical device consisting of a colorful, toy-like headset that connects to a game component such as the Nintendo Game Boy system or a portable CD player. Once the child places it on his or her head and swings the snorkel down from its resting place atop the head, PediSedate transparently monitors respiratory function and distributes nitrous oxide, an anesthetic gas. The child comfortably becomes sedated while playing with a Nintendo Game Boy system or listening to music. This dramatically improves the hospital or dental experience for the child, parents and healthcare providers.

Let’s for a second set aside the chills I’m getting thinking about sedating a child playing a Game Boy… should medical professionals be aligning anesthetics and video games?  I understand sometimes it is hard for kids to sit still at the dentist’s office, which was why they’ve offered Highlights magazines and old puzzles and toys, but has this gone a step too far??  Having gone through my fair share of childhood medical issues, I had the support of my family in the room, got through it and then we went for ice cream.

Going to the doctor or dentist wasn’t supposed to be fun.  If you were there, you had a problem.  If they’re sedating you, it’s more than just a run-of-the-mill cold.  I don’t know, maybe because I don’t have children I can’t empathize with the stress a parent feels, but doctor or parent, your functions should be to support the child.  Not knock them out while you distract them with a game of Mario Brothers.

This creeps me out and I think it is seriously controversial.  I am honestly quite outraged.  Is this a joke?  Seriously, Ashton Kutcher – are you out there somewhere??