It’s a constant question: How can we get kids to exercise? Unfortunately, the proposed method of using a whip was decided to be a little too cruel, so instead we’re motivating them with video games, specifically the LeapTV.
Essentially, Leapfrog, who you might remember as a company that turns out kid-friendly electronics, has designed a game console for kids that incorporates all the features that adults don’t bother using in the first place. But aside from that particular factoid, it’s actually fairly innovative in how it crams just about every conceivable innovation from gaming into one console.
It starts, of course, with the controller, a fairly standard two-hander that cleverly unfolds into a wand for controlling actions on-screen. Said wand can also be paired with the motion tracking camera the unit comes with, so kids can become more immersed in the game.
The idea is less about keeping kids distracted and more about creating new and interesting experiences for them. As gamers can well tell you, modern game consoles are expensive and mostly not aimed at children anymore. This allows you to give them the same features with a lower price and also the reassurance that they won’t be downloading Wolfenstein: The New Order behind your back and giving themselves nightmares. If you think this is a somewhat remote problem, ask any parent dealing with the bills once the kid cracks the PlayStation Store.
That said, we’re not exactly talking about a graphics bulldozer here; this is more on the level of Android set-top boxes than a full-featured gaming system. On the other hand, do kids really need all that horsepower to play cheap learning games? Probably not. Besides, it costs $150 and the games come on cartridges. Cartridges! Maybe their real plan is to cater to our deep-seated and profoundly needy nostalgia?
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.