Monday, August 9, 2010

Kinect the Dots

In mid-February a select group of tastemakers, bloggers, early adopters and media were invited to an intimate event in New York City. Once there; they were given an up close and personal introduction to Xbox's super secret Project Natal as chronicled in Project Natal: Rebirth of Gaming. Project Natal was Xbox's answer to Nintendo's Wii, with an interesting spin -- the player became the controller -- and picked up where Sony Playstation left off with the EyeToy. Guests tried their hand at a retooled version of Ball Breaker. Players flung their arms, kicked up their legs and on occasion used their heads to keep the ball in play with the aid of a trusty avatar.

Months later many of those same guests were invited to share in the Project Natal for Xbox 360 Experience at E3; the gaming world's Mecca. Ladies Lotto's Chrystina Woody and Jessica Lange (both from Edelman for Xbox) shepherded designer Samantha Edwards (LLNY), YouTube make up guru Melissa Ponce de Leon, writer Lindsey Murphy, me and others into what was likely to be an unforgettable experience.

We were jetted off to Los Angeles for four days and three nights. Upon arrival we were given quite possibly the best welcome goodie bag one could receive, including a guide to the city -- which went along well with Liz Wasserman's (LLLA) guide to what's cool in the City of Angels, sun block, the most comfy poly-cotton tee ever and a few other much welcomed surprises. Later we met the rest of the crew we would be sharing some quality time with during the "experience". Other guests were bar owner Danny Marino, an Olympic gold medalist -- with shiny medal in tow and Heidi, an amazing mom blogger. At the meet and greet we pondered what we would be seeing the following night at Cirque du Soleil's performance and afterward at Loft 7.

The following day we were off to have the time of our lives. First there was a pre-party at The Lab Gastropub in Downtown LA. In between bites we took some time to bang the drum as a part of the interactive experience of the Project Natal World Premiere Imagined by Cirque du Soleil at The Galen Center.

After our stomachs were filled with the delicious treats produced by the staff at The Lab we headed over to The Galen Center -- it seemed like a circus. Thousands of people were gathered outside, eagerly awaiting what was in store inside the venue. The entryway was inhabited by undulating dancers draped in multicolored ethnic garb and "tribal" makeup. Upon entering the venue we were given the oddest looking gowns: shiny, white and held up by quite possibly the largest shoulder pads created by man. We weren't quite sure if we were going to experience outer-space travel. While we were waiting for the show to start there was lots of chatter about what the real name of the peripheral was -- many settled on Kinect and lo and behold, they were right!

Cirque du Soleil dancer

The Cirque du Soleil show was quite unlike anything I've ever seen. Odd tribes people ran back and forth in the center of the room uttering an unintelligible language while engaging the audience in dancing, marshmallow making and a game of Telephone; complete with cups and string. To make matters more interesting, a family was suspended approximately 20 feet above us with no explanation. Later, another wonder -- gamers; men women and children played upside down, sideways and any which way imaginable on another wall. Each sequence of play introduced us to another game; Kinectimals, Kinect Sports and Kinect Adventures. For the gamer who was a little more hardcore they revealed Star Wars for Kinect. Also, the secret of the space gowns was finally revealed. The shoulder pads contained RFID chips that allowed producers to create waves of color sequences as a part of the show's finale. After such a spectacle how could we not be left glowing?

Sean Gallagher and KK Graham

The party didn't stop after the show. We were ushered over to the trendy Loft 7 at the Haas Building for another hands on experience complete with drinks, treats and music by Ladies Lotto's DJ Lady Sha. There we lined up to play the games previewed at the Cirque du Soleil experience and a few more: the wildly popular Dance Central and Kinect Joy Ride.

DJ Lady Sha on the decks

Samantha Edwards and Danny Marino playing Kinect Joy Ride

Kinect Joy Ride

Kinect Sports

Dance Central

Based on the name of the peripheral and the games introduced, Kinect is definitely geared towards families first and foremost. It's all about making the human connection and moving. The games encourage you to play in a team setting and are a great substitute for those days when you can't get to the gym. Kinect does away with passive game play and really invites players to get in the game. The event in and of itself was a bonding moment since many people who were strangers became friends.

Xbox has taken gaming to a whole new level and I am so there! Gamers can't wait to see what else Xbox has in store for Kinect. Units are already being pre-sold and they are moving fast.

November 4th -- get Kinected!

Clockwise: Sean Gallagher (designer); Chrystina Woody (Edelman for Xbox) KK Graham, Ladies Lotto; Lindsey Murphy, Edelman's Jessica Lange

Stay tuned for the Slideshow!

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