After reaching the heady heights of the high score/performance domain in Just Dance we have now moved on the the more theatrical dance world of Dance on Broadway. This dancing game for the NIntendo Wii is set in the world of musical theatre and requires that you perform routines as perfect as possible....
Still thinking about it's educational application but already I have managed to make my young daughters aware of a range of muscial theatre shows and their underpinning storylines as a result of their developing interest in some of the songs that they enjoy playing/performing.
Only problem with this game is that the proper jazz hand technique is compromised when holding the Wiimote ;-)
Earlier in the week I was chatting with my neighbour's 23 yr old son about music. Somehow we got on to the subject of nightclubs and when I mentioned the fact that i hadn't been to a disco for at least 6 years the young whippersnapper sniggered and took great pleasure in telling me that, "No-one calls them discos anymore!" Sheesh, the ever marching nature of time and how it dates one (even when you don't think it isn't doing so) will catch up on you...as, it so appears, it has with me!
Well, if like me you don't get to go to discos now but still would like to 'get down' (dated disco reference from 1970/80s for younger readers) but in the privacy of your own home then you must get your hands on Just Dance for the Wii. You will be digging out the flares and dusting down your your old Tavares and Earth Wind and Fire records before you know it and show the younger members of your household that you can still do The Hustle!
This game is a huge load of fun and a really good way to exercise too. There are a number of really decent tracks in the game that accompany a choreographed programme of moves that you need to copy in real time in order to dance along with the on-screen dancer. The more accurate the moves the bigger your dance star power build (as with Guitar Hero) and then you can score extra points. Today we must have played this for at least 3 hours with Ring My Bell by Anita Ward and Pump up the Jam by Technotronic my particular favourites ;-)
Have a look at the game trailer:
This game does get the heart rate up let there be no doubt about that. Great exercise with proper movements required in order to score decent points. Check out this game play video. Apart from the engaging game play one does wonder as to the appeal that this may have with younger and pre-early teens/learners particularly in relation to the health and well-being agenda. Two things that have made me reflect on this are:
I have continually seen children in many primary and secondary school using games such as Singstar and Guitar Hero and technologies such as Crazy Talk in such a fashion that any aspect of shyness or embarrassment about 'performing' seems to disappear when these resources are used. I've often discussed with colleagues whether this technology creates an interface between the player, their self-image and their viewing audience that allows them to suspend disbelief and do their best. I think it does...
I recently listened to some research about Girl Gamers from Sherbert Research (will blog and tweet link as soon as I have it). It seems that 10-13 yr old girls really go for this type of game. Now we know that research indicates that this is the age group that sees the biggest move of girls away from sports and exercise so is this one, affordable and culturally appealing, way in which we can encourage and entice girls of this age to stay active?
What about boys? Well I have seen 12 yr olds on stage dancing to their own choreographed moves as part of a Guitar Hero project. Not only were they swinging arms and legs but they had the serious face on too! They really meant it so I wonder if this might work for them...
There have been and are a number of exertainment games that require some degree of physical activity. These have worked to varying degrees for me but the fact that I spent so long playing this today and can't wait to get on it again tomorrow night must say something about its engaging game play. Or maybe it's just that I need a night out at a disco ;-)
I am currenrtly involved in the Games in Schools community of practice that is being managed by European Schoolnet. The idea behind this is to share the practice, expertise, experience and thoughts about games based learning in schools across Europe. The community is steadily growing and is proving to be quite enlightening in relation to what's happening in schools from Scotland to Denmark.
A colleague from Aberdeenshire, Jonathan Cordiner, who is heavily involved in all things ICT in schools up in that fine part of Scotland has been working with Wii Fit. I had doubts about how this might be used in schools due to only one board being able to be hooked up to the Wii but look at what Jonathan has organised...the Wii Fit pentathlon!
I'm off to meet with Jonathan tomorrow to find out just how he managed this project and what the impact on the children was...and maybe I'll have a go at the ski jumping game. I find that the use of jazz hands helps me keep my balance. ;-)