This is a little more of an unusual post, but it really brings home a subject that I’ve long contemplated when it comes to video games.

How old were you when you started playing video games? For that matter, what were some of your first video games? For me, I was 4 years old, cutting my teeth on games like Combat, Superman, Adventure, and Space Invaders for the Atari 2600, then Pac-Man in the arcades. Everyone has to start somewhere, and with gaming so new and novel at the time, it was a few years before the concept of “kid’s gaming” came around.

Think about what generally passes for “kid’s gaming” these days: Oversimplified concepts and design, repetitive gameplay, questionable production values, and some licensed character of the day cut and pasted for generally lackluster visuals. I mean, you don’t have to try to put effort into a game skewed for the younger set. Are they really going to be able to know the difference?

Back then, Atari had difficulty for their regular games marked with a friendly bear symbol to give even the littlest ones a chance. There were a few games for older computers like the Apple ][ series, and largely edutainment games (the impact of some still remain in memory). Traveler’s Tales and Lego have put out a large handful inoffensive and fun titles based off of licensed properties. Of all the games, I’ve seen out there with kids in mind, the Lego series does it right. It doesn’t patronize, and makes it accessible for any age group.

That’s why I find this next title so… unexpected. Certainly, the license alone should squarely set this with the youngest of young, or in the memories of our own childhood. For a “kid’s game”, this title has met with some surprisingly positive fanfare, and confusion among an older gaming set. Instead of mocking a youth-oriented title, there seems to be an unexpected conflict of wanting to play it.

The pedigree of Tim Schafer is not without merit. He’s made several great games over the years. And so I kept an open mind in tracking down the trailer for this title, and the results were not what I expected….

To be honest, I don’t know if this is a title that I’d end up owning, but I will be forthcoming in admitting that I would like to play it. It’s a cute looking title, has an air of whimsy about it, and it looks like it’s not only captured the knowing quirkiness of the show, but is also trying to be a genuinely credible title. Not just a kid’s title, but a quality title. Schafer’s own approach to the material seems enthusiastic and genuine, similar to Warren Spector’s gusto with Epic Mickey.

And it’s coming to the system more known for Teen/Mature fare: The Xbox 360. Or more specifically, Kinect. A surprising system choice, but if this is going to be how the system attempts to skew to younger audiences, is that really such a bad thing?

I was surprised by the trailer. I was expecting rinky dink pop music and stupid jokes and boring looking gameplay. And here I come walking away thinking it would probably be fun to control a flying Cookie Monster.

Admittedly, I’ve been impressed with Warner Bros.’ published efforts in the past (Batman, Scribblenauts, the upcoming Mortal Kombat), so I’m curious to see how they handle this one.

More curious that I thought I’d be, anyway.

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Filed under: kinectupcoming gamesxbox 360 gaming