Nov. 15, 2010 at 9:31 PM ET
If you have played any games with Microsoft's new Kinect motion controller, then you've probably discovered this: You frequently wind up looking totally ridiculous.
Don’t get me wrong, I think one of the most charming things about Kinect — a gadget that lets you control your video games with the movements of your body — is the way it encourages everyone to look like complete dorks. More importantly, it encourages everyone to not care about looking like complete dorks.
After all, being ridiculous is fun ... especially if you can coerce your friends into joining you.
That said, when playing Kinect games there are some moments that are, um, more ridiculous than others. So behold ... this is how you and your friends will make fools out of yourselves with the help of Kinect:
'Kinect Adventures: Space Pop'
I was in the midst of playing the "Kinect Adventures" bubble popping mini game with a friend when it suddenly occurred to me — I have got to shut my living room curtains ASAP.
The curtains were wide open. If my neighbors had walked by right at that moment, they would have seen something really really strange. That is, they would have seen two grown-ups flapping their arms like crazed chickens while repeatedly running forward and backwards across their living room floor. My neighbors would have thought we were nothing short of totally #$%@&! insane.
You see, "Space Pop" is one of the games I like to use to introduce people to Kinect for the first time. It's a simple little game that anyone can play. You simply flap your arms and run around your living room to make your avatar fly around within the game and pop as many bubbles as possible.
It's the kind of game that will leave you and your friends laughing (and/or shaking your heads in shame) ... especially when you review the photos that Kinect snapped of you as you played.
'Kinect Sports: Track & Field'
I don’t know what it is, but nothing feels more absurd to me than running in place in my living room. No, wait, I know what feels more absurd than running in place my living room — running in place and jumping over imaginary hurdles in my living room.
Yeah ... that feels pretty absurd.
Track and field was my sport in high school, so I do appreciate the inclusion in the "Kinect Sports" compilation of mini games. Discus, javelin, sprinting, long jump and hurdles: You'll pantomime each of these five activities as your avatar replicates them on screen. And yes, they all look pretty goofy. But the hurdles event out goofs the rest.
Run in place. Jump. Run in place. Jump. Run in place. Jump. Stop. Try to catch your breath as you contemplate how on earth running absolutely nowhere just made you this tired.
On the upside, since the hurdles in this game are only virtual, you won't have to worry about tripping over them ... which is totally embarrassing when it happens in the real world.
'Motion Sports: Horseback Riding'
Like “Kinect Sports,” “Motion Sports” is a collection of sports-themed mini games designed to bring out the competitor in you. You and your friends can go head to head in sports such as skiing, boxing, soccer, hang gliding and ... um ... horseback riding.
Yes, horseback riding seems a little out of place in the usual lineup of sports mini games, but kudos to Ubisoft for doing something different. (I think this is the only motion-controlled sports game to include an equestrian event.)
But as you can probably imagine, steering an imaginary horse in your living room looks and feels a little bit strange for anyone who isn't, say, an 8-year-old girl. My husband, for example, looks pretty silly trying to ride an imaginary steed across an imaginary show ring filled with imaginary obstacles. Can you say "giddyup"?
'Dance Central' freestyle moments
There seems to be no moment in Kinect gaming that encourages players to make a more complete fool of themselves than the freestyle dance moments in "Dance Central." There you are, trying your best to follow the game's virtual dance guide and lay out your smoothest dance moves, when suddenly the screen goes all acid-trip techno-color and you're told to boogie however you like.
For my friends (and I suspect yours) "dance however you like" means "go absolutely nuts." It's typically at this point in the game that players will leap in the air, flail about and/or make vaguely obscene hip-thrusting gestures.
The more absurd your freestyle dancing is, the more laughs you're sure to get from the peanut gallery gathered in your living room. So go crazy with your freestyle self. Go crazy!
Dancing game strike-a-pose moments
Oh hell, who am I kidding. Pretty much any moment during any of the dance games is a moment in which you have ample opportunity to make yourself look like a total dork. Whether you’re playing the superb “Dance Central” game or the less-superb “DanceMasters” game, there's nothing like grooving around your living room to bring out the dorkness in all of us.
And nothing drives home the absurdity of it all like the vogue moments you'll encounter in these Kinect games. "Dance Central," for example, challenges players to end each song by performing a dramatic finishing move. Meanwhile, play the more arcadey "DanceMasters" game and you'll basically be challenged to execute one goofy pose after another. (Hence my photo above.)
Meanwhile, extra embarrassment points go to “DanceMasters” because the game not only asks you to strike goofy dance poses, it asks you to strike goofy dance poses to some of the most obnoxious dance music on the planet.
But more importantly, here's a hint: If you really want your friends to cut loose and join in the redonkulous dance action, start serving up the booze (provided they're adults, that is). I've found that after three stiff drinks, even the most reluctant wall flowers will let their guard down when a good dance game is in the Xbox. Or even a mediocre one.
Three cheers to playing the fool!
For more Kinect related news see:
Kinect games will wow you ... mostly
Gamer down! Kinect injuries are here
Xbox Kinect review: It's surprisingly fun