Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fun with the Boys at Blogger Events: Nick's Fresh Beat Band & Xbox 360's Project Natal

Being a mom blogger means you get invited to a lot of cool events where you learn about the things that your kids enjoy, while learning about your kids at the same time. I learned over the course of the past two bloggers events that my boys prefer a virtual reality. The first was the awesome opportunity to tour the set and meet the cast of the Nickelodeon show, The Fresh Beat Band, a live-action preschool musical sitcom set with original pop songs. Marina (Shayna Rose), Kiki (Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer), Twist (Jon Beavers), and Shout (Thomas Hobson) are the Fresh Beats, described as four best friends in a band who go to music school together and love to sing and dance. In each episode, the Fresh Beat Band solves everyday challenges and also teaches the importance of friendship, working together in a positive way and respecting others' differences. And they do it to music--so it actually holds the preschooler's attention! Before the event I thought the female characters were actually named Marina and Kiki and only the male characters had stage names. Before the event I also thought that the show filmed at Nick studios. I'm glad I checked the invite again the day of the event because this year they moved the set to Paramount Pictures on Melrose.

Both boys love the show, but R in particular will get up and dance during each episode's four upbeat, kid-friendly songs. I thought, "how perfect, they are going to love meeting the cast in person." It started off well. The boys had a great time on the set tour. Then it was time for the Q&A session with the cast. As soon as we saw Kiki, Marina, Twist and Shout, H and R freaked out. They couldn't handle the fact that the characters they saw on TV were sitting in front of them. R buried his head in my chest and refused to look up until the cast left. When it came time to take photos, H ran away and wouldn't come back even his favorite character Shout went over to him. (Side note: I thought it was pretty telling that H's favorite went to my college. Boola boola!) R was immobilized so at least I got a photo, but it's definitely not something I would blow up and put up in his room. I really don't understand why they were so freaked out about meeting the real people from the show when we've seen other characters from movies and books, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny without the same level of anxiety. Very strange. Even stranger that the next day they both sat down to watch the show as if nothing had happened.

The next event was the preview of XBox 360's "Project Natal." The boys were completely ecstatic and in video game heaven. I know 1 and 3 seem pretty young to be playing video games, but because they are such television junkies, I figured playing video games would be better because at least it gets them off the couch. I don't think the reps from the company expected H to be so adept, but he figured out the concept pretty quickly and tried to play the game as much as he could. I was really impressed at his ability to wait his turn. Just a year ago, the concept of waiting was still extremely difficult for him. There were times I thought he would never get it and just be branded a "bad kid" for the rest of his life, but thankfully he did get it. He still needs reminders, but at least we don't have to leave the premises. R was so happy and relaxed just to be there, he didn't need to play the game himself. He was friendly and had smiles for everyone, including the fabulous XBox rep, Chrystina.

Project Natal is the code name for a "controller-free gaming and entertainment experience" by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 video game platform that will be released in time for Holiday 2010. Based on an add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360 console, it enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without the need to touch a game controller through a natural user interface using gestures, spoken commands, or presented objects and images. It's really neat because you don't have to worry about getting the receiver to register the controller movement and of course it leaves your hands unfettered. I immediately thought of how this would definitely make workout games a lot easier to do. If you and your family are as into video games as we are, you can follow the development of Project Natal on the following social networks:
Tumblr: www.xboxprojectnatal.tumblr.com
Twitter: updates from @experienceMSFT and conversations using #Natal and #Sneakpeek hashtags
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Xbox
YouTube: www.youtube.com/Xbox360Info

The boys and I had a fabulous time at both events. I'm looking forward to learning more about them at another event tomorrow. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth it to drive all around SoCal for these parties (it can get tiring!), but when I see how much fun they have I'm so grateful that I have these opportunities to share good times with them while they're young. Thanks Nick and Xbox!

I did not receive any compensation for this post. I did receive a copy of an episode of The Fresh Beat Band for review purposes.

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