Friday, November 15, 2013

Guest Blog: @GeekDadGamer on Sony's Wonderbook  


If you read Coffeecola with any regularity. I’m sure you know that I’m all about playing games with the family, and I’m always on the hunt for kid-friendly software that isn’t pathetic or insulting.  To that end, Andy Robertson (@GeekDadGamer) reached out to me and offered to write a bit about Sony’s Wonderbook

It was a fortunate circumstance because I had just recently heard some discussion about the device on a recent podcast I had running, and it piqued my interest.  That interest aside, I’m no fan of buying questionable peripherals without a proven track record.  

In any event, it was great timing and I was quite interested to hear what Andy had to say, so here it is… 
It’s taken some time but Wonderbook is getting up a head of steam. This is the big plush book peripheral for the PlayStation Eye and Move controller. It turns the games console into a story telling engine with real prowess and surprisingly engaging interactions.

This week Book of Potions and Walking With Dinosaurs extend the library in fine style and demonstrate what a great piece of technology the Wonderbook-Playstation Eye combination really is. This is not about high visuals or next generation processing, this is about the presence of a book in the gaming space – and that changes everything.

I had some hands-on with the two games and have put the new interactive stories to the test with my family. Although you do need to ensure your room is well lit to get the best out of the augmented reality experience, the results in good conditions are certainly impressive.

The two games are very different. Book of Potions, including fresh content from J. K. Rowling is a wizard based adventure where the player must learn potions to compete in a big contest and win the day. It’s all set in the Harry Potter universe although not directly referencing that fact in the game proper.

The other title, Walking With Dinosaurs from the BBC, offers more dramatic story telling and a good amount of educational elements. From a different developer it’s interesting to see what else the Wonderbook peripheral can be used for. This is a game where you need to pay attention if you are to score top marks in the quiz at the end of the chapter.

Walking With Dinosaurs works best during the excavation and Dino-hunting sections that make the most out of the Move controller and PlayStation Eye. At times this is a really magical experience for families.

It should be said that you need a well lit room to get the best performance from the interaction, and you will need a PlayStation Eye Camera and Move controller too. Once that investment is made though this really is good value for money, offering many hours of entertainment and an experience simply not possible elsewhere.

The best way to understand the experience on offer here is to see it, so here are the family trying out the games for the first time:


Infinite thanks to BBC family gaming expert Andy Robertson for the guest piece.  He often covers family-oriented gaming on Twitter and runs Family Gamer TV, so if you're a parent or family member who plays games with children, follow him at @GeekDadGamer or check out his channel and see what he’s got to say!


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