Thanks to some timely Black Friday sales, I picked up a discounted copy of the new-ish Disney sandbox game, Disney Infinity.
We bought the PS3 version of the starter kit, which came with three characters, the game, the base, and a power disc for Cinderella’s carriage, and then an additional character… Violet, from The Incredibles.
Claire is really getting into gaming. I may need to write a post about this later on, mostly detailing and rebutting some of the opposition I’ve come up against for letting my six year old play video games, but I’ll save that for later.
Mostly she likes to sit on my lap and watch me play, but I’ve been encouraging her to play on her own. The touch stuff is super-simple for kids, but it’s only been recently that I’ve plunked a PS3 DualShock controller in her palms and pushed her to be a little more advanced in the play department.
Our greatest hits to date include, of course, Minecraft (which she now plays mostly independently on the iPlatform) and Ni no Kuni, a PG-rated RPG (which she mostly directs from my side while I play).
Introduction to Controller-ology 101
My motives in advancing her gaming education is simple. I’ve had my eyes out for a game that she would not only enjoy and engage with, but that would get her away from a life-time of touch-and-tablet gaming, pocket gaming, and the in-game-purchase-heavy, dress-up-girly-style, this-must-be-educational-somehow gaming experience that seems to over-populate that realm.
So, far, I think I’ve found a hit in Disney Infinity (and no, this isn’t a sponsored post! Though, a free set of Wreck-It-Ralph characters would sure be nice… wink, wink!)
Pros and Cons
I’ll be honest about the big’ol cons of this game, first: It’s an expensive toy. If I hadn’t picked it up on special, we wouldn’t own it right now. Really. I got it on sale, but I waited. As of this writing I’m already in for about sixty bucks, and that was the sale price for just the starter kit and one extra character. (And I only bought the extra character because said starter kit doesn’t come with a girl character… I mean, c’mon Disney!) To unlock more content you don’t necessarily win it: you go buy, with real cash money at a real store, either (a) new characters models for about twelve bucks per, that you plonk onto the base and then activate into the game or (b) mystery packs of additional power discs for five bucks per pair, that when activated on the base unlock a variety of power-ups or new toys, features, worlds, or other random stuff. The spend-happy gamer could spend three or four hundred bucks on pieces, just on what’s out and available now, and they are releasing new characters and power disc series all the time. Save your pennies if you want to get in on this one.
On the other hand, the game fits with quite a few of my criteria for a father-daughter learning game: the game is (on the one hand) mostly a simple exploration 3D platformer, but (on the other hand) it’s built on the backbone of a sandbox-style creative toy. We can play it two player or she can play alone. I can explore the worlds at night when she’s in bed and when she next plays later on the benefit is that what she missed plot or playtime, is made up for that fact that I’ve unlocked more construction elements for the Toy Box sandbox for her to create with.
It’s also safe. We play Minecraft in peaceful mode because she is still creeped out by creepers, zombies, spiders, and all the other scary mobs that accompany survival mode. As for Infinity, we can just delete or simply not build the baddies, and KA-POW, the worst thing that happens in the world is that she might fall off the edge of her construction and materialize back at the starting place. Nothing too scary… until she’s ready for it.
And then of course it’s both a Disney product full of Disney characters (which she loves) and played on the PS3 (which means she’s been getting some time in with the DualShock controller and away from the ubiquitous touch-interface that current;y dominates her young life) so… we’re both impressed.
But Then It’s Only Been A Week
Will it stand the test of time? Who can say? She’s been asking to play it… a lot. In fact, we’ve been withholding it so that she’ll practice her piano and do her chores. When you need to deny as a form of incentive or punishment, that –from a parenting perspective– means you’ve probably got a minor hit on your hands. That, and those ten dollar figurines glaring at me from beside the television when we’re not playing might be enough incentive to boot it up more often, too.