Infinity Gaming at the parks
Following an "Earning My Ears" trend, these are ideas, not rumors, as I have no inside knowledge of the Walt Disney Company whatsoever :).
There's certainly a lot of buzz around Disney Interactive Studios' Infinity project, despite the initial absence of a well-known space ranger from the Starter Pack ;). There are news articles comparing it to Skylanders, Minecraft, & LittleBigPlanet: collectible figurines, virtual Playsets with unlockables, and a Toy Box where "kids" can mix everything together and even create their own games. Here's to hoping that right from the beginning, Disney Infinity starts getting incorporated into the Disney parks. This new gaming platform would be a perfect fit into Disney's "immersion" goals.
Downtown Disney's "Wild World of Gaming" and the arcade section of Epcot's Innoventions could be completely devoted to Infinity showcasing. Connect sets of systems together for any number of short-duration games. Have the systems "locked" into a Toy Box gaming mode to promote turn-taking, and reserve Playset play for actual purchases. Provide leaderboards in all of these showcased games that synch across each set of four machines and list high scores by the game, by the hour, etc. Have a life-sized version of one of the figurines to replace the old Sonic statue, welcoming guests to Infinity gaming.
The figurines and power-ups are a perfect fit for the parks. Sell pirate figurines outside of the Pirates ride, Monster figurines near the Laugh Floor, Toy Story figurines outside of Midway Mania, etc. Sell the Starter Pack everywhere and make everything else a scavenger hunt. Certain power-ups might only be purchased at the parks, like game skins that match park or resort theming. Certain figurines might be introduced at special events ("pick up your Jedi Mickey at the next Star Wars weekend").
Infinity Imagineering Academy
The success of Infinity is ultimately going to be decided by the contributions of the online community in providing free content. The announcement already mentioned plans for contests. There's actually an educational tie-in here, as many tech camps across the country use cross-platform game utilities to introduce problem-solving and programming skills. Imagine a 3-4 hour camp run out of Epcot as a special tour to teach kids how to create content for Infinity. The fee could include the figurine they would use in the programming exercise along with an exclusive imagineering power-up. Different days could cover the concepts of different games - Racers, Platformers, Puzzles, Shooters, etc. Kids could create an account (or use an existing one) in whatever "Disney Cloud" is going to hold all this content, then finish/play the game back at home. This would be a perfect fit for Epcot's theming, and would help Disney promote Infinity as not-just-another-video-game. Shorter half-hour free versions from the same location could essentially demo the editor with a few easy tasks, similar to the Animation Academy format out of Hollywood Studios (a taped pre-show could work well too, including one of the toy characters to host it). This could significantly invigorate Epcot Innoventions.
Imagine all of those retro arcade games at DisneyQuest, and the unfortunate dilemma of servicing vintage machines that take a 365x7 pounding. Now imagine a set of interchangeable arcade cabinets housing machines running Infinity games, with a plexiglass container showcasing interchangeable figurines. Every category of arcade game could have an Infinity Toy Box game replace it. There could even be a separate sit-down cabinet for racers. It could be completely dynamic, favorites staying, and other boxes' games changing daily. And of course there would be synched leaderboards. When something breaks, there would be plenty of identical cabinets and machinery to replace it. There would still be this retro arcade feel, but with great graphics and the full collection of featured Disney characters. The Infinity user community could rebuild DisneyQuest. Contest winners would get the "bragging rights" of having their game featured not only online, but at Disney World itself, and with some careful endorsement testing, Disney gets a lot of content essentially for free. Another Imagineering Academy could be a great tie-in to the Create Zone. Even CyberSpace mountain could be "refurbished" - some day Infinity might be used to custom-build a Dwarf Mine ride, a Star Tour, or a Brer Rabbit Splash-down.
The Parks can help Infinity's success. And Infinity can help the Parks' success too.
Love your ideas as a fellow gamer, especially about updating the arcade section at Innoventions. I love games, but for the most part the ones they show off there are poor quality, broken, or plain outdated, adn there seems to be no theme to them whatsoever. It's everything from baseball to brave. Giving them a unified theme would make the area feel much more complete, and much more Disney, imo.
Let's assume (perhaps hypothetically) that everyone here on the Boards walks into Epcot Innoventions (or Disneyquest, or any of the resort arcades for that matter), and there are some brand new arcade cabinets featuring a variety of Infinity games. Which of the following would you or your kids be most likely to play?
(A) Four linked racers in a "WDW Grand Prix" that race around the four parks, with vehicle choices including the Incredicar, the Toy Story toy car, Dumbo, Cinderella's carriage, Pixar Cars and even a Doom Buggy
(B) A two-player swashbuckling fighter game with backdrops of different ships and scenes from the Pirates movies and the original ride
(C) A labyrinth game with sets inspired by the Haunted Mansion, riding in Doom Buggies, avoiding Hitchhiker ghosts, with Mickey-shaped pumpkin power-ups
(D) A space-age shooter featuring Buzz and waves of Syndrome bots
(E) A side-scroller mine game starring any of the 7 dwarfs, using a pick axe to dig through tunnels, collecting power-up gems, riding in mine carts, avoiding falling stalactites, bats, and maybe a Pixar crossover of the Underminer
Some might counter that these Infinity figurines are going to be sold at nearly every toy store in the country, and that kids are not going to want to play video games while at Disney (or at least, parents won't want to pay for them to do what they could do at home). While it's true that all of the pins, T-shirts, etc. have a collectible allure for being relatively exclusive to the parks, these collectible figurines and power-up disks are associated with both movies and games. And it would be a simple matter to reserve a subset of the "non-essential" power-ups to the parks, and provide early releases of figurines there too.
As far as the cost, the arcade at Epcot Innoventions is free, and a display of Starter Pack consoles is close to a no-cost investment to experiment with popularity. Pay-to-play arcade cabinets could be introduced at one or two deluxe resorts to see how things go. Featuring the latest-and-greatest collectibles could help sell those collectibles. And there's something to be said about leader boards. Half the fun at both Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and at Midway Mania is the leader boards. Hmm...
What if these park-exclusive arcade cabinets worked off the MagicBands? What if you entered a resort's arcade, purchased a set number of virtual tokens with your MagicBand, and these arcade cabinets recognized the virtual coins? And as part of the experience, if you chose to provide a first name (and maybe your home state/country), this would be displayed on the leader boards for these games? Joey from Texas had the fastest time of the day at the WDW Grand Prix race at the Wilderness Lodge; Sally from Maine had the fastest time of the hour at the Beach Club. John from the UK had the highest score of the hour at Pirates Swashbuckler at DisneyQuest, while Jill had the highest score of the day from Epcot. And if these leader boards could be synched across all of the resorts & parks, that would make them even cooler.
Why not improve the Disney theme across the resorts' arcades, leverage the MagicBand technology for an improved gaming experience, and promote the sale of these new collectibles at the same time?
This is turning out to be more of a blog than a forum thread, but it's still fun. Here's a new entry for today...
Arcade Game Contests for FastPass Prizes
If Infinity Game arcade machines refurbished arcades throughout the resorts, and the leader boards were synched across all of these locations (including Epcot Innoventions & DisneyQuest), there could be contests for best score-of-the-day at each of these locations to receive a free FastPass the following day to any of the parks. It could be for a particular featured game, and the FastPasses could apply to all of those staying in the same resort room. It could be for the top ten scores for that matter, and would enhance the magic of resort stays (and even give an "edge" to those upgrading to moderate or deluxe due to the number of guests). Guests/families could be eligible once per stay. Create the contest for an Infinity game that corresponds to the most recently released Disney movie and Infinity figurine, and it's something that easily changes over time.
Leader Boards for Apps
Disney has actually had some success with App games, and leader boards could help leverage their investment of free Wifi that's already been made to the parks and enhance that overall Disney Magic. Determination could be based on GPS info, or simply as part of resort registration and a userid to associate with the visit and a perk for resort guests. Distributing App changes is certainly much easier than with the current game consoles - smart phones, tablets, & iPods of previously-purchased Disney apps could be updated with WDW leader board support. The leader board info could be centralized on some Disney server and shown with the apps, and FastPass contests could be experimented with very easily. "Jane got the highest daily score in Brave Temple Run at Coronado Springs" - and gets her family a set of FastPasses for Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom. This would all be virtual and very low cost - a little programming and this extra magic could be rolled out in a couple months.
How far did that quarter go? Traditional arcade games differ a lot in difficulty, and experience with a particular game could make a huge difference in game time as well. An inexperienced player could be done in 30 seconds while an experienced player could go for 30 minutes. Game consoles changed all that, where kids could sit down to play their favorite game for hours regardless. The depth and full-story game time became a huge part of a video game's success. But now console games are now on the decline. Apps for iPods, tablets, & smartphones offer an "immediate gratification" element - an individual app sells for a fraction of the price, can be purchased anywhere anytime in minutes, and sits on a device that is "always-on". Then Skylanders enters the console scene and makes $500 million dollars. Go figure :). Small wonder Disney Infinity incorporates collectible figurines. So how does this relate to Disney Infinity in the Parks?
Coins, Clocks, & Classic Mode
Many apps have a "Classic Mode" with limited "lives" and unlimited time, as well as an "Arcade Mode" with unlimited "lives" and limited time. The terminology is funny because the reverse is actually true for traditional arcade games. But the new definition of "Arcade Mode" is what would work best at the parks. Whether it's a straightforward showcase of Wii consoles at Epcot & the Wild World of Gaming, or a park-exclusive RFID-reading "Magic Cabinet" in resort arcades & DisneyQuest, it's about time management. That's part of the Disney Magic :). Regardless of skill, the young kid trying out an Infinity Game gets a turn, not 30 seconds, not 30 minutes, but a real 3-4 minute turn.
I'm hoping that Disney Infinity supports both arcade & classic modes - I have no idea whether it will or not. There are articles that mention the recreation of Robotron, Mario Kart, & Joust in Toy Box mode (anyone else wondering if that's a Fantasia ostrich?) but it comes down to whether it includes those building blocks in the editor. It needs clocks. It needs coins for scores, but it also needs clocks for timing. And regarding the coins, everyone knows them to be a Nintendo staple, but Infinity could "one-up" the multipurpose score-building golden coin with a not-so-hidden Mickey imprint.
A Few Second Thoughts on the Leader Boards
On a somewhat similar vein, looking out for the Disney World youngster, FastPass prizes should probably be separate from leader boards. Leader boards would be fun for kids & adults on their own, but it would be good to keep that competitiveness in check. FastPass prizes could still be awarded from playing games, but it could be more like playing the Lotto, or hoping for the Willy Wonka golden ticket. It could randomly display on your kid's iPod or smart phone an actual animation "You've won a Golden Fastpass!" It could be part of the game, popping out of some virtual treasure chest or chocolate bar. And it could show up immediately in MyMagic+. Limited Time Magic could announce that there would be some number awarded per resort per day, and post results alongside leader boards built in MyMagic+.
Another second thought is to skip on the home state info on those leader boards - many guests could have an issue with the privacy, even without the street & town address, and it's cool to think of a Disney resort as your "vacation home" - the MyMagic+ daily leader board entry could simply read, "#5, Kim from Coronado Springs, 10,0125" for any given game (and no, "Kim" is not going to be unique for the whole resort, but she knows who put that score there). And there could be a separate leader board category for the daily "Highest in the World". Fun. I hope Disney tries this out for one or two of their Apps. It would cost them very little and would provide a fun element to MyMagic+.
Regarding the refurbishment of DisneyQuest, probably the most disappointing and out-dated aspect of the entire place has been the Virtual Reality head sets. They are bulky, unresponsive, and the view is blurry. It's unfortunately a situation where the available tech was nowhere near up to Disney's vision.
The latest in VR tech has arrived and its name is Oculus Rift. This successful kickstarter will be distributing early kits to game developers this March. Coincidentally, in addition to the obvious interest from 1st-person shooters, Minecraft is one of the games planning to utilize this new technology. Hope the Infinity Team has signed up for theirs. The Toy Box is going to have plenty of fun in 2D. Imagine it with VR off a PC or some next generation console. And yes of course, Oculus Rift would be very welcome at the various VR attractions of DisneyQuest, with a whole new set of visuals - maybe from the Infinity team, and maybe someday in a Toy Box journey designed by kids.
I do not think it can be overstated how cool it would be for Oculus Rift state-of-the art VR goggles and Disney Infinity animations to refurbish various DisneyQuest attractions. These headsets are likely to go mainstream fast (which should keep their cost relatively low) and this would be a great way for Infinity to showcase & lead in this space. Imagine what updates might be made...
Ride the Comix
This game has always confused me (independent of the VR headset issue). It's supposed to be a superhero game, but you wield a lightsaber. Superheros have been known to punch, stomp, fly, and employ telekinetic powers. Some accessorize with rings, lassos, or an entire utility belt. Can't recall any wielding lightsabers. It just seems like a genre mix-up - and now that Disney owns both Marvel & Star Wars, they could pick one. I'd keep the lightsaber. It seems to lend itself better to a 1st-person VR environment. You could be running through a Mickey-eared space station looking to save Princess Minney, avoiding Duck Stormtroopers, battling Duck Darth Maul, Darth Goofy, and finally Emperor Stitch. A Star Wars Infinity Playset seems a shoe-in with the new movie coming out - this early DisneyQuest Mickey mash-up could increase the hype.
Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride
There are a couple ways to try Aladdin's magic carpet at the Magic Kingdom (when you include Philharmagic) but at DisneyQuest you get to control one. The theme is great. The "scavenger hunt" goal is a great fit for a VR game too. New goggles, new visuals, done. There might not be plans for an Aladdin figurine, but there's nothing wrong with some Infinity visuals that stay DisneyQuest-exclusive.
The theme is great for this ride, but the paddle controls are not. The queuing & cubicles lend themselves to group games - why not re-imagine them as a VR capture-the-flag game? This type of game has been mentioned in the earliest Disney Infinity articles and would also lend itself to a VR format. The theme could be from any number of the Playsets, and could change with whatever movie/figurine promotion is going on.
Pirates of the Caribbean
The Battle for Buccaneer Gold is hands-down my favorite DisneyQuest attraction. Some might argue not to change at all. It's not a VR game and I'm not suggesting it should be. But the whole toy idea with Disney Infinity has its own artistic style, not unlike Lego video games and is such a great fit for Disney's family-friendly brand. It would show some polish to see that style permeate DisneyQuest. It would be cool to see Infinity's rendering of the pirates Playset projected on a bigger screen, a virtual refurb to this DisneyQuest classic.
Although a similar mechanic to Pirates, Alien Invasion doesn't have a really viable Disney theme, especially after the Stitch Encounter change at the Magic Kingdom years ago. At the risk of too much Buzz (but really, can there ever be too much Buzz?), it seems like a job for Space Rangers. Those green 3-eyed aliens just look like they will always need saving. Again, not VR, but definitely an Infinity visual opportunity.
Love your ideas!
I really do like these ideas. I am a big fan of combining more simulation technology with actual rides that move or vehicles that have motion. It seems like this would just be the natural progression of ride technologies as is very apparent with what Disney is starting to look more at and what Universal seems to be taking the lead on. Thanks for posting so much good info and ideas.
Playsets & Power-ups: Promos & Prerequisites
There are collectibles, and then there are collectibles. Collecting figurines has an obvious appeal, "action figures" with video game counterparts. Collecting Playsets and to a certain extent, power-ups, are going to be nearly as compelling...
For the player, those Playsets will determine how many Infinity Toy Box games you can play. It will be like viewing the system requirements for a PC game for memory & processor speeds. But now it will be: this Toy Box game requires the Pirates, Radiator Springs, & the Haunted Mansion Playsets, plus a Dumbo power-up. Fansites will spring up to collect & distribute user community content, and there will be lots of games that just use Starter Pack material, but it will diversify quickly. This is actually a good thing - when you a buy a new figurine & Playset, you're not just buying one game. You're unlocking the possibility for tons of games for one of your favorite Disney characters.
For the Toy Box game maker, those Playsets will also determine what kind of games you can make. Those unlockables will be your building blocks. What kind of platform can you build? What minions can you employ? How about bosses? What virtual trinket relates back to a Disney movie and also provides a neat game mechanic? What about sound effects? Will there be Disney soundtracks to provide background music? What combination of Playsets will make something that's unique and fun?
For the Disney Marketer, those Playsets promote content. The Monsters' inclusion in the Starter Pack for example synchs with the release of Monsters University. Disney has been synching up video games with their movies for years (and unfortunately without much financial success). But now they're synching up Playsets that leverage a common cross-platform code base, and allow kids to expand the game worlds themselves. And those promotions do not need to be limited to movies. They can promote the parks too.
Unlocking the Magic
There are unlockables, and then there are unlockables. Whether it's limitations on current-generation game consoles or internet access/speeds, all of Infinity's data will be on the disk from the Starter Pack. Every Playset, Power-up, and character is already there. The purchase of a Playset and a figurine whose character matches that Playset allows that virtual mini-world to be unlocked. As the character completes quests, various virtual items are unlocked from that Playset for the Toy Box. However the Infinity Team has announced plans to release a new downward-compatible disc each year to add in new content. So post your requests now - it's a little like posting ideas for new park rides & attractions - they're just virtual ones :)
Consider a Dwarf Mine Playset. The "Once Upon a Time" TV series has brought new attention to the Snow White story, and more significantly there's the Dwarf Mine Train debuting in 2014. Plus it would provide solid game-making content. Rails & switches, mine carts, gemstones, caverns, bats, boulders, and pick-axes. There could be a first-person mine ride (ever play the Cart Surfer on Club Penguin?) or a traditional platformer to save Snow White from an apple-hurling Evil Queen. There could be a Lode Runner variant (a tribute to one of the first games to provide a level editor) or a Dig Dug game. Who knows, maybe you could use the gems to make something like Bejeweled. Does that mean everybody would want to purchase all seven dwarf figurines? Some might. They'd look great lined up along the TV stand. But I'd probably just go with Grumpy and Dopey :).
Phineas and Ferb are getting more & more to do at Walt Disney World. They meet & greet at Hollywood Studios, their pet platypus is in the World Showcase Adventure at Epcot, and now there's "Phineas and Ferb & YOU" at Downtown Disney. They would make great hosts for a recorded pre-show for a new Infinity Imagineers Academy at Epcot. These boys are constantly building. That's what the Infinity Toy Box is all about. Their title sequence jingle could even be reworded & resung - "There's a number of days here of Disney Vacation, and it seems such a shame just to end it, so the annual problem of our generation is finding a good way to spend it. Like maybe..." < fill in Toy Box build lyrics & unique Infinity trailer here >. Then finish the jingle with "Mom! Phineas and Ferb are making a pre-show sequence!". Yes, it's corny, but it fits. It really fits. The famous line, "Ferb, I know what we're going to do today" could then be the transition for Phineas to outline the Imagineers Academy. It could even include a "Hey, Where's Perry?" to add in some Doofenshmirtz action with Agent P. Who doesn't want to see what kind of Doofenshmirtz devices might be included with that Playset anyway? Phineas is included in the Infinity launch image (and ironically we also know where Perry is, but where in the World is Ferb?). So these Disney Infinity renderings have already been done - even if the official release of the Phineas Playset isn't scheduled until later months, why not feature it at Epcot first? Could we trouble the Infinity Team for a customized pre-show to a game-building attraction that promotes their product in the process?
Cutscenes, Quest lines, & Choosing Your Own Adventure
At least as early as Pac-Man, cutscenes have been used in video games to logically separate sets of levels and more importantly to tell a story. Sometimes they are instructional such as those in Angry Birds. Some cutscenes have animations, some not. Some have text, and some have live-action video. For Disney Infinity, imagine a separate editor to make 2D cutscenes for its mini-games. They wouldn't need animation. They could simply be a user-defined arrangement of 2D renderings of the characters, props, minions, & bosses. Each figurine would have its own set of these virtual stickers to be unlocked in Playset quests. Each Playset would come with its own font to match up with that Playset's theme (e.g. Pirates text differing from Tron text differing from Toy Story text). The 2D editor could even support layering of these virtual stickers to produce a pseudo-3D effect, and this style of graphic would provide an interesting change-up from Infinity's amazing 3D animation.
This 2D editor could be used to create cool title screens for user-created games, and could also provide the game mechanic for a third mode of game. In addition to "Classic mode" and "Arcade Mode" there could be a "Quest mode", where there is no score, no time limit, but some pre-determined quest of defeating a boss, a set of minions, a certain number of levels, etc. The cutscenes would allow a set of mini-games to be strung together into a cohesive story line. They could also be combined with specific locations in an Infinity world that trigger mini-games to occur, explaining why they occur. If a quest game is not completed, the player gets prompted to retry or to go somewhere else. The cutscenes wouldn't need to be full-screen - they could simply be a text bubble near the bottom portion of the screen with a character's 2D facial expression to clarify who's talking. This has been a common format for quest games for years.
There's also another educational tie-in. Now you're encouraging reading for younger kids and creative writing for the older ones. The 2D editor could be used to create a virtual pop-up book. It could be a "choose your own adventure" format where a number of choices are given to the player at every page to determine the outcome of the story. This could be a separate category of Disney contest, where these interactive pop-up books could be downloaded onto tablets. Showcasing at WDW could include kiosks that played them. Allowing free-form text in game creation does present its own set of challenges. It would need a "forbidden word" dictionary to mitigate juvenile nonsense. There's no way to completely prevent that, with our without free-form text. But it's been dealt with successfully before.
As an example for these characteristics, consider the nearly-unbelievable success of Wizard101. This family-friendly MMO released in 2008 currently has over 30 million subscribers! It's a 3D format, with 2D text-bubbles to outline quests, has received awards for promoting reading, and has effectively dealt with open-chat text filtering. There are certainly many other game mechanics that help make it such a success, but fundamentally it is a family-friendly game that tells a story. Every Pixar movie, every Disney movie, tells a story. Disney Infinity could provide the tools for kids to tell a story too.
Disclaimer: of course, this amount of programming would have an extremely slim chance in making the first release of discs, but the second release could support all of the older Playsets retroactively :rolleyes1
Plight of the Princesses
One of the challenges faced by the Infinity Team is the plight of the princesses. Disney princesses are iconic to the movies and to the parks - but they might not always fit well as a figurine for Infinity games. In the older Disney classics, the princess is rescued, rarely taking the role of the rescuer. These collectible figurines are much more like action figures than dolls. This is more problematic than including Princess Peach in a Nintendo game. Disney doesn't want to rule out half their demographic and this is somewhat evident in their initial choices - four female roles from the Incredibles, one from Cars, one from Toy Story, and one from Pirates... but they could use some more. In more recent Disney movies, there are stronger female roles. Here are a few guesses for who they might include for the next round:
Perhaps more faerie than princess, Tinker Bell would nonetheless fit great with Infinity for many reasons. She has the lead role in a series of recent DVD movies, with a new one to be released in 2014. She is a "tinker", a builder, a good female role model for Toy Box mode. She is absolutely iconic to the Disney cast as well as the parks, the Magic Kingdom in particular. She and her faerie friends are popular for meet & greets, and Pixie Hollow would provide an excellent PlaySet. Mash-ups with other characters in this Playset could be of the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" variety. There's also good mash-up options with Caribbean pirates (Tink has dealt with pirates). And pixie dust might make an interesting power-up to help a character fly.
The princess who knocks out her future prince with a frying pan would fit well too (and as we've seen a frying pan in the Infinity trailer, that unlockable is already covered :) ). Her visibility at the parks is on the up-swing (even if she did need to give up her tower to provide kids with new restrooms). Plus Maximus the white horse would make for a great "vehicle" for racing. If she does replace the Beauty & the Beast show at Hollywood Studios, that would be an excellent time to introduce Infinity figurines.
As Pixar's first female lead, Merida seems a natural fit for the Toy Box as well. Her archery skills would make for a good game mechanic, where her "toy version" in Infinity could have nerf-tip-like arrows like the ones at the Magic Kingdom meet & greets. The Scottish theme would provide variety as a Playset. And don't forget to include a "brother-bear".
These are just a few more examples how Disney Infinity & the parks could complement each other. And with the opportunities that this gaming platform provides in creativity & problem-solving, it's important to not forget the girls.
Disney Infinity's Competition
From a game playing standpoint, it's clear how Disney Infinity will directly compete with Skylanders, a figurine collectible platformer stemming from earlier Spyro the Dragon games. From a game creation standpoint however, to what extent will Disney Infinity compete with Minecraft and LittleBigPlanet? Infinity could easily run several hundred dollars, depending on collectible choices. The point is that with just a few less items in that collection, the game maker could own the other products too. Disney Infinity is really competing with that game maker's time. Its success relies upon free content being created by its user community, and it needs to convince these designers, young and old, that Infinity is the better platform to invest their energies.
This is a big part of the reason why a tour/demo attraction out of Epcot Innoventions could be very useful. It would provide greater visibility as to what Disney Infinity is really about - iconic Disney & Pixar characters in a variety of gaming categories, yes, but also a cross-platform vehicle for creativity & problem-solving. Yes, it's actually educational. :thumbsup2
Young Princes (and Princesses) Go To Camp
That visibility and instruction need not be restricted to Epcot either. When you consider what kind of game might be designed & implemented in a 3-hour Epcot tour, consider the possibilities of a week-long camp. Take iD Tech Camps for example (as with Disney, no personal affiliation here either): they are some of the most popular and respected kids' tech camps in the country, hosted by 60 different universities, with programs for kids of many age groups. Along with real-world skill building in web design, Java and C++ programming, they also use various game making tools to introduce programming & problem-solving in a fun creative way. These are PC & app-building tools, names like GameSalad and Unity. Another up-and-coming tool (although not featured at these camps) is GameMaker from YoYoGames - it provides a GUI-front end to implement apps that the tool can port to iOS, Android, HTML5, and Windows Phone 8. Kids who are interested in these camps and tools - those are the kids who Disney wants building Infinity offerings. And on the flip side, Disney Infinity might garner more interest in kids to attend these tech camps in the first place.
If Disney Infinity's Toy Box editor is as robust as the early articles imply, and it successfully delivers its tablet/smartphone support in the months ahead, then it would be a great addition to these kinds of tech camps. The iconic characters would appeal to both younger & older campers, and as much for the girls as the boys. Disney could even extend a partnership with iD Tech Camps to make Disney Infinity an integral part of their summer programs, if not by summer of 2013, then by 2014. Our country continues to lag in both Math & Science, and we continue to search for ways to spark interest in our kids to explore related fields, especially the girls, who are still underrepresented. Disney can't solve that problem, but its brand and its delivery of Infinity could make game design more mainstream. Kids might have more fun designing games than playing them - and the significance of that creative, problem-solving activity should not be underestimated.
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