Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster, launched by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) in October, has been making waves as the first Sesame game title for the Xbox 360 Kinect platform. Targeted at kids under seven, the game allows players to interact with Sesame Street characters within a storybook setting and makes use of Kinect tools such as experiential dual play and voice recognition.
WBIE worked with San Francisco-based game development company Double Fine Productions, which created a concept that follows Elmo and Cookie Monster as they explore the pages and stories of a book packed with Sesame characters, as well as original monsters.
“We wanted it to break down into concise chunks, each with a satisfying ending, so parents can limit the gameplay to one chapter or a couple of pages,” says Double Fine’s Nathan Martz of the game’s 34 pages and six chapters. Martz explains that while some of the activities enhance vocabulary skills, the game focuses on teaching social and emotional development through empathy and recognizing emotions. In one chapter, for instance, the player helps a monster put on a play by showing a chorus of flowers how to act happy and sad through voice recognition. Similarly, in the last chapter, a storytelling monster that’s in crisis needs help relaying a tale. She provides the images and the player narrates over them and then gets to hear the completed story interwoven with the pictures.
Once Upon a Monster also encourages two people to play at one time to work together through the activities—making it very conducive to sibling co-play.