While reviewing the Xbox 360 + Kinect, I’ve written how the console connects my family, whether it’s just my husband and me on a regular Saturday night or my entire family during Thanksgiving. But the coolest Xbox feature is how the Xbox LIVE connects friends and family no matter where they are physically located. You don’t have to be in the same room… or even the same city… to hang out!
Xbox Live is an online service that allows users in multiple connections to connect via their devices. Together, you can play games, chat, or even workout. It’s been great for our family because it not only allows us to connect with far-away friends, but it also encourages us to reconnect with each other. My husband and I have spent a great deal of time together, conversing with our loved ones over Xbox LIVE, which is so important to us during the holidays. It really has brought us closer together as a family – both immediate and extended!
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The Xbox LIVE system has allowed us to connect with people we don’t get to see regularly. In fact, we’re lucky to see them once a month. Now that we have the Xbox, however, we’ve been ‘connecting’ a lot more often, and in very fun ways. We’ve been using the Xbox to rekindle the concept of Family Game Nights; we’ve also been using it to do what we call Family Catch Up Nights.
To catch up, we talk to our family and friends face-to-face using the Kinect device. I used to chat with friends via the camera on my phone or laptop, but I really like the experience of chatting with the Kinect because the screen includes the whole room. I can watch my friend sitting on her couch and see her dog chase the cat around the coffee table – just like I am there! You can also use the Xbox LIVE program to contact friends without Xbox via the Windows Live Messenger service.
Another awesome element to Xbox LIVE is that you can connect it to your Facebook, making it easy to share messages and Kinect photos. This also makes it easy to meet-up in the Xbox universe. I haven’t tried this feature out yet, but there’s a tool called the Beacon, which alerts users when their friends online, allowing them to spontaneously engage in game play and conversation. And while I prefer just to chat, my husband has been using Xbox LIVE to play games with friends. He’s obsessed with FIFA Soccer and plays in tournaments with his friends in Pennsylvania.
I’m still wading my way through the Xbox LIVE features, but so far, I think it’s stupendous. It’s very functional and – again – makes Xbox seem like so much more than just a gaming console. It truly is a way to connect, both in person and with virtual friends.