Family Picks: Three Video Games to Burn Energy Indoors When It’s Cold Out

Yes, dear, you look *just like* Usher when you play Dance Central.

Here’s the thing about my kids: much like Labrador retrievers, they need at least an hour of exercise a day in order to behave well and sleep through the night. The other thing about my kids is that they all have asthma that’s triggered by cold weather. So if I don’t find constructive ways for them to burn off their energy indoors, they will literally be bouncing off the walls.

Yes, literally. There was that time where they piled up the couch cushions against the wall in some kind of insane indoor attempt at parkour.

Before the advent of interactive video games, I used to challenge them to see who could jump up and down the most times, just to tucker them out. Now we use Xbox 360 games like Dance Central, Kinect Sports, and Kinect Adventures! to keep the whole family moving year-round.

My overall review of these three games is that my kids love playing them, and I love that they’re eager to play a constructive, active game instead of tearing our house apart.

Screenshot: Kinect Adventures! River Rush

Kinect Adventures!
This is my personal current fave. It’s simple and intuitive enough that even my six-year-old son, who has some motor planning issues, was able to play it right off the bat. The kids say it’s kind of like the television show Wipe Out except, you know, you’re only virtually getting whacked in  the head with stuff.

“I like the River Rush game,” said my son about one of the five games on Kinect Adventures! “I get to jump! I just like the whole game.”

His older sister prefers the 20,o00 Leaks Under the Sea game. “It’s challenging but still fun,” said Cookie, 11.

This is me kicking my husband's butt at Kinect Sports Table Tennis.

Kinect Sports
By far my husband’s favorite video game right now, Kinect Sports comes with bowling, table tennis, soccer, beach volleyball, boxing, and track & field. It’s a great, convenient stress-reliever that’s available whenever happens to have time to work out.

The funniest thing about this game is that my husband and our son play the soccer game every day for what they call their “guy time.” This sounds adorable until you realize how much “guy time” involves hearing my son yell, “IN YOUR FACE, DADDY!” Ideally, “guy time” is scheduled for when I’m out.

In related news, it’s possible my husband and I are getting a little too competitive about both bowling and table tennis.

Dance Central
Holy giant song selection list, Batman. Our version of the game is Dance Central 2, and it’s got a great mix of music that my kids love (Lady Gaga, Willow Smith) and old-school stuff from the ’80s and ’90s that cracks me up (Sir Mix-a-Lot, Bananarama). I’m not sure if  my kids were horrified or impressed by the fact that I knew all the words to “Baby Got Back,” but whatevs: I was amused. As a bonus, it has that song “Like a G6,” which my kids insist on singing as “Like a Cheese Stick.”

Feelin' so fly like a cheese stick.

Besides playing this game as a family, it’s also a popular activity when the kids have friends come over. The game even has a setting where you can break down the dance moves to learn them more easily.

The other thing we use it for is as part of our morning routine. When everyone is dressed and completely ready, we can play one song before leaving for school. It’s such a fun way to start the day on a positive note, and it’s the first thing I’ve ever found that motivates my kids to get ready in the morning a little faster.

Warning: This game is super-addictive.

(Photo Credits: Usher: Todd Williamson/Invision for Xbox. Screencaps: Xbox)

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