When Games Matter is a weekly exploration by Drew Dixon of meaningful moments in games. Operating under the assumption that games do in fact matter, Drew seeks to highlight those moments that have much to say about who we are and the world we live in.
My friend lay on the floor in the fetal position in front of the Television in my living room. A stick figure representation of her lay awkwardly crumpled on the ground on the TV screen in a strange attempt to mirror her posture. My friend was mourning the loss of all of her Leedmees who she had inadvertently crushed or hurled to their demise. It was a simultaneously hilarious and poignant moment.
Leedmees is a new game for Xbox 360’s Kinect in which you are charged with guiding “Leedmees,” little magical human-like creatures, through obstacles to safety. It’s one of the first Kinect games that truly lives up to the promise of making you the controller. The player’s body serves as the conduit through which the Leedmees must pass to reach their objective.
I once wrote about the potential of the Kinect and I think there is an assumption among gamers that the Kinect is for casual gamers. I understand that assumption, given the fate of the Nintendo Wii, however I think games like Leedmees reveal what is special about Kinect. Leedmees requires patience, foresight, balance, and teamwork. It’s a game of both body and mind. Its not particularly graphically impressive nor is it a game that provokes introspection–instead, the game is simultaneously simpler and more profound.
Leedmees is simple because anyone can step in and play and understand its mechanics. “You” really are the controller. The Leedmees climb up one arm and slide down the other–it’s intuitive. Leedmees is profound too–the more you play the game, the more you will begin to care about guiding your little friends to safety. However, you will undoubtedly cause the demise of your little friends. You will inadvertently step on them or accidentally jerk your arm throwing them to such a height that upon falling they will die. Do this enough and you will end up on the floor of your living room in the fetal position with all your friends laughing with you at what transpired.
If that sounds uncomfortable to you, then you understand what make this a special game. Leedmees brilliantly uses the Kinect because it makes us uncomfortable and consequently provides truly memorable play experiences.