To play word games like hangman, we used paper and pencil. Sure, video games existed, but they were expensive and many weren’t educational by any means. It’s designed for kids aged six and up, but the brain games are surprisingly deep enough to boggle adult minds.
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In the game Masterpiece, you can convert a selfie into a traceable line drawing, which is admittedly very cool.
Mashable Games Editor Chelsea Stark drawing, er, tracing what the Internet loves most: cute cats.
While Tangrams starts off easy, it gets really, really hard.
Take this level, it looks simple, but it baffled a couple of Mashable editors for minutes. Now, that’s what I call replay value!
If you get stuck on certain levels, there are hints. There’s a limit to how many hints you can get, so you still will have to apply that brain matter regardless.
When I was a kid, we didn’t have iPads. The closest thing to drawing on a tablet was using the Magna Doodle. To learn how to draw, we found a picture from a book or a magazine and used tracing paper. To play word games like hangman, we used paper and pencil. Playing with puzzle blocks meant using your imagination to create shapes and objects.
Tangible Play’s Osmo is a gaming/learning platform that combines the iPad and physical objects — like wooden shapes, letter pieces and paper and pen — with interactive apps. It’s designed for kids aged six and up, but the brain games are surprisingly deep enough to boggle adult minds.
To begin, you stick your iPad (not included in the box, of course) on the dock, clip the camera reflector to the top and then download the free apps. The space directly in front of the dock is called the “Playing Field.” Everything within this space can be “seen” and tracked by the reflected camera.
In Tangram (above), you have to match the shapes that appear on the screen with the real wooden shapes you get in the box. There are only seven shapes to work with, five of which are varying triangle sizes.
Newton (above) is a physics-based drawing game. Anything you draw on the paper placed directly in front of the iPad is automatically digitized via the camera onto the screen. The goal is to draw paths and objects to direct falling balls at on-screen targets. It’s similar to the popular flash game Line Rider.
You can draw simple lines and the camera can even turn your hands, fingers and other objects into drawings, but where’s the fun in that? The whole point is to get really creative. And if you’ve ever played Line Rider, you’ll know that there are some really, really intricate creations. The Osmo doesn’t come with paper, a marker or pen, so you’ll have to supply your own.
Words (above) is a hangman-style word-guessing game. To play, you use the included letter chips to spell out a word based on the clues in the picture that shows up on the iPad. There’s a two-player mode to this game; the first person to spell out the word correctly is the winner. Words is all about fine-tuning your observation skills. Sometimes the word isn’t actually the main object in the picture, but a detail in the corner or background.
The last app available for Osmo is called Masterpiece (above). You learn how to draw by tracing. You can trace pre-loaded line drawings of animals, food, robots, people, nature and more categories. Or you can turn a photo from your camera roll into a traceable line drawing.
After tackling elementary drawings of a dog, sunflower and car, I decided to try my hand at a self portrait. I took a selfie with the iPad’s camera and got to channeling my inner Picasso. The app also lets you change the thickness of the lines and the intensity of the “ink” levels, which is great for different skill levels.
Like Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training for the Nintendo DS or Tetris, Osmo’s games start off super simple. You think: This is great for kids, but then you find yourself getting caught in its puzzles. A few minutes here and a few minutes there and the next thing you know you’ve already spent hours with the games.
That’s exactly what Osmo wants its users — especially children — to feel when they get engrossed in it. iPads are transformative educational tools, but there’s no reason to lose sight of tangible objects. Real, physical objects play an equally important role in helping people develop problem-solving reasoning skills. The real world, after all, is physical.
Osmo isn’t the first to tackle this kind of product. Hasbro, Atari, Activision — you name it and some company’s already tried it or is doing it right now. Osmo’s charm is its simplicity. The mirror-clip that lets the iPad’s camera “see” the physical pieces works instantly; there’s none of the wireless mumbo-jumbo and “Is it connecting to the app correctly?” issues that other tablet/toy games suffer from.
If there’s any one thing that the Osmo falls short on, it’s that it’s iPad-only. An Android version would have been nice, but I guess there’s the whole issue of the hundreds of device sizes, dimensions and different camera placements to worry about.
I didn’t expect to have so much fun with the Osmo — seeing as I’m an adult — but to my surprise, I did. The word edutainment has always rubbed people the wrong way; it’s a deceptive way of masking learning as entertainment. Osmo, however, might be the first real learning accessory for the iPad that doesn’t give the word a bad rap. Read more…