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I’ve been calling it my “succumbing to mid-life crisis” purchase (in addition to the electric guitar). For my birthday this year I bought myself a Playstation 3 (or as the young people refer to it – a PS3).

I convinced myself that the PS3 was more than just a video game console – like the ads say “It Only Does Everything” –<\/embed><\/object><\/div>";” alt=””>

My “investment” in a PS3 game console was a “family” purchase as well as being a money saving “investment” because I wouldn’t need a Blu-Ray player, a DVD player, or a CD player. It connects to the Internet and with only some difficulty can be networked to play music, video, and image files via WiFi from my laptop. And using a DVD that Netflix sent me over the mail, I can stream movies – This month Netflix is streaming Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

A child of the Pong generation – teen of the Pac Man era – I am easily awed by the sophistication of PS3 games in play, storytelling, and cinematic presentation (just to name a few). We have a Wii and it was exciting at the time but the PS3 has broadened our (the kids and me) gaming experiences.

I am not a hardcore gamer. My understanding of videogames and the surrounding “culture” is an amalgamation of whatever I manage to glean from G4 and talking the guys behind the counter at my local Game Stop. I am enjoying learning the language and the aesthetic expectations they have for a “good game.”<\/embed><\/object><\/div>";” alt=””>

One of the games I kept hearing positive things about before I bought our PS3 was Little Big Planet. It was one of the first games I bought and has turned out to be a great game! Like a Nintendo Mii (but better), the game’s central character, Sack Boy, is amazingly customizable – and it’s dynamic! – you don’t have to leave the game for a different screen to change your Sack Boy’s facial expressions – that’s how much control you have over the character!

While extensive character customization is cool and fun, it is the ability to customize the environment and create your own levels and share them that lifts Little Big Planet from “good to great.” (I’m referencing the Jim Collins’ book here.)

The game is also great because for the kids and I (casual gamers at best) it is hard enough to be challenging, while not being frustrating (we never get stuck at a level long enough to give up… at least we haven’t yet). And the controls are pretty manageable. Being from the Atari Generation and estranged by the ColecoVision, I am easily confounded by all of the buttons on the controllers.

The PS3 has unarguably seen much more play than my electric guitar. And it certainly has fulfilled its promise of being a “family” purchase. Sony has joined with the MacArthur Foundation to host a National STEM Game Design Competition – “Sony will participate in one segment of the competition and encourage the development of new games that build on the existing popular video game Little Big Planet.” So I guess you could view my purchasing a PS3, as my preparing my kids for academic success.

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