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Remote control your parents

In Sesame Street Boxheads, kids with tablets control grownups wearing boxes and headsets in a real live video game. Unable to see where they are going, the grownups listen for audio commands like “turn” “go forward” and “grab the cookie!” The kids use the arrows on the tablets to race Elmo and Cookie Monster to catch the cookie!

The game is the result of a collaboration with our friends at the Sesame Innovation Lab; they too were excited by the idea of making a fun physical game. We decided to base the game around the principle of executive function. We brainstormed a number of approaches, playtested them, and eventually landed on this one. In the game, kids use a Nexus 7 tablet as a joystick to control blindfolded grownups, who receive directions through Bluetooth-enabled headphones. Unable to see where they are going, the grownups listen for audio commands like “turn,” “go forward,” and “grab the cookie!” The kids use the arrows on the tablets to race Elmo and Cookie Monster to catch the cookie. It makes for some empowering fun for kids, while helping teach left, right, and a bit of patience.

Sesame Street Boxheads from Greg Trefry on Vimeo.

How to Play

Party Games

You’ll need a couple phones or tablets to use as joysticks, a Bluetooth-enabled headset for each one, and some cardboard boxes (or blindfolds). Here’s what to do:

Setup:
Pair each device with a Bluetooth headset.

Play:

  1. Divide into two-player teams, and give each team a phone, a headset and a box. Each team is made up of one Box Head, who will be steered around by their partner, and one Controller, who will do the steering — so each team should pick who’s who.
  2. Pick one team to play the Cookie. The Cookie team must avoid getting caught by the others.
  3. The other teams will be chasing the Cookie. They should each pick a character: either Elmo or Cookie Monster.
  4. Each Box Head should put on a headset, and put a box over their head. Each Controller should get the phone connected to their partner’s headset.
  5. Give each team a few seconds to practice moving around.
  6. Start playing! Each Cookie Monster and Elmo team should try to grab the Cookie as many times as they can in two minutes.
  7. It’s a good idea to have a referee during play: they can keep time, and spread the Box Heads out at the beginning of the game and whenever they catch the Cookie.

One-on-One Games

You can also use the controller as a toy to enable other, looser forms of collaborative play with your kids. Take turns using your device to “drive” the other player around your home, use it as an audio “steering wheel” for a race, or come up with new and different game ideas together!

If you don’t have Bluetooth headphones, just turn up the volume on your phone so both you and your partner can hear the commands — then get to remote-controlling.

Check out More:

  • Updates about Sesame Street Boxheads
  • Pictures of Sesame Street Box Heads on Flickr