Gaming on Disney Cruises

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Gamers aren’t really the type to go on cruises. I don’t want to stereotype too much, but given that I can count myself among gamer ranks I feel like I can speak to some shared experiences. We gamers need our space, sometimes preferring solo games or multiplaying via the web to actually spending time with people in real life. Even those of us who like hanging out with our friends might be put off by being stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean along with the massive crowds of strangers that are an inevitable part of cruises.

It seems that Disney is trying to lure us gamers out of our natural habitats – huddled in front of glowing screens in dark rooms – and onto their cruise ships. The Imagineers have installed a brand new type of gaming system on the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, and it’s something that, at the moment, can only be found on these two ships. John Gaudiosi, co-founder and editor-in-chief of gaming website/news channel Gamerlive.tv was invited aboard a Disney cruise to check it out. He reported his findings to CNN.

The new system is called the Magic Game Floor (MGF). While it’s not surprising for Disney to use a word like “magic” in its name for something, the moniker is actually rather apt. The MGF covers a giant space of floor, one that can fit up to 32 children or 16 adults all playing at the same time. Users employ their hands and feet, rather than a controller, to make their motions in a game.

This might remind many of Dance Dance Revolution (see above photo) or other similar arcade games, but Gaudiosi says the MGF blows them out of the water, and not just because a giant group can play together. I could list all of the technical reasons why: high definition screens boasting more pixels than the XBOX 360 or the PlayStation 3 can hope to replicate, or the controllers lining the MGF, each of which possessing 48 sensors determining exactly where each player is and what he or she is doing.

The real draw of the MGF is its interactive experience with Disney movies. Because of course those would be the games offered on a Disney cruise ship, based off of films like “The Princess and the Frog,” “Lilo & Stitch,” and more. It’s yet one more way Disney, the Imagineers in particular, are attempting to fulfill my childhood dream of being able to step into a Disney movie.

Of course the gamer in me is conflicted with the Disney fan. I’m not a huge fan of the games that use motion sensing more than controllers, first because they tend not to be the types of games I like to play and second because I’ve found the mechanics are often buggy. I’ve often found that games thrown together based on films don’t tend to be very good. Perhaps Disney has a little farther to go before it can lure us antisocial gamers out of our dens and onto their cruise ships.

What’s great about the MGF, though, is it shows that people are more into casual gaming. That gives us gamers more legitimacy. I definitely love that the Imagineers are turning their hands to gaming. I can’t wait to see what else they come up with in the future.

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*(This image by MoonSoleil is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)

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