07 June 2010
Pictochat - Nintendo DS
I've never "chatted" with Pictochat. I am typically a lonely gamer. I play games online from time to time and my friends like to play Rock Band and Warlords when we have parties, but it's usually just me when I'm playing. For this reason, Pictochat has been a useless utility on the multiple iterations of DS handhelds I've owned. I'm not much for chatting in the first place - even with pictures - and I rarely have another DS friend around for a chat.
My daughter, Charlotte, is 2 1/2 and vaguely interested in games. I don't let her see anything violent, but she's already pretty good at Asteroids and Gorf. (She loves Gorf.) The other day I was tooling around with my new DSiXL and she tried to take it away. Finally, I discovered a use for Pictochat. It's not as good as a free-form doodling application (I'm sure one exists somewhere) but it worked just fine. She sat down in front of me and I turned off the lights. Her face was visible by the glow of the screen. I gave her the stylus and showed her where she could draw, which she did - violently at first. I explained to her to be gentle with the DS – just like kitty and her baby brother – and she got it immediately. She drew big circles and then little circles inside them. When she was done with the first pic she lifted the stylus away and admired her work. Then I hit the "button" that sends the message and it slid to the top screen.
She was amazed.
She quickly drew another series of circles and I sent them to the top screen again.
She did it again and I did it again but this time I said "BOOM" when I sent the picture to the top screen.
She burst into laughter.
You never know what a kid is going to find funny, but when you find it you tend to exploit it for all it's worth. We spend 20 minutes (past her bed time) drawing pictures and BOOMing them to the top screen. It never got old. I watched her little eyes light up each time by the soft light of the DS. I wrote her name and we spelled it out together. I drew a little dude with a hat and tie and we BOOMed him away.
It was the best time I've ever had with a DS. It might be the best time I've ever had with any game, ever.
By Victor Paul Alvarez