A toy company has launched a games console that promises to offer the full experience of the Nintendo Wii, but for children aged just three years old.
By Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Editor
Last Updated: 3:48PM GMT 22 Jan 2009
Vtech, a Hong Kong-based toy company, has today started selling the Smile Motion console in Britain ? a games machine that has motion sensitive gear sticks using similar technology to the Nintendo Wii
Vtech, a Hong Kong-based toy company, has started selling the Smile Motion console in Britain – a games machine that has motion sensitive gear sticks using similar technology to the Nintendo Wii.
The £60 machine is aimed at three- to seven-year-olds, and claims to be an educational gadget, allowing toddlers to learn about colours, numbers and spelling.
It is the latest sign that the video games market has gone truly mainstream, and become the most popular form of entertainment for many families.
Last week, figures showed there are now 5 million Nintendo Wiis in Britain – a games console that has transformed the gaming market over the last two years, helping to attract ever younger players.
Now VTech has jumped on the bandwagon with the Smile Motion, which allows children to play Thomas the Tank engine, Dora the Explorer and other games. When they move the gear stick in their hand, the characters on the screen move too.
The company insisted it was not introducing gaming to children at too young an age. "There is a time and a place for all aspects of play, but this is very educational and something mums can buy knowing their children will learn from it," said Clive Richardson, the company's marketing director.
The company entered the gaming market five years ago and there are already 1m VTech consoles in the UK. But the latest model is the most sophisticated yet: the first to use motion-sensitive technology and the first to connect the gear stick wirelessly to the machine.
Guy Cocker, a gaming expert at the website GameSpot, said: "I think it's great. Serious gamers like me find the motion sensitive technology on the Wii not quite good enough. But for children it is perfect.
"I am not surprised other companies have looked at Nintendo, seen their success with the Wii and decided to get in on the market."