Since receiving my Xbox 360 last December, Sean and I have enjoyed many gaming sessions on it – many lasting into the wee morning hours of Saturdays or Sundays. Since we finally got real broadband (I dont count satellite) here in the mountains of AZ in February, we have been able to enjoy Xbox Live and games with others around the World. One issue I have always had iwth Xbox Live (and PC internet games) was the amount of kids playing that find it cool to use a four letter word every other word – not exactly the environment I want for my 9 year old. So when playing games on Xbox Live I have found myself either limiting the sound to the headset I was wearing or turning the voice off completely which defeats some of the advantages of the comms in team based games.
This weekend, however, we played a bunch of card games on Xbox Live. That’s right, we played hours of Hardwood Hearts and Hardwood Spades. Both are Xbox Live Arcade games. Arcade games are downloaded games from Xbox Live Marketplace. They are pretty cheap – less than $10. Its a way for small, independant game developers to get games out there. I find myself playing these Arcade games just as much as any full price, purchased game. Anyways, the environment was entirely different playing these card games. We met a whole bunch of nice people that didnt need to impress others with their lack of vocabulary The age group was varied too. We played with some teenagers and we played with some older folk like me. Not only did we have fun games, we actually carried on conversations about other things than the game itself. i suspect this kind of environment and experience is actually what Microsoft was hoping for with Xbox Live. Sean is even playing Hearts and Spades offline now to improve his skills. I sense more late night Xbox Live sessions with these simple, but quite enjoyable games.