A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that uDraw Studio: Instant Artist is an art software program that must be played on a uDraw GameTablet peripheral. For the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, it ships with the uDraw GameTablet. It allows you to write or draw on the tablet with a thick stylus as lines, stamps, and other artistic swipes appear on the screen. Learning to look in one place while you write or draw in another doesn't come naturally, though, and the cord sometimes feels a bit short for the peripheral, resulting in the stylus not being where you want it to be on screen. The tablet can be used to play other games with the uDraw logo, but only on the system it was purchased for.
What's it about?
uDRAW STUDIO: INSTANT ARTIST is a virtual art studio for the Xbox 360, PS3, and the Wii (an earlier version for the Wii, with slightly different software, was released in 2010). The program, which is more a tool of self-expression than a game, lets players create art with everything from paints and crayons to chalk and buckets of paint (for large areas), all of which appear on screen. There are also stamps (including some that animate) and other finishes to customize your art. You draw by using the uDraw stylus on the uDraw GameTablet, which, for the PS3 or Xbox 360 versions, has buttons built into it. The game comes with a detailed tutorial, which helps players to build their art skills and learn about color palates. It also has an area for creating your own art, as well as a series of art games (such as paint-by-numbers and dot-to-dot pictures) categorized as going to Art Camp.
Is it any good?
The expansion of uDRAW to the PS3 and Xbox 360 brings a very family-friendly option to both systems and opens up the artistic side of both. This game (which is also available as a standalone title for the Wii) is broken into three parts, each of which emphasizes self-expression in a different way. Art Camp lets kids participate in a half-dozen activities, such as paint-by-numbers and dot-to-dot pictures -- as well as an arcade-like game where you whack aliens who fly across the canvas. (It's a cute idea, but not a lot of fun.)
Art Studio is literally an open canvas, letting players use the game to create whatever they'd like via the peripheral. And Art School is a very thorough tutorial full of instructions on how to improve your art skills, covering all of the basics of art and design. The interface keeps tools on screen; and players can share and send images. While it's a wonderful artistic tool, the peripheral isn't perfect. The cord feels short and users will fight against it from time to time, which can be annoying -- and drawing on a peripheral in your lap, while watching it appear on screen isn't any easier than it was on the 2010 Wii game of a similar name. (Should you own that one, there's more to this game, but probably not enough to justify paying full price.)
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the expressive qualities of art. When you draw, do you feel like you are putting your emotions on paper? What's more important to you? Realism or being more abstract?
Families can also discuss whether it's more fun to draw with a tablet or on paper, an easel, canvas, etc.
Is learning art by playing a video game fun? What other things have you learned by playing video games?
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