Double Fine Happy Action Theater video game
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The development team found that capturing the virtual physical interactions that would occur with the activity was more important than setting up predetermined behavior, as it would lead to more natural actions and enjoyment from players; for example, as long as they provided the appropriate physical nature of a ball pit, players "instinctively know the "right" thing to do.
First Release February 1, 2012
Last Release February 1, 2012

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Double Fine Happy Action Theater is a casual video game developed by Double Fine Productions and distributed by Microsoft Game Studios. Happy Action Theater is an open-ended game, providing eighteen different modes that incorporate features of the Kinect motion-sensing and camera system. From here, the player can kick at rocks that float on the lava, interact with small animated flame sparks that jump around, or by "immersing" themselves in the lava, can have their hands temporarily shoot fireballs to "wipe out" other players on screen for a short period of time. Instead, when they tested the mode with children, the children played in the virtual lava, leading the team to add additional responses to these actions for the game. Some of the Achievements for the game resulted from watching these new interactions by children. The development team found that capturing the virtual physical interactions that would occur with the activity was more important than setting up predetermined behavior, as it would lead to more natural actions and enjoyment from players; for example, as long as they provided the appropriate physical nature of a ball pit, players "instinctively know the "right" thing to do. The game includes new modes, such as one where players can don virtual costumes , create and destroy castles, and perform as if they were in a dubstep video. Lynch noted that "The game aims to provide instant fun from the moment it's turned on, with as little barrier to entry as possible." Both reviewers and their children noted that not all the modes will be fun to all players, but with the Director mode cycling between stages every few minutes, no one activity gets too boring. Critics also noted that while the game is targeted to children, it would still work for older groups as a contrast to typical motion-sensing games, while the game would otherwise get monotonous and lack any reason to replay when engaged as a single player. Mathieu Marunczyn and Emily Ford at Jackson School in Victoria, Australia, who teach autistic children, found that Happy Action Theater was a benefit to the students, as it would engage them in sensory input and social interaction with their other students through the virtualization of the various activities in the game..

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