Last week Nat Sims, the founder of Night & Day Studios, and Brianne Baker, our Creative Director came into my office with an Osmo attachment for the iPad; they didn't say much about it, just showed me the apps and asked if I'd write about it. Within minutes I was hooked, and I lost much of my afternoon playing with the incredibly fun games under the guise of research.
At its heart the Osmo is quite simple -- it consists of a stand, a mirror, some letter tiles (like larger Scrabble pieces), and colored blocks. But to lean on a cliche, there is much more here than the sum of its parts. As of now there are three apps: Newton, a live-drawing physics game, Tangram, a puzzle matching game, and Words, a fun take on the classic Hangman word-solving game (these are free with the purchase of the device).
One of the elements that make this device so great is the tangible components -- in this way it resembles a board game more than a video game. Or it's like comparing the player interaction of a Wii to a more traditional gaming system. Or maybe it's like taking a walk rather than looking through a window. You get the idea. It's a tactile, physical experience that for me, made it far more difficult to simply close out of the apps because my hands were really playing with something.
There is also a magical quality in that the physical world and the screen world play together and become one. In Newton, if a player puts an object on the table or desk, the object becomes an etching on the screen. Even as you draw, your hands are translated onto the iPad. It's difficult to describe, but in some essential way, the Osmo feels like it's breaking the rules.
If you have an iPad and you feel like playing with magic, try out the Osmo. It's games are simple enough for kids, but engaging enough for this adult, for sure.