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Double Fine Happy Action Theater used in Australian school for special-needs kids

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Teachers at an Australian school that caters to special-needs children are using Double Fine Happy Action Theater in the classroom to great effect, Eurogamer reports.

The Kinect-exclusive party game offers simple, fun minigames that are easy to jump into, but according to teachers Mathieu Marunczyn and Emily Ford of the Jackson School in Victoria, Australia, Happy Action Theater's lack of setup is what makes it particularly conducive to classroom use. "You just put it on and a minute later it's starting and [the students are] on their way," said Ford. "With other games, I think, 'I haven't got time to set that up. Let's go do something else.'"

Marunczyn devotes 20 to 30 minutes four days a week to a social-skills session involving Happy Action Theater. He told Eurogamer that the game has helped his students develop coordination and motor skills. In Ford's experience, playing around with Happy Action Theater has improved the kids' social skills — her 9- to 12-year-old autistic students often have trouble communicating verbally, and she said, "They wouldn't necessarily talk to each other unless they had this medium to do it through." She often leaves the game on during the kids' lunch break, so they can engage with it as they wish.

Double Fine Happy Action Theater launched this past February. A sequel called Kinect Party was announced at PAX Prime 2012; it is set for release later this year.

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