Today was the first day of a 9 day holiday to celebrate Chinese National Day so the kids were home. During the holidays entertainment becomes a factor. Blysse and Ellie are capable of dressing up, singing, dancing and engaging in general role playing for an entire day, with only begrudged breaks for meals. That said, when they feel the need for inspiration, nothing beats DVDs. And a good supply of games. And, of course, the Internet!

There are plenty of places offering free flash games for kids and some are getting remarkably good. Most actually manage to combine fun with learning. For example, the game Ellie was playing when I left the kids with the ayi and took off for a lunch meeting, . It’s a great improvement on the typical paint program because you have to match letters and numbers to color, thereby developing useful skill sets.

When I came back, however, she was playing something else entirely, , which I must say gets my vote for “most psychologically satisfying marketing effort, ever.” You help CinnaMon safely land in a bowl of Apple Jacks (don’t worry, its mostly milk with a few helpful rings floating nearby) after jumping out of a plane, with his arch-nemesis, Bad Apple close at his heels, accomplishing little in the way of obstruction but helping to evoke a spirit of competition nonetheless. The whole screen fills up with flying rings, in comforable shades of green and orange, somewhat akin to the Eye of Modok colors. At first, I tried to avoid them but they quickly grew too plentiful. Blysse’s voice came from behind, “You’re supposed to eat ‘em.”

Ah. Why, that’s easy. All too easy.

You gobble your way down, the altimeter falling at a leisurely pace. You guide CinnaMon along his ambiguous quest to eat the rings and watch at they disappear with no noticable criteria except that you were recently in that region. If you can stay ahead of the delay, you can help CinnaMon gobble up quite a bit. Things get interesting when the parachute pops out and you catch glimpse of your target below. With an eye on the altimeter I took daring sweeps out from the center of the bowl. I gobbled to the end and safely spashed down! A prompt to enter my name came up, and the results… 9th place! Ahhhhh, how satisfying!

Now damage assessment. I had no way of gaguing how much time they spent playing but I didn’t think it was much. The kids are pretty used to the idea that they are never going to eat Apple Jacks but they do get the organic equivalent, Orangutan O’s, which while not necessarily of much higher nutritional value, are at least far less harmful. We’re really lucky that they started carrying them here! Of course, they do have Apple Jacks, as well. Here’s hoping they stay happy with the status quo. So, we seem to be escaping the draw of the marketing but I have to admire the execution of the strategy. I wonder how effective a campaign this is.

UPDATE: The following morning

How foolish of me to think I had escaped so easily. Not ony did they both ask me for Apple Jacks this morning on their own, when they encountered resistance, they teamed together struck up an impromptu chant, “We want Apple Jacks! Buy it.. toDAY!! We want Apple Jacks! Buy it.. toDAY!!”

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