The systems will be pre-loaded with a variety of E and E10+ rated games, as well as Y-rated television programs and G-rated movies, and will also include Xbox 360 headsets and Xbox Live Vision Cameras for use over a dedicated, specially-protected Xbox Live network that will allow hospitalized children to communicate with one another around the country. Children will be able to play games over Xbox Live, but voice, text and video chats will limited exclusively to other people playing from the hospital-installed kiosks.
"Entertainment, creativity and personal connections can be important factors in alleviating some of the isolation and discomfort these children experience each day," said Companions in Courage founder and NHL Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine. "Xbox 360 offers young patients a fun escape through games, TV shows, movies and positive interactions with others over the Xbox Live network. These gaming stations are a perfect complement to the interactive playrooms."
"Microsoft is committed to keeping kids entertained in a variety of ways within a safer gaming environment, so partnering with Companions in Courage to offer children in hospitals a way to connect through something as universal as games is a natural fit for the work we do," added Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division. "The goal for this program is to give these kids a chance to have some fun and just be kids."
The "Family Settings" parental controls built into the Xbox 360 will be used in the hospitals to restrict access to unapproved content, and also the times at which the kiosks and consoles will be available for use. The first batch of kiosks is being installed today (April 23), with rollout events taking place at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center of Seattle and the Children's Hospital of Orange County in California.
"It's extremely gratifying to witness the joy and excitement of these children and teens when they have a chance to break away from the normal hospital routine, and make new friends while playing video games," said Cynthia Sparer, executive director at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian. "We are grateful that our partnership with Companions in Courage helps us meet the needs of our patients and allows kids to be kids even when they're sick."
Individuals interested in learning more about the program or making a donation to help bring more Xbox kiosks to children's hospitals throughout the U.S. can do so at the Companions in Courage website.