Imagine playing hide-and-seek outside holding a gaming controller that lights up when you find the other players. This isn’t a scene from your childhood but it is a future envisioned by a Dutch gaming outfit that is hoping to encourage kids to ditch their screens and head outdoors. Picoo might have been overshadowed by some of the big tech brands at CES 2022 but the company’s U.S. debut didn’t go unnoticed.

Key gaming markets like India and the U.S. have large numbers of gamers under 14; 20 percent of all gamers in the U.S. are under 18. Picoo claims to offer the best of both worlds—the interactivity of gaming and the adventure of playing outdoors. It’s certainly something that child psychologists will keep an eye on, given the early adoption of console gaming, especially since the pandemic forced kids to remain indoors.

Picoo gaming controller

What is Picoo?

It’s a controller and a gaming console in one, crafted to allow kids to play interactively outdoors. The Picoo looks like a hybrid between a flashlight and a PlayStation Move controller. This is how it works: each kid has his or her own controller, and the controllers are interconnected. The controllers look lively with the cool lights, sound and the occasional vibration.

How do you get started?

A typical starter set includes four controllers or Picoos, five games, helper cards and charging cables. All you have to do is charge the Picoo, turn it on and scan the card of the game (with an NFT scanner) and wait until all the Picoos turn white. You then click on the button of the Picoo that scanned the card to get the game underway. It is built like a conventional gaming controller with in-built feedback systems like sounds, haptics and lights.



A thumbs up for outdoor gaming

Picoo does not require an internet connection or a smart device to play. You will only need your smartphone for software upgrades. The games are a departure from video games that tend to be one-dimensional in terms of communication. There’s a bunch of cool games including hide-and-seek, math puzzles and Zombierun where players are trying to infect each other with the undead plague. You know you’ve been ‘zombified’ when the light on your controller changes colour. The gaming start-up plans to bring more enhancements like allowing kids to make up their own games like most tend to do.

Child psychologists have long argued that kids prefer playing outdoors and in groups but societal changes have forced them to become very early adopters of console-based indoor games with limited ‘real’ connections. The psychologists and groups working to counter gaming addiction among teenagers will hope that gaming concepts like Picoo could alter this script.