In fact, every moment of importance in the show is tied to a specific musical cue. The same way that Link has a chest-opening theme in Zelda, Dora has regular music cues for the important things she accomplishes in each episode. The end of each location on the map is even called out by the small Fiesta Trio who highlight the transition. At the end of it all, Dora and all the other people and animals that appeared in the episode join in a musical celebration of their accomplishment.


All these associations are made even more apparent in the episode about the videogame "Save the Puppies." In this episode, Dora actually jumps into a videogame to rescue puppies that are being kept in cages. Despite the overall premise of the show, Dora's actions within the videogame aren't any different than anything she'd be doing in her own world. She relies on all the same videogame conventions and interactions that serve her in every other episode.

Some parents may be concerned by the show's reliance on the language of videogames - assuming they're even aware of it - but I think it's of definite benefit to the children viewing the show. The industry has lately begun examining the trend towards gamification, which incorporates videogame-style systems in a larger context, from DMV tests to supermarket check-out counters to kid's homework. Though it's an absolutely terrible word, the concept itself is exciting and important. Game developers spend their entire careers trying to get us to understand and process information on screens. As interacting with screens becomes a more significant part of everyone's experiences outside of gaming, it's gratifying to see shows like Dora the Explorer begin to teach children the skills they'll need to adapt to the challenges they'll face tomorrow.

Interestingly, the show's creators other main goal, to get kids up off the couch and have them actively respond to the show by both speaking and mimicking Dora's movements, is exactly what the three big console manufacturers have been trying to do with motion controls. Nintendo was first out of the gate with its Wii Motion controls, but Microsoft's Kinect has moved beyond accelerometers and gyroscopes and now our bodies - and soon, even our voices - can be the controllers. So when Dora shouts for kids to "Get up" or asks them to stop Swiper the Fox from stealing by saying, "Swiper, no swiping!" she's setting a pattern that Microsoft hopes to follow.

I don't suggest that this last connection is intentional. The show's creators are merely trying to get the viewer translate his or her attention into activity, either by moving or speaking. The creators of Dora have been striving to find ways to get viewers to interact with the show without the benefit of a controller, which is exactly what Microsoft is trying with Kinect, so the kids who have learned to tell Dora's friends to jump over a puddle will have no trouble telling Liara to take cover behind a wall and fire on the enemy Geth.

Now if they could just make an episode about how you're not supposed to go running off the second your father's back is turned, we'd be in business.

Steve Butts is already putting out Hi-C and graham crackers for the inevitable visit of the social workers.

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