Cirque du Soleil tickets go for what, $80? I wish I were exaggerating when I say that you would've had to pay me more than that to go to Microsoft's embarrassing Kinect (nee Project Natal) event.

I was all jazzed up to see the lauded performance group do their thing, even if it was in service to a larger corporate marketing agenda. What I didn't expect was to have Cirque du Soleil's indisputable creativity subsumed almost entirely by Microsoft's message.

Outside of some genuinely impressive floor gymnastics that took place before the event itself started and a vertically rotating "living room" stage where the main show happened, this might as well have been a promo reel for crappy waggle games. Oh wait, it was.

Seeing a marketing-approved all-American family of four "interact" with each other and Kinect in the staged gaming made me laugh out loud, and not in a good way. You can play doubles beach volleyball with four people, but only in the context of playing two at a time versus CPU opponents? Competing in a Muscle March-esque moving platform minigame looked...awful. I have no idea what kind of dirt the Xbox team has on the folks at Harmonix, because that studio's contribution -- the dancing title shown toward the end of the event -- was the worst of all, making players mimic a selection of shameful breakdancing-inspired moves that would get you kicked out of any reputable townie bar, much less a dance club. The Star Wars thing looked kinda cool, but that was about it.

The games were not good, is what I'm saying.

The message from Redmond is that Kinect is brings families together, with the "boys versus girls" Olympic-style competition and the family-friendly cartoon visuals. I hope that my children, should I be so lucky to have any at some point in the future, will have better taste than to play these Wii Sports cutting room floor rejects. I know my wife does. I love playing a round of Mario Kart Wii (a waggle game with actual gameplay) with my nephews, but sharing what I saw tonight with them would make me the lamest uncle ever. And I work at a video game publication.

I could forgive the ham-fisted event if it had contained a nugget of interesting software or hardware, but it didn't. If the "family" was actually playing Kinect games while onstage, it was the most well-rehearsed event in history. I'll hold my final judgment until I get my own hands on Kinect on the E3 show floor, but I can't think of a worse way to have been introduced to it.

Congratulations, Microsoft. You engaged one of the premier entertainment ensembles in the entire world to help you sell it, and Kinect still looked terrible. Kudos on wasting my time.