PS2 has some variety. You can buy a "dance pad" that goes with a number of dance-along games. There are other games that follow popular movies (Harry Potter, Shrek, Hobbit) -- but yeah, the games that dominate are typically racing games and shoot-em-ups.
Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen. - Robert Bresson
I'd go for PS2 because it has so many games available. For children there's Jak and Daxter, Scooby Doo, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Fairly Odd Parents, etc, plus a few dancing and karaoke games (DDR-Max 2). There are lots of driving and sports games too which are (depending on the theme) none-violent. Also, the PS2 can run most of the old Playstation games - which can be gotten at bargain prices - like the older "Crash Bandicoot" and "Spyro the Dragon" games, which are pretty cool for kids. Amazon lists PS2 games by age range: 8 - 11 years 12 - 14 years The Nintendo GameCube has all the Mario titles and seems to have a fair number of other family titles. That might be worth looking into also, but I've never used a GameCube.
I believe there was another thread in this forum a while back where someone asked a similar question, and there was some dicussion on it. You could try searching for that for some help. All three (XBox, PS2, Gamecube) consoles have their merits. The Playstation 2 (PS2) is by far the most popular of the three consoles in terms of units sold. It was has a wider variety of games, and is backwards compatible with Playstation games. However it is also the oldest and thus not as technically advanced as the other two consoles. The XBox is the most technically advanced of the three consoles. It also supports online play via XBox Live if you fancy that kind of thing. However it doesnt have as wide a range of games as the PS2 has. The Gamecube, while more advanced than the PS2, is not as advanced as the XBox. However it is the cheapest of the three. A lot of the games that Nintendo release (such as Mario, Zelda) are tailored for kids, but are playable for adults as well. Unfortunately, Nintendo look to be in third place right now, they have even less of a selection of titles than the XBox. Also when you look at release schedules there are a fair number of titles being released on Xbox and the PS2, that arent appearing on the Gamecube. I have, at one point or another, owned all three (I now just have the PS2) and I would rank them in order of preference as follows: 1) Playstation 2, 2) Gamecube, 3) XBox Since you are buying for an 11 year old girl, Id say go for the Playstation 2. There are a lot of dancing style games for the PS2 that your kid might enjoy, and they actually make for good party games as well. The Gamecube is also a safe bet, its cheap and if you go for the games published by Nintendo, youre more or less guaranteed content that isnt too violent or rude. Cheers, Mark The Playstation 2 also has the excellent Eye Toy Accessory which makes for some great family gaming. [ December 19, 2003: Message edited by: Mark Fletcher ]
Nah the XBox is a pretty good console, I challenge you to find a better first person shooter than Halo on any of the other consoles. Sure its easy to bash Microsoft for being Microsoft (huh?) but in the context of the console market theyve provided a much needed kick up the arse to Sony. In the next generation of consoles (XBox 2 vs PS 3) if Microsoft keep bundling in features (TiVO like functionality for one) and Sony dont keep up, its very possible that XBox 2 could steal the lead.