Once again, I have to invoke the notion of the arrogance of the “hardcore gamer.” Many of them seem to hold either ambivalence or hatred towards motion controls as used in gaming. Not without cause or reason, the Wii had just a midget’s handful of good games until very, very recently. The combination of the Wii being the champion of motion controlled gaming and the lack of any good games for the gamer crowd meant that the Wii was shunned by most traditional gamers, and as a consequence motion controlled gaming was written off as a “casual fad.” And maybe it is, we have so far only had the Wii and Sixaxis to demonstrate this. However I believe motion controls if done correctly can be equally as fun as the standard controller.
Kinect, regardless of its demonstrations, has the potential to supplement the already existing gamer experience. Not in all situations, nor in just casual ones, but assuming that it can track your motions effectively, how would this not make, for example, Fight Night a more interesting game. While I understand that part of the allure is playing with established names in the boxing franchise, imagine a boxing game where you work your way up from a created character, and get to face all the greats of boxing. Actually, here’s a more succinct question: How many of you really hate Mo-Cap Boxing, from the arcade? Silent Scope? Burnout Paradise? The applications aren’t endless, but I don’t expect this to be “the future of gaming,” I expect it to be an addition to gaming. Nothing more than an alternate option.
Yahtzee, in his most recent “extra punctuation” article (On Kinect and Playstation Move) discusses why he thinks motion controls are essentially a parlor trick, states that the zenith of gaming would one day be where you’re plugged in and your thoughts immediately turn into your actions, and that the least possible transition from thought to action is what gaming should be moving towards, and therefore large actions from motion gaming detract from that. While I agree with the statement that “thoughts turned into action” are where gaming should eventually go, I disagree that motion controls detract tremendously from getting to that stage. For the sake of argument, lets say that the motion controls are 1:1 and that every move you make can be replicated instantly in the game. When you lean around a corner, your character leans around the corner in an FPS, following everything that you do, down to when you sneeze and wipe your nose. How would this not be a more immersive experience than simply moving the left stick to turn around a corner? The actions would be grander yes, but should your motion determine your action, I think that the control set could be equally as fun and immersive, if given the correct parameters.
Take Time Crisis for example. Everyone loves Time Crisis, everyone played and loved Time Crisis both in the arcades and at home. How could a dedicated control set for Time Crisis, an already established franchise be a bad thing? It’s like Organic Food. Converting completely over to the system would be an absolutely horrendous idea, but having the option and the ability to experience both types isn’t a detraction, just a supplementary experience, for those that choose to enjoy it.
I personally think that the Playstation Move is more adaptable to gaming in its current state than the Kinect. While I hate to agree in any way with the monolithic cereberus-style behemoth that is Sony PR, it is because of the buttons, and having a physical controller in hand. Not only is it that much easier to track, but with something in each hand you can essentially track the upper half of the body, making the “peeking around a corner in an FPS” reality that much easier, but now only with the added effect of pushing a button (in the same way you would on a standard controller) to kill that particular enemy. Assuming the experience isn’t infused with enough lag to make it seem as if the character has Parkinson’s, it could be a really immersive experience, if you allow yourself to be immersed within it.
Sports Games, RPG’s and all manner of swordplay are obvious choices for motion gaming, and FPS’s and RTS’s could be fashioned to fit without too much degradation of the way we do traditional gaming. That to me is a large enough market to create it and allow developers to create ideas to fit with the system. At the end of the day though, these are nothing more than expensive accessories, at the most slightly more relevant than Rock Band and Guitar Hero. To all those that have cried foul on these new motion controls, ask yourself how many of you wanted a Wii HD. This is your opportunity to have just that.
When the terms casual and motion control are bonded so closely as they are on the Wii, and as they have been in demonstrations of both Kinect and Move, then it can be said that they are detracting from traditional gaming. However relax and keep an open mind guys, they’re not taking away your controller, just giving you the option to not only try games a new way, but try different games in a new way.