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Logic In Motion: How Motion Controls Can Overcome the Hurdles of Gaming Logic


My theory as to the reason 'casual' games tend to succeed on the console is because they continue Nintendo's work in providing new gamers with a skillset that doesn't require overcoming the complications of traditional gamer logic. In my experience, new gamers haven't been too fussed about a game's controller not being 100% responsive: as long as they can relate to the mechanics and the game is fun, issues of lag or small imprecisions don't really matter, at least at first.

Over time, many non-gamers I know have expressed a desire to try more complex games, but the problem is that very few traditional game developers have bothered to adapt their design to the new possibilities and challenges of integrating motion control in an understandable way. Even Nintendo games like Mario Galaxy have failed to utilise the gestural aspects of its control scheme in a logical manner. When motions do not relate to actions on-screen, they're no more help to non-gamers than a traditional button-based controller. I've had more success in bringing new gamers to Call of Duty on Wii because they can make more sense of aiming with the pointer and moving with the analogue stick, than having to work out the more inaccessible controls of Mario Galaxy. ExciteTruck and Mario Kart Wii work not because they're simple games, but because they build on the training non-gamers received in the racing part of Wii Play (the Wii Wheel, derided as it was, also contextualises the controller in an understandable manner that shows them how to hold and use it). New gamers are not idiots who can only enjoy a game painted in primary colours and with no more than one or two game mechanics. Their logic simply works differently to ours and if you give them a way into a more complex game, they will grasp it with as much enthusiasm as a traditional gamer does with a controller.

If motion controls are to achieve their full potential, whether made by Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft, developers will have to put greater thought into what they want to achieve in integrating gestures into their games and the changes in the way games are designed that will inevitably come about as a result. Motion controls can offer non-gamers a logical entry point into more complex genres without alienating traditional gamers, who can benefit from the greater sense of immersion that well-integrated gestures can offer: having recently returned at a friend's house to twin analogue stick FPS controls for the first time since swapping them for Wii pointer aiming, I was shocked at how imprecise and clunky they felt. As the technology improves, gamers will be more receptive to trying out these new experiences. Developers should also seize this opportunity to look at the way the content in their game is designed: puzzles that can be solved using logic independent of the gaming mindset not only broadens the potential audience, but also means that players can be left to devise solutions on their own without immersion-breaking signposting, creating a more self-sustaining and confident experience. There is no reason to continue thinking about 'casual' and 'hardcore' gamers and games as independent of one another, when each has design lessons to teach the other that can lead to more accessible, immersive and enjoyable experiences for all, with motion controls bridging the divide.


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About Xander Markhamone of us since 3:08 PM on 02.07.2010

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I'm a 26-year old English writer, formerly known on the CBlogs as Xandaça. I've been an avid gamer since I was a wee lad, gripping a NES controller in my hands and comprehensively failing to get past those infuriating Hammer Bros on Level 8-3 of Super Mario Bros. I've stuck with Nintendo since then (not for any animosity towards the other console makers of course - Nintendo just make games I enjoy and have grown up with), apart from a brief sojourn with a Sony PlayStation, several woeful attempts to play Half-Life 2 using a laptop touchpad and sporadically wrangling a turn on my sister's beloved Sega Saturn.

In addition to burping out the occasional novel, I'm a passionate critic, writing reviews and articles of films, book and games for my school magazine and university newspaper, for which I created and edited its film section. In addition to starting up my own blog, covering television, games and movies, I am also a writer for Destructoid's cine-geek sister Flixist. While primarily a film geek, the evolution of the games industry over the course of its short lifetime has fascinated me and provided vast quantities of content for some incendiary pieces of work - perhaps a few more might spring up on here?

My Favourite Games of All Time (because who doesn't love having a few Of All Time lists?) are GoldenEye 007 (which I still play through at least once a year to remind me of its glories), Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Gunstar Heroes, Super Mario Bros 3 (I don't know who told Shigsy Miyamoto-san that raccoons could fly, but I'll love them forever) and No More Heroes.

I hope you find great enjoyment in my many scribings, and please keep an eye out for upcoming news on my novel(s) and do pay a visit to my blog sometime. And yes, the Dtoid community's 'no copy and paste' rule will be fully respected!

Good gaming, everyone!