The Motion

Posted November 29, 2010

ESI staff play with the new Xbox Kinect.
ESI staff play with the new Xbox Kinect.

Two major hardware releases that have recently promised to radically change the game market are the PlayStation Move and the Xbox Kinect. Each of these devices offers a high degree of interactive gaming, but in different ways (we have both set up in competing rooms here at ESI!).

The PlayStation Move is not, as naysayers profess, a glorified Wii-mote. The integration of a camera and sophisticated onboard sensors allow for very accurate motion detection, as well as an augmented reality view of the players. Kids seem to love it. I watched my 8-year-old cousin play Start the Party on her PlayStation 3 and she giggled with delight at seeing herself holding the objects used in the game (such as a mallet, a fly swatter and a flashlight). Interestingly enough, she never had to ask how to play – the system immediately engaged her with games that were obvious and intuitive. The accuracy of the motion sensors during more complex activities, such as Table Tennis, is also yet unmatched by any other simulation.

The Xbox Kinect offers a departure from the controller entirely and feels a bit like magic. The experience is unlike any other in all of gaming and cannot be compared to the Move, the Wii or any other motion-based device. One of the major advantages of Kinect is that the player uses his or her entire body to control the game. Players can simply walk into the play space and immediately take control without a complicated setup.

Both systems are selling quite well. The PlayStation Move is exceeding expectations and the Xbox Kinect is expecting to sell over five million units by the end of the year.The possibilities of both systems, however, have yet to be fully realized and implemented in a blockbuster way. Sony was able to create a nice incentive for PlayStation owners by integrating Move functionality into some of its existing games, such as High Velocity Bowling and Heavy Rain. Neither peripheral has a so-called “killer app” that everyone wants. Dance Central for the Kinect is the closest contender, but not quite the system seller that Wii Sports has turned out to be. The hacker community has already started creating software to use the Kinect device on PCs or other devices, sometimes in more interesting ways than are currently available on the Xbox 360!

My biggest complaint with Microsoft’s Kinect is the amount of space required to play. The outcry from the public is that a nine-foot clearance in front of the television is often unreasonable, particularly in smaller homes and urban dwellings. Players have to be active in order to participate and gain the full experience and need a lot of room to move around. Of course, a game system that could work outside would solve this issue.

Pete Vigeant

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