Monday, June 21, 2010

What ‘Kinect’ Is Good For.

After this year's E3, Xbox owners are asking: "Kinect is interesting and all, but how will I play Halo/Gears of War with it?"

This is the wrong question. Just from the demo videos I can tell you that Kinect would be a horrible controller for an FPS. Kinect is a 'casual' controller, plain and simple. 'Hardcore games' require a level of accuracy and fidelity that Kinect just can't provide.

However, I think I differ from most people when I say: this is not a bad thing.

I think the basic thought process of most people is this: "Motion controls are great for casual players, but the Xbox install base is made up of 'hardcore' gamers. Xbox players want Halo, Call of Duty or Gears of War. They don't want to use their consoles to play jump-rope with virtual tigers."

That's perfectly reasonable, but it's missing one key point.

Most gamers are above 25 now. They have wives, girlfriends and young children.

I have tried to get my wife into gaming for as long as I've known her, but up to now, standard controllers have been a huge stumbling block.

My Missus likes the idea of a first-person-shooter, but to get to the point where she could actually have fun with one requires a hefty investment of time and effort she's not willing to put in. As the Nintendo Generation, we got 'eased in' over our whole lives. We started in 2D with a d-pad and two buttons as kids, then stepped up to six buttons…until we arrived at today where we're playing 3D games with a D-Pad, two analog sticks, four face buttons, two shoulder buttons and two analog triggers.

Put simply, when you've never touched a controller before, games aren't fun…they're work. Trying to convince my wife to learn how to play an FPS is like my Dad trying to convince me to learn golf: It's going to involve a lot of time, be frustrating as hell…and I'm not convinced I'd find it fun even when I got good at it.

That's why the Wii was so successful. They let first time gamers jump straight to the fun we're having without the learning curve…and for the record, before Motion Plus came out last year, the Wii-mote wasn't all that precise either.

Now, to be completely honest, watching movies, listening to music and playing games on a device that I can control with my voice and hand gestures is something I've been waiting for since I was six years old watching Star Trek. That's right in my wheel house and almost worth the price of admission alone…but what's worth much more is the ability to play some games with my non-gamer wife and make gaming something we do together instead of something I do when I could be spending time with her.

I'm not just talking about casual games either, which I why I think Kinect is so worthwhile.

I could go out tomorrow and buy a Wii, and I'm sure my wife would enjoy playing it…but all that would happen is the Wii would become her console and the Xbox would be my console. She wouldn't want to touch the Xbox because in her mind Xbox games are frustrating and hard.

However, Kinect puts casual gaming on a 'hardcore' console. It breaks down that mental barrier…which means that when we've played a lot of casual games together and she's realized just how much fun that is…maybe she'll watch me playing Call of Duty and decide she wants to play that too.

For most married gamers, the Xbox is something their partner would, quite frankly, like to see gone from the house. It's something we do when we could be spending more time with them. Adding Kinect to a 360 instantly makes it more accessible and more fun to more members of the family.



Evan 08 said...

To expound on it a bit... picture a boxing game, where you and the wife can... umm... take out your frustrations on one another... or bowling... driving games... arcade games... the possibilities are significant. Assuming that Microsoft got the controller right, this is a promising technological development

Paulius said...

Well, whether they've got it 'right' is pretty much down to opinion at this point.

As simply as I can put it, Kinect won't deliver the perfect 1:1 fidelity that 'hardcore' games require.

Basically, it's far more suited to Mario Kart than Forza Motorsport...which is what 'teh hardc0r3z' are complaining about.

My point is that that's not a bad thing.

Sunny said...

Owww- Owww- Owwww......Can/Could you, like, Virtually 3D, like, Kick the hobos in GTA, with that Kinect??????

Did I use too many commas?