Though video games are young, innovation moves at light speed and it doesn’t look like it is going to stop anytime soon. On gaming’s horizon there are many possible futures. Futures Of Gaming focuses on one innovation that is in its infancy now but could one day dominate the gaming landscape.
Motion control: Before the Wii, I don’t think anyone would have thought of motion control as a serious contender to take over gaming. Most people simply saw it as a gimmick. Even now, with the Wii in millions of households, many gamers still think that motion control doesn’t add anything substantial to video games. Unfortunately, many Wii games reinforce these thoughts because of bad design, unfamiliarity with the system, trying to simply cash in on the Wii’s success, or relying too heavily on motion. The Wii itself let down many gamers because of its lack of the precision many people wanted. Despite those negatives, the Wii has done enough right to get a whole new section of the population into video games and, with some games, prove that motion control can add something to an experience that normal controllers can’t come close to achieving. Even if the Wii continues to serve only casual gamers, its message was sent to Sony and Microsoft. The message was received and future of motion controllers is coming from those two companies.
Sony is following the Wii’s playbook very closely. Their new motion controller/wand with a foam ball on the end/only design that will make you look nerdier than the Wiimote, is taking the Wii remote’s premise and making it extremely precise. Their demo of this new technology was a great way to show how perfectly 1:1 the device will hopefully be when it hits stores. As good as the Sony’s motion controllers worked in the demo, they are playing it too safely and are in danger of being overshadowed by Microsoft’s dive into motion control.
Project Natal,the working title for Microsoft’s foray into the world of motion, is definitely not playing it safe. Microsoft saw the demand for motion control and knew that they needed to deliver. Instead of simply making a 360mote, though, they decided to move on to what they hope will be the next step in the evolution of motion controllers. With Project Natal, the gamer is the controller.
Project Natal’s demo was great. It showed how Natal could be used in little casual games, experiences that could barely be qualified as a game (with Milo), and even change the way you breeze around the 360’s menus. Project Natal needs to prove itself even more than Sony’s motion controllers, but if it works as more than a gimmick, it could be amazing.
That is the problem that all motion control interfaces will have in the future. They will need to prove that they can enhance an experience. Project Natal has the best chance at succeeding because it is the most unique in its approach to motion control. Developers could even combine the regular 360 controller with Natal, only using it for certain actions or sequences. That would be a great way to warm the hardcore up to motion controllers or for genres that do not lend themselves to motion.
motion controlled games will continue to mature from simple party games into more hardcore games and genres. Developers will figure out how to use the new technology to create experiences we haven’t even thought of yet. People who are a lot smarter than me will create some amazing games and I can’t wait.
So is motion control the future of gaming? It is definitely a big part of it. The big three are betting a lot of money that motion control will work and continue to evolve. There will always be games that let you sit on your butt and relax, but don’t be surprised if, in a couple of years, you will have to get up to play a few of the newest AAA titles.