The keynote speeches at E3 gave the general gaming community a good long look at the new generation of game controllers that we will have the option to buy for the holiday season this year, but what we witnessed was how they operated in a controlled environment. I had questions that popped into my head while watching the keynotes and as each week passes, more questions arise while the lack of answers from Microsoft and Sony are starting to concern a few potential buyers. Will gamers find that their living room will need to be setup like a lab in order to properly experience Move and Kinect the way they are designed to be played?
Available Space: Amazon.com may have let the cat out of the bag on this one but if you add Kinect to your basket and proceed through to the checkout you will be presented with a warning message telling you that you need 6 feet of space between you and the Kinect sensor. That’s quite a lot of space and although many living rooms in houses across the globe will have six feet of space, what about those who live in small apartments or game in their bedrooms. Will they miss out on the controller-less experience of Kinect? And what about Move, is there a maximum or minimum distance we need to be from the sensor?
Background noise: Kinect expects you to say Xbox in front of your voice commands and the presenters at the E3 keynote spoke clearly and deliberately and I cannot recall any presenter having to repeat themselves. The audience were far enough away so that background noise would not have interfered but how does Kinect cope with a house full of family noise, how about music playing in the background? Will we need to have minimal background noise to avoid confusing the Kinect sensor?
Voice recognition: This was the first question that popped into my head during the E3 keynotes, how much voice recognition training will be required before Kinect successfully picks up what you are telling it to do? Anyone who tried to battle with voice recognition software for typing when it first appeared 10-15 years ago knows exactly what I’m talking about here. Having to read back pages of text and then reciting individual words each and every time you used it for weeks on end. Of course, voice recognition technology has moved on so much in that time but how about accents? Dr Kawashima’s Brain training on the DS is a great example of how this could be a problem. Every single one of my friends and family had about a 10% success rate of getting that game to recognise the word “Blue” due to our Northern Irish accents. Kinect cannot possibly be configured out of the box for regional accents so there has to be at least some sort of learning period for it. What about days when you have the cold or your throat is a bit rough after a heavy drinking session the night before?
Multiple voice commands: The concept of saying “Xbox play”, or “Xbox Pause” for watching movies and programs sounds great but what about if your brother sitting beside you decides to be funny and says “Xbox stop”, “Xbox rewind”, or “Xbox (anything but what you want the Xbox to do)”? Can you lock it so that only your voice can be used to activate the commands.
Multiple players: We all witnessed 2 players stepping in and out of Kinect adventures but has anyone seen more than two players using a Kinect game at one time?
Lighting: If we are being honest, most gamers spend more time indoors instead of outside in the sun but occasionally we will open the curtains and what do you know, sunlight creeps in. There is talk that Sony Move can be affected by sunlight and the sensors will not be as accurate as if the curtains were closed. So will we all have to close out blinds and curtains to avoid frustration due to a lack of accuracy?
Clothing: How will Kinect react when we decide to wear something different? From what we have been shown so far, it will scan our body and build a profile based on our shape and statistics. If we decide that we want to wear a full length fur coat the next time we play as opposed to playing in nothing but a pair of shorts, will we need to reconfigure it all over again?
So there you have it, some more questions and close to no answers. Leave comments below if you have any ideas to what the answers are or if you have more unanswered questions please leave them below so we can all scratch out heads while we wait for Sony and Microsoft to tell us.