image

Yes, I see some of you were surprised that I did a video on the Kinect apropos of nothing last week when there were actual game releases abound. Frankly, I was still playing Arkham City and had deadlines to meet. But regardless I felt a video on the Kinect was warranted. It was like a little nagging loose end in my critical sphere. That's why I bought one. As much as a depressing number of my commenters might argue, you can't really condemn a game or gaming system just off what you've heard about it. Sooner or later you're going to have to at least check to make sure, or you're no better than Fox News.

But as should come as no surprise to anyone who's listened to me for longer than five minutes, the Kinect left me cold. As entertaining as it might be as an encouragement for families or groups of non-threatening young people to lose their inhibitions in some kind of party setting, it's thus far of very little interest to anyone who considers gaming from any kind of cultural perspective, meaning big fat losers like me who just want to play single player games on their own and don't understand why society considers this more pathetic than reading Harry Potter books on your own. The arguments against motion controls are a rant I have ranted many times before, so I'll just keep you up to speed with the short version: immersion depends upon being able to give commands as quickly as you can respond and physical feedback that instantly confirms that the command has been made, both of which motion controls wilfully defy.

The rather obvious problem with the notion of "controllerless gameplay" is that games kind of need a controller, and precisely nobody was thinking otherwise. When you say that our whole body is the controller, then you say that we have replaced our opposable thumbs and nimble fingers with a control system that is much more unwieldy and much less dextrous. But that's when you try to use it like Rise of Nightmares was trying to use it, replacing all the standard gaming controls with motions, which is a model that depends on the game being able to perfectly read what you're trying to do at all times. Which it doesn't. And that the player makes no other motion but the ones required by the game. Which they won't.

But there's still potential in Kinect, as much as that may sound strange coming from me. Have your stupid little party games for people who like to compete with each other over who can embarrass themselves the hardest, but if you want to use it in gamer games, you have to work with the technology everyone's already comfortable with, not try to revolutionize it all in one go.

It's no use trying to cover your ears and pretend the Kinect doesn't have severe limitations. You have to embrace those limitations. The Kinect sometimes has trouble reading your limbs and what you're trying to do. For that reason, don't use it for commands that always have to work all the time, stupid. The player is not going to blame anyone but the hardware when they get Game Overed for the umpteenth time. What if you used the Kinect for something that you don't use all the time, and within the game's context is supposed to be unreliable?

RELATED CONTENT
Comments on