Console Gaming

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I think the point of motion controls as they apply to immersion didn't really get explored deeply enough. Both points were completely valid, but the reasoning was more to do with the games in question, not the control scheme itself.

Yes, motion controls damage immersion. This is something primal in humans; when we are using our bodies our minds becomes more aware of our surroundings. It's an old instinct we've had since we were painting naked people on cave walls (last Sunday). When the body is inactive, the mind becomes more focused and more naturally shuts out the local environment to better contemplate problem solving or just explore ideas. A body at rest can be very, very focused on a book, movie or game. you ever try to watch the A clockwork orange while running on a treadmill? Doesn't work. Translating what's being said into coherent speech requires a focused mind, which requires a resting body. And likewise, games that aim for immersion will require a resting body because immersion requires that we shut out our local surroundings. Games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill wouldn't work with real motion controls, be they programmed or 1:1 mapped, because the active body would pull the mind out of the game and into it's locality. Games that don't rely on immersion, however, are not only fine with motion controls but enhanced by them. The big one on this front is probably Wii Sports. At no point does the game ever ask you to believe that you're in a bowling alley, throwing a bowling ball. It's actually the opposite - you're fully expected to realize that the technology is allowing you to simulate bowling in your living room. That's the first thing a lot of us realised when we got our Wii home that christmas so many years ago - 'Jesus, I'm playing golf in my own front room'. The draw of those games isn't that they're trying to tell you a story, all they're doing is asking you to enjoy playing for it's own sake. That's why games that try motion control and immersion miss big. Red Steel 2? No. 0 immersion. You could have textured that whole game in prime colours and had the enemies running around in floppy clown shoes and it wouldn't have mattered. The selling point was the 1:1 sword mapping, which is something you were expected to enjoy for it's own sake O HI WII SPORTS RESORT.

So yes, motion controls damage immersion, but that's not a bad thing, it's simply something developers need to be aware of when they're trying to design an immersive game.

(1) - I don't consider the occasional wrist shake to be motion control. That's just an alternative button.

(2) - the thing I notice most about the Wii when going back to older console controls is that my hands wern't glued together. I could sit in my armchair with one arm on each armwrest without damaging my ability to control the game. Seperating the hands allowed comfort to come first. The motion controls took a back seat for me compared to being able to scratch my ass while still beating up gannondorf on horseback without pausing the game.

(3) - can people stop just beating off over the concept behind this column and actually discuss it? don't need 4 pages of 'Hey guis this is a good idea'.

On the Kinect. I think we as gamers have to narrow a view of the potential of the tech that Microsoft have produced in that little magic camera thing. Sure, as a gaming platform/peripheral it hasn't & probably never will expand beyond high res Wii game knockoffs. But it is the first piece of tech Microsoft have produced in a long time/ever that might finally break their being tied heavily to software development.

For instance, at a recent Microsoft journalist event, a bunch of Microsoft techies showed off the various things they'd done with the Kinect, including using it as a 3D scanner replicating technology that currently costs $100k+. Their apparent moves to support the "homebrew" development using the Kinect suggest Microsoft do not see Kinect as the mere X360 peripheral we gamers seem to keep viewing it as, & we sell its potential impact short by purely thinking of it that way.

I have to disagree with Yahtzee somewhat about the holodeck. Having complete and fantastic freedom of a neural interface is appealing, but consider what more can be experienced if there was complete zen balance between your mind, your body, and your game. It is very much like playing sports. A professional athlete could never explain what it really feels like to do what they do, or why they do what they do in-game. To be "in the zone", it's reflex; instinct. Moments like that can be imitated without involvement, but never truly replicated.

There's nothing to say that simply because your entertainment is controlled by your motions and actions that they are limited to your movement and action. The holodeck systems (considering pretty much everything isn't real anyway) can compensate for our "pathetic human weakness" and let us truly feel like we are the characters we pretend to be. Of course, ideally, we would become better than we are by playing those games anyway (Look at the people on Star Trek, how many fat Federations do you see? Even among the on-board civilians you'd see maybe two, am I right?).

I suppose it all comes down to trusting your control medium. A "standard" controller offers fairly safe options but is far from perfect, the Wii-mote and other motion controls are currently buggy at best. A neural interface might be one solution, but there is still no real way to tell if the actions you "command" will be correctly translated into actions in-game. Ideally motion/body/whatever type of control can help us move past simply pretending to be an athlete/super soldier/ninja master/wizard/whatever, and let us feel like we actually "are" them. In any case, total immersion isn't quite there yet and I'd be interested to hear this same discussion when/if it is finally perfected (in whatever form).

And now for the obligatory gushing: Awesome discussion, guys. I love listening to all three of your opinions, and I'd be interested in seeing discussions between the three of you on other topics. I enjoy watching and reading videos and articles from all three of you and encourage you to keep up the good work. /applause

I get what MovieBob is saying I remember shaking the sixaxis in COD3 (yes 3) and that made me do a melee. It was really satisfying.

I loved the way SSBB used the wii. Motion controls for mouse movement only.

ischmalud:
@ RagnaorakTres
mate i agree that there are those 2 types of players, probably various shades in between but i disagree with the idea that its related to ur own physical form.
consider this, im a gym monkey and i work a fairly hard physical job but still id agree with yathzee that gaming for me is to relax, if i wanna do sports i do sports i dont turn on my computer or ps3 :P

none the less some valid points there

I think you missed the part where I said "Over-generalization inbound." :D I suppose I should have said that there were two types of people, people who prefer physical stimulation and people who prefer mental stimulation.

It's probably a question of how much stimulation of each type one person receives in a day versus another. I've been cooped up all winter, unable to do my usual physical stuff (sword sparring, mostly) and I still haven't managed to land a job, thus playing the Wii feels good, feels like I'm doing some of the stuff I haven't been able to because it's snowy and nasty out. I'm also getting massive amounts of mental stimulation from debates with my friends, tabletops, role-plays and college. Where you're playing games to come down from doing physical labor, I'm playing games in place of physical labor (unfortunately).

Tactical Fugitive:
Cool. You guys should do a video talk show, with callers and all, discussing what's hot in the gaming world.

Yeah, I think it would be better if it were like, a Blog-TV, Skype-call-in type thing, where those guys even took callers, and after the live part is done, put the recording up on the website.

Of course, recording such a thing would be problematic, given that people are in different timezones and what not.

One can dream though.

This was cool, though. Looking forward to more.

put shamus young in that and you have the ultimate lineup.

And I might even forgive you for dropping Unforgotten realms.

OT: I've never used kinect/move/wiimote(well once but it was mariokart and only for like one race) so can't really add to the debate.
After the ps2, I didn't really feel like buying a ps3, and just upgraded my pc instead.

Bah, I agree with all of them, both button-based and motion controls have a place in gaming, but a perfect blend WILL be difficult and rare to achieve.

But here's food for thought, if video games really are an artistic medium in the making, then surely it can be subjective too.*

*EDIT: Of course, I mean in both story -and- mechanics/control methods.

well...........thats it, we have gone through a blackhole in the hour that I was out buying groceries.

In a world gone mad, one cynical Game Reviewer, one Movie Critic, and one Soapbox Speaker collide in an all out beat down of epic proportions......

THROUGH E-MAIL.

OT: I'm not too sure, Motion Controls vs. gesture controls doesn't seem like the next big war, instead I can see them coming together later on down the console generation line and being the stepping stone to full blown virtual reality shortly afterwords. That would be the next logical step, but that brings a very, very interesting question:

What would be next after Virtual Reality controls? I mean a virtual reality as in you are actually inside the game kind of like .Hack but more than just a visor connecting you.

James + Yhatzee + MovieBob? It's a wonder no one thought of this earlier.

-looks outside-

The world hasn't been completely and utterly destroy from this act of pure epic awesomness on God-like levels? I'm a bit disappointed.

OT: Most. Awesome. Idea. Ever.

Fr]anc[is:
Dear Escapist, what would you consider your best source of positive reinforcement? Because I want you to continue this behavior.

This sir. You said it much better than I could.

As much as I like James I have to fully agree with Yahtzee. The best moments I've had in gaming were the ones where I forgot that I was actually sitting in a chair with a controller in my hand instead of saving the universe. Engaging the mind and the emotions is so much more important than engaging the body, motion control is worthless if it hinders this instead of helping it.

I agree with MovieBob's point about No More Heroes but think that it's a very specific example that wouldn't work everywhere. No More Heroes makes a point of mocking game conventions so while the payoff is satisfying No More Heroes isn't seeking to be an immersive game so much as it's seeking to be cathartic in its mechanics. If I had to think about which direction to swing my sword in Shadow of the Colossus it would have taken some of the impact out of it by forcing me to focus on the mechanic rather than the emotional significance of the action.

totally agree with yahtzee when he says that it ADDS immersion when you don't have to exert physical energy, and a controller is pretty much the epitome of the perfect tool to do this.

although in theory, the ideal video game controller (petty controversy and reality aside) would be a wireless chip that you put in your brain so your brain can directly tell your character what to do in the video game. that way you can sit there and drool all over yourself as you immerse yourself in the game world. (use an iv and inject yourself with morphine for best results)

Motion control is one of the biggest disagreements I have with Yahtzee, Bob came closest to how I feel about it good idea but overused when it is used. Good example is Kingdom Hearts, how many people hated having to go through menu and sub menus during fights, I used almost no magic and items do to this, now imagine kingdom hearts on the Wii, A is attack of course but all other menu options would be posted on the four sides of the screens and flicking toward one would open it's sub menu, so magic flick up, attack spells flick down, fire flick left. I think with a bit more planing motion controls would allow for more options with a controller without adding extra buttons.

Gotta agree with Yahtzee, no better way to achieve immersion than by plugging your brain into the console. Increases your reaction time, and nullifies physical activity. Of course, that brings up the potential problem of people getting so fat that their fingers can't even hit the buttons, which isn't that big a problems right now, since they do need to be able to click the buttons, but it's not like that isn't where we are headed in the long run. Less activity, more automation and more fat.

Hand Up if you want em to talk about MineCraft at some point!

Great concept. If I could pick a topic I'd love to hear a discussion of sexism in games and the growth of female gamers.

Good read. Its nice to have my mind cleansed once in a while.

My only big complaint is that I wish their was more James, although my smaller complaint is I would just like more in general. I hope this is a regular thing and I look forward to seeing it again.

The only real question here, is there a topic that is to hard for them to talk about or is it all fair game?

seriously this would be an awesome video feature. I could picture Gram from LLR / ENN as a perfect moderator in the vain of "politically incorrect" type of show.

I have to agree with Yahtzee on the flailing bit. I've been playing Killzone 3 with the Move controller, and I'm loving nearly all of it. The cursor I can move all around the screen is a great asset, and I keep hearing all this Gears 3 news and I'm glancing over at my 360 controller and Dualshock 3 while thinking "How the hell am I going to play a shooter with those things again?" Like MovieBob said, having that cursor there is really nice, not just for menus but for the games as well (now if only Sony would make some kind of Move friendly interface for the PS3; holding down T and using the accelerometers isn't cutting it).

But, there's the one part of playing Killzone 3 with Move that I'm not liking, and that's going for melee attacks. To do this, you have to thrust the Move controller forward. Well, guess what. Moving the entire controller also moves that big glowy red ball at the end of it, which is what the PS Eye is tracking to determine where your aiming cursor is pointing. And now you've moved the ball, and you went from looking at this guy in front of you to looking at the sky while spinning around in place. Well, actually, that only happens if you miss and/or it doesn't register you wanting to do a melee attack. If it connects and you melee the guy, it's fine, because you have this nice little animation of your character jamming his thumbs into your enemy's eyeballs or sticking a knife in his neck during which you have time to reposition your controller to where it was so you don't do the look at the sky whee spinning thing. But if you miss or it just plain didn't register your movements as input at all, you're likely dead because during the time it takes to fix your aim and then find the target again, he's either blasted your face off or thrust his knife into your eyeball.
And every time it succeeds, I don't feel like "yeah, that was so awesome and immersive!" or anything special. But every time it fails, which is often, I'm left thinking "Dammit why did they not put in a melee button?"
Reloading is the same way, you twist the Move controller like a doorknob. The action doesn't make much sense there either, and many times it doesn't work. There actually is a reload button as well though (Square, just like if you were playing with a Dualshock), so that one doesn't bother me. But melee is motion only, and it stinks.

Of course, there is indeed something to be said about the motion action matching what the character is doing too. Random shaking or waggling really is just a different button press, and it makes me wonder why Super Mario Galaxy can't support a GameCube controller. All I'm doing is just waving this controller around instead of pressing B like I would have if this was on the GameCube. But then, there is a game that I always like to point at as something a Wii game should be, The Godfather: Blackhand Edition. I think it actually used motion controls pretty well, with my favorite example being able to go up and choke somebody by holding up the Wiimote and Nunchuck and shaking them violently as if you were actually strangling this dirty bastard who thought it would be a good idea to wear his little green Barzini uniform in my neighborhood.

Anyway, the article itself: very good presentation with the colored boxes. It works really well to remind you said what, as all of the responses are longer than in a typical interviews. I certainly hope we see more of these in the future.

May I also suggest Skype as a possible means for these gents to converse, if the stars (and their disparate schedules) align?

PLEASE make this a regular feature. It was a dream I didn't even knew I had come true. I thought this site had reached your peak when you first gave us Extra Credits and then filled the otherwise dull Tuesday a new weekly Movie Bob vid, but if you make this a feature, I will seriously start a cult in your honor. I'm not just talking as a fanboy here, (which I am) but I honestly do think that discussions like these are important for the industry and I can think of no 3 people better suited for the job.

I agree with Movie Bob about the Wii having some features like the "whack" motion that is extreamly useful and with James when he speaks about games being participatory. An important note to make is that gaming doesn't have to go one way or the other, but it can go both ways. We might have both the neural interface and the holodeck and they'll both be great, but different kind of entertainment.

Yahtzee:
Plus it leads to existential uncertainty, which could be entertaining.

Now that would be interesting... so long as we can avoid what happened in the Matrix.

Captch: Meductic 1,000

Its Meductic, to 1000!!!

Susan Arendt:

Fr]anc[is:
Dear Escapist, what would you consider your best source of positive reinforcement? Because I want you to continue this behavior.

Yeah, you know, oddly that doesn't really do much for me. So you might want to rethink your approach.

Even still Susan, appreciate the gesture. This literally made my heart skip a beat. This much awesomeness in ONE location CANNOT be possible.

YET it is here. I love you guys! <3

I have never commented on the Escapist before, but am a long time voyeur. This article has changed my rule on keeping things to myself. For my two cents: I think this in an enlightening and endlessly intriguing thread with potential to really open up issues in our shared entertainment experience. I trust this will continue and invite further discussion.

Regarding the topic, I feel that Bob is on to something with adding extra "buttons" to our controllers through our frustrated flails. I mean, I hardly expect to get an achievement for throwing my controller at my telly, but being able to shake the controller to activate a hotkey'd spell can only be better than entering a radial HUD like Dragon Age and selecting it, breaking the flow somewhat.

Definitely make this happen every week, please. This was a great discussion.

On a side note, I never realized that MovieBob knew that much about gaming. I know that he has his own blog and such, but I saw one episode of it and figured that he had no clue what he was talking about (it was something about why 3D gaming will never trump 2D gaming, and it seemed mostly silly to me). That must have just been one fluke; he definitely makes some good points here.

My three favourite people on this site all together in one bowl of awesomeness with a side order of awesomeness. I'm looking forward to this in the future, if it carries on.

Very interesting. Like several others have said, add Shamus Young and it will be perfect.

RagnorakTres:

ischmalud:
@ RagnaorakTres
mate i agree that there are those 2 types of players, probably various shades in between but i disagree with the idea that its related to ur own physical form.
consider this, im a gym monkey and i work a fairly hard physical job but still id agree with yathzee that gaming for me is to relax, if i wanna do sports i do sports i dont turn on my computer or ps3 :P

none the less some valid points there

I think you missed the part where I said "Over-generalization inbound." :D I suppose I should have said that there were two types of people, people who prefer physical stimulation and people who prefer mental stimulation.

It's probably a question of how much stimulation of each type one person receives in a day versus another. I've been cooped up all winter, unable to do my usual physical stuff (sword sparring, mostly) and I still haven't managed to land a job, thus playing the Wii feels good, feels like I'm doing some of the stuff I haven't been able to because it's snowy and nasty out. I'm also getting massive amounts of mental stimulation from debates with my friends, tabletops, role-plays and college. Where you're playing games to come down from doing physical labor, I'm playing games in place of physical labor (unfortunately).

haha norries mate as i said i agree to some degree with u neway.

P.S.: good luck on the job hunt

Gaming where communication between players and computers, and where multiplayer isn't always competitive. That's the future

My opinion is that the problem with innovation in gaming has been the whole trend for producing triple-A titles all the time. Not only are these titles very risky due to production costs, but, developers all seem to be just playing "follow-the-gimmick" in a desperate to scrape dollars by copying another game that was successful( the "like X but..." design). While this sounds like a reasonable strategy, the problem is that an imitator can never be as good as the original. Why buy a, at best, second-rate imitator when you can just buy the original. In the end, you end up with too many deer all desperately pushing to get a single lap of hydration from the same fist-sized, drying puddle on the ground. Every time a game or design strategy garners any success, there is a mad rush to recreate that success, but the imitation seems to always be done without understand what actually makes the game work properly in the context that it does.

Back in the olden days of gaming, many games had very different styles, feels, and control schemes. One could actually tell who developed a game just by looking at it. Nowadays, every game is just a copy of each other, graphically, contextually, and idiosyncratically. Without the publisher/developer stamp on the box, you wouldn't have a clue who made the game. Some of that may be due to the use of third-party engines, but I think a lot of it is more of the "follow-the-gimmick to the water-hole" style thinking that seems to permeate the game industry.

As for motion controls(damn, Yahtzee, get off the flipping couch, man) the problem that I see there is developers are not using motion controls as a new paradigm of interaction with games. Instead, they are using motion controls as just a simple 1-to-1 mapping to the same ol' button scheme we have always used for decades. I could imagine a motion control game as being used for purposes of physical therapy, learning martial arts, improving performance in sports, or other real-life actions; naturally, there are likely even more possibilities beyond these, but they are not being explored because developers/publishers are just linearly thinking along the same train-tracks they have always followed. The Kinect probably has the most potential to accomplish something new in the paradigm of motion control, however, developers and publishers, in typical "follow-the-gimmick", "like X but..." style thinking simply imitate what they see on the Wii rather than think in terms of the actual paradigm of interaction that the Kinect represents.

To be honest, I have to question whether gaming really has ever been all that innovative in the first place. Over the years, there have been a lot of games that really just do the same thing that has always been done. There really doesn't seem to be much that really tries to push new ideas, new concepts, new paradigms of interaction. We don't seem to hear much about or have much large scale exposure to games that really try to break the mold of what a game can do or be. We really don't try that hard to venture outside our comfort zones, and when we get a game that actually does push outside the comfort zone, there is often a lot of push against it. We end up not liking it because it's not enough like the same games we've always played. In essence, the gamers are just as much responsible for the lack of innovation because we seldom tolerate any true innovation when it happens. We'll often criticize the game for not being enough like whatever is the current popular set of 5-6 main-stream triple-A games.

Making matters worse are the "hardcore" vs. "casual", PC vs. consoles holy wars that have raged in the gaming community. These wars really amount to a set of opinions that do not tolerate gaming deviating from a prescribed formula dictated by a select few in the community. This only serves to further restrict innovation in games to being just the same stuff as always.

Further compounding the problem is the gaming press. The gaming press does not seem too willing to give exposure to the games that really do push the envelop. There might be a single snippet-sized article mentioning it in passing, more like a footnote in the overall news stream, but it will receive none of the copious regurgitation that the main-stream, same-old-thing-as-always triple-A titles are given. For instance, think of how much attention Ico gets now that it has become such a cult favorite in the gaming community. When the game was first released, you barely knew it even existed. Only now, when we are screaming for something new and different, do we finally realize how great a gem we had back then. And this trend continues even now. Even crappy triple-A titles are given much hype and pre-release press, pages and pages of first impressions, beta impressions, preview imagery, and analysis spanning weeks, sometimes months, much of it really just being the same thing said repeatedly. However, that Ico-like gem just gets a half-page article or footnote maybe once in that same span of time. Basically, the gaming press just misses out on the real innovation that is going on because it's too focused on the big shiny triple-A games that are nothing but the same recycled crap.

Basically, gaming innovation is stagnant because the people in gaming are stagnant and closed-minded. They aren't willing to venture outside their basic comfort zones, and once they find one cool or funny thing, they simply repeat it ad nauseum in any and every possible context.

Gaming is capable of a lot, but until we go pass thinking and designing games as just amusement-park thrill rides, gaming will never achieve that level of maturity and social significance many of us wish to see.

(I wrote this in stream-of-consciousness, so I don't guarantee all the logic is sound everywhere.)

So what Yahtzee is talking about at the end . . . is the Matrix right?

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