The face of gaming has changed drastically in recent years, and we all know that the Wii had a lot to do with that. It was the Wii that managed to entice teenage boys to step outside of their dingy bedrooms, and gave grandparents the confidence to hold a nunchuk. Well, not how to hold it exactly—but to at least have picked one up for the first time. Saying ‘nunchuk’, seems to be another yet-to-be tackled issue.
But as of October, with the much-anticipated launch of the Microsoft Kinect (previously known as Project Natal until Interbrand named it for Microsoft), all that is changing again. Long gone are the days of firing up the Atari and spending 20 long minutes impatiently staring at the screen, only to find the all too frequent ‘error’ message flashing in front of disappointed eyes. The Kinect device doesn’t even have a power button. You just tell it what you want it to do—‘On!’ and there you go. Alternatively, there’s a virtual zip on the TV screen, which you slide sideways to start the experience.
Creating your own customized avatar, aka the ‘Mii’ might be a thing of the past with Kinect too. Three unique lenses within the black box device together work to identify your gender and can also recognize faces, giving players an instant on-screen persona. The device can also anticipate your mood from the tonality of your voice. And, with the ability to detect motions of up to 1/10th of an inch, we’re promised the accuracy will be top notch.
Soon this will all be a reality. What will be interesting is to see whether the experience lives up to the expectations. We’re no longer interacting with the game—we are becoming the game. We’re on the screen, we’re in the TV. It really is Mike Teavee stuff. And, we’re told that Kinect won’t just appeal to the casual gamers, but also promises to satisfy the more traditional, hard-core fighting and shooting types. I can just see it now—‘female Mi5 detective diving under sofa to escape impending assassination’. Yes, please. Sign me up.
In all seriousness, surely such innovative technology has scope to impact a variety of sectors beyond the world of gaming. Imagine the implications for possible partnerships with online retailers, for example. I’d love to see what those new Chloé sunglasses would look like on. Hold on a second: ‘On.’
Yup, pretty good, I’ll take a pair. Oh, I guess I still have to do the order in the old fashioned way, but at least I won’t have to worry about the return policy.