Gaming in motion


Despite the hype of motion control, I really hope that handheld controllers for video game consoles will never be replaced.

Motion controls for video games don't really add anything for me, but that's because I enjoy using classic controllers and have been using them for years. This isn't the case for everyone and if I ever lost the dexterity needed to use a controller, I bet that my opinion would change very quickly.

When the Wii was released, I saw it as the future of the industry and couldn't wait to see all of the amazing new games that it would inspire.

Four years later, I am still waiting.

It seems as if most of the quality releases on the Wii are just new iterations of Nintendo's first party cash cows and are better played with a GameCube controller.

With "Playstation Move" set to be released this month and Xbox's "Kinect" set for a November release date, it will soon be seen whether or not these overpriced accessories can make legitimate contributions to gaming. They have great potential for inspiring and enabling innovation, but they have an equally high risk of damaging the progress that games have made towards becoming a true art form by being implemented in the wrong areas.

Titles like Flower and Heavy Rain, which use the Playstation's current motion controls, often come up when looking for evidence to cite for games as art.

Despite their success, these games have been released amid a stream of trash that plays off of the inherent gimmicky nature of motion controls. For every game that makes good use of motion controls, there are innumerable others, which, frankly, suck.

Video games have made great strides in becoming a legitimate art form. In order for this to continue in the era of motion controls, the way that controls are developed and implemented needs to be changed.

Motion controls can open up video games as an interactive art medium to audiences who have previously been uninterested or lacked the dexterity to use a controller. After all, this is the reason that other companies besides Nintendo have adopted motion controls. The Wii showed that there was an entire new market of casual gamers who were waiting to play.

The idea of a game that can use either motion controls or a controller is inevitably going to have a superior choice, as so many Wii games do. When a game is made, its controls should take full advantage of the way that the player is going to interact with the game so that the in-game actions can be an extension of the player.

Games that are "Playstation Move Compatible," yet also use controllers, are going to run into difficulties that could end up hurting the experience of the game for both audiences.

In an ideal situation, there would be different development teams working on each set of controls, so both methods of interactions could provide the same full experience for gamers. But due to resources, this will probably not be the case for a long time.

For now, I am going to stay enthusiastic about the possibilities of "Move" and "Kinect" and will probably buy them both in impulsive excitement. But it looks like games are going to have to continue to choose between accessibility and being a form of art for the foreseeable future.

E-mail: jpc39@buffalo.edu