Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A Casual Observation

The abundance of motion-controlled game devices has radically changed the scope of the game industry. The idea of workable, in-depth motion controls in video gaming is something that should excite anyone with its potential. Shooters where your hands hold the ‘gun’, where your footwork and crouching are reflected on the screen, while bullets whiz past. Strategies where you control your units ala Minority Report, like some hi-tech battlefield commander. Why, then, are seemingly all the games cutesy animal tending simulations or basic sports games?

The Playstation 3 has some games which tried to create truly complex motion controls, without much success. Complex games using motion controls need more than a decent idea for gameplay, effort needs to be taken to provide a large variety of different movements that provide an effect on gameplay, and making sure that movements are recongised fluidly. After all, motion control technology has been around for decades, what makes this generation of motion controls so revolutionary is that the software and hardware have the potential to actually work well and reliably.

Let’s digress for a moment. I am not saying there is anything wrong with casual games. It is my natural bias as a core gamer to wonder why so many casual games are needed. Just as many casual gamers no doubt wonder where core gamers get the time, or lack of employment, to spend so much time on their choice of electronic entertainment. These biases are not true of course, so let me state that casual games are an important market. I enjoy playing Kinect Adventures, and the potential for the Wii to involve family and friends in accessible and sociable fun is a pleasure I have enjoyed. Casual games are a great entry point for people not interested in spending too long with games as a hobby, and that is fine.

More objectively, I guess my argument is that when platforms only focus on one type of game, the system fails to meet its potential. Motion controls are great for providing accessible, immersive casual experiences. But they also would be incredible when implemented into core games where your body becomes that of the character in intense situations and through epic storylines. That way there are games for everybody, and the potential of the platform is reached. Core games do, in my opinion, push platforms to reach their potential in terms of functionality, interface and graphics.

The future holds promise. The Nintendo Wii, while focused on family friendly fare, does have some mature content and complex games. And the forecast for the future is great for the PS3 Move and Xbox 360 Kinect. On the inverse, the PC, once an exclusive den of core gaming, is sporting more and more casual games. It’s raining games!

Look out for the epic, dark fantasy ebooks of Goodreads-rated author T.P. Grish at:

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