Gamer’s Domain: Kinecting to our Stations of Play

Levi Castle

Gaming is evolving, but at least we have retained our controllers. Still though, I would like to briefly discuss my thoughts on the next generation of input for the new consoles: Kinect and the PlayStation camera.

I never owned the first Kinect, but I used it enough to know that it was not all it was cracked up to be. Every game I tried at a friend’s or in a store was not very fun or very accurate, if not both.

When I first saw the Project Natal demo video that was all the buzz before Kinect was released, I thought technology like this would change gaming for the better; instantly, too. I was mesmerized by the Milo demo, but part of me should have suspected that they were pretty wild claims for such a new technology.

Now Kinect V2.0 is almost here, and word from the industry is that it is everything the first Kinect was meant to be. It has incredible senses, from advanced tracking to accurate voice command recognition. Where the first generation of the Kinect was mediocre at best, I think the new one will truly show us the innovation we saw with the Milo act.

I love ease of access, but I dislike gimmicks. I do not care as much about privacy as the average person, so whatever the console cameras may or may not collect about us is irrelevant to me.

I think it is going to be pretty awesome to tell my console (both Xbox One and PS4) to save the last five minutes of gameplay without ever leaving the game or pushing a button on my controller. The dynamic things you can do by just talking to your console are promising to me, but I do not appreciate it when they take over other features.

For instance, on the Xbox 360, when the Kinect was introduced, the interface of all apps on the console changed. Specifically, the text input method went from okay to absolutely abysmal as a result of the design conversion for Kinect. Those who could just speak what they were searching for had no issue with the system, but controller users like myself took 10 minutes just to type in “James Bond.”

However, with the integration that voice commands and camera recognition have with the new consoles this time, I feel like the experience will be much more natural and pleasant. I think it would be cool to walk into the room and have the console see who I am, instantly logging me in. It would be so neat to just say “join a party with Jacob” and have the console do that for me without pausing my game.

Whether we like motion gaming or not, the voice command and camera functionalities of the next consoles are next to inevitable. For them to graduate from gimmick to full-fledged feature, though, they will have to live up to the videos we’ve been fed. They will have to be practical and worthy the very first time we use them, or we probably won’t use them ever again. After all, the controller is still king, and it is a throne I hope can remain forever.