Casual gaming has been the untapped market in the gaming sector for a long time with motion controls being the new hook for this generation of consoles . The Kinect, Wii and PlayStation Move are all the newest products focusing on this gimmick and the potential pound (or dollar signs depending on country) that are developing in Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo’s eyes. My family owns a Wii. It comes out of the dusty confines of a cupboard perhaps once a year and is then never seen. My house mate (whom is also a avid blogger ,focusing on retro games in particular, at http://www.theretroreview .com) bought a brand new Xbox 360 with the Kinect.
The Kinect has never seen the light of day beyond the first few weeks, where we as a house managed to get complaints from next door as we were jumping too hard. You do not jump up and down in cinemas as it ruins the experience, and I sincerely hope the semi exercise based add ons to FPS’ and the like die as quickly as it pops up.
The evolution of gaming has previously focused on accessibility and improved graphics over the past generations of consoles. By no means have we reached the zenith of either of these. Graphics have come a long way since Pong but we have not reached the heady heights of complete photorealism, with LA Noire perhaps coming closest to motion capturing real people without becoming dead eyed Rob Zemickis characters . Accessibility, in that a wider audience can connect with gaming and its peripherals as a whole , seems to have been magically solved with motion gaming. I welcome the fact that I can play the odd game with my family on Christmas Day without resorting to frankly embarrassing games of Pictionary but there is no phrase that I hate more than the ‘casual gamer’ tag that is currently being thrown around in the media.
I do not have anything against the group and fully understand if people dabble in and out of games. What does bother me is that being a ‘proper gamer’ is seen as a dirty word, conjuring up idiots dying at their computers due to World of Warcraft and letting their child die for the same reason, in the public eye. It degrades gamers whom think of it as a real hobby. I don’t like the Wii as the console at all as it butchers the concept of gaming for more fervent gamers. There were only a handful of AAA titles that ever graced the console with Skyward Sword being dumped at the end of the Wii’s lifecycle in typical Nintendo fashion. It worries me that support for a console owner dissipates so quickly when the main hook, which in the case of the Wii was one large gimmick, ceases to be profitable. The Wii itself was far outselling both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 not more than a year ago. Yet basing its whole market plan on casual gamers whom will buy consoles in abundance but are unlikely to buy the same amount of games in any near as large a number as avid gamers is not a viable business plan.
Microsoft’s Kinect and Playstation’s Move were reactionary to the popularity of the Wii at the time. The Kinect is perhaps the best out of the three, simply as it actually takes the motion sensor away from a stupid brick in your hand/ a bit of plastic with a shining bauble on the end. However the huge problem with all of these is that it does not add anything to gamer immersion. Yes it is almost certainly fun to feel like your using a tennis bat to hit a ball in your own home but it sure doesn’t stop you looking like a complete muppet. No where is this more horrifying than the compatibility of Kinect with Mass Effect 3, hands down one of my favorite game series ever. I do not, repeat, do not want to be moving in front of my TV whilst Shepard is trying to save the galaxy. This destroys my immersion particularly as a large amount of games these days could be described as pseudo cinema and even an art form.
I’m all for something that brings something amazing and brand new to gaming as a whole and perhaps the Wii U will bring something along these lines. However, at this moment in time, a TV and a controller in my hands is more than enough for me to enjoy gaming.
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