Interactive gaming

During the holiday season retailers such as Best Buy, Micro Center and Gamestop were swamped with anxious parents looking to get their children the top-of-the-line gaming systems that are in hot demand. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all released new or improved game consoles this winter.

When Nintendo introduced the Wii in late 2006, millions of people had the opportunity to experience its capabilities. Nintendo’s Wii was the pioneer system to branch out and experiment in the new and exciting field of interactive gaming. Yes, gaming has always been ‘interactive’ except instead of using joystick, buttons, and triggers the experience has been revolutionized to include depth and human interface. Interactive Gaming means, in a nutshell, leaving the couch, Cheetos and controller, and getting physically involved with the game. Not only is this good for health reasons but it makes the gaming experience more realistic and enjoyable. Interactive gaming is on the rise and in order to stay afloat in the competitive waters of the industry companies have had to embrace the new front and coin their own individual systems.

Although the concept of playing games with movements instead of a controller seemed very appealing, the Wii left many users wanting something better. The Wii would pick up the general movements of players but when it came to games that required detailed motion sensing, the Wii underperformed. The Wii Motion Plus accessory was released in Japan in the summer of 2009, the Motion plus was originally sold as an accessory add on to the Wii nunchuck. The Motion Plus really didn’t become popular in the states until consumers saw its usefulness with games that sense intricate movement such as Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2011, Wii Sports Resort, and games involving heavy physical combat such as Red Steel Two. The Motion Plus uses gyroscope technology to pick up movement on a 3D space sense instead of just picking up acceleration of the controller in different directions.

The Motion Plus picks up a lot of intricate movement that the original Wiimotes could not but its use is something that really comes into question. Games really don’t gain a whole lot from having the extra sensitive feedback and its hard to find a whole lot of change from the original to the Motion Plus included Wiimotes. The Motion Plus really isn’t worth going out and buying especially when Nintendo is starting to include the Motion Plus in its controllers free of charge.

Microsoft’s newest release the Xbox Kinect is a prime example of how the companies are taking it to the next level. The Kinect was the first of its kind to completely eliminate all use for any type of controller and be 100 percent motion sensing when it was released last fall. A sensor placed above the television senses movement much like the Nintendo Wii except instead of holding a nunchuck and controller in hand the player uses only their body and movements to control their virtual counterpart. The Kinect harnesses the power of infrared light to create its motion detection. The device emits infrared light particles on the player that bounce back and are picked up by the Kinects camera. The camera then measures how long it takes for the light to bounce back. This allows the device to not only pick up the human but generate their movements in real time. Another useful addition that the Kinect has is its ability recognize vocal response. Someone could be sitting down while at their Xbox 360 dashboard and yell out the word Kinect and the system will respond by bringing up the Kinect main screen and allowing users to play the games they want. In order to pause the game or get back to the Xbox 360 Dashboard the player simply holds their hand out to the side at a 45 degree angle and the Kinect will recognize the movement. A circular timer pops on the screen and if the player keeps their hand in the same position until the circle fills up the Kinect will recognize the command. Its a very efficient way of allowing players to control the game without having buttons to push.
For the 150 dollar price the Kinect is definitely worth buying. It blows the Wii out of the water and the sensitivity and reaction time that the camera picks up is very close to perfect.

Sony’s newest release, Playstation Move, is the company’s first attempt at an interactive system. Released worldwide last fall, the Move was most popular among gamers who already owned Playstation 3 consoles since all they needed to do was buy the new controller and the camera that senses the controllers movements, the Playstation Eye. Similar to the Wii Motion Plus, the Move was simply an add-on to the previous system. Players use a joystick-looking controler with a glowing ball on top of it that emits signals picked up by the console.

Sony really hasn’t done anything wildly creative with the Move, but the technology is sure to improve. Unless you already own the Playstation 3, the Move is really not worth the 100 dollars. I would recommend spending the extra 50 dollars and getting the Kinect. The gameplay experience you get from the Kinect is superior to the Wii and the Move and playing without a controller just makes gaming that much better.

Logan Coffman