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You would think that of all people, gamers would be receptive to new technologies and devices, but it turns out the opposite is usually true. Gamers should embrace new technologies like motion controls. Whether we like it or not, these ideas have been successful enough to launch the industry into new territory.
The Wiimote, Kinect, PS Move, and even Apple’s iOS devices, for better or worse, have changed the way we interact with technology. New ideas can now be implemented because of these devices, but the community seems less than enthusiastic about them.
Gamers frequently use the terms “gimmick” and “casual” to criticize the devices and games. I was initially a huge naysayer of the Wiimote and its counterparts, so I understand the skepticism. Many of the games that are released for these devices are either pretty simple, or feel as if motion controls were just tacked onto them as an afterthought.
Price is also an issue. Gamers are cautious of being early adopters, and foreign or new technology only reinforces that fear.
After much consideration, I’m much more receptive to these devices and their controllers. Gamers can dismiss them as casual, but what’s wrong with simpler controls? We take the luxury of ergonomic controllers and context sensitive controls for granted.
On a recent episode of Press Pause, Dan Hsu, Carlos Rodela, and Cesar Quintero were discussing the evolution of video games. Part of what they talked about was how controllers evolved with the industry.
Around the 14:15 mark, the discussion shifts to how controllers marked the next generation
I had an experience similar to theirs when I first tried out the PlayStation 2. I only briefly used the DualShock controller on the original PlayStation, and didn’t see what the big deal with analog sticks was. When the PS2 was released, my buddy invited me over and we popped in Zone of the Enders.
This blew my 12-year-old mind!
At the time, I was blown away by how smooth it felt to move in every direction with the analog sticks. I wouldn’t be surprised if I play ZOE again and find fault with the controls, but they were impressive for the time. As developers got more experience with technology, game controls became better and more responsive.
It doesn’t look motion control is going away anytime soon, and other concepts like Augmented Reality and the PS Vita’s Trackpad only point towards more innovative controls and concepts.
Current motion control devices may not be perfect, but they’re a step forward, even if they’re a small one. It takes a lot to overcome the inertia of both the industry and the community.
With time, there will be awesome titles that make better use of the technology. Until then, the best we could do is provide feedback on what does and doesn’t work. Ignoring and dismissing new technologies will only slow down the industry’s progress in creating quality content.