Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Itch

Core gamers are a fickle bunch. We stand in the path of ingenuity seeking a middle ground. We laugh in the face of innovation and demand of it a compromise that allows us to scratch an itch. An itch that asks us to be true to a passion that has placed a controller in our hands since the Atari 2600: Video Gaming.

Core gaming is at the cusp of an experience evolution. The controller we have so fondly interacted with for decades is being shown the door with the invent of Xbox Kinect and similar devices coming to market. Microsoft has built a 3D depth and motion sensing camera for the Xbox 360 that asks your body to be the controller. Exciting, isn't it?! As Xbox core gamers and the console's primary consumer, we are energized for the Kinect and all its promising wonder. We want in! But our hands are itching!

The itch can only be satisfied by one thing: A physical hardware controller designed specifically for Xbox Kinect. Core Gamers can all agree on the immersion factor in needing a physical controller; let alone the nostalgia factor that ties us to our first consoles. What Microsoft seems unwilling to admit is how to introduce a physical controller while staying true to the controller-free foundation of Kinect. Of equal concern, introduction of a physical controller would falsify Kinect's core investment from conception to launch. However, it would be foolish to believe a discussion on a hardware-based controller for Kinect is not occurring in Redmond as we speak.

Murmurs across the web are proclaiming core gaming genres ( ie FPS, RPG's, and simulators) are not meant for Kinect due to no available physical controller. A sentiment that is evident in the launch titles for the device. Consequently, Microsoft is telling the media and gaming community that Kinect will provide standard core gaming experiences sans physical controller. A statement that is par for the course, business-wise, when marketing a new product. But we core gamers blindly ask: How do you expect to do this, Microsoft? A question that has gone largely unanswered and unacknowledged by the company.

Thankfully, my gaming peers offer this answer: Microsoft can't provide standard core gaming Kinect experiences without a physical controller! But what they can and hope to do is redefine the core gaming experience. Microsoft wants us to believe, through new hardware and mediocre software, that future core gaming experiences are less tangible and more intangible. This approach will work for herding casual gamers during the holiday season; plus the overall financially driven goal of audience expansion. But without a physical controller, we core gamers who churn the gaming industry, say nay!

Microsoft, we dare you to look the hordes of Halo players in their MJOLNIR helmet visors and tell them Kinect will allow the same control needed for those SW33T double kills and intense multiplayer matches over Xbox LIVE! Can you assure the loyal sports gamers that Kinect will allow the same unprecedented control as a standard controller when its 4th and inches in the red zone at Lambeau Field?! Or when the Lakers are down by 2 in the 4th quarter with 3 seconds on the game clock?! Will you face the simulation auto racers with a Kinect control scheme affording true control of that tricked out Nissan Skyline they spent countless hours upgrading, painting, and modding to drifting perfection?! (And no, we do not mean that on rails E3 demo control 'crap-scheme' that sucked the everlasting joy out of Forza 3! Yes, we remember that and it gives us nightmares!)

If you can do this with Kinect, Microsoft, core gamers worldwide will applaud your efforts to the high heavens! But if you can not, there will be hell to pay!

And just in case Kinect hits the fan, it would be in your best interest to make sure you have a backup plan. How does 40+ million hand scratchers sound? Here is one to consider!