I find it difficult to put into words how sickened I am by the current state of play within gaming. The three major console manufacturers are busy flexing their technological muscles, showing us who can make people look like the biggest prats in their own living room – an invisible skateboard ramp here and a twelve year-old imaginary friend there – all the while failing to realise that nobody actual wants to move about while they play.
After a long day, either at the office, where you were sent on a tea run by your boss, or at school being made to jog three extra laps because you got caught flipping coach the bird, the last thing you want to do is come home and do somersaults over your couch.
For a start, the idea of telling people openly that you’ll be spending five hours of your evening with a control pad in your hand is often a hair-raising experience, but informing that special someone, at home or your place of work/college, that you’ll be battling demons with an invisible sword could leave matters beyond repair.
You could also count the fact that if one is playing, say, X-Men Origins: Wolverine with 1:1 motion control, the image of a more than sweaty bastard comes to mind, doesn’t it? I was playing this very title on my PS3 of late and it struck me that every one of Logan’s moves would surely be impossible for even the fittest of freaks to manage. You wouldn’t have a cat’s hope in Hell of pulling off the attack that essentially involves acting like a human drill, or the other spinning thing, which would only result in a trip to Ikea for a new lamp shade and bookshelf, anyway.
Another angle to look at within the downside of this motion control trend is the possible isolation of less able-bodied people. For instance, if you are overweight, you’ll be less likely to power slide your way underneath that closing door or run up a fucking wall with your hands tied behind your back. Furthermore, if you are disabled in any way, you are instantly being at risk of being left out of this new fad.
And that’s what it is: a fad. Don’t get me wrong, I think some of the technology going into this is spot on, really pushing the envelope. I just don’t think there’ll be any good games to come out of much of it. Video games are supposed to allow us to “be all that we CAN’T be”, which is where this new “immersiveness” is bound to fall flat; we just don’t have it in us to behave like those characters do on screen when we have a control pad safely tucked into our clammy mits.
To quote our very own Grahame when Project Natal featured on Jimmy Fallon:
“That does look rather cool, but how long would people want to play a Wii minigame for? Burnout was pretty awesome but unless the motion control gets developed further, I can see myself showing Natal off to friends for all of 20 mins, then reaching for a pad if I wanted to “really play” on Burnout.”
That is so well put that it doesn’t need expanding on.
For me, the most exciting aspect of gaming in 2009 is creativity. Games like LittleBigPlant and the upcoming ModNation Racers are what currently get me excited. It is this aspect that I feel is really here for the long haul – I hope so, at least. It is refreshing to need to use your mind and your own ingenuity at times, because you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve when you do so.
Microsoft and Sony are barking up a tree that is currently inhabited by Nintendo, who have that market sewn up, and fair play to them. I mean, who doesn’t own a Wii? And, if they do, who actually considers it to be their gaming bread and butter? Have some originality, Sony and Microsoft, for crying out loud; the bandwagon has long since gone.
So, come on guys, let’s see some more time, effort and resources put into games that really allow the player to feel like they are a part of the experience: through creativity. There is no better feeling in games at the moment than creating a fantastic level for all your friends to enjoy in LBP and, as long as I don’t need to be physically swinging from my light fixtures, I’d like to be doing much more of the same in future, on all platforms.
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