Motion Controls: Designing for Tomorrow

Motion Controls: Designing for Tomorrow

Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s PlayStation Move have sold millions of units each, and that number only stands to rise as the holiday season reaches a boil. What does it all mean? Combined with the massive success of the Wii–which experienced a bit of a downward swing this year, but Nintendo isn’t exactly selling pencils out of a tin cup on a street corner–motion controls are not going anywhere, except into your living room. Even if the whole “gimmicky fad” blew up tomorrow, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are still going to find ways to implement motion controls into their next batch of home consoles, if they haven’t already.

But what does the future really hold for all this twisting and flailing? Possibly unbridled success, which is a little troubling. We must carry at least one hope into the next generation of motion control-enabled games: That Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft will respect the fact that not every game is suited for “waggle.” Sometimes a game is just a game, and we want to play those games on the couch with an honest-to-goodness analogue stick or a d-pad. Nintendo, this goes double for you. Donkey Kong Country Returns is an excellent action game that combines perfect parts nostalgia with cool new ideas, which is why it’s such a travesty that we’re not allowed to play the game with the Classic Controller. We don’t want to shake the Wii remote to perform rolls and cartwheels that require delicate timing; we want to hold a controller that won’t betray us at a vital moment.

Motion controls have undergone some growing pains through this generation, and the landscape of the industry has shifted several degrees. As a result, some longtime gamers feel betrayed, particularly by Nintendo, and claim neglect while game companies rush to please a new casual audience. Their grousing is expected, if a bit futile. Motion controls are important for the industry. All innovation is important, as is garnering new audiences–something motion controls have achieved over and over. But game developers also shouldn’t feel pressured to make us stand up and act out every video game. There are plenty of us who are happy to veg out on the couch with a traditional controller some of the time.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

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