Microsoft’s Kinect: The Future of Video Games?

October 18, 2011

2:30 pm

When Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox first launched last November last year, I was floored by their innovative technology that lets you control movies and music with the wave of a hand or the sound of your voice, and I began wondering if it would totally reshape the future of video games.

At first, though, I was kind of disappointed.  I agree that Kinect Adventures, at least the ‘river rush’ adventure, was pretty fun and showed the Kinect’s potential. However, at that point, most of the games were not that great, except for a few titles such as Dance Central.

Things began to change by the middle of this year when Child of Eden was released and the upcoming release of Star Wars was announced.  All of this made clear that 2012 will be full of cool stuff, as games that use this technology continue to evolve.

This past week, I played Gunstringer, by Microsoft, and Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster, by DoubleFine.  Both games have gotten positive reviews, and I agree that they are good examples of non-traditional video games. Gunstringer is a hybrid adventure and action game.  You control a cowboy-marionette in a western-style environment and use the Kinect as a gamepad for jumping and shooting, giving you the impression that you are acting in a movie.

Sesame Street is family-oriented and full of mini-games. The gaming environment simulates a story book, where each page represents a different activity. Its visuals are impressive and the gameplay is very entertaining.

I am not sure if any of these games are maximizing the capabilities of the Kinect, but for sure they are integrating them in a creative and successful way. What is interesting is that, at least for the sesame Street game, I barely moved and just used one hand. Regardless of my limited movements, the avatars were jumping high and dancing away, thus showing the limitations of the Kinect’s technology.

The evolution of video games is gearing towards the inclusion of innovative technologies that make the experience more real. This might be accomplished using sophisticated devices as the Kinect, or through futuristic Wii-U like devices, or maybe just through games that offer an innovative experience. I cannot wait to see what is coming soon.

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Salvador Garcia Martinez is currently collaborating as a researcher at the Technoculture, Art, and Games research centre; he is also a doctoral student in Educational Technology at Concordia University in Montreal. He has professional experience as a software developer, web designer, and instructional designer. You can connect with him on linkedIn or his personal website or follow him on Twitter @salgarciam.

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