Thursday, 23 May 2013

"Your ARE the controller"...what if I don't want to be?

When we think of a video game controller I'm sure the first thing that pops into our heads is this:

However, in this day and age the games industry has progressed much further than that. We have reached a point where you no longer need a controller but where you yourself can become the controller! We've seen laser pointing guns, virtual-reality goggles and even a "Power Glove". But we've transcended so far that we don't even need a controller any more! The three major gaming entities: Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. These three companies have survived by appealing to the fanbase, producing stellar games and most importantly; reinventing themselves. As on now each of these gaming conglomerates have transcended past the humble gamepad. Each has tried to come up with new ways of playing the game to keep the fans invested.

Ohhhhhh deeeeeaaaaarrrrrr

Does it really work though? 

The first company to really push the boundaries of gaming was Nintendo with the Wii in 2006 (and now the Wii U). It reinforced motion-sensitive controls as a basis for its gaming experience and introduced the wii-mote. Swinging the wii-mote took the place of a sword or a cricket bat and allowed the user to interact with the game at a greater level. Theoretically it sounds great, however numerous gamers were unconvinced and chanted the word "Gimmick!" on game messaging boards across the internet. However, this didn't stop the Wii from outselling its competitors.

It later moved on to a touch-screen based controller taking a leaf from its more successful handheld. the Nintendo DS.

Sony have moved in a similar direction with their own motion-sensor controller; the Playstation Move. It behaves in much the same way as the wii-mote except it has a large flashing bulb on top of it; obviously to find it if you've left it in a dark room? Either way it took its cue from the wii fairly quickly and started bringing its own motion sensor reliant games. However, these have yet to prove successful.

Sony has remained fairly consistent with their controller design. Keeping the same shape but improving its functionality like the inclusion of dual shock an six axis controls. The bizzarely colourful playstation move controller does end the current timeline however it is unlikely Sony plan on adopting this as their primary controller. One questions why they persisted with the six axis functionality when it clearly wasn't appealing to enough gamers as is evident in the lack of games supporting this function. It seems out of the three, Sony is most content with keeping the controller in your hands.

Which brings me to Microsoft and the Xbox. This company has always carried a stigmatism; they have a reputation for being opportunists and they proved this by trying their hand at the games industry. The original xbox was a rather unnatractive brick of sorts big enough that if you'd dropped it that it'd likely crush your toes. Furthermore, the controller was uncomfortable. So before even considering its performance, the console itself was ugly.

However Microsoft took note of this and improved when they released the considerably more sleek Xbox 360 at the end of 2005. They continued to release streamline versions of the 360 as the years went by demonstrating a sort of materialistic aesthetic with the console, almost like one would a car.

The system gradually became more and more sleek

However, Microsoft have established themselves as the first video games console developers to produce a controller...without a controller. Enter the Kinect. A clever piece of equipment that locks onto your body, recognises where you move your hands and even understands your voice.

So far you can do things like pet cyber-animals and cycle through shopping online however with the growing technology and the growing power of games engines who's to say someone couldn't come out with an actual virtual reality simulator that doesn't require ridiculously oversized goggles to be strapped to your head? Now with the PS4 and Xbox One we can only watch and observe when the confines of video games are pushed out even further.

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