Kinect GEL Ride: The Full Story?
As I’ve said many times before, I generally try to keep excessively “bloggy” posts off this site. However, with one of my own videos going viral, I figured I’d give a little background. The video in question?
The video you see is indeed not a hoax as you’ll notice the on-screen flashes and photos at the end match up. So what’s going on here?
Well obviously I own a Kinect and had one hooked up while chatting with some friends on XBox Live. Knowing full well that chatting through the Kinect microphone is a mess (as it picks up the TV audio) I figured I couldn’t do much with it. Then I remembered I downloaded the demo of Kinect Joy Ride and decided to pop it in as I could probably still play it despite having a wired headset attached.
But as I raced I really didn’t feel like I was in much control. It felt like it was trying to automatically guide me along a track. So, I ran an experiment and tried just sitting there holding the “wheel”. To my amusement, it worked! So yeah, the next day I hooked up a camera and got the madness on film.
I figured it would make an amusing thing to show people on YouTube, but I didn’t expect it to go viral like it did. I should have known better.
You see, many gamers see the Kinect as a threat. Though Kudo Tsunoda has made statements to the contrary, the Kinect is being advertised as “the future” with Microsoft acting as though controllers are a bad thing. Obviously, nothing could be more wrong. While motion controls definitely have a place in gaming, it’s a place alongside standard control schemes as each has their strengths and weaknesses. But unfortunately, that’s not how Microsoft is billing the Kinect and that’s the problem.
Now, with the Kinect’s possible success looming on the horizon, gamers are scared and with good reason. The Kinect is not a very good controller. It’s an incredible piece of technology, no doubt about that, but it lacks functionality as a gaming device. It’s too sluggish and inaccurate for any sort of serious gaming application! Yes it works great for dancing games but beyond that it’s not capable of much else.
As such, the only other games that really work for it are very loose. Games designed so accuracy and control aren’t all that necessary. What this ultimately means is that, in an odd twist, the Kinect is only capable of playing casual games.
That fact annoys me greatly. As anyone who has seen my videos knows, I hold no grudge against the “casuals”. A good game is a good game and a bad game is a bad game. Ultimately whether you’re “casual” or “hard core” doesn’t matter in the end…usually. However the Kinect exists to change that. Many of the games on it, outside of the dancing game genre, are indeed bad games. However the technical wizardry of the Kinect makes them look much better than they actually are and can fool “casuals” into thinking these bad games are amazing.
That said, I wouldn’t hold my breath for the Kinect “destroying” the industry. You can only put a game on auto-pilot so much before people start to catch on and your gimmicky control scheme goes by the wayside. The story here isn’t how many Kinects sell before Christmas, it’s how many get returned in the following months.
Don’t get me wrong though, if you consider the Kinect “like Rock Band for dancing” then you’ll love it. Dance Central and DanceMasters are both great dancing games and are the reason why I am not completely enraged by my Kinect purchase.
Also, don’t go off thinking all motion control is gimmicky. I hate to act like such a blatant Sony flag waver, especially as I personally dislike the company, but the Move is incredible. Again, it shouldn’t replace standard controllers, but it does open up some tantalizing new possibilities. It’s responsive, accurate, and most importantly it provides more control than a regular controller and that’s what really matters.
That said, I have rambled too much and there is another element to this story. After the video went viral, many people wondered how I could be playing if I was sitting down. According to many people, the Kinect “doesn’t work” when sitting. That part isn’t entirely true. If all it has to do is detect hand movement, the Kinect works while sitting so menu navigation is just fine. However it did prompt me to try Kinect Joy Ride standing up and the end result was…odd.
(WARNING: TURN DOWN YOUR SPEAKERS!)
So it automatically drives you when you sit down? Was this an intentional feature? This revelation raises a number of questions. Questions which can only be answered by the development team at this point. Regardless, you know my stance.