Both Sony and Microsoft’s upcoming motion control revolutionary thingies have one advantage over the Wii: they can track your position in a room. If the demonstrations for both (well, more so for Sony, simply because they did a better job of it) are any indication, we’ll be seeing a lot of games in the near future which require a player to do quite a lot of movement. This is even more so than what we’ve already seen on the Wii, where most games require just hand motions, all doable while seated.
So how can more physical activity by gamers, still often stereotyped as overweight nerds, be a bad thing? I started to have my doubts reading Gizmodo reader kagegiri’s comment on an article about the physically challenging (and possibly dangerous) Tony Hawk Ride:
It’s peripherals like this, Natal, and Sony’s baton that make me feel like some people don’t get the charm of video games and virtual reality.
When you get perfect-mapping motion games, yes, you can apply real-world skills to a game. But it turns out a lot of the population can’t swing swords properly, or kick a soccer ball far, or swing our arms fast enough to hit a real home run, or balance on a skateboard while doing tricks, etc. If it’s too realistic, it’s like your physical weakness in real life is translated into weaknesses in game.
This is definitely a concern for me. Frustration due to failure in Grand Theft Auto causes far more urges to go on a shooting spree than actually succeeding at shooting virtual people; anything to increase the chances of frustrating failure in a video game is not a good thing by any means. But while many people can overcome their “physical weakness” by excessive exercise, what about the people who can’t?
Like people in wheelchairs?
Some people are wheelchair-bound their entire lives. Others will be wheelchair-bound temporarily after playing Tony Hawk Ride. If video games get too physical, not only will the ability to feel like a superhero be limited to actual superheroes, but less people will be able to play. Some people already can’t play games because they can’t afford all forty-seven platforms; adding a physical ability barrier on top of the economic one isn’t a good idea.
That’s not to say the idea of greater physical immersion in games doesn’t excite me, but there always needs to be an alternative.