A few days ago a fellow SlashGear columnist Don Reisinger elaborated on how his Kinect was collecting dust. If I put myself in Don’s shoes I can relate to his article and his questioning of whether or not the Kinect can meet the needs of hard core gamers and a hard core gaming experience. I, however, in coming at it from a different angle, have a completely different experience with my Kinect.
Before I go much further, you need to know that for all intents and purposes I am a hard core gamer. I have grown up spending not an insignificant amount of time being entertained by video games. My father, being a long time analyst in the industry, worked on an early project with Nintendo and their first console. He brought one home during the project and I was hooked.
I’ve owned every major fixed and mobile gaming console since, and I can say video games are my guilty pleasure. That being said, after getting married my video game addiction became harder to maintain. To quote Brodie from Mallrats “Hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn for SEGA.” How true this quote is, as video games - or more specifically me playing video games - instantly changes her generally cheery disposition.
In order to get my fill I had to start playing after my wife and kids went to bed; I would sneak out into the living room and get my fix. This is why when the Wii first came out I saw a way that me, my wife and even my kids could all play video games together. I was quoted when the Nintendo's motion gaming console first launched as saying that “the Wii was the board game of a new generation” and I still feel I am right. However, even though the Wii was inviting for people of all ages, it still required the primary barrier to entry to gaming, the remote.
Granted it is a simplified and more intuitive remote but it is a remote none-the-less. My then five and three year olds still had trouble using it. I noticed as well that there was still a slight learning curve for those who have never used a remote to play video games. This is where the Kinect came in.
Since having the Kinect in my home I have found that as a family we use it a great deal more, even more than our Wii. My now seven and five year olds have taken to it and are able to compete and play without barriers or frustration. When they have friends over it is one of the first things they want to show off and play. Friends of theirs who have never played video games pick it right up and it’s instantly a party hit. I’m not sure our experience would be the same if all we had was the Wii.
I personally doubt the Wii or the Kinect will ever appeal or replace the experience of a hard core gamer. I do however believe that both platforms are fulfilling the job they were created to fulfill. Namely, making it easy for non-gamers to start gaming by eliminating the complexity of a controller filled with buttons.
For me, what the Wii failed at for us as a family the Kinect succeeded at. I now have a way to engage in interactive entertainment with all the members of my household. So unlike Don I’m not looking forward to developers trying to figure out how to appeal to me as a hard core gamer. I am looking forward to developers creating new and innovative ways for me and my family to jump, swing, dance, kick and more all while playing video games together as a family.