Monday, November 8

Kinect: the Wii plug-in for your Xbox

Virtually getting your game on, but not quite.
There's a great deal of hype surrounding the Xbox Kinect buzzing around right now. What is it? Think of Kinect as a next generation 3D EyeToy accessory for your Xbox, that is not so fussy about background and doesn't need aluminium foil mitts to use like the original EyeToy. Sounds good, but there has been a mixed reception to the new entry into the exergaming world; I can see why.
The fitness focused love it right now. Of the 17 odd launch titles only 2 could be described as traditional video games - the rest being virtual sports, interactive workouts, dance and casual games. Have we seen this somewhere before? Oh yes, the titles and genres are all spin offs from Nintendo Wii. However, they are all improvements on the originals, which were never really updated when motion plus came out for the Wii. So Kinect wins on accuracy and realism. True it takes more space than Wii Sports, so expect single player or make sure your health and household insurances are up to date for accidental damage.

The gaming fraternity are not warming to it. Lots of posts on gaming sites exhibit great indifference. Why is that? Of the games only 2 promise some entertainment value that could hold sustainable interest and be worth the outlay - the rest are just not Xbox console games, the are Wii demographic games. Perhaps the business case for Kinect is to take Wii gamers to Xbox, not make Xbox gamers more active.

Of course Xbox gamers (and PS3 gamers!) already have a fitness option that provides genuine non-impact cardio with the benefits of online multiplayer gaming that really puts the game first in exergaming - Gamercize. With a range of exercise options it's the game that powers your workout. If you're unfamiliar with those types of games look at the Xbox 360 and PS3 video game charts and pick 8 or 9 out of the top 10s either in sales or in pre-orders - these are compatible with Gamercize.

For me and Gamercize the new product by Microsoft is very welcome. In 2006, when Nintendo Wii was launched, we saw a massive increase in Gamercize sales and awareness. Now the novelty of Wii is not grabbing the headlines, Microsoft is injecting new enthusiasm into exergaming in the way only multi-million advertising campaigns can. Sony is also putting it's best foot forward with Move, a cross between the Wii's motion and Kinect's camera control.

What I will find most interesting is if what I call "serious games" are developed for the Kinect and Move interfaces, or will the game controller stay king? At the moment I think it's obvious to replicate Wii style games, and a sound business approach. After the hype has died down on the conversions it will be up to the game developers to see what gets developed. For now, Gamercize stays the premier game entertainment exergame!

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