Sunday Soapbox – Motion Controls: It’s Gonna Be Ok…

By now it’s no secret that motion controls are a shameless cash grab by the not-so-holy trinity of video-games. Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft have bulldozed the learning curve of what was formerly a very steep and alienating ascent and suddenly the thumbs we privileged-white-males, ages seven to thirty seven, have been sculpting for the majority of our lives are no longer our only invaluable investment. This leaves the door wide open for every demographic with a functional upper-body (and hopefully some without) to empty their wallets in to the corporate coffers, ensuring the rich get richer and every household on every hemisphere has access to guided yoga routines and other grievously inaccurate simulations of physical activity.

However, I find too many gamers are more than happy to piss and moan about the shortcomings of motion controls. A lot of this dissent originates from the community of anthropomorphic porpoises known as “Hardcore” gamers who are, in my fair and balanced opinion, whiny, misanthropic escapists that are scared to tears by anything that might threaten their safe, secure little hole in the ground in which to hide from natural light. That being said, many of their criticisms are valid. The interfaces are all equally sloppy and don’t lend themselves well to much of anything just yet.

Maybe I’m one of the few old enough to remember, but this entire hubbub is par for the course. Yes, the technology is still in its infancy and was obviously rushed to release for competitive purposes, but there’s a reason that Playstation launch titles look a lot different from the later titles. Maturation is a factor with any new technology as is, it would seem, the impatience and intolerance of its eventual beneficiaries. If we could all just take a deep breathe and put down the pitchforks for a moment, we might remember that technology has to endure an awkward puberty before it can be appropriately devastated, scarred, and socially re-built from the ground up, before it can do anything meaningful with its life. It’s like tearing apart a sixth grader’s book report for not enriching your already mountainous intellect. You monster.

As much as we seem to love to hate on motion controls, a little foresight permits us a view of some long-term benefits. If we want to see our medium develop even further, we need to invite new minds in to the evolutionary process. The same kids that are growing up with the motion controls are going to have an entirely new and exciting set of opinions as to what to do with them next. The same kid that’s jumping rope with his Wii-mote, when subjected to the appropriate traumatic experiences, is going to see that this funny little white candy bar thing could be used for sawing off gangrenous limbs in a survival-horror/first-world-war medic simulator. It’s just going to take TIME.

It’s the same process people undergo when immigrating to a new country. The first generation take the blue-collar jobs and establish a secure environment where subsequent generations can be free to pursue higher-education and become progressive, invaluable members of society. OR, first come the mass-appeal launch titles, then once everyone’s nice and financially secure, they invest in some more risky, ambitious titles that exhibit the technology’s real creative potential.

Rinse.

Repeat.

RELAX.

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11 Responses to “Sunday Soapbox – Motion Controls: It’s Gonna Be Ok…”

  1. SiliconNooB says:

    I’m quite happy in my dank little hole in the ground, thank you very much.

  2. Ethos says:

    Excellent first Soapbox! And this is the position more and more people are starting to take. Warren Spector being one.

  3. Pete says:

    I hope you’re right in that it is new technology that will be worth something someday. I also hope that a 2D old school gaming revolution is on the horizon… Perhaps I am too hopeful.

  4. SiliconNooB says:

    For all of my bad-mouthing of Kinect; it is the one motion technology with the most potential for being of use to core gaming, since it can function as an adjunct to a gamepad, rather than acting as its replacement like the Move and Wiimote do.

  5. DarthGibblet says:

    Excellent read, patience is something we hardcore gamers are sorely lacking most of the time. Personally, I’m still not entirely convinced motion controls will eventually be seamlessly integrated into hardcore games, but I’m certainly not ruling it out. I guess it’s one of those things where if it happens, great, but if it doesn’t, I’m certainly not losing any sleep over it. I guess, in the end, I view motion controls as something I don’t really want. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t exist, though. If Nintendo and the rest can keep marketing them to the casual audience and the sales don’t start slacking too much, why would they bother trying to integrate things like the Kinect into more core games? Whatever they do with it, everybody in the hardcore market will probably just complain about it anyway. In either case, I’m really anxious to see where motion gaming is going, even if it’s not necessarily somewhere I personally want to go.

  6. Ethos says:

    @Pete – Look around, we’re in the middle of a 2D old school gaming revolution! Kirby’s Epic Yarn, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Sonic 4, Braid, Castle Crashers, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Limbo. I don’t think we’re hurting for the genre at the moment!

    @SN – Agreed entirely.

    @Darth – Well spoke. I’m in a similar boat. Although I’m annoyed that I’ll be forced to use the technology for Skyward Sword. A game that I’m otherwise very excited for.

  7. SiliconNooB says:

    The prospect of waggle combat is a huge turn off, I really don’t see myself buying Skyward Sword …

  8. Ethos says:

    Yeah, that makes sense. But I’m a much bigger Zelda fan. Plus, I beat Twilight Princess twice on Wii (I would play it on Gamecube, but 4:3 and no pointer control is worse than waggle), and I hope that with Wii MotionPlus, that it can’t be WORSE than that.
    Although, now with the “improved accuracy”, there’s more of a focus on motion controls, so maybe it WILL be worse. Ugh.

  9. Andogo says:

    Just bought a red Wii. … and the first (and surprisingly untrue) thought I had upon typing that was “It matches the one I have?”

    But yeah, just played some Epic Yarn. Pretty good so far. Despite motion control being the Wii’s raison d’etre, I’ve just picked up two games that don’t use that at all (SMBWii and the aforementioned Epic Yarn). And the next game I pick up will probably be SMG2, which has rather minimal pointer use (star bit collection only)… Yeah, I’ve got a horrible craving for platforming.

    The Wii is not the console I got to when I want to blow shit up.

  10. Pete says:

    Back @Ethos: I guess you’re right, I’m just bitter because there’s too many games attempting 3D on the DS which isn’t very ideal for 3D graphics but very ideal for 2D. Of course I could bitch about the DS all day long. I still sleep with it on my pillow.

  11. Ethos says:

    Lucky for you, Iwata (or Miyamoto, I forget which) confirmed that they’re looking at both 2D and 3D Mario games for the 3DS because they’re well aware that the 3D technology would be beneficial to both.
    And how is it not ideal for 3D graphics? I’ll finally be able to tell when I’m under a coin box in Mario!

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