The grand Gabe Newell gave an interview with the Verge recently (which gamasutra covered here. I link to gamasutra because it has an intelligent commenting community), and several reporters I respect have claimed his words are important must reads. but. I really don’t agree. I don’t think he really says much that he hasn’t said before. and he embarrasses himself with regard to motion controls. so I wrote up a small rant, once again trying to explain the value of motion control…
I’m stunned at how many people misunderstand motion control/input. It really isn’t just for health nuts (getting sweaty) or casual gamers (shallow play), despite all the comments here (or all the comments during the entirety of the Wii’s existence).
Children prefer full body active play. It is how all developing humans learn to control their body. A child would rather jump around and roll on the ground than sit quietly and use only their fingertips for 10 hours straight. Sorry. We just haven’t been able to make a meaningful adaption of “tag,” “hide and seek,” or “acting in a play” with the bullshittery of keyboard, mouse, or gamepad.
I’m stunned there aren’t kinect games that encourage dressing up and acting out roles. I wonder if Hecker has considered a spy party variant where the party goer literally walks in the room and tries to act like an NPC with their whole body. I’m surprised xbox doesn’t offer multiplayer charades. or dance central style exploration of how to give great speeches. or a police interrogation game, where the suspect sits in the tv screen waiting to see what you’ll do or say to them.
The key to motion controls: is they are best suited to wildly different styles of games. (much like mobile games and touch surfaces. developers are starting to wake up to how to approach these other devices, but are stull clueless about motion control).
Games that work best with existing controls should not be shoved into motion controls, just because we’re used to making and marketing those kinds of games. (Ie, long story-based games, or repetitive hack and slash, or addictive looting, or all night multiplayer competitions – these all revolve around rewards that don’t align with the rewards of motion control).
(+ I’d argue that violent actions like jumping, shooting, or bashing are preferable with a mouse or key click because this “high bandwidth” input allows you to roleplay a universe where you can actually do that shit 10,000 times in an hour. There’s a power fantasy there that doesn’t align with the power fantasys of motion control).
It’s not that motion controls had their chance – it’s that after 6 years (most) game developers still won’t wrap their head around motion controls.