Ars Technica Followup on Game Consoles

I posted this comment on Ars in response to an article stating that a motion detection sensor on XBox was somehow going to be a “Wii killer”; I’m expanding on it a little more here to stretch out my thoughts a little.


Not sure I understand how an old technology that’s already been surpassed by Sony’s Eye Toy is supposed to be a Wii killer. Nintendo did the full motion thing years ago already too – guess what, people would rather have a Wiimote! Plus you can actually DO more with a Wiimote, it’s got buttons and a speaker and an accelerometer and a gyroscope. Meanwhile, all you’re talking about is a body movement sensor.

There’s a reason why the Wiimote is so successful. I’m sure Nintendo did massive amounts of usability study when designing it, it is a well executed piece of interactive technology – and THAT is why the Wii is successful.

You know what the future of gaming really is? MIT Media Lab does. It’s that horribly misnamed “sixth sense” gear they put together. That and the stuff that Johnny Chung did with multitouch and the Wiimote. Nintendo’s next box basically should be a big sensor, a “sensor server” of sorts that sends and receives information. It should be able to figure out temperature, hear noises, detect people in the room, and generally determine what is in the room and where it is in the room in relation to everything else. Of course it will communicate extensively with the “client controller rig” that people are going to be using to play the games.

People will have wearable Wiimote-style camera/projector gear that overlays games onto their surroundings and displays control pads on their hands and arms and such. They’ll still have a nunchuck or stick with an accelerometer and gyro inside (and temperature and pressure sensors and IR and who knows what else), some other tactile feedback on a vest kind of thing (Or maybe a shirt with a projector and “rumble pads” sewn in, and a hat with a camera? Lots of opportunity there to sell to fashion and license clothing based on characters), and they’ll also have colored thimbles for their fingers to do multitouch in games and all the other cool stuff that MIT Media Lab demoed with their rig. Now THAT will be a truly awesome immersion experience!

3 Comments

  1. I dunno, I think it’s not going to be a Wii killer because Nintendo is in a completely different market from the 360 or PS3. It’s not the hardware that really gives a system its niche, it’s the games.

  2. mik3cap

    It’s in a different market because it delivers a different user experience, one that appeals to a different group than hardcore gamers. I felt this most keenly when I played the Zelda game and actually finished it – if I had to play it on a standard controller instead of being able to slash the sword and stuff, I’m sure I would have found it boring and too challenging. That user experience is totally delivered by the hardware.

    Games are also key, I agree, but again the experience and the hardware also end up defining the games to a great degree.