First Kinect Experience…In A Store

Microsoft Kinect

Today I got my first experience with Microsoft’s attempt at motion controlled gaming, Kinect.  Walking through Best Buy there was an entire mock living room setup with Maya, a Microsoft representative, there to help customers try out the new device.  So I stepped into the living room and got started.

Kinect Adventures

I’ll start off by saying that during this trial I only played Rally Ball (The breakout style game), that is part of Kinect Adventures.  After Maya switched out of her single player match, the device easily picked me up and added an avatar on screen for me to control.  All of the menu selections were made by the holding of her hand over the on screen menu item for a second or two.  Just like the advertising, your body is the controller.  The game started and I swung my hand into the empty air, controlling my avatar to do the same, serving the ball and breaking some bricks.

Kinect Rally Ball

But I immediately noticed there was a slight delay between my movement and the avatars movement on screen.  The type of delay that makes you feel disconnected from the game, not what Microsoft wants you to feel.  I asked Maya about this and she explained to me that the Kinect camera is picking up all of my movement in realtime but the delay I am experiencing is a problem with the avatar not the device.  She said in other games that do not control your avatar I would notice less of that delay.  I wondered if this was a problem caused by Microsoft’s decision to not include the processing power within Kinect and instead make the Xbox 360 have to handle the processing.  She unfortunately was not able to help me with that answer.

As we continued to play some more rounds of Rally Ball (I lost every round trying to talk and play at the same time), I said that all the games at launch feel too casual.  I can see the potential of the device as a new form of control but not when every game requires me to jump around the room and play my games only with my body.  She agreed that these first set of games are family focused but coming out later this will be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows which can be played with either the 360 controller or Kinect.  That’s a start but I want to see developers incorporate the two at the same time.  I imagine sitting on my couch playing maybe a FPS with my controller, then raising my hand in the air to order AI teammates to attack the enemy.

Needless to say the Kinect is probably meeting or exceeding Microsoft’s expectations in sales because the device is sold out everywhere.  The only units I found available were bundled with a new system which leads me to believe that mostly existing Xbox 360 owners were interested in the device.  Either that or Microsoft expected more customers to be new to the Xbox 360.

I still hold my opinion of Kinect after my trial run.  If you see yourself as a hardcore gamer you may want to hold off picking it up.

Written by Bryan

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