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Why I Don't Like Motion Controls PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vincent Diamante   
Friday, 26 June 2009 10:52

Op-AmpBehold: the amplifier. 

I like amplifiers because they take something and: MAKE IT BIGGER

I like that attribute in my microphone pre-amps and mixers.  I like to hear that in my sports radio talk show hosts. 

I also like it in my video games. 

I enjoy the way that video games take the little input I give them and explode it into cornucopia of heady ideals and intricate details.  If you watch me while playing some of my favorite video games, all I'm doing is twitching a few thumb and wrist muscles here and there.  From a distance one would wonder whether I'm doing anything at all.  But view the output visuals on that television screen and listen to the audio on those speakers!  One realizes how great the video game is, amplifying my small (if relatively synchronized) muscle movements into ballet, cinema, novel, and symphony.

Nowadays, however, there's this thing called the Wii.  I look at it and many of the games and I can't help but think that it's not an amplifier.  It's a band-pass filter.

Band-pass filterA little more complex, right?  Now, don't get me wrong: I like filters when I'm doing music recording.  I can take a sound that's full of stuff that I don't want and excise it, leaving the part that I care about.

In my video games, however, I don't want the game taking my rich, expressive, emotive input and turning it into an icon, which is what I see many Wii games do.  With the Wii, we see players gesticulating wildly with the wiimote and nunchuk in an effort to make certain that the video game properly filters the beauty that is human motion into: the iconic reduction necessary to make video games work as video games.

I like icon.  It's useful and effective and it's the way we humans appreciate and manipulate the world... and the fact that I can deal with icon is precisely why I don't want video games having to guess at the icon I wish to insert into the structure that is my video game performance.

No: I don't hate the concept of Wiimote.  In fact, I think it has the potential to be fantastic.  The rich input that the combination of the player and the Wiimote is capable of makes me think: OH MAN, NOW THE GAME OUTPUT COULD BE EVEN BETTER!  Alas, no game has made me think that, as game after game released on Nintendo's system has seen the player's input be reduced to output more befitting the series of 1s and 0s created by the lowly gamepad.  Swing sword or don't swing sword.  Throw item or don't throw item.  Toggle switch or don't toggle switch.  Despite the burgeoning popular success of the Wii, you cannot convince me that the variable swinging of a peripheral triggering an individual action can compare to the feat of translation that is: down, down-forward, forward + punch.

I guess all I can do these days is be thankful that the Wii and its design philosophy has not infected all the games that I enjoy.  Action games, adventure games, sports games, fighting games, racing games, even role playing games: you continue to have my respect as you continue to push what is created when the simple action of a thumb pushing a button is amplified..

 

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