The Kinect Conundrum

I’ve never been that big an advocate for things like the Kinect. As far as motion control gaming goes, the Wii remote is about as much as I’m willing to use. I prefer the more traditional controller, or a keyboard and mouse, for gaming, and that’s why I’ve never even thought about getting a Kinect.

The Kinect had the potential to be a promising piece of technology, an interesting new addition to the gaming world that hasn’t been fully utilised, and the result is that for many it has turned into a sort of gaming joke. The amount of Kinect titles, and the gameplay variety within them, hasn’t been particularly great. On top of your standard family-focused party game titles, they’ve mostly been Kinect variations of big name series: Star Wars Kinect, Harry Potter Kinect, Dragonball Z Kinect. And all of them have included the same gimmicky hand-flailing features that I’ve come to expect of motion gaming. It just seems like the Kinect has never really pushed itself beyond those boundaries. Rise of Nightmares may have been a technically bad game, but it was a fairly different concept, and it doesn’t appear as if the Kinect has had any other gaming experiences like it since.

Instead we’re stuck with those big franchise titles and they aren’t all that creative. Sometimes they might be a bit funny – the dancing minigame in Star Wars Kinect, anyone? – but they’ve never really seemed like any deep or engaging gameplay experience. Sometimes they don’t even seem fun.

It might even be possible to raise the argument that the only good thing the Kinect has been good for so far are parody videos on YouTube, where popular gaming channels have thrown themselves into a Kinect title and just laughed their whole way through it at the ridiculousness of everything. And some of those videos are pretty great.

This sums up some of the problems with the Kinect quite well, particularly the confusing part where the sensor detects the person sitting on the couch and switches control over to them. Videos like this are where I find myself in a conundrum – I don’t want to buy a Kinect, because of all those problems and all the gimmicks, but buying a Kinect and this game and making Hermione dance as she dodges the troll is something so ridiculously stupid I could find myself doing exactly that. It’s most definitely not what the Kinect was designed for, but it’s the only appeal I can possibly find in it.

Soon we’ll be hit with the Xbox One and the Kinect 2.0, with all its scary talk of a camera always being on in some way, even when the Xbox One console is supposedly off, and all those promises of better graphics and more accurate responses to individual movements and the like. In fairness, the new sensor has been shown off, and it does look like a definite improvement. I still don’t think it’ll appeal to me, and that’s okay, but I’ll forever remain curious about these things. What kind of gameplay experiences are we going to get out of that? Will they be better than what we’ve seen so far, or will we forever be seeing YouTubers flailing their arms through tie-in game after tie-in game?

Not that that’s necessarily the worst thing ever, mind.

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