Motion gaming: Why games are no longer about punching keys

By Mrigank Dhaniwala, Bollywood Hungama News Network

Gaming brings users close to real life situations, be it your favorite sport, a war zone or the racing arena. Now, with the latest technology, we have a new trend of motion gaming that goes beyond high-end visuals and makes the game play real through physical involvement in the game.

Think tennis, baseball or bowling-games that were fun playing on one's PC and consoles, but never felt real enough sans the tactile stimulus. With motion gaming, this is now possible; you can swing, swish, bat, even run and jump while the motion controller transmits all this into the game on your screen.

The trend caught up in 2007 with the launch of gaming console Nintendo Wii, which released an array of sports: tennis, baseball, golf, bowling and boxing. From then on, motion sensing technologies have been incorporated in other consoles, mobiles and even PCs. Gamers can even use a simple webcam to play PC games using their hands! Let's see what this trend has in store for Indian gamers and gaming industry.

Consoles:
Sony Playstation very soon caught up with the Wii revolution and introduced EyeToy for PS2 and Playstation Eye for its next generation console, the PS3. The Eye is a digital camera device for the console, and is the successor to the EyeToy. It allows gamers to play a variety of interactive games including the famous card-strategy game, The Eye of Judgment.

Microsoft Xbox has a similar device in the Xbox Vision Camera which you can use to play You're in the Movie, where you are put in a 3D cinematic environment. The company, however, is as of now holding on to its core competency with its Xbox 360 controller and doesn't reveal any plans for motion controller at this moment. "We'll have some exciting announcement in E3 in Los Angeles in June so please watch out," a spokesperson for Xbox informed.

As far as consoles are concerned, Wii still leads the pack with its wireless controller which acts as a pointing device that can detect motion and rotation in three dimensions. So even if you are speeding your favorite Mario Karton the Wii, you just have to simply turn the wireless control left or right instead of pressing left or right. Wii has also launched Motion Plus, a peripheral that increases the controller's precision multiple times.

To find out the penetration of this technology in India, Bollywood Hungama spoke to Atindriya Bose, Country Manager, Sony Playstation India. "We are focusing on EyeToy which is doing extremely well globally and reasonably well in India. As the product is experiential, it requires a push in terms of setting up separate dedicated retail sections. That is a bigger challenge than the question if the concept will work well or not. Plus you really cannot advertise EyeToy on television as people won't understand anything and I might end up selling the competition."

Then there is the recently launched poor man's console, Mitashi Game-in which has motion sensing controllers but falls way short on game play and graphics. For now, it's Wii all the way.

Phones:
Just like the console market there is a clear winner in this category- the iPhone. The Apple device has an integrated motion sensor which you can use to run third party applications, games and even motion sensing ads. Sega's Super Monkey Ball has been one of the most successful iPhone games in this category.

The Sony Ericsson F305, which looks like the Wii controller and comes equipped with an accelerometer however fails miserably because it's almost impossible to follow what you're doing. If you swing the phone to bowl, you can't see where the ball is going.

LG Cookie, besides being the cheapest touchscreen phone around, also offers a decently good motion gaming experience. Moreover, mobile handset biggie Nokia is gearing up to enter the competition with an announcement that "most devices" coming later this year will include an accelerometer. Currently, the Nokia N79, N82, N85, N95, N95, N96 and the Nokia 6210 Navigator are equipped with the technology.

Even as motion gaming catches the Indian consumer's fancy, Indian gaming developers are yet to take a leaf out of their Western counterparts' book and have no plans of entering the mobile motion gaming space.

And then, the novelties:
Motion gaming is finding many takers, with innovating companies introducing various motion control products for the good old personal computer. One the one hand you have technology major Lenovo's IdeaCentre A600 that features a motion controller and an air mouse that controls on-screen objects, and on the other the free-to-use software Camspace. Camspace allows gamers to use any ordinary PC webcam to track up to four objects-even as small as 5mm-in real-time and with very high accuracy and reliability, thus enabling one to play practically any game with a web cam and the software.

With the global marketplace abound with motion controlling devices of all sizes, shapes and forms; this trend is set to define the future of gaming. So, grab your nearest golf stick and putt your way into the virtual world.

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