Kine(c)tic Energy

Over the weekend my friends and I were at an apartment playing games on the Kinect for the Xbox 360, a relatively new kind of gaming technology where a sensor on top of the television screen tracks and captures an individual’s actual motions without the use of a controller or other secondary device.   This allows one or two players to participate in games by involving their entire bodies, not just fingers or hands.  The tutorials for the activities were simple enough where players could instantly learn and play adequately well in a very short time frame.

The games we amused ourselves with had various functions.  All involved a certain degree of hand/body limb-eye coordination as you would participate in activities like plugging leaks in an underwater fish tank, popping bubbles in outer space, or hitting moving targets in a bowling alley-type setting.   The most intense and involved game was an obstacle course where the player needed to actually move in jumping, ducking, and sidestepping the barriers along the track to catch points with their hands, arms, or legs.   After about three or four rounds, I found myself at a physical level of exhaustion that normally would only otherwise happen at the CCRB.

None of these games were explicitly sports related, involving other interactive ways of competition while still motivating even reserved players like me to jump around and move unusually in order to attain as high a score as possible, and the corresponding medal.  Even while needing to take a break from playing, I found myself wanting to try again and beat that level’s previous score.  This caused some interesting processing about motivation, as I was also planning out material to use in my poster presentation.  First, I observed the Kinect games were valuable in the sense of attainment value.  As previous mentioned, the desire to increase my score (or beat a certain friend’s score) motivated me to try again at various points throughout the night.  In terms of intrinsic value, there’s great enjoyment in playing these kinds of interactive games, and watching others play as well.  Instrumentally, there isn’t as much that’s easily applicable, but it’s possible that consumers can purchase games like these for personal goals such as bettering their health or providing entertainment for guests or visitors.  Given the amount of enjoyment the Kinect gave my friends and I, the future potential of this gaming device is incredibly high.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. ahwleung
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 01:56:39

    The device itself has a great deal of potential in non-gaming applications as well. EECS 481, led by professor David Chesney, is spending the semester developing games and applications using the Kinect in a partnership with UMHS that targets children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. As a member of that class it’s fascinating seeing the potential applications that my classmates are coming up with – they are making games that target behavior that you could never before do with a mouse and keyboard, which target behaviors such as where your eyes are looking, how you respond to social queues, and working on physical motor skills.

    And this is just with Microsoft’s first iteration of the device. As motion-tracking and eye-tracking technology continues to improve, the possibilities of the device are endless. Imagine being able to take a golf swing or basketball shot directly in front of a device, and having instant feedback to improve your shot. Or the device being used in medical diagnoses to check your posture, rate of breathing, and walking stance.

    I firmly believe that motion-tracking devices will revolutionize the idea of a “controller” and what it means to interact with software.


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