But I don’t wanna use my head….or do I?

All this talk of full body motion capture and second generation controllers sparked off a thought process yesterday. It happened as I was sat in my chair and picked up my PS3 controller to turn on a DVD. I mused briefly on what it would be like if the PS3 had full motion capabilities. I’d probably have to swing my arm or punch forward to start my DVD playing. It then occurred to me that in all honesty, I like having a controller, an interface that isn’t like the real world. Maybe this takes some explaining but, for me at least, I often want to sit and play a game in the comfort of my chair. It’s what takes me away from real life. If all of a sudden I have to stand up and jump around to play a game of Killzone 3, then I’m forced to wonder would I actually play it?

It’s not just because I’m a lazy monkey, though that’s probably a contributing factor, but I seriously like the way that a controller is a gateway into another realm. Seem strange? I spend my entire day moving my body around in order to get it to do things. That’s real life. Using a controller allows me to control a virtual world through a seemingly non real world interface. In actual fact, have you ever sat down and considered how ironic it is using a keyboard and mouse for playing things like FPS games. The very tools that were invented to do productive work, are also responsible for controlling virtual characters in one of the biggest wastes of time there is. Playing games 🙂

The Wii revolutionised the controller market, wireless controllers were nothing new, but actually using the orientation of the controller to bridge the gap between the physical and the virtual was something that hadn’t ever really been done before. Credit where credit’s due, it was a fantastic foray into the world of immersive controlling, where your body position and physical movements matter on a scale never before seen. With the addition of limb position being introduced into the gaming mix, I have to wonder whether we’re taking this a little too far too soon, or if a vital component is missing. I recall how much I used to fantasise about VR. Being able to explore a virtual world. Now couple a great stereographic head up display with all of these motion controllers and you have a far greater argument for me to actually want to use them.

You see the one problem which pains all of this motion activated gaming at the moment is that of head position. We are very much tied to a single screen. Our head must remain in the centre at all times and it’s this limiting factor that reduces the effectiveness of the virtual facade. For me it’s one of the key factors that leads me to prefer sitting on my butt with a controller. Being able to turn your head in any direction and still being able to see what’s going on around you? Now that is key. With the positional features of the new PS3 controllers being overlayed onto something like a VR headset, we could see something absolutely magical happening in the near future. The question is, are people now ready for the full VR experience? Were people ready for it before? I guess only time will tell.

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