Kinect the Dots

Is it better to be hated or ignored? That is the question the Microsoft Kinect set out to answer when it launched. Although it initially sold well, the Kinect, along with the Sony Move, has gone on to be one of the greatest technological gaming failures of the last decade. Let’s count the ways.

1. It sucked.

2. …okay, I’ll be more specific: The technology was dog food. Sure, controlling a game with your body motions seems cool, until you realize that there is a substantial lag between your body performing a motion and the camera reading that motion and translating it to the screen. That means you have to do every motion ahead of time to register a successful move in real time. Maybe this kind of shoddy control is fine for steering bumper cars, but when it comes to gaming, precise control is everything.

3. If you don’t like dance or fitness games, look elsewhere: Because the Kinect has about 80 titles, 80 of which are dancing and fitness games. On the other hand, if you exclusively like dancing games, then I have news for you!

4. The only cool functionality is irrelevant: Yeah, I’ll admit it. I like the idea of swiping my hand to change the slides on the Xbox 360 dashboard. But I’m not going to pay however much a Kinect is to do it. Built-in camera chat is cool, but if I’m chatting with my long distance girlfriend, I’m going to do it on my computer, not on my gaming console. And voice recognition can add an interesting layer to games. Too bad nearly no games take advantage of this. And oh yeah, I’m not buying a camera to accomplish a job a microphone could just as easily do.

When was the last time you heard of Kinect? Was it this blog? When was the last time you visited a friend’s house, and they enthusiastically booted up the Kinect to start a full night of dance game fever? Probably been awhile. As we’ve seen time and time again, new gaming technology — 3D, Wii motion controls, Sony motion controls, virtual reality simulators, plastic instrument peripherals, fitness balance boards, Terminator at-home construction kits — is only as good as the software that supports it.

So at the end of the day, a somewhat interesting piece of technology is completely 2012-ed on us because it fails to be implemented well and is released and then forgotten by its producers. Dead. Done. Finito. If it’s ignored by the people who made it, how are we, the consumer, supposed to care? This Thanksgiving, I urge you to vote with your wallets and support other, better ideas.

Rest in peace, Kinect. We hardly knew ye.

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