The world of gaming has certainly come a long way. There was a time when games were in the forms of boards with dice and players were required to use a lot of imagination because there were no graphics to support the game’s story. Then came consoles with controllers to help you navigate through any game. And now, there’s Kinect for Xbox… where all you need is you.
What is Xbox Kinect? Kinect is a motion gaming system that Microsoft originally built for Xbox 360 (it now includes Xbox One and PCs). It enables the user to interact and control the console without the use of a game controller. How is this possible? Using a depth camera, a motion sensor, speech recognition software, and gesture recognition, the system is able to identify players through their face and voice which allows them to use gestures and spoken commands to navigate through the natural user interface.
What does this mean for gamers all over? Well, one obvious impact Xbox Kinect has is that gaming is no longer the realm of the agile-finger-and-thumb crowd. With the absence of a controller, you’re no longer using your hands to play a game – you’ll be using your entire body. Instead of playing a character in a game, you’ll be the character within that game. How cool is that? The absence of a controller also means that the range of users is no longer limited to serious gamers. Kinect offers something for everyone. Children can have fun petting a tiger or some other fantastic pet, teenagers can have fun dancing or playing with dinosaurs, and adults can enjoy watching videos without having to look for the always-missing remote control.
Another obvious impact is that gamers will get much-needed exercise – getting off the couch and moving about is necessary to play a game. To shoot a hoop or defeat an opponent in Kung Fu, you’ll need to perform the actions required instead of hitting buttons with your finger and thumb in rapid succession. No need to worry about stiff fingers because you’ve been holding the controller too tightly. You might strain some other muscle while playing enthusiastically but your fingers will most definitely be safe.
Of course, the best thing about Kinect is how it changes the gaming experience. Since you’re interacting without any intermediary device (a.k.a. the controller), you become an actual part of the game instead of being at the sidelines like a master puppeteer. You’re more emotionally (and physically) invested in how the game turns out whether you’re driving a car to outrun some cops or trying to become the ultimate Jedi. Seeing yourself in the game and seeing your movements copied by your avatar makes the games more real. Your accomplishments seem bigger as well. After all, you needed to utilize your entire body to win or finish a game – not just a thumb and a finger. Even playing a board game like Scrabble or Monopoly is no longer the same. Your living room becomes the board and you can fully participate in the game.
Now that we’ve established what Kinect is and what it means for the world of gaming, what games can you play with it? Quite a lot, apparently. And Microsoft wasn’t kidding when they stated that they have something for everybody.
For sports fans, you’ll be happy to know that there are several great games to choose from. You’ve got Forza Motorsport 4, NBA 2K13, Madden NFL 13, Kinect Sports, FIFA Soccer 13, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 13, NBA Baller Beats, and Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect, to name a few. If you like to use your Kinect to stay in shape, there are games for that too! Some examples are Nike+ Kinect Training, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, Zumba Fitness, and The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout.
For RPG (role-playing game) addicts, there are loads of games to choose from. Popular RPGs include Mass Effect 3, Skyrim, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Kinect Star Wars, Fable: The Journey, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, and Crimson Dragon. There are also arcade games available such as Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth, Sonic Free Riders, Kung-Fu, and Dragon’s Lair.
What else is there? A lot more. With Kinect, family game night is no longer about playing board games like Scrabble on the floor of your living room. Instead, it’s about making your living room into a real, live game show. You can play different game shows on Family Game Night 4 which includes Scrabble Flash and Monopoly. You can also be a participant in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Minute To Win It, and The Price Is Right. Of course, if the children would rather play by themselves, there are also quite a number of great games available. They can choose to become owners of exotic pets such as tigers, enjoy the magic of Disneyland in Disneyland Adventures, become a character in several Pixar movies, experience life as a wizard with Harry Potter, or explore the world of Sesame Street.
If you want a different kind of entertainment, there are games that cater to those who love to dance, sing, and act. There are even games that help you learn how to be a celebrity! With the game Discovered, you can learn what it takes to be a superstar. For the average Joe and Jane, acting in a movie is now possible with Yoostar 2. Dance addicts will swoon with joy due to the amount of Dance games made available in Kinect. The options include Dance Central 1-3, Just Dance 3 & 4, Just Dance 2014, DanceMasters, Rhythm Party, and The Black Eyed Peas Experience. Then, there are the games that provide players with the opportunity to try out their talents in singing and playing instruments such as Karaoke, Air Band, Victorious: Time to Shine, and Musical Feet.
Since the release of Xbox One (which also has Kinect), there are going to be a lot more games available next year. With the current variety offered, it boggles the mind what kind of game (and game play) they’ll come up with next to top what’s already in the market. It’s certainly something we can all look forward to next year – whether you have an Xbox Kinect or not.