Microsoft Kinect – A Game Designer’s perspective

After trying out the new kinect add on for the XBOX 360, we at the Social Game Lab at BxmC are in awe of the system. But, its not without its shortcomings. Although the camera is one of the best at its class and price, it may not be the most tangible innovation in gaming for  more serious gamers. To put it simply, its NOT for serious gamers.

The kinect is based on movement, and the one tangible thing that you get out of movement at that scale is people getting tired. Games are designed so that they follow a story and the characters do not know what fatigue is. The only limiting factors are the physics engine and the world itself. Think about people trying to play Assasin’s Creed using the Kinect! No one is going to be able to make those moves, even if they are able to, how and where will they do it?

But what the kinect would be awesome for would be games that require imitation, interfaces that require more than m ouse pointers and clicks, Human imaging and medical purposes, even therapy like i was talking about in a previous post. Kinect would also be a huge thing in crowd gaming(something like i was talking about here).

More on this once we ve had our fair chance to play around with the kinect (read Hack it and use it for purposes it was not built to perform).



Waiting line games at the apple store???

Waiting in line at the Apple store's Genius bar. (W14th st, NYC)

I am dropping off my mac for its 2nd repair in 6 months at the apple store on W14th in NYC and sitting here, I wonder how thousands of people waiting to do the same can be engaged. Disney comes up with innovative games and shows for people waiting on line, why cant every store do the same? After all wouldn’t it change how people feel about their experience at the store. Keep in mind that most of these people are here because they have a problem with their product.

I think every store out there should be thinking about how to keep their customers engaged while waiting in line, be it to check out or check in. It could be as simple as a trivia game on screen to as complex as a social interaction based game. I was discussing waiting line games with my friend Ashwin and he threw out an idea for a mobile app that would ask you if you like the person in front of you or immediately behind you and people would be able to see what other people say about them! Think about it, you could meet and laugh with totally random people!

We also talked about a trivia based game where people had to keep moving on to the next screen every time they answer a question! This could take a completely social experience where a bunch of people try to answer the question along with you. At the end of the day, if we keep people engaged, they wont even notice the time flying past them.

But it all comes down to how much the company would invest in keeping their customers on the waiting line happy.



Games for Therapy?

Here is some food for thought. Games have infiltrated every domain and aspect of personal and professional lives. Games teach people about things, they sharpen reflexes, they help increase concentration, they help relieve pressure and they are so darn fun!!!

What if,

they could calm you down?
help you deal with your fears?
help you deal with the loss of a loved one?
get back on your sane feet?
reduce those therapy bills?

Games dont just have to be about fun, though the very core of games is fun. If its not fun, it aint a game. But, what if we could develop games that are fun and at the same time help us achieve something? People think that the new XBox Kinect console would fail because people like to control characters using buttons. If they wanted to do physical work, they would go out and play. But  we should be thinking of it more as an educational tool or as a therapeutic tool. It can already interact with you, why not let it help you sort things inside your head? Why not let it be your physiotherapist? It doesn’t have to be the kinect system, it could be anything.

I ve been researching on how emotions and movements affect people’s play patterns. And now games for therapy is the next thing i will be tackling!

Until the next post,