The Case Against... By Jon "Log" Blyth
I'm in a difficult situation. My position as someone who hates motion control puts me in the company of Luddites, trolls, pessimists and the self-proclaimed hardcore.
But I'm absolutely for accessibility. I'm bat-shit in love with innovation. And my reason for mistrusting motion control isn't based on an irrational feeling that other generations are stealing my hobby. That'd be rich, given the fact I'm in my thirties. I'm the hobby thief here.
Imagine a time-travelling visual effect. It's 1991 and Legend Quest has opened in Nottingham. It's a unique gaming experience, powered by the CS1000 virtual reality system. I was one of a gang of four teenagers who'd never developed the demanding social skills required to get onto Knightmare.
Instead, we paid five pounds each to spend 15 minutes inside a hollow plastic tree stump, with TV helmets levered onto our heads. This is what we saw. Old graphics! They're rubbish, aren't they?
Most importantly, in our hands was a magical controller. How genuinely alien it felt, in that world of carphones and magazine personal ads. A twisted, broken world, where the most sophisticated way you could like a band was to catch a bus and buy a CD.
With this controller, if you held up your hand in front of your face, you saw a computerised hand on your head-telly. I still don't know how it works, because I'd prefer to think my childhood was genuinely amazing, and researching it would be like punching myself in the nostalgia.
(Aside: I'd still kill for a go on the gyroscope flight simulator at the end of this clip, mainly because it's controlled with buttons, and being upside-down is cool.)
It only took two minutes inside that tree stump to blow away the illusion. There's a key on the pedestal. Pick it up! I'm trying. It's not working. Hold out your hand! I am holding it out! Oh no, a low-resolution skeleton. Kill it! I can't!
It's not working.
Even in those days of low expectations the imprecision was disorientating, like hearing your own voice two seconds after you start talking. Like Oblivion's faces, or the Final Fantasy movie - the closer you get to realistic, the more obvious and disturbing the shortcomings are.
The fact you're waving your Wii Remote around like a sword only demonstrates how little like a sword it is. Slap it in a steering wheel and you'll probably start miming futile pedal movements, and lose to someone using buttons. Chasing reality in this way is like trying to chew a sausage back to life.
Immersion. Is that what this is about? Making your actions vaguely resemble what's going on on the screen? Is this about light sabres?
When Anton Mikhailov says Kinect can't do a good light sabre game, he seems to be implying that Move can. Quick question: in the imaginary light sabre game that you play in your head, are you doing backflips and flying across the room? Then I'm afraid motion control isn't going to make you feel like a Jedi, any more than winding your wrist around with your tongue half-out would. You're going to need buttons.
Beautiful, precise buttons. Buttons have got a bad reputation, mainly because of quick time events - but at least when you're asked to press X not to die, you know you died because you didn't press X. Interpreting the movements of every body shape means ambiguity, discretion, and delay - and the revolutionary claims of advertisers force the games into deceitful practice.
How long was it before you realised Wii Tennis didn't actually know you were doing a backhand? How often does that charmless cretin on FlingSmash go in the direction you wanted? Why is Kinect Adventure's Rally Ball so forgiving? Is it because it has to be? How is Ballmer's avatar making finger gestures?
I want to attack Move, just for balance - but I'm forced to admit my experience with Move is limited to Aragorn's Quest, a game whose main purpose was to raise the alarm that third-parties would just port over their Wii controls. But I'll say that, among all the things Heavy Rain was missing, "flapping around like a dick" wasn't high on the list.