Monday, April 23, 2012

Interaction design

Interaction Design

From the very first monster-like machines, with a basic joystick and single button controller built right into the console itself, to the free use your body as a controller, the way in which we interact with a game has changed dramatically. Controllers for a game come in many shapes and forms, from the console’s gamepads, to a computer’s mouse and keyboard, and to the new motion tracking devices. Typically, the most popular form of controller was the gamepad, and it has become compatible for use with computers as well.

With technology constantly growing, the consumer’s needs grow as well. People constantly want more and more potential from the experience of a game and the console they are playing on. On one hand, there are people happy with the controllers they already have, they are used to them, and they serve their purpose and the idea is if it isn’t broken, why fix it? On the other hand, there are the people that want something new, something with which they will fully interact with the game. I am one of the guys who like what they have. It would be nice to see something new, but at times like these, new technology has ridiculous prices, and the fact that you know that thing is designed to break so you can buy a new one, giving the company more money, makes you stick with what you have.

There are all kinds of consoles nowadays. From the very first machine that allowed you to play games, the computer, to absolutely everything now – Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo - they each have so many attachments such as different controllers and what not that it gives the consumer so much to choose from. But as we know, not all of that is to the liking of most people. There is also the fact that companies develop technology like the motion tracking Kinect, claim it is something new and polished, put it on the market and the thing is absolute crap. Or the Nintendo Wii that made lots of sales, but at the cost that the games for it look like they are 20 years old, and you have to swing like a madman to interact with the game.

Prices on consoles are big as well in most countries. Most of the time they are overpriced because when you think about it, a console is just a computer; motherboard, video card, RAM, processor, and an operating system. Basically, that’s all there is to it. The rest of the price is, of course, from other requirements to even play the game. You will want to buy a good TV and a sound system so you can get the most of a game, but is it worth it to spend around 1000 pounds for something you will just waste your time on? Well, I guess that’s a different subject.

As stated prior, companies are putting more and more tracking systems on the market. Examples are the Nintendo Wii, or the PlayStation flashlight-looking tracking controller, to the Xbox Kinect, and the soon to be released WiiU. So the market and the future is aiming for something with interaction, the power to move your body in a room, and to manipulate the character you play which will do the same in the game. But it does look silly, and many are still being developed. They’re out there now, but they are still slow, and you need to have a nice big room with a good TV, and maybe no windows so nobody will look at you doing ninja bullshit. Old-school gamers or people just want to have some fun with a game stick to a computer or a console with a normal gamepad.

Interaction is used also in military and medical uses. From applications such as flight simulators, big machine simulators for military tanks, ships, cranes, and something that is easier to teach yourself on without the need to risk your life. Medical simulators calculate everything that the future doctor might be calculating incorrectly, and giving feedback. But there is the fact that those simulators literally cost millions. They can also be used for cosmonaut training. Still, it’s a lot cheaper to train a cosmonaut in a controlled environment than risking sending him into space untrained.

People do have the ambition to create something new that will immerse the player in the game. For instance, a room filled with motion tracking rollers on the floor and cameras all around you to know every single move you make, so that it will calculated where you shoot or look, and project it on a room filled with screens…but when you think about it, that will cost too much for a normal player to buy and make a whole room especially for that. When you think about it that way, it’s a lot more fun to spend 20 bucks on a simple paintball match.

There is also the 3D aspect of games. More and more games have the setting to display it in 3D so you can see your favorite character slightly different with the cost of getting your eyes damaged. We’ll end that discussion short, because in my opinion, 3D should be burn and be banned forever.

Technology will evolve more and more, someday we might just put a helmet on our heads like those old sci-fi movies and merge into a world we make with our minds. Or you could just go outside and play with your friend, for crying out loud.

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