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Opinion: Natal makes video games even easier in two years

Posted by Appgamr on June 22, 2009

Natal's "no controllers" is an exciting, intuitive livingroom future

Natal's "no controllers" is an exciting, intuitive livingroom future

The Wii is great, the hottest holiday gift three years running and is the defacto family and women’s console.

However, though Nintendo and other publishers released some nice games, the controllers are expensive and prone to accidentally flying out of your palms and smashing your TVs.  Also, the Wii’s processing capabilities are so last generation.  When you buy the Wii, you’re buying circa 2000 technology at 2009 prices, when you can be buying 2009 XBox 360 or the PS3.

Imagine a speedier, family-friendly game console with better graphics and even more intuitive gameplay, with NO CONTROLLERS.  You are visualizing Microsoft’s Natal, available on the XBox 360 next year or two years from now.  Natal takes TV-mounted motion detection to the next level: you jump, shadow box, wave your arms, ball your hands, kick your feet, and the TV responds in real-time.  No more controllers, no more numchucks, no more joysticks!

Most importantly two or more people can play with each other, not necessarily facing the TV all of the time, but facing each other in naturalistic action, say karate-chopping or dancing with each other.

Can you imagine real-time ballroom dance competitions in 100,000 living rooms simultaneously?  The future is coming.

Games can’t be more intuitive or liberating than this.  Natal’s breakthrough motion sensing approach also opens up completely new styles of gameplay.  For example, four people can play football in a livingroom, detected by sensors without controllers.  You watch your game on the TV.

Peter Moore at EA Sports notes real, physical accessories like guitars, skateboards, and platforms are nice to have and enhance gameplay by counter-balancing human movements picked up by sensors.  Agreed.  Natal games will come with or without accessories.  It depends on the game.  However, you won’t need remote control style bricks like the current Wii controllers.  Moreover, on Natal, instead of fingering controllers, you use more natural body movements, say shift your feet to add speed, or pull on imaginary levers to switch gears on your race car.

However, the Natal system, smart and sensitive enough to read your movements with or without physical accessories is going to open up video games to even larger audiences.  It’s going to be the starting point for kids, seniors, moms, students — gamers of all stripes.  Natal’s going to make video games accessible, fun, easy to learn, inspire family livingroom games we haven’t even started to imagine.

Microsoft’s Natal will be available on the XBox 360 two years from now.  It was the toast of E3 2009, the recent annual video game conference.

Five years from now, we’ll all laugh that the world rushed out to buy the Wii, with its charming but antiquated mode of motion sensing game play via handheld controllers.  We’ll be gesturing in our livingrooms like Tom Cruise in the movie Minority Report, pointing our fingers to be read by computers in the air.

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