Is motion-sensitive gaming a gimmick?

Don Reisinger thinks the future of gaming isn't in motion-sensing, but in something else entirely. Is he right?

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

As a Wii owner, I've spent a considerable amount of time playing my way through games that required me moving around the room, jumping up and down like a fool, and generally using my body to control the action on-screen. And while I enjoy it at times, most of it feels like a gimmick.

But there's no debating the fact that the Wii is the de facto leader in the video game space and although Sony and Microsoft have tried repeatedly to downplay its significance, the former may be announcing a new motion-sensitive controller to compete on the same level.

According to Gamesindustry.biz, Sony's latest foray into motion sensing will "break apart" and work in a way that's extremely similar to the Wii-mote.

Although I can't blame Sony for trying to capitalize on a major fad in the gaming industry, does it really want to enter that domain? Motion-sensitive gaming is nothing more than a gimmick that has a slew of hurdles to overcome before it becomes the next logical choice for controlling a video game.

Now I know certain Nintendo fans won't necessarily agree with my contention that motion-sensing controllers are nothing more than gimmicks to make people feel like they're a part of the game, but after playing through so many Wii games, it's abundantly clear that it's true.

Sure, motion controllers make sense if you're driving a car with a wheel or standing on a device, but what about implementing it into a game like Metal Gear Solid 4 or Rainbow Six Vegas 2 where you're not governed by any one move and the complexity of the game requires a conventional controller?

Motion-sensing works for some Wii games like Wii Sports or Wii Fit because you're performing a relatively simple task and can't veer off the beaten path. But in an environment where you're required to move stealthily around objects, fire, duck, roll, and control a team of minions, how would motion-sensitive gaming actually work?

Certainly some are saying that we don't need to worry about that because complex titles are few and far between, but is that true? It may have been true years ago, but today, developers are more than willing to drop millions into major titles and create games that go beyond the old model of jump, shoot, run, and follow a path that takes us through a variety of worlds, doing a variety of things, at a variety of times.

Simply put, motion-sensitive gaming is best suited for the past where video games were less complex and more about ease of understanding than anything else. But today, games are becoming more sophisticated and we need a controller that does as well.

Suffice it to say that although motion-sensitive gaming may look like the future, it's nothing more than a relic of the past that makes you think it's futuristic. In reality, it's a gimmick with limitations that doesn't adequately respond to the changing times.

Sorry, but if you're looking for the future in gaming, motion-sensitive controllers are not the place to find it.

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