Is mixed reality gaming the future of play?
2 parents have answered
I've no doubt augmented reality etc. will have its time - but I don't think it's yet. The interface for all this stuff is still way too slow, clunky and prone to mishap. Until this stuff "just works", it won't reach mainstream acceptance.
In fact, what's the biggest common linking factor among the last few years' mega-titles and new franchises? Simplicity. Farmville, Angry Birds, even Call Of Duty - all peddle an almost retro approach to games - paring them down to their simplest elements. Anything with a complicated, sluggish user-interface is doomed to failure for now (well, until that user-interface gets much, much better).
As an example, my kids toyed with PS3's Book Of Spells, but were far more keen on Just Dance with the Kinect. Why? Because they could literally just dance - copying the people on screen. That worked. But can it work beyond dance games? Hmm, my guess - not for now. Ask me again next year, though...
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Between the XBox Kinect and Sony’s EyeToy, it looks like Mario and Sonic might soon be out of work while we become the stars of our own videogames. Mixed reality is when the real and the virtual are combined, and it’s not going away.
One of the better known mixed reality platforms was the EyeToy for the Playstation 2 – basically, a small video camera sat on top of your TV and inserted you into games playing on the screen. Gameplay would tend to involve a lot of waving your arms about to burst bubbles, slapping adversaries and so on. More recently Kinect for the Xbox 360 has offered a more sophisticated mixed reality model, with a peripheral device that detects gestures and spoken commands.
Both feel more like stand-alone novelties than a reliable indicator of where gaming is heading. However, augmented reality, a close cousin of mixed reality, seems to be capturing the imaginations of many more gamers and developers – and they don’t require expensive peripherals. In a typical augmented reality game, you’ll point a camera at an area, and your computer/console/smartphone will insert game items into the video it captures.
There’s a lot of these games around already, like Reality Fighters on the PS Vita, and Nintendogs + Cats on the Nintendo 3DS. The numbers are growing rapidly, particularly on iPhone and Android – smartphones with built-in cameras are ideal for augmented reality apps, and as their capabilities grow we’re going to see ever more sophisticated and imaginative blendings of the real and virtual worlds. The Matrix isn’t far off, people.
By Adam Boult