Motion controls: Separating the ‘Virtual’ from the ‘Reality’

Since the move from 2D to 3D dimensions, games have become increasingly more successful at replicating reality, and not just from a visual perspective. In the ’90s, games like Samba de Amigo and the Dance Dance series have required more from the gamer than simply pressing buttons.

Nintendo evolved this idea to a philosophy with the release of the Wii in 2006. The thinking is by mapping your physical actions in a game, you’re removing the barriers between virtual reality, and real life.

The question has to be asked, however, what implications has this had, and what will it mean for the future of gaming?

Well, interestingly not as much as first thought. Although Nintendo very much accelerated a trend that was adopted by Microsoft and Sony, they backtracked somewhat with the Wii U, a console that largely abandoned motion control gaming. The Switch continues that trend.

Buttons are here to stay.

It’s hard to establish the importance of being able to control a video game by swinging one’s arms around. Nobody can deny the Wii’s global popularity and its intimidating record sales. But on the other hand, it encouraged a lot of cash cow products to the market.

Playing Zumba Fitness, I knew this wasn’t going to be something I could relax with after a hard day. Having been raised on Sonic and Mario, I’m a gamer that firmly enjoys the minimal movement required from a normal control pad.

I also chase deep and unique gaming experiences. So in some respect, I really enjoyed the Wii for what it was: something different. The problem is (as many have found out) there were too many Zumba Fitness-esq games and not enough actual ‘game’ games. If I buy a video games console, it’s to play video games, not to play glorified fitness videos.

And herein lies the problem. While motion controls in gaming did blur the boundaries between reality and virtual reality, it was not necessarily best suited to the games industry. It is a practical application to an impractical medium.

A video game is about escapism, not replication and this why I foresee that joystick junkies and the button bandits are here to stay.

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