Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Disconnect With The Kinect (And Today's Video Games In General)

When I was a kid, I played a lot of video games. It's what I did as soon as I arrived home from school. While my classmates were participating in team sports or other extracurricular activities, I was giving my thumbs a solid workout with a Nintendo controller.

It was awesome.

There are a couple of reasons why I played video games. They were fun, of course, but they also earned me serious cred with my friends. I would tell them, "I beat Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! last night," and they would be amazed. They were so impressed. They didn't read the articles I wrote for the school newspaper, they didn't congratulate me when I got a 5 on my AP U.S. History exam, but I got a lot of pats on the back when I knocked out Mike Tyson.

(My biggest accomplishment in life is defeating "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!" without being knocked out once. I haven't had a very productive life. And for the record, I did not cheat by using the "007 373 9563" code to jump straight to the Tyson fight.)

Playing video games was also an easy way for me to relax. I would lie on the couch for hours, with a controller in one hand and a bag of potato chips in the other, playing Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon, Ninja Gaiden, Tecmo Super Bowl. I have not come across another activity that requires so little effort and yet is so enjoyable.

Which is why I am so concerned by the latest wave of technology. Today's games are too interactive. You can't sit down to play these games. You have to stand up and move around and stuff. It's so annoying.

I blame this trend on Dance Dance Revolution, a game so frustrating they named it twice. It requires excellent balance and coordination, neither of which I have. I'd usually lose within the first 30 seconds. Not what I'm shooting for when I play a game.

It's weird how that game stuck with me in everyday life, though. I'd envision arrows on the sidewalk in front of me as I was walking. Ever try to walk straight and right at the same time? Not easy. Especially when you have Japanese techno-pop running through your head.

Nintendo's Wii upped the ante with its motion-sensor controller. Now, not only do I have to swing my arms if I want to bowl or play golf using my video game system, there's a chance I'll throw my controller through the TV if I don't hold on to the controller tightly. To be fair, there is a strap on the Wii controller to prevent such accidents. But you know which controller doesn't require a strap? The controller for the original Nintendo. C'mon, Nintendo, it was your own system! You're regressing.

The PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 have jumped on the interactive bandwagon. PlayStation has the Move controller. The name says it all: "Move." No. I don't want to move. I want to play video games. The whole reason I'm playing video games is so I don't have to move. I'm trying to be as inactive as possible. Don't ruin this for me.

The Xbox 360 introduced the Kinect, which doesn't have a controller at all. It only has a sensor. And the name of one of its most popular games? Dance Central. More dancing. Of course.

We have become so lazy as a society that we can't even be bothered to hold a controller while playing video games. It's a shame. I for one am not going to put up with this. I'll stick to my old-school games, thank you very much.

Anyone want to come over and see me beat Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!?