Another giant leap forward for virtual mankind

Yesterday Microsoft unveiled their new control system Kinect. Are these the videogames of the future? And could games ever get too good?

There was lots of buzz among technology reporters yesterday as the E3 videogames convention got into full swing in Los Angeles. Games developers from across the world are showing off their latest creations, but the biggest splash is a new games controller from Microsoft, christened Kinect.
After a glitzy launch party with celebrity guests and live performance from Cirque du Soleil, Kinect was the centrepiece of the Microsoft press conference. Executives also announced a string of new games, specially designed for the revolutionary system.
What makes Kinect so special? The answer is that it marks a big change in the way we interact with computers. Instead of using the clunky joysticks and buttons of traditional gaming, Kinect users will be able to control the action onscreen just by moving their bodies or gesturing with their hands.
Previous attempts at so-called “motion control”, such as Nintendo Wii, have all required the player to hold a special remote, linked to the games console. Kinect is the first device to do away with remotes altogether. Instead, a special 3D camera analyses the player’s movements and automatically translates them into the virtual world of the game.

As games have developed, technology has transformed too. Ten years ago, a top console had 4 megabytes of RAM memory. Modern consoles have 512 megabytes. Early games were nothing more than a few pixels on a screen. Now, developers are producing titles in high definition 3D.

Virtual danger?

Devices like Kinect let us engage with computer simulations in a deeper way than ever before, while advanced 3D displays create a stronger and more powerful illusion.
Could we be losing touch with reality? Some warn that when virtual worlds become too addictive, we might abandon the real world altogether, to spend our time in high tech computer simulations.
But others think virtual reality offers a way to escape the constraints of everyday life. When our minds are transplanted, they say, from so-called “meatspace” to the virtual world, there our imaginations can truly be free.

You Decide

  1. If someone has an exciting happy life, with lots of adventure and activity, does it matter if that life takes place in a virtual world? What makes the real, physical world so special?
  2. Videogames often let us do things that would be dangerous or forbidden in the real world. Do you think that they might affect people’s real-world behaviour?

Activities

  1. Design your own computer game for the new Kinect. Draw a poster to promote the game and prepare a marketing pitch for potential buyers of your design.

Some People Say...

“I beat the people from China. I win against China. You can win against China if you're smart.”

Donald Trump

What do you think?

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