Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Video game controllers

This is a very funny article, and it also points out a number of holes in current video games: A Gamers' Manifesto. Basically you can see that it is a long SadTech rant about video games. The lack of real AI is sad, and it does not sound like it is going to get much better in the future. The under-use of the hard drive and the long load times are sad. And so on.

But he leaves out one essential part of all of today's video games -- the game controller. What could be sadder than that? You want to walk forward in a video game, so what do you do? You use your thumb! Want to aim your gun? You use your thumb. Want to look over your shoulder? You use your thumb. Want to jump? Thumb. Crouch? Thumb. And so on.

There are over 600 different muscles in your body to control things like your arms, your legs, your fingers and your facial expressions. Your brain can control all of those muscle groups in most cases unconsciously and usually all in parallel. But in a video game, you don't get to control 600 muscle groups in your character in a natural way. Instead, nearly everything is routed through your thumbs to the character, meaning that every video game is an incredibly limiting experience.

The limitations imposed on us by today's video games are most obvious if you simply think about your normal life. In real life you walk into a room and visually scan it by moving both your head and your eyeballs. To do that you unconsciously use dozens of precise muscle groups. And you can do that scanning while you walk forward, talk to a friend, make facial expressions appropriate to the conversation, process the facial expressions that your friend is making and you can be carrying something in your hands as well. You are using all of your muscles at once.

In a video game, there is no possible way to visually scan the room with the fluidity you do in real life (because you have to do the scanning with one thumb rather than a dozen precise muscle groups). You cannot talk. You cannot make facial expressions. You cannot see facial expressions. You can carry something in your hand, sort of, but you cannot feel it or manipulate it in any way. Today's video games are just pathetic when you compare them to real life.

Video games are going to be one of the main accelerators for technologies like Vertebrane and the body-free lifestyle. People want to be IMMERSED in video games. They want to live inside of them, using all 600 muscle groups and receiving input from all human sensors (not just vision, smell, taste, touch and sound, but also things like muscle position, balance, pain and pleasure). Vertebrane, by taking over all sensory inputs and muscle control, makes that possible. The fully-immersive video game experience, and the ability/desire to fully interact in artificial game environments and scenarios, will drive people to install Vertebrane-like systems.

Vertebrane will be the ultimate video game controller. It will allow you to disconnect from your physical body and connect to a virtual in-game body that is better than your own. By 2050, this will be the norm.



At 9:12 AM, Blogger Athagno said...

I have thought about this too, but I reached a different conclusion. Most gamers would actually NOT want to have to move their bodies around constantly to create parallel motions in a video game. That is, having to move your head, arms, etc. would require much more energy than does an analogous thumb-twitch. Until games can pick up brainwaves, controllers are a good solution.

At 3:47 PM, Anonymous Jay said...

[quote]By 2050, this will be the norm.[/quote]

This doesn't have to do with Pearson's recent "uploads feasible in 2050" prediction, which is way off, does it?

Actually, Marshall isn't wrong that this will be the norm in 2050. It's just that... it will be the norm waaaaaaay earlier.

Here's a link of me explaining the Singularity to Ian Pearson:

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

The human hand is far more articulate than any other part of our body. It is also optimized for response time.

Gesture interfaces might be fun and, in some cases, intuitive, but I would assume they lack precision without a tactile aspect.

So I agree with Jason. It's either my hands or my brain directly.

BTW - this might be somewhere in between.

At 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

naa, someone'll patent it.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Gary said...

We are both in our late 50's and jump around on our PS2 controllers nearly every day.
We use the Cobalt Flux dance pad with DDR Max2 to stay in shape. Great cardio workout and a way to lose weight as well.
We have never used the handheld controllers for any of our PS2 use.

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At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Viagra Online said...

Nice, I play video games since 1994 and I like to play I might had all the consoles until know, but I get bored of playing always with small pad in my hands, that's why I buy a nintendo wii, because it's different and with a new accesory called wii motion plus the games are very interactive and it's an excellent investment.

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