Sic semper tyrannis: motion control in video games

Let the record show: I think motion controllers, like the Wii, Sony Move, or Microsoft’s Project Natal, are sorta dumb. They simply don’t seem to be precise enough for my tastes—I’m far too used to a mouse and keyboard to give that up for the “thrill” of flailing my arms in the arm like the robot from Lost In Space. But it wasn’t always like that.

Like many of you, my first experience with a motion-esque controller was in Duck Hunt for the NES. Granted, a light gun isn’t the same as the Wii remote, but it’s the closest thing I get to being “down” with all that jazz.

I asked the two fine gentlemen in the chat room right now, Matt and Doug, the simple question: motion control, yea or nay? Of course they couldn’t me a simple, Fox News-friendly soundbite, but instead chose to nuance their way out of the question. “I like it for sports and shooting games,” said Doug. Meanwhile, Matt also echoed my nostalgia for Duck Hunt. I’ll also add the orignial Time Crisis as a “motion control” game I enjoyed. And I played House of the Dead once in a bowling alley—that was neat.

But things like painting a wall by slinging globs of paint at it? Eh, I could do without it. Motion control seems to devolve into silliness quite rapidly. Remember this?

Oh, look, we’re curling! Woo!

That’s not nearly as fun as cranking up the DPI on a fancy Logitech mouse, then sniping a dumb Heavy in Team Fortress 2 with millimeter precision. Is the Sony Move going to be as accurate? I doubt it. Even if it were, holding my arm in the air for any length of time is far too much to ask. I have little girl arms, and they tire very quickly. It’s far easier to rest my hands on a comfy keyboard, or sitting on the couch playing the rubbish Xbox 360 port of Final Fantasy XIII. (I’m very seriously considering buying a PS3 in the next few months simply to play the “real” version of the game. Getting God of War III and Heavy Rain won’t hurt, either.)

So I don’t know, clearly Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo see motion controllers as a viable option. As an old man afraid of change and inconvenience, I don’t know that I’m too high on it.