OPINION: Kinect assist critics miss the point

OPINION: Kinect assist critics miss the point

By Fraser Simpson

November 25th 2010 at 2:55PM

Zoe Mode lead designer Fraser Simpson plugs the holes picked from Kinect Joy Ride

Funny thing of the week is apparently this video, where a man shows that Kinect's "you are the controller" mantra is a little overstated.

Yeah OK, "haha" and everything, but it isn’t actually at all surprising that there’s auto-steer in a casual driving game, not least a Kinect driving game.

It’s just balancing to me; balancing is what makes a game palatable for its audience, hides the cracks in the game’s systems and makes it as enjoyable a play experience as possible.

People would be complaining if there was no auto-steer, mostly because Joy Ride would be an extremely difficult game if track magnetism wasn’t there (just like some people would complain if Modern Warfare didn't do almost the same thing with its auto-aim).

Actually, Lotus Turbo Challenge did the auto-steering thing  worse than this 20 years ago (when the notion of a casual audience didn't even exist - so this isn't a 'oh the games of today!' thing) and people liked that game.

If anything, this is just indicative of a desire on a particular type of gamer’s part to kick the shit out of Kinect, to expose its shortcomings. What did anyone expect from Kinect? Flawless minority report control? 

Did we think that the technology could stand up to the level of cynicism that the hardcore naysayer would bring to it?

No game is flawless, but while I don’t think Joy Ride is a particularly excellent driving experience (or even game experience), I have had a laugh with it. So, when this, the game’s supposed biggest flaw is only apparent when you deliberately try to break it, try not to play it properly, then we have to question whether that really is a flaw.

Should we just be grateful that the game’s been balanced towards a better experience for us?

There's a line, of course, and perhaps this is on the wrong side of it, but what I think is much more notable is the quality of the experience I get when I'm trying to play it properly.

Joy Ride isn't a game that I'll want to play against friends with 80k+ Gamerscores, it's the kind of thing I would play with my family over the Christmas holidays.

Now, if I play my mum at Forza, or even Mario Kart (which isn't quite as social a racer as it seems) then we're going to witness all kinds of driving into walls, going the wrong way and losing interest very quickly, it's going to be pretty torturous to watch never mind from her perspective. So the game helps. It doesn't take control away completely, but it does plaster over the gaps. It does that because the situation I've described is what Joy Ride (and to some degree the current line-up of Kinect) is for, and it makes the game enjoyable for that audience and that situation.

You could beat pretty much any Eyetoy game by putting your hand in front of the camera and waving it. If you did that, congratulations, well done.

There are millions who didn't; most of them surely enjoyed the thrill of playing with a novelty new controller in a more social setting than they normally would, and they had fun. Not fake fun. Fun. The thing that our industry hinges on.