Thursday, 12 April 2012

Interactivity in Games.

Interaction in games has always been hindered, whether it was by physical input such as a mouse, joystick or keyboard. Physical output such as screen and sound or physical hardware such as the engine and processers, which the console is running on. Up in till recently it was always obvious there was a bridge to cross with interactivity in games. There were problems with being able to recreate what a person would really do in a situation when they ‘re holding a joystick or controller.

 Games were produced in a chaotic way and as such haven’t really developed from early standings as reengineered radar screens. They were not really thought of from the ground up, so with this they weren’t necessarily designed for ergonomics and ease of use. The joystick was overlooked for many years in the gaming console market, even though It was very popular in arcades. This was because ergonomically, interactivity was not thought of properly.

It wasn’t in till relatively recently that It was implemented and realised as a key part of future of interactivity in games. It gives you multiply areas of control in direction and when presented in a dual format with another analog stick such as modern console controllers are. Gives you a third degree of control, such as what you would find in real life. Even this is limited though, you are still controlling something through a device rather that an extension of your body. This is where future gaming is heading to some degree. I am a keen supporter that hardcore gaming will for the foreseeable future remain controller based and there will always remain a dedicated market for hardcore and pc gamers.

With the invention of the Wii and extensions of the Xbox and Playstation through the Kinect and Move respectively. There is a keen development in games to produce a more realistic interactive input. The dominance of the controller and mouse are receding because they were only implemented because of the limits of previous technology. Previously because of this there was a big push in what the consoles could manage and the internal hardware surged forward and became more advanced and more powerful. Ergonomics was mostly overlooked and users were left with iterations of the same joypad design, d-pad and buttons.

It wasn’t in till about 10years ago that ergonomics and design had a new role to play, user’s craved new ways to play and the technology was now limited by the input of the player. Analog sticks were developed, triggers were implemented and controller shape was formed around the hands. Comfort and style were now prominent aspects of console design. This was also reflected in the design of the consoles themselves, they became smaller and almost less important than the controllers.

Interactivity was finally important in game design. It played a key role in how games would develop from this point on. Games were created around how the controller would allow them to interact with something virtually. However there was still a barrier to cross in that the user and the interactive character were still connected by an intermediately device the controller. With new advances with controller, users can now use their own motion to control what is on screen. There is now a direct correlation between the user and themselves virtually. Controllers are being developed to harness the human body for a number of reasons. Interactivity has been the main contributor.

Xbox Kinect has shone through as the way to go for me, it has developed independently of controllers and sensors now let the user control the game entirely with their body. Although games are currently limited to “party games” there is almost certainly a world to develop with this technology. It is another step closer to a fully interactive game, with voice recognition, 3 dimensional tracking and direct control. the simulator brings this realisation as a close, and although not commercially console viable yet, it has allowed the user to get the most realistic but safe environment yet. With fully immersive game play and full interactivity, it allows the user to walk and feel feedback. Two of the current limitation in home gaming interactivity. Games will almost certainly develop along this path, but split from this will be a need for fully realistic, casual and niche market game play interactivity, that will see the longevity of the controller live on yet.
watch the video below;

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