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I Like Motion Control / I Don't Like Motion Control

With rumored motion control peripherals on the way from Microsoft and Sony, will physical disability be on their minds?

Now that E3 is mere moments away (June 2-4), Sony and Microsoft have been rumored that they will unleash their salvos at the Wii at the renovated/restored game industry convention.

While I think it's great news that the race in motion control has begun, I think the big companies have to step back a little and consider what their goals are. Why?

Story Time

It was a dark and stormy E3 2003, and I was helping out Sony with demonstrating the brand new EyeToy. It was a pretty elaborate setup with pyramid-shaped kiosks, spotlights, and a raised platform that always seemed to catch the toes of our more myopic patrons.

It was a pretty innovative peripheral, and being so innovative, it needed staff to demonstrate how the thing worked with EyeToy: Play.

After a couple hours of watching children, adults, and celebrities (I met Elijah Wood!) wash windows, break boards, and trip over the raised platform, along came a woman in a wheelchair.

[approximate reenactment]

"So, what does this game do," she asked.
"Well, you move your body in front of this camera, and you become the character in the game," I hesitatingly replied.
"Oh, I can't move my body very much," she said, as she started to lift herself from the wheelchair.
"I'll, uh, let's see what you can play. The Kung Fu game seems pretty popular."
"Okay, I'll try that." She shuffled onto the platform in front of the EyeToy.
I booted up "Kung Foo," and explained the rules -- tap the ninjas as they jumped out -- and stood back.
The game started; the first ninja attacked. One life lost. Second ninja. Two lives. Third ninja. Game over.
"It looks interesting," she said, as she shuffled off the platform.
"There's some other games, if you want to try them," I said, as she lowered herself into the wheelchair.
"No, that's okay."

A Moment Of Clarity

As she wheeled herself away, I felt a little ashamed. In my excitement towards a motion-sensing peripheral, I was unaware that not everyone has that much motion to spare.

It made me wonder about the future of such technology. Will the pursuit of a Minority Report UI alienate those less mobile and "fingery?"

Microsoft and Sony's rumored push to address motion-control to rival the Wii is admirable, but I always think about that lady in the wheelchair. Will they have her in mind?

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