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Being the older brother of a mentally handicapped sister and sharing a weekend with her as she completely dominated at a Wii motion controlled game. I got to thinking ... maybe motion controls can be good for gaming.

Isaiah Taylor, Blogger

July 11, 2010

6 Min Read

[Being the older brother of a mentally handicapped sister and sharing a weekend with her as she completely dominated at a Wii motion controlled game. I got to thinking ... maybe motion controls can be good for gaming.]

This Is Not An Ad For The Wonders Of Motion Controls, But A Concession That I May Have Been Wrong About Their Future

When I ventured back home a couple weekends ago for my mother'sbirthday, I realized two things. One, I'm pretty sure my mom needs a website for her magical barbeque. Two, I am completely taken aback at my sister's skills at Wii Sports Resort. My sister, Janette, is twenty-two and has recently reached a milestone; she graduated high-school. My sister was practically strangled within an inch of her life at birth due to her doctor's inability to unwrap the umbilical cord from around her neck. As a result of lack of oxygen to the brain, Janette will supposedly never be able to read past a second grade level and have the ability of speech past that of a three year old. So yeah, it's kind of a big deal that she's graduating high-school and kicking my butt routinely at the many mini-games in Wii Sports Resort.

Before we go further as a bit of background on yours truly, I've worked on a college campus at one of the U.S.'s largest departments dedicated to helping disabled college students. For five years I helped students with reading cognition disabilities, severe anxiety disorders and general technological phobias, learn and adapt to the many voice recognition and screen reading programs our university had to offer. For me, this is aspecial time to be involved in tech and in gaming. Horn tooting completed.

What I find most interesting working with my sister, these past twenty years and at this very niche job for a mere five, is that all of us have a disability or impairment to some form of tech -- whether physical or psychological. When I picked up the controller to play Wakeboarding in Wii Sports Resort I felt as if I was learning how to ride a bike or drive a car. I failed several times. Even when I got better my mom [who admittedly, isn't the most technologically savvy person] and my sister,  wiped the floor with me with ease. Janette can barely tie her shoes, but when it comes to playing games like Wii Sports Resort Golf, she's all about finding angles and getting good lies. Astounding.

In Regards To Sony's Move Motion Controller, I'm Wondering How The Visually Impaired [But Can Recognize Basic Colors And Shapes] Could Utilize The Move As A Visual Cue Device For A Number Of Games That Implement Its Functionality.


I know this is a niche within a niche topic and I have no problem admitting games are not explicitly obligated to cater to the physically impaired and differently abled, but I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge a little inkling of interest in how the current generation of gaming and their individual motion controls could be a means of more people with disabilities playing video games.

I'm not asking for gaming companies to start doting to yet another, often overlooked, niche market. I just puked in my mouth a little from referencing a group of people as a 'market', but I think at least an acknowledgment of what good could be done or has been done with disabled people in mind could be pushed to the forefront. I also recognize that my sister having an older brother avid about playing Sonic The Hedgehog 2 with her for hours on end until we both finished a stage probably helped with her being more willing to pick up a controller. I personally do not want "Wheelchair: The Game", but I think it would be cool to at least entertain the idea of characters with disabilities withsome form of tact.

My point. Here's where I'm going to admit a huge contradiction with the past couple years of my writing. The Wii remote, Sony's Playstation Move,and even Microsoft's Kinect are necessary. Much like real-time strategy games and table top role-playing board games, motioncontrols could attract a small but rabid fanbase -- if supported in a manner that isn't exclusionary. This doesn't take away from the notion that this current trend is, well, trendy. This could beso good for gaming. Seeing my little sister put the pieces together inher head as to what she needs to do with the Wii remote inorder for that to translate on-screen was pretty special -- at least it was for me and my mom.

The Natal...Err...Kinect Stands The Chance Of Being Severely Devisive. It Opens The Door For Those Who Have Limited Mobility And May Not Have Use Of Their Hands To Hold A Controller, But All The Games Featured So Far Show 'Hyperactive' Gameplay And Young Beautiful People Hopping Around.

Its cool to be cynical and snarky about new technology that, in my honest opinion, isn't initially impressive to meand possibly the average person reading these very words. Something happened a couple weekends ago when I [a gamer] picked up this Wii remote to play this cute and very approachable game. I felt like I met a sorority sister who actually had a good head on her shoulders or a fraternity 'bro' with his collar un-popped. I felt...wrong.I felt silly and bashful and when my mom and sister were laughing at me flail around as I tried, un-triumphantly, to not drown at the Wakeboarding game. But when my sister said, "You want me to show you how?" I felt as big as an ant turd.

This wasn't the first time I've played a Wii game. This wasn't the first time I played Wii Sports Resort. It was the first time I had played a game with my sister and it was the first time my sister showed me how to play a game. "Are you crying?" My mom mildly chuckled while joyfully shouting. "No! Its the Central Air! Its blowing right in my eyes!" I said. Mom, if you read this, I was crying.

The Wii advertises their third party games in a way that is almost shameful. Game developers who work on Wii titles either care too little, or have their hopes dashed by the thousand of other titles that come out for the console that year. Sony and Microsoft look to parrot a form of this business model with their respective devices and technologies. I get frothy at the mouth in my disgust at seeing companies try and cash in on a group of people who just want something to play while company is over. However, all of this vitriolic speech melts away at the thought of my sister possibly teaching me how to play a game in the future. Seems like I'm the one whose disabled.


***Compliments Of The Brog***

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