The way we experience video games has been changing more drastically ever since the Wii made its debut with the Wii Mote motion sensitive controller. Even before that Sony had released their EyeToy and at E3 this year Microsoft put Project Natal in the limelight. Dr. Richard Marks, the special projects manager for Sony gives us his 411 on the continuing battle for motion capture supremacy.
Of course EyeToy came out before Wii, but that does not diminish the contribution Nintendo made to game interfaces. I'm a gamer first, so the way I see it both EyeToy and the Wii controller represent advancements that broadened the gaming market and enabled new experiences. Our new controller takes this even further by combining the strengths of previous interface approaches with responsive new high-precision tracking.
He continues to say this about Natal:
The EyeToy delivered controller-free motion capture, then the Wii introduced two-handed controls, and now Microsoft's put together what for all intents and purposes resembles a high-resolution EyeToy.
It sounds like he is a little bitter about it but Microsoft is notorious for copying ideas.
No matter how good our visual tracking might become, the feeling you get from actually squeezing something physical is a better simulation than just positioning your finger. This relates to an interface phenomenon I call 'somatic gratification'. The feeling of the interaction can be just as important as the effectiveness.
I admit that Project Natal is an exciting prospect for Xbox 360 owners but the EyeToy is not without its merit. At E3 Sony demonstrated some of the EyeToy's capabilities but that might not be good enough. It's no secret that Microsoft is much better than Sony when it comes to marketing.
So is there something to "somatic gratification?" If there is, then do you think Sony will fall victim to Microsoft's superior marketing? Let us know what's on your mind.