Immersive play and Project Natal

Project Natal, with a Wikipedia entry to explain a bit about it, would appear to be a new frontier in immersive gaming. It is a Microsoft development for the xbox, and though not yet shipping (as far as I can see) it is meant to be controller-free. A sensor device goes on top of or underneath your video display, and does motion capture, voice and face recognition.

If it works as advertised, it is obviously quite sophisticated stuff. Having the tiny experience with sensors that I have, I must confess to having doubts about it living up to the blurb. But I guess time will tell.

Call me a luddite, but quite why you should play virtual football when it is easier and cheaper to go outside and do it – and have the actual feedback of touching the ball – or skateboard virtually, somehow escapes me. Of course there is novelty value. And maybe containment in the home is the future. Keep you off the streets.

It’s worth keeping an eye on, of course. But it is still not quite what I mean with immersion. Can you get the same buzz from risk-free, totally safe ‘exposure to the world’ as you can from the real thing?

Anyway, here’s a promo thing on YouTube:


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