Thursday, November 25, 2010

Will Kinect take us beyond casual gaming ?

Kinect has just been launched along about 20 games. Nearly all of them are targeting the casual or the fitness market. There is only one title, Fighters Uncaged, that is targeting at a more gamer  public. So, what future do we see for Kinect ? Will it remain a peripheral devoted to casual applications or will it attract mainstream gamers as well  ?

In my opinion, it will be the case.Why ?  Kinect forces us to design from a blank page. We cannot simply adapt existing game mechanisms to a Kinect game because the control method is radically different. As a result, I expect entirely new game concepts to emerge. That is what happened with the DS, the Wii and the iPhone. The apparition on those platforms of new control mechanisms led to new game concepts with the success we know.

Kinect offers also a new gameplay dimension to explore: The physical abilities of the players. We all have different ways to execute a given movement, depending on the speed, trajectory and amplitude we give them.  There is room for design innovations and the development of new players experiences.

Last, but not least, Kinect also features vocal command. By combining motion and vocal commands, new gameplays will emerge for sure. Maybe Kinect is the key to develop strategy games on consoles ?

A last word, I had the chance to work as lead game designer on Fighters Uncaged, the first combat game for Kinect. We did a lot of playtest with all sort of players, casual, mainstream, even hardcore gamers and non-gamers.  Nearly all of them enjoyed the game. Why ? Because it offered them a new experience. Players exhausted themselves and they enjoyed that because they were doing gratifying actions; we offered them the experience of being martial arts champions.

Designing for Kinect requires an open mind and the will to explore new paths. Games for Kinect WILL be different from what we are used to.

Let's open the debate. What future do you see for Kinect ?