Friday, January 12, 2018

In Memoriam: The Kinect

The Kinect was not perfect. From the initial E3 pitch to the idea of gaming without a controller, many brushed it off from the start and once it launched it had its fair share of issues. It misheard what you said most of the time, misread your actions, it failed to provide many games that truly captivated you, and ultimately failed to compete with the juggernaut that was the Wii.

I want the rifle that does the Assaulting!

But do not be fooled, Kinect ultimately had success. Over 35 million units were sold from its initial run in 2010. [1] Aside from gaming, the technology has also been a popular tool for research and development in the medical field. Surgeons have used it to help in hands free navigation of imaging [2], and its sensors have been implemented in various other hardware dealing with security or tracking. [3]

As the door closes on the Kinect, dare I say...I had fun with the device. 

The Kinect was what you made it. I never expected it to provide a twenty hour epic or competitive multiplayer. It was a game to play with friends and family who rarely played games and were intimidated by the controller. It was a time not to take things too serious, and let loose as you flailed to deflect objects or chop fruit. It got you up and moving off the couch, something I sometimes enjoyed doing after sitting at a desk all day at work.

Never...skip...leg day

Kinect: Adventures provided the best showcase of what the technology could provide. Tracking arm and leg movements as you navigated a conveyor of obstacles, plugged holes in a leaking submarine tank, and played goalkeeper in a dodgeball-esque sport. Short segments were quick to play, easy to join in on, and ultimately made for the perfect party game as you laughed at your friends and family jumping and squatting around on-screen animations.

Dance Central delved further into the motion control tracking, offering a DDR type game utilizing the camera to track all arms and legs in coordinated efforts to flashcards on screen. The tracks were catchy, the dance moves were choreographed by a professional, and once you got the hang of it you got a solid experience altogether.

Before High Noon was cool

But the game that ruled them all for me was Gunstringer. A narrative that was a western Kill Bill meets cheesy puppetry, gameplay that was engaging but simple, and an art style that complimented the zany character design. It was short, simple, and ultimately, fun. Sure it had some accuracy issues on occasion, but overall the general feeling of having one hand control the puppet movement and the other a literal finger gun was just too funny to ignore. Out of all the games I purchased for the Kinect, this was the one that gave me hope for the technology.

Sadly, nothing else of substantial work ever came about for the hardware. Fable: The Journey and Star Wars: Kinect, while enjoyable in their own right, never made the impact it could or should have made. Tons of fitness games and Just Dance titles fizzled out the lineup near the end of things.

I still have a Kinect for my Xbox One and to be honest, the only use it has is voice control for pausing and playing Netflix or launching an app. But while the tech has seen its end, the mark it made in hardware and the fun it provided with new ways to play is hard to ignore. While it makes its final wave goodbye, I can say I never regretted my purchase and dare I say, hope to revisit a few of the games on a rainy day.

...Also, never forget:


[1] - Fortune - Microsoft Has Finally Killed the Kinect Xbox Sensor - Don Reisenger October 25th 2017 -

[2] Rad Rounds - Xbox Kincet-based radiology & medical image exploration - December 2nd, 2011 -

[3] EPFL - Connecting Kinects for Group Surveillance - Didier Bonvin - December 2010 -

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