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Friday, November 5, 2010

Microsoft Kinect Finally Arrived

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20021679-1.html     So, the Kinect is finally on the seen, and the reviews are in.  Unforeseen downside, lack of playable space.  From every review I've even glanced at, the least of the Kinects problems stem from having to be at least 5-6 feet away from the camera(CNet).
     Television size seems to be a problem, too.  If your TV isn't big enough, the system won't work.
     But back on the space issue, even articles with a positive slant towards the Kinect have nothing positive to say about the space limitations.  Like this article from the Seattle Times tech columnist Brier Dudley:
The biggest concern in my older Seattle house was making room to play Kinect games, which require at least 6 feet of clear space in front of the TV, where the Kinect sensor sits. Moving a coffee table barely created enough space in my living room. Executives I talked to were sensitive about the space issue, saying they tested Kinect to be sure it worked in small homes in Japan and New York City, but the ideal setting is clearly a big, suburban rec room.
     I'm sorry, but to me, this seems a serious issue that should have been better handled at development time, not written off as something that the consumer will just have to deal with.  Video game history is rife with failed input devices, (The DK Bongos for the Nintendo Gamecube come to mind.), and the failings always come from design.  And honestly, the problems with design don't end with space requirements.
     Apparently anything else that moves within the range of the camera sensor may end up detected and assumed to be the player.  Which means anyone who wanders behind, or, heaven forbid, in front of the player while they are playing, creates the possibility of misfired motions that could end in the tragic loss of a players lives (once again, see CNet article for details).  The system even requires you to move stationary objects like furniture out of the way so it can properly identify you.
     And on the note of identifying, this system may even have problems identifying dark-skinned races.  Game Politics is even going so far as to label the system racist.  Though I'm sure it wasn't intentional, are there not enough African-American employees up in Redmond to properly quality control this device?  The fact that two out of three darker-skinned employees couldn't log in to the system properly under perfect lab conditions, this project really needed more work before seeing the public. (Game Spot article here.)
     All in all, I'm not expecting the outrageous numbers Microsoft plans on by the end of the year.  5 Million units by January?  Not happening, and if they claim it does, the numbers are doctored, just like most of the comments posted within two hours of the devices release claiming it is the 'Next evolution of gaming'.