Saturday, 30 March 2013

Elements of Game Technology, pt 3: Interaction Design

The way we play games has largely been focused on the functionality, what is the most functional way to input your commands with the game as simplest as possible...however with the rise of home gaming, and video game consoles the importance of the physical aspects of things such as controllers and joysticks became just as an important aspect as the games themselves. People in the industry soon realised that comfort and ease of use was part of a much wider issue to making their console as interactive and simple to use as possible. This is visibly true of the joystick, a device made use of in arcades fro years before game companies took it on board as a control method for their home consoles. 

Comparisons to one of the first joystick designs to a modern one used in pc gaming: the use of it remains the same, just the design has involved to take into account comfort and function.

Alongside the traditional button and d-pad set-up, the analog stick has steadily crept back into consoles as the most seamless and fluid way of manoeuvring around in games. 

 Looking at the evolution of the PlayStation of three generations, shows its leap from the 'box' era of old school consoles to that of the more stream-lined and aesthetically pleasing curves of the PS3. Sony have essentially tried to take their PS2, the best selling console of all time, and tried to make it look more attractive, compared to its brick-like but incredibly functional predecessor. Its interesting to see, that the shape and style of the PlayStation controller has remained he same throughout three generations, signifying that if it works, why try to improve on it? Saying that though, the recent reveal of the PlayStation 4 shows that they have added more functions of the joy-pad to try to make the experience with it even more interactive. 

Nintendo is a company that has gone from the box style functional aspects of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, and evolved into a home console who's primary focus has been on motion control, and direct interactivity with the player. By focusing on an aspect not really keyed by other home consoles, the Wii was the first to popularise motion control, and appeal to those who wouldn't normally play video games. The competition in the PlayStation Move and the Microsoft Kinect are both superior in many ways to the Wii's original set-up  but due to lack of games being catered to motion control on Sony's and Microsoft's consoles they have failed to be utilised as successfully. The Kinect is the farthest in terms of direct control, that game consoles have come, in terms of removing a hand held controller entirely and letting the player directly become the controller. It will be interesting to see how far they can take it, or if it will just become yet another fad that will fall by the wayside. 

The reveal of the Google Glass project, that utilises augmented reality into glasses worn, shows how far user interface has come in technology.... something you'd imagine as something purely in sci fi as a kid growing up (that's probably me showing my age)

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