Why I Hate: Motion Control

By: Craig Lager

Published: September 7, 2009 Posted in: PC Gaming Nonsense

Flail wildly to run. Flick to jump. Pump to recharge. Thrust to punch. Motion controls have taken over the world in the form of a slopey white box with that once wonderful Nintendo branding on it. Unfortunately it’s not the SNES but that more modern wii-fandangle which people keep going on about what with it’s user friendlyness and family orientated entertainment. Motion Controls are most probably here to stay what with Sony and Microsoft jumping on the bandwagon (all be it a wagon filled with money) but I say this in the nicest and sincerest possible way: IHATEYOUIHATEYOUIHATEYOU. Also: Stay away from my PC

Motion Control: Wii bowling

The first problem I have with motion control is the self titled lie. The amount of control in motion control is akin to what you have as when driving a car with a steering wheel covered in baby oil, 6 inch nails protruding out of the pedals, and then a gearstick switched with a flaccid banana. How many times the Wii has infuriated me because what I was doing either doesn’t register properly or at all is beyond count. You know what I mean; you try to ‘throw’ a grenade or ‘steer’ the wheel – only to find that nothing is happening meaning you have to repeat the action, or it’s picked up but is so insensitive you have the accuracy of a drunken blind man with a crooked shotgun. The fortunate thing for motion control is that the issue of control (or lack of) is one that can be fixed with the wonders of technology, though the rest of the inherent problems can’t.

There is a myth that motion control is ‘bringing the action into my livingroom’. It’s not. Just because I’m copying what is going on inside the game does not make it any more immersive nor does it immediately ‘bring me into the game world’. In fact, it’s less immersive and will be so until we get holodecks (the one instance where I fully retract any negativity I might have about motion control). The fact is, me ‘throwing a grenade’ lands in an “uncanny valley” – while I’m doing ‘the motion’ I’m fully aware that I’m not actually throwing a grenade and even more so when an animation on screen performs said throwing of said grenade. What you end up with is an action that ends up in some bastardised middle ground where both real life me and in-game me have ‘thrown’ a grenade but since any reaction only happens to in-game me it makes real life me’s action nothing more than a redundant distraction.

Motion Control: wiimote

What’s more when it comes to immersion, nothing is less distracting than you hitting something/one. I – rather unfortunately – don’t live in a mansion. My house isn’t tiny per-se, but it’s not one where, for example, I can safely flail around without something in the back of my mind saying “watch for them shelves” or “don’t knock over that lamp” and while it’s technically possible to play with arms by my side using limited gestures, it defeats the point no?

The biggest problem I have with motion control though is how it’s meant to be fun. It’s the “look how silly I can be” fun. It’s like karaoke. I fucking hate karaoke. As each ‘party game’ aims to make the players look more and more ridiculous I have to ask myself if this is the best way that the developers could think to make their game an enjoyable experience? It has to be limited at best – there are only so many times you can laugh at someone miming a furious masturbation before it gets old.

I remember in the days of the SNES playing Plok on my own for hours. It didn’t have fancy motion controls, just standard buttons, and it’s all it ever needed. I was engrossed playing it and no amount of me punching or kicking would ever improve that, plus I could actually control it. The buttons did what they were meant to do 100% of the time. I also remember playing Goof Troop co-op with whoever would join me. We enjoyed it because we got to solve problems together and throw pots at baddies – at no point did we feel the need to start wanging the controllers about our heads to improve the experience. Motion Control is redundant and ridiculous – I hate it.

Craig Lager
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