The Xbox Kinect is Microsoft’s answer to the Nintendo Wii’s motion-based gaming. The Kinect is unique in the sense that compared to Sony’s Playstation Move and Nintendo’s Wiimote, it does not require a controller in hand. In fact, as their marketing states, “YOU are the controller”.
One of the sillier benefits of owning an Xbox Kinect is to watch people playing the game, but at an angle where you cannot see the TV screen to understand context. It’s almost like watching your friends perform interpretive dance! Besides that though, here are 5 other reasons why you should get the Xbox Kinect.
1. Look Ma, No Hands!
Out of the box, the only hardware you get with the Xbox Kinect is a strange, but cool looking camera. This camera can either sit on top of your TV, or on top of your TV cabinet or other flat surface nearby. Unlike the Playstation Move or the Wiimote, however, there is nothing to hold in your hands. The camera is actually a high-resolution 3D camera that can track millions of points on your body, and translate your movements back to the game for accurate control within the game.
By being able to track more than what you can do with one arm, this brings about possibilities that are simply not possible with the other motion-based gaming systems, such as distinguishing between your left and right hands, as well as being able to use your feet as the controllers, especially for fighting games where kicking may be involved.
2. Control More Than Games
Besides controlling games, the Kinect is used throughout the Xbox, including its user interface, the New Xbox Experience. (NXE) Instead of picking up the game controller or remote to navigate the menus, you can think of it as if it were a giant tablet PC, where you control it by waving your arms around to swipe between menus, and make your selections. Since the interface is based on the upcoming Windows 8 Metro UI, it only makes sense to navigate through gestures.
Aside from navigating menus, in many of the other apps, you can also control other aspects such as advancing through pictures, videos, and music, as well as pause, fast forward, and rewind.
3. Speak Up!
Of the 3 motion-based systems, the Kinect is the only one that also includes a microphone. Combined with the camera, this makes video chat possible. Although Microsoft recently purchased Skype, this app is not yet available on the Xbox 360, however, there is the Video Kinect app that allows Kinect users to chat with one another.
The microphone is also used in some games where players can issue voice commands within the game, and more importantly, in online games, players can chat with their teammates to warn them of the enemy coming in from behind, or to taunt one another.
Finally, the microphone can also be used to issue commands for the truly lazy, so that instead of waving their arms to navigate through menus, players can just say what menu item they would like to select.
4. I’m Not Fat, I’m Big Boned!
Perhaps a disadvantage of owning a Kinect, but in the lower corner of the screen when the Kinect is turned on, a grainy black and white image will appear to show what the camera can see, and more importantly, what it is tracking. This can be an eye-opener for a lot of people (I know it was for me!) to show them how fat or skinny they are. In fact, after seeing that blob in the lower right hand corner, I temporarily had a desire to go back in time to play a retro Pac-Man game, just so I didn’t have to get up off the couch!
However, besides showing an embarrassing image of your silhouette, the Kinect offers quite a few exercise-based games such as Electronic Arts’ popular EA Active game, that acts as a personal trainer for in-home exercises. These games track the players’ movements to make sure they are performing the exercises correctly, and can even estimate the number of calories that they are burning in each session. And if you’re not into games that are nothing more than a workout video, there are plenty of games that will make you break a sweat such as the game that comes included, Kinect Adventures, which has you punching and kicking balls that fly at you, and ducking and jumping over various hurdles, as well as the numerous dancing games such as Just Dance, which teach you dance moves so you can get your groove on!
5. Growing Library
With about a 3 year head start, the Nintendo Wii has the largest collection of motion-based games, however, the Xbox Kinect has a rapidly growing library that at the time of this writing, is over 100 titles. It looks like Microsoft is committed to this platform, and rumors have it that the next-gen Xbox console will also feature the Kinect.
Several genres of games exist in the Kinect library, with dancing and exercise games topping the list, but other popular genres such as puzzlers, fighting games, rhythm games, and first-person shooters rounding out the list.
Balboa Beach, California resident Sophie Evans is an at-home freelance writer, mother and wife. Researching on a vast amount of topics day to day Sophie was pleased to come across http://www.menshideaway.com while searching out idea for this article. She is now thinking about adding a real gaming room in her own house after seeing some of the ideas on the site.