Tricia Duryee

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Sony Move Creator Richard Marks on the Future of Motion Control (But He Doesn’t Call it That)

The Microsoft Kinect, which gives users the ability to play hands-free on their Xbox, was a runaway hit of the holiday season, selling eight million units.

Meanwhile, Sony released a similar accessory for the PlayStation 3 called the Move, which sold 4.1 million during the first two months.

The two devices signal a wave of new gaming techniques by moving your body and arms — and brings what the Nintendo Wii started to the next level.

All three motion-controlled platforms help introduce gaming to a new demographic, who would have never envisioned themselves being comfortable picking up a controller that has a dozen or so differently colored buttons.

For Sony and Microsoft, it also breathes new life into their aging gaming systems, by creating new reasons to buy games, or even the console.

Sony charges about $100 for one controller and one game; and Microsoft charges about $140 for the Kinect plus one game.

So, is it a fad?

Richard Marks, who created the Sony Move, said no we’ve just gotten started.

“I don’t call it motion-control, even though Sony does. We are adding a level of finesse to gaming that hasn’t been there before. By calling it motion-control, it’s selling it short,” he said.

While most of the popular titles for the platforms so far are centralized around dancing or sports, Marks said the technology has the ablity to add a lot more to the gaming experience.

In fact, that’s one big difference between the Move and the Kinect.

“The traditional controller is intimidating, so this is addressing that audience, but it is also addressing the same core gaming audience.”

With the addition of a gun attachment, players can then use it to participate in hard core games, such as Kill Zone 3, where users pull a trigger to shoot someone and physically duck behind obstacles, so they don’t get shot.

At first, he said they didn’t know how traditional gamers would react to adding Move to these games, but as it turns out, it makes the game feel much closer to reality. “People don’t want to die as much, so they end up playing the game slower. It personalizes it more,” he said.

But adding Move to both casual and hard core game titles is just the beginning.

He says the technology has the ability to be so precise, you can imagine reaching your hand into a 3D world and picking up an object to inspect it. Or, in an intense fight scene, you could create a shield to defend yourself, by grabbing two sides of a imaginary fabric and stretching it to block a shot — using both hands.

He argues that’s a much more better experience than pushing a button. “It’s not a fad and it won’t replace the controller, but is good for when you want a special input.”

Where he thinks the technology will stop short is when it comes to bringing it to other devices.

The images in Minority Report, where Tom Cruise is moving around objects in thin air is not the best use case. “Doing that for eight hours a day is not practical. It’s being oversold because it’s cool. There’s more natural interfaces for that…The Move is a game controller, it was never desinged to be for the desktop.”

Here’s a video of Marks, who elaborates on his vision for the future of motion-controlled gaming, or uh, whatever he wants to call it: