Kinect is for Christmas, not for life…

November 23, 2010, Author: Neil Hughes

Gamers, as a rule, have a reputation of not being the most active of people but make no mistake Kinect is not aimed at your hardcore gamers, but at the all important family market over the Christmas period.

Whilst the PS3 and Xbox 360 sales hover around the 45 million mark, The Nintendo Wii has so far sold a whopping 75 million units because they managed to tap into the “Christmas Family Market”. Of course there are now many Nintendo Wii’s that are left unloved and untouched and sales are dropping like a stone because the fickle occasional gamers  are looking for something more sophisticated to impress at their Christmas Party.

In my head there will be many snob like scenarios, where people find themselves gathered in a living room of people whom they see once a year and when the Wii is turned on, someone will say “Darling, the Wii is so last year haven’t you seen Microsoft Kinect? We have it and it’s so much better”. At this point the hostess runs upstairs in tears saying “Why do they always have to be better than us and ruin our Christmas”. Christmas ruined! For me, this is the market Microsoft is aiming for.

As news breaks that worldwide sales of Microsoft Kinect smashes the one million mark in ten days, I thought it was about time I should test the latest must have from Microsoft in a home environment. The biggest drawback seems to be that you need to be at least six feet away from your TV with no obstructions in the way. This may be fine for your typical American living room, but I think it’s fair to say that the average UK living room is a little more intimate, or should I say cosy.

Is your living room this big?

This means for most of you, you maybe moving a Coffee Table or chair out of the way before you even switch the Xbox on, which is fine at Christmas but at 10pm on a cold Wednesday night most of us are too lazy to move anything and just want to jump in and play. Even if you don’t mind moving a few things around, many will have the all-seeing eye of their partner saying something along the lines of “What do you think you are doing?”

My first Kinect experience was with Kinect Adventures and Joyride, which is a fair amount of fun and not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Alas, I got a little excited and wanted something a little more realistic so went straight into Motion Sports and Boxing was my sport of choice. Most fighters spend months training for a big fight, but I prefer the Ricky Hatton beer and kebab approach and as the bell signalled the beginning of round one, I unleashed hell on my computer opponent, toe to toe I stood and a barrage of one-two’s, left hook, right hook and upper cut destroyed him in the first round. After being raised on 80’s action movies, this was my moment to show my moves, I was king of the world. The system then displays pictures of you and your moment of glory but rather than a champion I could only see a fat bloke waving his hands around like a loony… I was left feeling dismayed at my public persona.

The son of Chuck Norris destroys Dad's TV with Kinect power.

The most amusing part of this story is for two days after my Kinect experience I feel like I actually went eight rounds with Mike Tyson and ache everywhere, so maybe this could be used quite effectively as a fun fitness aid. However if you want to earn yourself an easy £250 this Christmas, I urge you to attend every Kinect Party you possible can because I am sure if you armed with a video recording device you will find enough footage for an entire “You’ve Been Framed”.

The main reason many are leaving the world of the Nintendo Wii is because childlike family games are fine at Christmas but outside of that, it offers very little to the adult mind. Will a first person shooter work using motion control? The key to its success will probably depend on the games that are released over the next six months but how long before Kinect will lose its novelty? At the end of a truly awful day would you want to sit in your favourite chair playing a first person shooter or would you want to be jumping up and down in your living room?

What concerns me is  how many Sony Moves, Microsoft Kinects will be left neglected alongside exercise equipment that folds away for easy storage, a Danny Baker football howler DVD, a celebrity biography and a Pop Party 8 CD. All of which were brought with such good intentions, but are now left in a junk cupboard. For this reason I fear that maybe a Kinect system is for Christmas and not for life.