I'll be the first to admit I've been less than excited about the 2010 crop of motion-controlled gaming hardware from Sony and Microsoft. Particularly in the case of the Kinect, the upcoming motion-control camera peripheral for the Xbox 360, interacting with a motorized camera presents ways of physically humiliating yourself that make the Nintendo Wii seem positively tame.
An invitation to try out Dance Central, the hopeful killer app from MTV Games and Harmonix for the Kinect's November launch, didn't encourage me. The previous session was finishing, and true to my expectation, members of the press were hopping up and down to club beats, looking ridiculous and somewhat uncoordinated. I am not a dancer, nor do I dream of being one, and I was expecting this to be a painful demo.
When we dance in front of a camera, it's like an invitation to be shy. Who's really up for this type of exhibition? I know the Kinect is watching me, and I certainly don't want to see myself onscreen. I also don't want to fail out at a dance game. Games like Dance Dance Revolution are unforgiving with misses, and you know it when you don't land on the right part of the mat.
I was surprised to discover two things: in a head-to-head dance-off, I came close to unseating the PR demonstrator who clearly had physical and experiential advantages over me. And, I actually had fun and felt encouraged. How did this happen?
I equate it to Auto-Tune for dance. … Read more