The Electronic Entertainment Expo – also known as E3, also known as the place where the latest and greatest in video games is shown every year. If it’ll melt your face off and it’s somehow related to video games, chances are it’ll be at E3.

And this past year’s E3 was no exception, as the show was akin to 1,000 noisy arcades (remember those) combined into one massive paradise of everything we’re going to want to drop money on for the next 365 days. A rule of thumb to follow around E3; if it’s trending and important, the “Big Three” (Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony) are probably leading the charge. And two of these trends were on display in full force – motion control and 3D gaming.

Motion Control

Thanks to Nintendo’s gutsy move in 2006 with the Nintendo Wii, wii’ve (brilliant) been playing our games by waggling remotes around for nearly four years now. Still, that doesn’t mean we’ve seen all there is to see from motion controlled games.

Nintendo: The innovators in motion control really don’t have to prove anything more in the area, and were a little quiet this year in that regard. They did drop a major bombshell with an announcement of new tech though (more on that coming up). One peripheral that I was a bit sad to not see was the Wii Vitality Sensor. I don’t care about fitness games, not in the least, but I think that could be an innovative addition to the games I do like. Imagine playing a first-person shooter that reads your pulse through the sensor, and affects the stability of your firearm in the game. The faster your pulse, the harder it is to keep the gun steady, that would be incredible. If we see this implemented in games, remember you probably read it here first J Or if you’re from a major gaming studio, hire me as a game designer. Either/or, I’m flexible.

Microsoft's Kinect with new Xbox 360 console

Microsoft: The makers of the Xbox 360 went all out at this year’s E3 with their new peripheral called Kinect. Kinect is basically a camera that attaches to your Xbox 360, reads your body movements and communicates with your games, making the in-game characters mimic your actual movements. It also has voice-recognition technology, so it can identify a user based on their voice and follow verbal commands. This is a very cool device, and brings us closer to “futuristic” movies like Back to the Future 2 than ever. While I like the idea of talking to my Xbox to turn it on and start up games, I don’t know how often I’d use it for playing games. I mean, what about the games where you have to play through the same level multiple times? Before, the only thing stopping me was my patience; now I might have to worry about muscle cramps and fatigue!

PlayStation's new Move controller

Sony: Sony’s approach to motion control is a balance between Nintendo and Microsoft, as the company will be pushing out the PlayStation Move later this year. Move uses a remote-like controller (a la Nintendo) along with a motion-detecting camera (a la Microsoft) to make a new kind of motion detecting device. Much like Kinect, Move can do some very cool things. There are demos out there that show producers using it to navigate futuristic looking graphical interfaces, and it adds a new level of interaction with games. It has been described as “Wii HD”, but only time will tell if it will be as wildly successful as Nintendo’s hit console.

Overall there are some interesting things going on with motion control, but nothing too groundbreaking from when Nintendo did it first four years ago. It’s obvious that the competition is looking into ways to incorporate motion control into their hardcore-aimed gaming systems, because it will hopefully attract more casual gamers or newbie gamers to their systems. You can’t blame this kind of thinking, as it was such a huge success for Nintendo. Regardless, these peripherals will add new ways to play games, and possibly a few more years to each console’s life cycle as well.

The other major innovation, 3D gaming, has more appeal to the hardcore gamer. We’ll take a look at that one in a future installment!

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