After E3 2010 ended, I visited my family in Los Angeles. During my visit, I showed my cousin, who is male and 10 years old trailers for major E3 titles. He is basically a pretty normal kid who likes video games – so I showed him the major highlights of the coming "motion wars" to get his perspective. Essentially, I showed off 2-4 titles motion titles from E3 that I saw, titles which show off the 3DS, Kinect, Move and Wii technology real well. I recorded his reactions secretly as I showed off the games to him for the first time, and am transcribing them below (with his permission).
I began with Wii, before moving to 3DS, X360 Kinect, and then PS3 Move. My cousin has a Wii and a PSP but he is familiar with other systems. His neighbor has an X360 and his best friend has a PS3. He routinely asks me about New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Halo Wars, and Little Big Planet. I refer him to Google. He is also familiar with 3D technology from movies - he enjoyed the effects of 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs'. Beyond that, he is familiar with Iphone gaming and flash based gaming - but he lacks the knowledge of franchises and industry trends and transitions you see on a gaming community like this.
The first trailer I showed my cousin was Epic Mickey, a platformer from Disney for Wii which uses a paintbrush and erasing mechanic. Without any prompting he said "this reminds me of Max & The Magic Marker", a WiiWare game where smaller objects can be drawn into the game. The idea of playing in a cartoon and being able to change it with a Wii-mote paintbrush still appears to have some potential though, as his eyes lit up as he saw mechanics extend beyond what he had expected. He asked me why the style was "so dark" and I told him that Mickey Mouse used to be an edgy icon before he became really cute - so Disney was trying to bring him back to that. When asked for a final assessment he said "it looks like its fun but I don't need it since I have Max & The Magic Marker". He didn't seem to think the game offered anything new, but he did believe it would be 'really cool' to play in classic animation scenes.
With that first assessment out of the way I went in a completely different direction. I told him to close his eyes as I pulled up a video on Youtube showing a trailer and game play of NBA Jam. When he saw the words "NBA Jam" pop up he said "I don't like basketball!" - but his stance soon softened after seeing the ridiculous blocks, jumps, calls, fires and slam dunks of the game. As he saw adult players trash talk each other in an E3 game play video while performing ridiculous back flip style slam dunks with their Wii remotes he broke out laughing. "What is Boom-shakala?" he asked after a while and I soon realized that my cousin, despite going to arcades in Santa Monica his entire life - and playing a lot of sports - had no idea what NBA Jam was. For the final assessment, he said "buy this so I can beat you". That says it all, considering this is a kid from LA who didn't know the Lakers had just won game seven of the NBA Finals - which had caused a celebratory riot near our E3 hotel – but still wanted the game.
For Wii, I also showed off Just Dance 2. He said the "dancing looks kind of fun but its too hard" for me. When asked why it looked hard, he said he didn't think he could move fast enough to keep up with the beat. As the video played, his cat and dog also sprinted down the hallway behind us, so he added "we don't have enough room for that game either!” The next morning, my other Los Angeles cousin, a three year old girl saw the trailer and tried to imitate the video. She fell on her bum and cried…loudly. In his final assessment of the game play and trailers "only hot middle school girls" will buy Just Dance 2 because “they like to show off and older girls go to real dances,” or so he says.
As a Wii owner, my cousin was only really impressed by NBA Jam for its effective over the top use of motion controls - which he had no experience with before. Epic Mickey and Just Dance 2 didn’t really appeal to him too much. Had I shown him Donkey Kong, Kirby, and Sonic Colors he probably would have been happier, but this piece is intended to assess his reaction to motion control games, so I didn’t bother.
On the 3DS side, after explaining the technological limits of our computer screen for showing 3D, I showed Kid Icarus and Pilotwings Resort. For both titles he asked about the controls. I told him that the game space could be "rotated" and that Pilotwings in particular let you travel anywhere. He said he could see that Pilotwings felt like "real flying" even in 2D, but also noted that the “3DS graphics look like good graphics on PSP and Iphone games”. When I asked him if he could tell by the 3DS game ads and graphics if he could see what parts might be 3D, he pointed to areas of the computer monitor that were in fact in 3D on the 3DS demos. After showing off the two demos, he wanted to see more, and expressed disappointment when I told him those were the best ones for demonstrating 3D without a 3D screen. When I told him 3DS would be able to play 3D movies on 3DS he didn’t seem too impressed – “PSP does more than games but I mostly use it for Sonic” he said. Overall, it looks like he has some interest in 3DS, but he will need to be sold on the 3D tech for game play, because the graphics alone won’t justify a purchase for him. Titles shown off at the show that I mentioned, like Metal Gear, Kid Icarus, Animal Crossing, and Samurai Warriors are meaningless to him.
With the 3DS out of the way, I showed my cousin four demonstrations / game play trailers for X360 Kinect and PS3 move. Watching his reactions to games available for Kinect was fascinating even though it was after I explained it was a camera-based and controller free system before showing anything to him. Dance Central was the first up and he had a similar reaction to the Just Dance 2 trailer. He said “this looks even harder than the other game. Now I have to get my legs and body to move right too! He did add that the “way the body moves is showing up perfectly” for the game – which appears to have been the general consensus of E3 attendees.
Next, we looked at Kinectimals. He said “Why would I want this? I have real pets” and towards the end of the trailer “it looks kind of young and girly for me too, but it is cute”. When I asked him if he had ever heard of Nintendogs, which is somewhat similar, he said he knew girls who had it. He said he didn’t like games where “you have no goal”, even if they “control really good [well] like Kinectimals”.
After that, we looked at Child of Eden. Ten seconds in he said “the graphics are incredible but it looks kind of boring”. What was boring about it? He replied “if I’m going to wave around it needs to be for a realistic activity” – and as stated above, for a goal. When I told him this was sort of artistic display for Kinect, he simply said “people play games for fun, and this doesn’t look fun to me”.
We finished up with Kinect Adventure. About twenty seconds into the trailer he said “this is pretty cool, but I don’t know if I’d be able to play for very long”. Why not? He replied “it’s too much like hard sports or games; you have to worry about yourself more than the game”. Overall, as with the 3DS, my cousin appeared to be impressed by the potential and technology of Kinect, but he said he’d be fine “playing these games at my neighbor’s house if he got them” instead of buying an X360 for the technology.
Lastly, I showed off PS3 Move demos and trailers. I explained that the Move was sort of a reverse-engineered Wii in terms of motion controls, using light and a basic camera at opposite points as Wii does. Whereas the Wii sensor bar sends out infrared light for the Wii remote to catch to determine distance, the Move uses light on its controller and a camera by the TV. I started him off with a demo / trailer video for Sorcery. Being able to “feel like a wizard is pretty cool” he said, but he added “someone could do that for Wii right?” He was very impressed by the ability to switch spells quickly, saying it would be “cool to fight a boss with that magic wand feeling”. He said he thinks “my best friend will probably get this, because he likes Harry Potter stuff and we’ll play it a lot probably”.
I followed Sorcery with Tiger Woods Move. He really liked the way the controller moved with Tiger Wood’s club but he said “it feels like the golf stuff in Wii Sports or [Wii Sports] Resort with better graphics”. When I asked him if that was enough he said “only if it’s more fun and prettier. Both would be enough. One isn’t. Probably won’t play it”. Part of that seems to just be his feeling on golf – “even if this Golf game was like that NBA game it probably wouldn’t be fun since it’s not competitive”.
With that in mind, I showed him Sports Championship. He stayed silent for most of the trailer, and asked at the end “did they just copy Nintendo for this one?” and added shortly afterwards “I don’t need this after Wii Sports”. I didn’t really know what to say to that so I pulled up the next trailer. He rolled his eyes as he said it though, so he probably doesn’t want it.
We finished with Move Party. During the trailer he said it “looks like they mixed the Rayman games [for Wii] and Adventure [for Kinect], so it’s pretty cool”. He then noted “the ad looks like Wii ads”. Would my cousin want it if he had a Move? “Maybe, but I’m still addicted to my Rayman game!”
Overall, Move probably would have appealed to my cousin more if Wii didn’t already exist. He generally liked the games, but saw no reason to think they were better than his Wii games. Some of the Move content will unquestionably appeal to him, and I don’t doubt that he will play Sorcery and other interesting titles, but on the whole the massive motion-control library that already exists for Wii means my cousin doesn’t see a need to make his parents buy a PS3 with Move.
To sum it up, based on the top motion-titles coming for Kinect, Move, and Wii, and a couple 3DS games, my cousin is somewhat interested in titles for each. He was most impressed by NBA Jam, Sorcery, Kinect Adventure, and Pilotwings Resort. Epic Mickey, Sports Champions, and Move Party were all similar to experiences he had already played, so he wasn’t too impressed with any of them, despite liking similar experiences. The two dance games, and Kinectimals were not interesting to my cousin due to the nature of their game play – too complex, and too simple respectively. Kid Icarus, Child of Eden, and Tiger Woods also didn’t really appeal to his gaming tastes, even though he was clearly impressed with the visuals for each game (3D for Icarus, and overall for other two).
My impression after showing him Wii games, Move, Kinect, and 3DS games is that Wii is really the only system offering games in the genres he likes at the moment, partly because he is just sinking his teeth into its library after getting a Wii last December. Move and 3DS do appeal to him on potential, but they don’t seem to have enough content yet to make him want either device. Kinect interested him quite a bit when used well, but he doesn’t seem to see it as a device that has a lot of content for him, at least right now. As a final experiment I threw in one last variable. I said, “If you had $800 to spend in the next year, and these systems and major games (along with others) were out what would you buy?” I told him that 3DS would probably cost $200-$250, PS3 + Move would probably cost $400, and X360 Slim + Kinect would probably cost $400-$450. I also mentioned that games for Wii and PSP, the systems he has, cost $50 and $40 respectively most of the time. He said he would buy “the NBA thing, Sorcery, Move Party and Move for my best friend [the best friend has a PS3] and me, 3DS and a couple games for me, and maybe some more Wii and PSP games!” More realistically, I think he gets $200-$300 to spend on video games per year, as do most people in this country, and so with Kinect, 3DS, and Move to be expensive, he’d probably just buy more Wii and PSP games until he runs out of stuff to play. If the mass-market behaves similarly to my cousin, then the pricing for Move and Kinect may be prohibitive for most gaming budgets, or at least kids gaming budgets.
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