Kinect: The very dangerous non-gamer experiment

OK, so this experiment isn't actually very dangerous at all. I admit that I only put the words 'very dangerous' in the headline to spice it up a bit. I guess if you factor in the unpredictability, lack of coordination and inferior motor skills of some of my 'test subjects', coupled with the potential for physical collisions in the defined play area, then there was definitely some element of risk involved. Actually, thinking about it, it’s an absolute miracle I escaped the exercise unharmed.


Anyway. The 'experiment' involved me taking Kinect home on the day it was released and connecting it to my TV. I then spent time over the following weeks playing a bunch of Kinect games with various friends and family who rank as 'remedial' on the gamer ability spectrum. This is what happened.

Test subject: The Missus

My girlfriend has an irrational hatred of video games. Or, at least, video games designed to be played on machines boasting more than 16-bits of computing power. Just getting her to try Kinect is a lot like coaxing the kids into eating cabbage. I tell her that if she plays Kinect she'll grow up to be big and strong. But she's not buying it.

She stands in front of the TV and Kinect looks her up and down.

"What’s it doing?" she asks.

"Scanning you" I say.

She doesn't trust it. Not one bit. George Orwell warned her about this sort of thing. It doesn't help when I mention that it's connected to the internet. I can tell her brain is formulating a conspiracy theory. There's paranoia behind her eyes. I suspect she's thinking that Kinect will take covert footage of her ass hanging out her pyjamas. It will send the footage to the Government and it will be used as part of some shadowy plot against women who lack the moral fibre to keep their asses safely confined within their night garments.

Above: Combining controller-free gaming and covert corporate surveillance 

She may have a point, but eventually I persuade her to stop fretting and try a bit of bowling.

It doesn't go particularly well. In fairness, it's not Kinect's fault. She deliberately stops trying when I start winning. However, when she scores a strike and the chorus of Queen's 'We are the champions' begins playing, there is definitely a smile on her face. I can tell that, secretly, she is almost enjoying herself. But the fleeting victory moment isn't enough to convince her that this futuristic virtual sport of mime bowling is something that can further enrich her life.

Above: He made the best song for winning 

I do my best to spark some Kinect enthusiasm from her on various occasions, but she's so completely not interested it's pointless. As soon as any game reminds her to take a break if feeling tired or sore (Kinect is neurotic in its concerns for player health), she claims to be feeling both tired and sore and it's probably best that she doesn't play any more. "I'd rather read a book" she says.

Just when I think the missus is done with Kinect for good, Dance Central spontaneously lures her back. She loves shaking her bad self on a Sunday afternoon to FannyPack's 'Hey Mami'. She genuinely has a good time playing a video game. Which is something that doesn't happen very often. Dance Central succeeds where most games post-SNES have failed miserably.

Verdict: Loves Dance Central. Doesn't love anything else. Suspects that Kinect is in cahoots with Skynet.

Test subject: The non-gaming mate

Unlike my other test-subjects, the non-gaming mate was - through exposure to advertising - already aware that Kinect existed and what the general concept was all about. He was familiar with Nintendo's own motion-sensing console and - based on the advertisement information he had absorbed - presumed that Kinect was "like the Wii but without the controller." Which sums it up nicely for the average consumer on the street.

As with any kind of experimentation undertaken with a good friend, I thought the consumption of alcohol would be an excellent idea. So we went to the pub and had a couple of boozes. We were in no way inebriated. The quantity of alcohol was intended to raise our enthusiasm for carrying on like a couple of twats beyond what is normally achievable in a state of sobriety.

Above: A few jars down the pub is a great way to improve your Kinect experience 

So, we got home from the pub and stuck on Kinect Sports. Table Tennis up first. As I was expecting, he was straight in and needed no coaching other than what the game provided. To be honest, the game - as impressed with it as he was - became a bit of a sideshow. More entertaining was dicking about for the video playbacks and trying to contort our bodies into physically challenging positions in order to spaz out our jolly on-screen avatars. They still looked jolly no matter what bone-breaking position we managed to get their limbs into.

Same thing with the bowling. It didn't matter who won, we were just happy to be dancing like robots for the replays or throwing victory shapes to the music after scoring a strike. We both concluded that for additional entertainment value in whatever you're doing in life, just add alcohol. Apart from driving an automobile or flying a plane or steering a boat or operating heavy machinery that could rip your arm off if you absent-mindedly forget what you're doing, leaving you ineligible for any compensation owing to you being completely pished.

Above: Kinect lifestyle shots should include at least five pints of lager 

Maybe I should re-phrase. For additional entertainment value when playing casual, motion-based gaming, just add alcohol. It worked wonders for me and my non-gaming test subject. With its fancy record and playback feature and list of pop music favourites ensuring the art of gloating is taken to another level, the presentational shine of Kinect Sports really blows Wii Sports out the shallow end when it comes to funny drunken-assery opportunities.

In the interests of conducting a proper professional experiment, my mate also played after not having drunk any drink. Apart from maybe a nice cup of non-alcoholic tea. He still enjoyed Kinect without the booze. But there just wasn't as many laughs.

Verdict: Enjoyed it so much that the test subject told other people about playing it. Would never seriously consider buying a 360 just for Kinect though.

Next: More insane Kinect madness!


  • Spybreak8 - December 26, 2010 6:57 p.m.

    Got the Kinect as a gift, as 2 days hands on I'm impressed but still I think this will get old fast. Now I have to buy Dance Central ahaha.
  • funster - December 24, 2010 1:36 a.m.

    I don't think it a stretch to say it is largely due to Microsoft's marketing department/oversized budget that the Kinect has done well. In the face of Sony's Move, MS cannot afford to let their close rival get the upper hand, so they're placing all their bets on a flawed piece of equipment. I'm not saying Move is superior or anything, but it must be important to MS to blunt Sony's new offering at the very least, if not outright trounce it.
  • HailCaeser - December 23, 2010 9 p.m.

    If I get a Kinect this year, I'm going to use it for skeet. I refuse to suffer watching my ditzy family d*ck around while they try to figure out how the Hell it works. Besides, I have a Wii, so two motion control systems/add-ons I need not, and guess which one doesn't have Super Mario Galaxy.
  • GAYMER - December 23, 2010 8:13 p.m.

    Freddy Mercury wouldn't say that, lol
  • MrDuracraft - December 23, 2010 7:59 p.m.

    My older sister sounds just like your mum+the non-gamer. I am glad we do not own an Xbox, because then I would never be able to play it.
  • celticsfan645 - December 23, 2010 7:36 p.m.

    That is Dangerous. You are lucky you even made it out alive Houghton
  • EliteM0nk3y - December 23, 2010 7:03 p.m.

    My first (and only) time playing Kinect was when i was at a friends house and we were all drinking beer. Best way to enjoy Kinect. Even Fighter's Uncaged seemed like a good game.
  • bilstar - December 23, 2010 6:59 p.m.

    I still can't see many fun times coming out of Kinect. I just can't see a pull for me. Other people have said it's more aimed for the kids, but I can't really see which of these shallow experiences are gonna hook the kids for any length of time (they're not stupid y'know). I was pretty disappointed to hear that Matt's kids had trouble with the navigation and management (if you will) of Kinectimals, I assumed that those aspects were so crucial to the experience that they would be nailed down hard by the developer. I'm all for gaming innovation and gaming does innovate really well quite often. But I just can't see any good place the Kinect is going. I want to tho!
  • Darkhawk - December 23, 2010 6:54 p.m.

    It makes me very happy to read about kids picking real world creation activities over video games. I'm not anti-games-for-kids, but at least this proves our young still have imaginations.
  • EricBratcher - December 23, 2010 6:22 p.m.

    I love the entry about Matt's mom. That's pretty much the same as my own mother, though her next question would be if it has any games that involve gardening.
  • thefreakysurgeon - December 23, 2010 5:36 p.m.

    even though Kinect's motion sensors are better than the wii's, i still feel that it's a big waste of money.
  • rxb - December 23, 2010 4:49 p.m.

    I sense a backlash coming when alot of people realise they have bought a two game add on for 129 quid. This story reminds me a bit of my 6 year old cousin wanting to play megaman 9 until he found out how hard it was. Kids these days.....
  • tacoman38 - December 23, 2010 4:46 p.m.

    the games that everyone loves the most is the minecart and river raft minigames on adventures. obstacle course (on a boat) are pretty self explanatory, and amusing to watch. And on the minecart one, you don't need to tell people to stop moving around as much, as they can see where their avatar is located on the cart. Dance Central may be good, but I'm of the belief that Adventures is the best release game, and it's a good choice to be bundled with the kinect.
  • Keefster10 - December 23, 2010 4:12 p.m.

    That was a pretty entertaining article lol... well done However I'm not surprised. One trick ponies get old fast...
  • Snowyjoe - December 23, 2010 3:13 p.m.

    Pretty interesting since Kinect was pretty much designed as a "family" game.... but what's the point of it being a family game if you're the only one in the family that can play it.....
  • Syncmaster - December 23, 2010 2:23 p.m.

    I envy you for having a game hater girlfriend. I have the opposite, nowdays I cant even touch god of war 3 or assassins creed if she is not by my side watching.. of playing coop.. /sarcam
  • RCTrucker7 - December 23, 2010 1:43 p.m.

    Awesome Cundy. The whole section of playing with your girls was an exact matching of me playing with my 6 year old son, on some games. (Non Kinect, as I haven't totally gotten to where I want to buy it yet.) @henmo68 - i think it's supposed to be a house; picket fence, windows, roof looking symbols. But I think it got messed up in the posting process.
  • Ell223 - December 23, 2010 1:32 p.m.

    Cundy always delivers the funniest articles.
  • SQU33G - December 23, 2010 1:28 p.m.

    For whatever you're doing in life, just add some green
  • Furyspittles - December 23, 2010 1:23 p.m.

    These adbots are slowly getting cooler and cooler. I don't know what that is a picture of, but it looks impressive. Like a dream factory or something.

Showing 1-20 of 27 comments

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