Thursday, February 22, 2018

Tangibles with Game Consoles


I have used some tangibles with game consoles. With Xbox 360 I used the "Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel", "Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action" and "Rock Band". With PlayStation 3 I used "BUZZ! Quiz TV" and "SingStar". With Wii I used "Mario Kart Wii" and with Wii U I used "Skylanders" figurines.

Do tangibles allow you to immerse more in games? Do they make controlling the games easier or harder? How about ergonomics? I will discuss those issues and also mention what those systems consist of, how they interact with the game console and how you interact with them.

The Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel comes with a 10-inch force feedback steering wheel controller, floor-mounted accelerator and brake pedals, modem cable between the wheel unit and the pedal unit and an external AC adapter. The racing wheel includes the standard gamepad buttons and an integrated headset port. You can keep the racing wheel on your lap or on a table. The racing wheel interacts with the console using 2.4-gigahertz wireless technology. When you steer the wheel the virtual car turns to that direction. When you press the gas pedal your car accelerates. When your car hits something, you get force feedback to your hands. You interact with the racing wheel by moving it left or right. You can press A for gas and B for break, but because you have the pedals, you probably want to use them. I played Forza Motorsport 2 and Project Gotham Racing 3 with the racing wheel. The ergonomical problem with the racing wheel is that you have to keep your hands up. Because it is intense racing my hands got tired maybe in about hour. On the other hand, you shouldn't play video games many hours straight anyway. Did I get immersed using a racing wheel and pedals? I think it is the story that makes me immersed. It's also the playability that matters. Was it easier or more difficult to control the cars with the racing wheel? I would say more difficult as it just didn't feel right with any setting I tried. On the other hand, I feel a real steering wheel in a real car just doesn't feel intuitive to me and that's why I don't have a driving license. I don't understand how other people can drive cars. Anyway, in the end I got bored with the racing wheel maybe in about a week or two and stopped using it. When you use the Wired Xbox 360 Controller it just feels natural and you can change your position from a chair to the floor or lean back or forward when using a chair. That way you can play much longer also. So, thumbs down for the racing wheel.

I have owned two quiz games with tangibles. They are "Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action" for Xbox 360 and "BUZZ! Quiz TV" for PlayStation 3. Both games have more than one buzz controller for up to four players playing simultaneously. You interact with the buzz controller by pressing the buttons on it and by looking at the television screen to see what happens. The buzz controller lets the game know you want to answer the question. Those controllers also have the standard gamepad buttons, so you can pause or quit the game or change the settings. Scene It controllers use infrared and BUZZ! controllers use wireless technology for sending control messages to the game. I can't remember anymore did the game console send messages to turn on or off the lights on the controllers, but that would be an obvious choice. With these quiz games it really is easier to immerse with the games more than with the standard controllers. You only need one hand and one button most of the time, so there isn't much complexity. The ergonomics is better also as you can keep the buzz controller on your left or right hand, on your lap or even near to you while drinking some beverage. This time, thumbs up for the buzz controllers.

Let's take one more example with tangibles. The Rock Band for Xbox 360 comes with a guitar, drums, a microphone and a USB hub. You connect the drums and microphone to the USB hub, which connects to the game console. The guitar is wireless. With the guitar and drums you press the buttons to send information to the console what was played. The game does not send any signals to the devices to turn on any functionalities or I don't think I noticed anything like that. You interact with the devices by pressing the guitar buttons, pounding the drum and with the microphone I think your voice is monitored how high or low your tone is. I'm not a musical person, so I could not immerse with this game. It feels like you are robot who needs to do exactly as commanded by pressing or pounding in a certain order. I also tried using the standard game controller and I think it's easier, because I'm used to the position of those buttons. I don't know about the ergonomics as I didn't want to play for long. I was more interested how a music game is implemented – how can the designers make it a better user experience or can they. With music games in overall, it's thumbs down for me.

So, what is my overall picture of tangibles with game consoles? Do they make me more immersed? Are they better? Are they more ergonomic? Are they more natural? Tangibles for game consoles use different technologies interacting with the game consoles (Wi-Fi, infrared, USB, etc.). They have buttons for interacting and other means also, like microphone, accelerometer and gyroscope. It depends on the game more than the controller do you get immersed. Actually, the standard game controller possibly let's me immerse more as I already know the places of the buttons, so I don't have to think about the controller. The buzzer controller is an exeption as a quiz game is so simple, you usually just use the one button (or one of the four ones if there are multiple choice questions). When we talk about the naturalness of tangibles, then yes, they do feel more natural than the standard game controllers. But not even naturalness helps if you can't immerse with the game. In overall, the standard controller is the best option. Why? Because you can lean back, lean forward, sit on chair or on the floor, which is not possible or not comfortable with all the tangible controllers I have mentioned.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Test 2018

Test for year 2018.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Test 2017

Test for year 2017.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Test 2016

Test for year 2016.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Test 2015

Test for year 2015.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Test 2014

Test for year 2014.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Test 2013

Test for year 2013 (hmm, I forgot to post a test post for 2012).