Our Buttonless Future

There was some sort of trend at E3 2009 towards getting gamers off their collective ass-flesh. Microsoft debuted it’s full body/no controller Project Natal while Sony offered their magic wand/raver glow stick hybrid dubbed the… well, nothing. They’re just calling it the PS3 motion controller. I’m sure by the time it’s released they’ll be calling it the “Cyber Lance” or “Excitement Bulb” or something.

Not being an active gamer, these products hold little promise for me for future entertainment, but I am quite intrigued by the technology involved. Microsoft has opted to do away with the controller completely (a ballsy yet foolish movie IMO) so that you can swipe furiously at menus, roundhouse kick your gamer tag to log in and scream movie preferences at your TV with all the fervor and zeal of someone who’s been on the phone with a Discover card voice-robot for 45 minutes (I think you said “Cock Shitting Fuck Mouthed Piece of Shit… If that is correct say “Yes” or Press 1). Their tech-demo was impressive but I really don’t see it translating well into an actual living room gaming experience. Although, finale getting to act out a “Hadouken” and having it actually accomplish something other than confused stares from the cats would be pretty sweet.

I think Sony actually came a lot closer to creating something people can actually use to play games. Their “web cam tracks the glowing orb in 3d space” tech makes a lot more sense to me than the Wii’s clumsier set up. Plus, you need buttons. That’s just how it is. Why would anyone think it’s easier to cartwheel across your living room than to hit A or X? Unfortunately, everyone already has an X-Box 360 (I don’t even have one and I HAVE ONE) so their arm flapping, high kicking back injury inducing system will probably prevail (if any of them do).

Oh, and Nintendo (Intenda to you Grandma’s in 1988) made a heart monitor that you ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO CLIP ON YOUR PENIS. Big deal.

Do any of these new control schemes excite you? Would you buy a system you didn’t already have to take adantage of one? Anything else from E3 that got your geek juices flowing? Why am I doing a gaming comic?

UPDATE: Lots of FB E3 09 talk on the Forum

BenHeck: Mod Scientist

“It’s really more of a sexual fantasy, Doc.”

Benjamin Heckendorn is a nerd after my own heart. He sees things that are well, and he can’t leave well enough alone. He sees the hidden potential in devices to be smaller, better, faster, stronger (our work is never over). You might say his latest project, Modding an Xbox 360 controller into an Atari joystick, is pointless or that he had no reason for doing it. But why do we do anything? Why do we climb a mountain? Because it’s there. Why do we go to the moon? Because it’s there. Why do we put a 24″ LCD screen into a coffee table? Because they were Josh’s and not mine, so I didn’t care if they got broken.The journey of discovery is it’s own reward.

If you arent familiar with BenHeck‘s work, I urge you to browse his greatest hits, his forum (where users post their own hacks and mods) and check out his podcast. He’s like Michelangelo with a soldering iron. He’s also completed several projects to help enable disabled gamers including a one handed controller and a one arm Guitar Hero solution using a foot pedal to strum.

Before I had a child, my living room, office or garage were typically full of such BenHeck-type projects. With most of them, I just enjoyed the breaking and rebuilding (and rebreaking) parts. Once they were operational I generally lost interest. I’d like to post pictures of them for you guys to check out. Josh has a few on his Flickr. I’ll go ahead and list the rest and update this post if pics get posted.

  • NES PC (building a working Via Motherboard into an NES case)
  • The MULEbox/JuiceBox arcade cabinet
  • Josh’s original Xbox case mod with clear dome and LED lights
  • The LCD Coffee Table That Should Not Be (1,2)

Post your own case mods and hardware hacking projects (or the best ones you’ve seen online) in the comments. Then get a Dremmel tool and ruin/improve those old computers and consoles just lying in your closet. Can we coin the term “ruinprove?”