Kinect Is Wasted On Video Games

We've seen some truly astounding things being done with Microsoft's Kinect motion-control camera in the month since its release. It's a shame, then, that none of them have had anything to do with video games.

From 3D-mapping to robot programming to manboobs to advanced user interfaces, Kinect has shown it has the potential to revolutionise not just how we work with computers, but how computers can work with us.

We can't remember a piece of gaming technology that has ever had this kind of non-gaming appeal, especially so soon after release. Sure, people had some fun with the Wii when it was released in 2006, and it even had a few practical uses, but its gyroscopic technology was in most cases only a slight advance over existing devices.

Kinect, though? It's been a revelation to computer science students and engineers the world over. Why, then, can't we get as excited about its games?

The peripheral's launch lineup is, to be kind, disappointing, consisting almost entirely of crude "waggle" titles that ask nothing more of the user than to jump, wave their arms or run on the spot. Even Harmonix's Dance Central, the "highlight" of Kinect's launch software, falls into this category.

Where was the innovation? Why couldn't a single developer, especially Microsoft's own teams, come up with something that couldn't be played just as easily with a Wii Remote, that took advantage of all the peripheral's strengths, that could really show what the camera was capable of?

The argument that this was launch software doesn't hold water. These hackers and students we've seen messing with Kinect have only had their hands on the device for a matter of weeks, and have already come up with tricks and features not seen in any Kinect game we've yet seen, released or upcoming. And those developers have had Kinect development kits for months!

There's no physical deformation, which would be a blast for party games. No puzzle games that allow two players to simultaneously manipulate objects on the one screen. No kids games that let them create and customise their own puppet show.

And those are just a start. Accidental game mechanics discovered by non-gaming types who are just out to have some fun with the camera. Imagine what people - like, say, professional game designers! - could come up with when they're given months to think of something, instead of mere weeks.

Here's hoping, then, that beyond the Kinect games we know about - and that ask so little of you - we'll see next year some titles that truly take advantage of what this amazing piece of technology has to offer. Because until we do, Kinect, as exciting as it is for some enterprising souls, is being wasted on games.