Gamers want the big plasma televisions, the surround sound, the vibrating controller in sync with their character’s heartbeat as they aimlessly wander down a dark hallway or shoot Councilor Udina in the chest (Hey, that only took 5 years!). Gamers want to be immersed into and become one with their virtual worlds. What serious gamer is clamoring to have their level 81 Dovahkiin shrunk down to the size of an iPhone screen? If developers do that to my Dragonborn, how am I supposed to so meticulously admire my little, flocking Skyrim bunnies?
An example of technological “advancement” to support this theory of “we are all going to lose our faithful consoles to our annually replaceable iPhones” is Microsoft’s Smartglass. The Smartglass is a feature that transfers media from the console to the tablet or smartphone. It’s a neat idea which will enable users to continue watching a movie or listen to music among other boring things I don’t care about. Oh yeah, it uses Internet Explorer and voice command. Is Smartglass a winning combo or am I in Hell? I don’t want to be in my kitchen listening to someone in my living room repeat in their dead, monotone tongue “Favorites. Next. Starship Troopers. Play.” What? No, I’ve seen that movie, like, at least 6 times. Regardless, perhaps I am being too hard on the Smartglass, but just know I am not alone in my disappointment. As one commenter on IGN put it perfectly, “I could give a massive [****] about music and apps. I want video games, man.” Yeah, Microsoft, we want games and we want to be inside those games. So let me just say that this rumor about you developing a virtual reality helmet for the Xbox 720 is exactly the mountain you should be climbing. I want to put your helmet on my head, press it into my eyes, and kill a snow troll with my bare, pink nail-polished hands. I mean, Internet Explorer? Are you kidding me? I didn’t even know that was still a thing.
John Carmack has the right idea. His virtual headset was recently discussed at E3 2012. Carmack’s piece came complete with head tracking, 3D visualization, and capabilities to shoot things in the throat. The only thing that would make this device more awesome is if I could style it however I wanted; like attach horns and razor blades. If real life welders can have virtual gear that include a helmet with interior mechanisms and a virtual welding gun for superior work performance, then I can have a recreational, virtual horned helmet and chainsaw. The point is, innovations like Carmack’s headpiece and Microsoft’s helmet will not only save consoles from Androids and iPhones, but propel the gaming arena into welcoming, familiar arms (as well as larger audiences).
Some may be wondering why I have not mentioned Sony’s Wonderbook. Okay, the Wonderbook is cool and maybe a step in the right direction because it’s interactive and further envelopes me into the game. However, I am not 12 and I do not like 11 minute demos that consist of fully clothed women sitting on carpet squares waving around a wand.
Ultimately, I have little confidence in the ominous warnings of the dying console. The most recent model of the Xbox 360, the Xbox 360 Elite, has built in WiFi, is slimmer, and is faster than its predecessor. Rumors of the Xbox 720 are circling and based on Microsoft’s history we can expect an even prettier and more improved console (hopefully with that gnarly virtual helmet). Additionally, the release of the Kinect in 2010 invited gamers to become the controller, further emerging them into their virtual passions and introducing non-gamers into the gaming world. Let us not forget creative men like John Carmack who will promote the survival of the console, preventing its submission to Android replacement. As for your humble writer, I take too much pride in my white, war-torn Xbox to retire him to a younger system. The relationship I have formed both with my Xbox and my controller are too genuine to recreate with my iPhone and are certainly too deep to describe in this article. So live well and prosper, Xbox, Playstation, and consoles alike! Forever be the gatekeepers to the world we all love to play and die in, warding off devices which have not served us as well and as faithfully as you!