Physically Interactive Gaming for the Masses?

It used to be that getting interactive with a game meant moving a joystick and pressing a button. Simplistic, but not incredibly strenuous, as the only muscles getting a workout are your fingers and wrists. Within the past few years, however, gaming has become much more physically interactive, with dancing games such as the insanely popular Dance Dance Revolution, bongo games, sword games, mariachi games, piano games, and so on.  What got me thinking about this idea of more physical interactivity was the announcement of the EyeToy, for the Playstation  2. I got a glimpse of this device at the Electronic Entertainment Expo this past May, but it was still fairly early to gauge whether it would actually work or not. Now that the product will soon be released, and I've learned more, I must say it invites intriguing possibilities.

What is the EyeToy? Well, it's a small camera that attaches to the USB port on your Playstation 2. Once configured, you use your entire body to manipulate items in the game. There's a ninja-fighting game called Kung-Foo, a window washing game called Wishi-Washi, and a slew of other games included with the camera. I've seen tactics like this before, such as an exercise connected to a Playstation in order to physically control the speed and direction in racing games. What looks to make the EyeToy unique, however, is its accessibility. It's small, lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to operate. What might this mean for interactive gaming?

Well, if the EyeToy does well, and it probably will given the reasons I just outlined, it might usher in a new era in interactive gaming. Personally, here in the U.S., this is something that we desperately need. More and more kids are becoming obese over here, and to have something physically active for them to do that's fun and challenging might just be what the doctor ordered. I would think that the only problem keeping most folks from trying out something like this is the size of the equipment. Dance mats are large and ungainly, the aforementioned bicycle was fairly large as well and couldn't be stowed or folded anywhere. With the small size of this camera, it can be used virtually anywhere, which might appeal to a lot of people.

Overall, the EyeToy looks to be a promising piece of equipment, especially if it's marketed correctly. The idea of making physically interactive entertainment so accessible is an intriguing one, and one that I personally hope succeeds. We hope to get a unit in for review before it goes on sale in November, and when we do, we'll have a full report on its fun and usefulness.

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