The Translation of Motion to Gaming

Watching my classmates play the Wii last week made me relive all of my memories of playing Wii Sports for the first time. I loved the tennis, bowling, and baseball games, but was frustrated by both golf and boxing. One thing that I remembered, however, was the disconnect that existed between the motion of the physical player, and the actual action that the virtual player made. A prime example of this was pitching in the baseball game. If I tried to do a “real” pitching motion in my bedroom, I would always be disappointed by the subpar speed of my fastball. Once I switched to making a fast “twitch-like” motion with the controller, however, I was easily throwing 90+ mph pitches. Thus, I had discovered a sort of “cheat-code” to exploit. When playing, I would think about what the controller could actually “feel” and interpret into video game actions, and would try to come up with unnatural motions that would produce good results. The question I have is, was doing this defeating the purpose of Wii Sports? Or did the developers of the game expect that there would be quirks such as this to exploit.

wiibaseball

I would say that, when exploiting the motion controller, I was participating in a nondiegetic operator act. Due to the primitive nature of the motion technology, it interpreted a short “jerk” as an incredibly fast pitch. Thus, while Nintendo wanted Wii Sports to be like playing a sport in your living room, it really became playing a video game depicting yourself playing a sport. None of the “real” motions I had grown up doing while playing the various sport really matched up with what I had to do in the video game in order to win. I don’t know how advanced the technology is nowadays, but I expect that it would prevent one from taking advantage of the motion controller like one could in past times.

0 thoughts on “The Translation of Motion to Gaming

  1. While I’ve always been a fan of the social aspects of Wii Sports, I’ve always been frustrated by how real-life skills fail to translate. For example, I’ve played tennis for a few years and have learned how to play reasonably well, but almost always get thrashed by my 8-year old nephew. While I stand there bouncing on the balls of my feet, trying to do long, clean strokes, my competitor sits comfortably on the couch flicking the remote occasionally and beats me handily.

    Should I adapt to the game’s mechanics in order to stand a fighting chance? Probably, but I’m far too stubborn to compromise in that way.

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