And it's been fun to watch all of the coverage of Kinect has been getting these days and now that I've played it, I would love to have one (hint, hint) for Christmas.
If you knew me back in my days at the Brand Experience Lab, you know that I'm a big fan of the use of motion capture games. In fact, one of the first technologies that I brought into the Lab from the Entertainment Technology Center at CMU was this game:
Sure, people were occasionally offended by the content of that game, but people always enjoyed playing it. And even people who didn't play, enjoyed watching other people play the game.
In 2007, I led the BEL team that created NewsBreaker Live, the first in-cinema, motion capture game and we got a great response. Sam Mazur, creative lead on the SS+K team that worked on the msnbc.com game, coined the expression human joysticks, when he described the game. And the audience really had being human joysticks. For example, here are the results from the audience surveys we did after the games for msnbc.com & Volvo.
msnbc.com (USA) VOLVO (UK) * 78% played the game * 84% played the game * 93% want more games in cinemas * 68% want more games in cinemas * 86% prefer a game to an ad * 74% prefer a game to an ad * 71% unaided MSNBC brand recall * 21% better image of Volvo * 75% more likely to use MSNBC * 37% more likely to purchase a Volvo
The results really show what happens when you involve the audience in the experience. We had a 71% unaided recall rate of msnbc.com as the sponsor of the game. To put that in some kind of context, according to the Arbitron study of in-cinema advertising released at the time, 59% of all movie goers recall seeing commercials at theaters.
While Kinect is the biggest launch of motion capture, it's not the only one out there. Myron Krueger was doing interactive gesture work back in the early 70's. If you have younger children, you might be interested in what the DoCrew is doing. They've created an online game environment where the kids use their own body movements to play and complete the tasks in the game. It's a great way to engage younger children and, since it runs on the web, you can access it anywhere without needing anything special. Gesturetek has been doing motion capture for pushing 20 years. Tangibal has installed screens in the UK & Norway and Screenvision has a number of screens with motion capture systems here in the US.
As I traveled around the world with our in-cinema installations, I got to see firsthand how people reacted to these kind of experiences. It created a different group dynamic in the cinema, allowing strangers to interact in a different way. I used to joke that the usual social interaction was the "elbow waltz" to see who controlled the right position of the arm rest. These in-cinema games changed that dynamic. People talked to one another after the game and there was some indication, that people enjoyed the movie a little more after they played the game.
The challenge is that there doesn't seem to have been a big interest in repeat plays of motion capture games. It's a great one-off experience, for special movies, trade shows, theme parks, etc., but whether or not people want to play a game like this every time they come into a place like a movie theater remains to be seen.
Perhaps Kinect will change all of that. It has certainly created a new conversation about motion capture and what you can do with it. The content was fun and I'm sure it will only get better once developers start really start playing with what's possible. I hear there's already been an open source hack, so we see lots of interesting ways to use gesture tracking in the future. And once people start playing it at home, they may be much more open to playing motion capture games at other places, like movie theaters.
Sydney gave it the thumbs up and she'd be happy to have one at home. And when I see Chas playing with it, I know that he & his partners will do some pretty cool things with it too. I'm still exploring group games and we'll see where that leads in the future. But with $50 million in advertising behind it, you can be sure that people will know what motion captures looks like in the future.
msnbc.com NewsBreaker Live
An Interview I did on the future of cinema advertising
Volvo in-cinema game