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BG 29 – Microsoft Kinect: The Call of the Womb

July 1, 2010

Futurismic have my 29th (!) Blasphemous Geometries column entitled “Microsoft Kinect: The Call of the Womb”

The Kinect is really nothing new, much like the Playstation Move it is a rather blatant attempt to tap into the market for casual gamers uncovered by the Nintendo Wii and its much vaunted non-standard controller.  However, while Sony were busy Me-Too-ing in a way that is weirdly unconvincing (if I wanted that kind of play experience, I would still buy a Wii despite the fact that I’m sure that Playstation Move can and will do everything the Wii can do and more), Microsoft decided to renew their long-standing desire to use their games console as a means of securing complete dominion over a house’s entertainment media.

Again, this is nothing new as it is arguably what the original XBox was designed to do, but there is something incredibly bleak in Microsoft’s vision of a future in which everyone socialises through a games console.  Something so bleak that I had to write about it.

The column taps into some of the recurring themes of my writing but it is particularly linked to themes explored in other columns I have written including the banal and unpleasant nature of our escapist fantasies and our desire to have a group gaming experience without actually gaming with other people.

2 Comments
  1. July 1, 2010 6:45 am

    Excellent, as always! Couple of thoughts:

    What if, one generation down, nobody had experienced the discomfort of real-life interactions? What kind of gaming consoles would they invent/produce? That is, without the first-hand experience of discomfort, is it possible to sell the illusion of perfect happiness in whatever form?

    You know what else is terrifying? How we’ve devalued secrecy and separateness (as opposed to isolation) in our lives.

    (Now that we have our porta-holes-in-Angkorwat with us, we can whisper our secrets for all we’re worth but they – like us – won’t be safe. That’s another fear for someone to exploit.)

    Tchah.

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  2. July 1, 2010 6:58 am

    Great points Space Bar!

    As David Foster Wallace pointed out, I don’t think it’s possible to be completely satiated. So even if we did have complete freedom from social unease we’d just inflate what problems we do have into intolerable situations that require expensive consumer goods :-)

    A great example of this is Lost in Translation… Bill Murray sitting in a bar surrounded by interesting, fun, sexy people looking like a man on a desert island.

    I agree that separateness (and privacy) are no longer valued. One of the strands I had to edit out of this essay was about the people who have lived as recluses and lived perfectly happy lives. Now we kind of want both isolation (when it suits us) and company (when it suits us) and some of us (me especially) are terrible at managing the conflict between those two desires.

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