LIVING rooms may never be the same again. In future, people will play video games not with their joypads but by standing in front of their screen, karate-chopping the air, rocking out on a virtual guitar and kicking an imaginary ball.
That is the view of Microsoft, which announced yesterday that its new game control device enabling "more simple, more intuitive, more natural" game playing would be ready for release by the end of the year.
The system, known as Project Natal, allows people to play video games without the use of a hand-held controller. Instead they control the action with their voices and body movements. Microsoft hopes that it will draw in an older generation of gamers, which the market has yet to really entice.
Speaking at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, Robbie Bach, Microsoft's president of entertainment and devices, said: "With Project Natal we are removing the last barrier to gaming, the controller, freeing you to have the experience you want with technology that is natural for you."
The Project Natal system will be available on Microsoft's Xbox 360 video console and will go on sale in the US in November. The system uses a 3D camera connected by a special unit to an Xbox 360 to interpret the position of the player and replicate his or her actions on screen.
It is still not clear how much it will cost and when it will be on sale worldwide -- information that has been sought since the words Project Natal were uttered at a games conference in June. The new controller is undoubtedly designed to appeal to players introduced to video games by Nintendo's Wii, which has sold more than 50 million units -- about 20 million more than the Xbox 360. The Wii uses motion-sensitive controllers, with users swishing, waving and pointing their Wii sticks in front of the screen to control the game. Natal would do away with any hand-held device. (© The Times, London)