Now the ‘big three’ have all released their movement controlled game systems its only time that will reveal the success of each of them within health. With the Nintendo Wii already being used in therapy, is there room for another console to interest the rehabilitation market?
The Nintendo Wii has grabbed the attention of patients and professionals alike, with its engaging variety of active games and its intuitive use – surely it can’t get any better?
Sony released their Move controllers earlier this Autumn to work with Playstation 2 and 3’s alongside Microsofts release of the Kinect in early November. The Move retails its ‘Wand’ like controllers at a reasonable cost and offers a very similar experience to the Nintendo Wii Remotes. The Kinect requires the purchase of a camera and sensor unit, enabling gameplay without the use of hand held controllers. Both new accessories to the existing and popular console have games and graphics which far exceed the quality of the Wii but the better quality of gameplay does only mean one thing – higher cost of the games. Such games for the Move and Kinect are likely to be aimed at different population of the gaming community consisting of complex game play and superior graphics warranting a price that requires value for money.
The question is – what is it that Sony and Microsoft think they can offer or achieve through the Move and Kinect that isn’t already accessible through the Wii? With many Nintendo Wii consoles already being used with in health and rehabilitation, will the other big consoles capture the imagination of the professionals incorporating them with in therapy? If there is an interest in the Move and Kinect, how then is the decision about which console to purchase made and for what reasoning?
Microsofts Kinect has the better potential to offer Nintendo competition, purely because its different and very much at the cutting edge of gaming at the moment. Its voice activated commands and controller free movement control allow for using generalised movements throughout the whole body to play the games. Whilst initially this concept sounds breathtaking the reality of it is that there are constraints and adapting the game play to increase accessibility to the console for disabled users is, currently, much more difficult than it ever was with the Nintendo Wii. With the small (but growing) selection of games available to use with Kinect, assume that the player must have to stand to play some or all of each game, be able to manage dynamic standing balance to play the game and have reasonably good control of both upper limbs. These initial physical requirements immediately restricts usage by many disabled people who are likely to continue to access the games, should they wish to play such games, through the classic controller. There is no hiding or adapting away from a disability whilst using the Kinect, which is a disappointment.
So for now the Nintendo Wii holds its place as the more adaptable and therefore most suitable mainstream console used within therapy. Future developments that may influence this pole position are likely to consist mainly of software developments where it is the software that is adapted for the use within rehab, rather than the therapy professionals adapting the console accessories. Which ever leading gaming brand develops the software needed to be successful in rehabilitation first might just be able to secure popularity and longevity within healthcare.