In early gaming the controls were very basic with just a directional pad or joystick and a couple of buttons on a controller or mounted on an arcade machine. Which then quickly evolved to a more hand friendly controller with easy quick button access. Interaction with video games right now is still pretty basic, simple keyboard/mouse or various controllers with buttons like a joystick or steering wheel and pedals. With small evolutions to bigger things like touchscreens, motion capture, EEG capture, and virtual reality.
Touch screens have been a nice addition to video games, but they are mainly only for mobile devices. Using touch screens starts to become a hassle as your hand/finger is always in the way of the screen and you’re not able to see what’s happening on screen at all times. Touch screens are perfect for an interface dependent game like Plague or player support for console/ PC games like Battle Field 4’s Commander and in Tom Clancy’s The Division being drone support for players in game. Those games don’t rely too hard on what you’re seeing on screen constantly.
Mattel currently has a toy out on the market called Mindflex. Mindflex is a game that used brain waves to control a fan that changed the height of a ball through an obstacle course. “The brain waves are captured with the enclosed EEG headset, which allows the user to speed up or slow down a fan, thus lifting or lowering the blue styrofoam ball.” (Mindflex wiki) The head gear comes with the game has a chip from the company NeuroSky. NeuroSky also has head gear which has the ability for open source programing.
Motion capture and voice activated controls are pretty nice start to virtual reality, being able to shout out commands and add some physical activity with the Play Station Eye and the Xbox Kinect in the games that support voice commands and motion capture are great. It adds quick access to abilities that you usually would have to go searching for to put onto a hot key to then press. This slows down game play if you want fast paced action. Motion capture is great for the start of full virtual reality and being able to interact with that virtual space. Another great thing these cameras introduce is Augmented Reality and placing the games things into our world instead of us going into the games like the PlayStation 4’s “The Playroom”. Nintendo’s 3DS did a very basic thing like this with their “AR cards” and being able to take pictures by placing the card a certain way and the character on the card you chose would pop up on screen and you’ll be able to take a picture with them.
There aren’t any true full virtual reality games yet but there are some big steps with the Oculus Rift and the Virtuix Omni. The Oculus Rift allows the user to have a full 360 view of the virtual world. As you turn your head in the real world it translates to the game and turns with you. The Virtuix Omni is a platform where your movements on it are translated to keystrokes placed within the game. They both add support for game companies to take that step with them to create a fully virtual game where every move in independent rather than taking a step and then translates that to pressing the “W” key or up arrow in a PC game. Many people have tried to create simulators; The Gadget Shows for instance, their simulator for Battlefield 3 (Gadget Show) allowed a fully 360 and physical actions/ weapon to go along with the game. The only problem with their simulator was that it seemed extremely expensive to create for the public and very cumbersome.
The Future in Game interaction will start with the Oculus Rift and Virtuix Omni and other platforms like them. Gaming in the near future will evolve to being fully immersed into the virtual world and having your physical actions and thoughts translated into the game to create and amazing experience as if it were real life, without the ramifications of actually getting hurt in the real world. That technology can also be used to control robotics for military use. Possibly far into the future we will have a platform that is just headgear which puts us into a sleep like state and then puts us into the virtual world where we can just imagine ourselves doing actions and then they translate into the world.
Oculus Rift http://www.oculusvr.com/
PlayStation4 The Playroom E3 2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9jRAzVS0Xg
Battlefield4 tablet commander http://www.computerandvideogames.com/438496/battlefield-4-tablet-commander-app-out-now-on-ios/