VIDEO GAMES GAME

Videos are set to change the way we en­ter­tain our­selves, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - The au­thor trav­elled to Los An­ge­les as a guest of Sony.

Best of LA’s in­ter­na­tional inte E3 Expo.

THOU­SANDS of gamers took over Los An­ge­les re­cently for the E3 Expo. They flooded LA Con­ven­tion Cen­tre halls groan­ing with in­flat­able stat­ues, mock rock­et­ships, a for­est of flash­ing screens and celebri­ties to see what the video game in­dus­try has in store for 2011 and be­yond.

What they found were unique cre­ations de­signed to change the way we play games. One new ma­chine dou­bled the num­ber of gam­ing screens, an­other added a new type of screen and a third added voice con­trols.

E Guide braved the queues, the noise and Hulk Ho­gan sight­ings to give you the low­down.

NIN­TENDO

No com­pany cap­tured at­ten­tion at E3 quite like Nin­tendo. The Ja­panese firm changed gam­ing in 2006 with its move­ment-sen­si­tive Wii con­sole, and its suc­ces­sor is sim­i­larly un­ortho­dox.

The Wii U adds a 6.2-inch ( 15.75cm) touch­screen to its con­troller, open­ing up new pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Nin­tendo se­nior man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Shigeru Miyamoto says the Wii U was de­signed with the same aim as the orig­i­nal: to make gam­ing more ac­ces­si­ble.

The idea for the games ma­chine came about, he says, when look­ing at the lim­i­ta­tions of play­ing games on mod­ern, high-def­i­ni­tion TVs.

These TVs can be slow to start and are reg­u­larly taken over by other house­hold mem­bers, in­ter­rupt­ing game­play.

‘‘ We wanted this time to try to re­solve this is­sue of the sys­tem be­ing some­thing that wasn’t easy to use be­cause the TV took too long to come on or be­cause some­one else was watch­ing it,’’ Miyamoto says. ‘‘ Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, the in­ter­play be­tween the con­troller and the screen would al­low for there to be a lot of new ideas to play and change things.’’

Users can browse the web on the con­troller, stream videos to the TV screen or move it around while it acts as a win­dow into the far corners of a game world.

The con­troller fea­tures cam­eras front and back, a mi­cro­phone, speak­ers, an ac­celerom­e­ter and gy­ro­scope to mea­sure move­ment, and two cir­cle pads be­side tra­di­tional Wii but­tons.

Nin­tendo has not re­leased tech­ni­cal de­tails for the con­sole, other than to say it de­liv­ers ‘‘ high-def­i­ni­tion’’ graph­ics and will be com­pat­i­ble with ex­ist­ing Wii games.

Miyamoto con­firms the Wii U will not sup­port 3D gam­ing, say­ing the tech­nol­ogy is not yet wide­spread enough to jus­tify it.

The Wii U is due to launch af­ter April 2012, al­most six years af­ter the orig­i­nal Wii ap­peared. Some an­a­lysts crit­i­cised Nin­tendo for wait­ing so long to up­date its con­sole, af­ter slid­ing sales led its global profit to fall 52 per cent.

But Elec­tronic En­ter­tain­ment De­sign and Re­search an­a­lyst Jesse Divnich says the new con­sole is a cer­tain com­mer­cial suc­cess, call­ing it the best of both core and ca­sual in­ter­ac­tive en­ter­tain­ment.

SONY

JUST months af­ter an­nounc­ing its de­vel­op­ment, Sony re­vealed de­tails of its new por­ta­ble games ma­chine, the PlayS­ta­tion Vita.

The PSP suc­ces­sor won praise for its low launch price ($ US249.95) and ground­break­ing ad­di­tions, in­clud­ing a high­con­trast, touch-sen­si­tive, five-inch ( 12.7cm) or­ganic LED screen.

The pock­etable ma­chine also fea­tures cam­eras front and back, a rear touch­sen­si­tive panel, quad-core pro­ces­sor and graph­ics chip for speedy game de­liv­ery, mo­tion-sens­ing and two joy­sticks.

An­a­lysts had pre­dicted a higher price, given its high spec­i­fi­ca­tions, and it has since emerged that the de­vice could be sell­ing at a loss.

Sony Com­puter En­ter­tain­ment pres­i­dent Ka­zou Hi­rai says he ex­pects the de­vice to be prof­itable within three years and ex­pects the new con­sole to out­sell the PSP, which has shipped more than 70 mil­lion units world­wide.

The PSVita is due to be launched be­fore the end of the year.

PSVita own­ers will be able to down­load games and store them on a Mi­croSD card, though ti­tles also will be sold on a new type of flash mem­ory card called NVG.

Sony Com­puter En­ter­tain­ment Europe se­nior vice-pres­i­dent Michael Denny says the con­sole will de­liver much deeper, richer ex­pe­ri­ences than a mul­tipur­pose de­vice.

‘‘ We are ex­cited and we ex­pect it to change the way that peo­ple think about por­ta­ble gam­ing,’’ Denny says.

Sony also an­nounced the de­vel­op­ment of a PlayS­ta­tion-branded 3D tele­vi­sion. The 24-inch ( 60.69cm) screen will be launched in the US this year. Sony is in dis­cus­sions about bring­ing the TV to Aus­tralia.

MICROSOFT

While Microsoft did not launch new gam­ing hard­ware at E3, it did show off new uses for its mo­tion-sens­ing Kinect ac­ces­sory.

The main de­vel­op­ment was the ad­di­tion of more voice con­trols to per­form tasks such as find­ing TV shows, search­ing the web and con­trol­ling games.

Microsoft plans to add search en­gine Bing and YouTube func­tion­al­ity to its Xbox Live menu to achieve this, while games in­clud­ing Tom Clancy’s Ghost Re­con: Fu­ture Sol­dier will also add voice con­trols.

This will not af­fect Aus­tralian play­ers im­me­di­ately, how­ever, as voice-recog­ni­tion has yet to make it Down Un­der. A spokes­woman said it would be launched later this year.

Xbox Live cor­po­rate vice-pres­i­dent Marc Whit­ten says the de­lay in de­liv­er­ing voice­ac­ti­vated con­trols is dif­fi­cult as it re­quires the con­sole to recog­nise ac­cents.

‘‘ It’s our com­mit­ment to get voice to ev­ery coun­try. We’re do­ing a lot of work to make this hap­pen,’’ Whit­ten says.

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