Recently Xbox finally revealed their next generation gaming platform to a ranting chorus of dismay from gamers everywhere. First of all, it was less of a reveal and more of a tease. The presentation itself had the feel of corporate motivational seminar and all the sincerity of a late-night infomercial. They threw up some slick graphics and droned on about voice activated input switching, but carefully avoided any specifics whatsoever. Probably because they are still figuring out how to fit them into an old VCR case.
Now this isn’t a rant about Xbox One or any specific technology but more about the general trend of technology companies trying to force feed gadgets that their customers neither want nor need. In the Xbone, Microsoft is trying to sell you a smart house, when all people wanted was an updated game console. When they come home from work, people are tired and don’t want to Skype with grandma, they just wanna shoot some terrorists in the face – is that so wrong?
When nerds want something they will line up for three days and jab each other with mechanical pencils if you try to cut in front of them. We have had the technology for videophones for decades, but when they were first introduced they were a huge flop. After the novelty wears off, you realize you’re going to have to put your pants on every time the phone rings.
At the other end of the scale, texting, twitter and other social media are a resounding success because they are so easy to use, portable, and put social interaction on your timetable. There may come a day yet when we all have Dick Tracy wristwatches, but it will never be the first choice for communication, because when you give your partner a booty call at three am you don’t want them to see how drunk you really are.
So it is with new consoles. People are concerned about how they’re going to send their kids to college, pay their mortgage, or buy a new car. Then along comes this billion-dollar corporation with their new gadget, and it has all these bells and whistles, oh and by the way, if you want to play the hundred of dollars worth of games that you already bought, you’re going to have to give them more money. Every time someone upgrades, improves, or updates something, all I can think now is “how much is this going to cost me?”
I came from a time when you had to reach around to the back of the television to switch the coaxial cable over from the Atari, and you panicked every time you hit play on the VCR before changing to channel three. I like the idea of funnelling all the disparate sources of my media into one easy-to-control device. Watching network TV on one machine, listening to music on another, and playing games, and watching YouTube channels, and surfing the web – it would be great to consolidate all that. But at the same time, I don’t want to give up any freedom about the services and platforms that I use. I don’t want to be tied to one browser or search engine, I hate titles that are exclusive to one system over another, and I hope there is a special place in hell for anyone who offers add-ons for an extra monthly fee. Some of us have to live within our means.
The one overwhelming thought I had while watching the Xbox One reveal was that Microsoft has stopped listening to their customers and has been taken over by frat brothers and unemployed Disney imagineers. Steven Spielberg? Great, but has nothing to do with games. Sports, sports, sports. People only play the sports games because they come packaged with the system, or because they suck at first-person-shooters. What about something for the kids that’s not an ad for cheap plastic crap. Duty doggies? Okay, but show me dragons. To sum up, this guy. (via @kiala)
Also, how long do you think before they figure out that people with thick accents can’t change the channel? Did we learn nothing from Siri?