lowerCASE: Touch vs Motion: Which is Better for Video Games?

In the mid-1980′s, gamers dreamed of a virtual reality world where bodily actions would determine the movements of a video game character.

25 years later and we are in an age of touch screens and motion sensors. With Sony and Nintendo poised to release brand new handheld consoles onto the market that take advantage of both these control inputs, we ask ourselves; which is more effective? Or more importantly; which one has a future?

We’ve gathered the Aussie-Gamer team to think come up with their opinions on touch screen gaming and motion gaming to provide some insight!

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Well, the couch potato inside is coming out to sway a little closer towards touch screen, what with my lack of wanting to physically move half the time.

However, in reality I’m not sure I’m happy with the way either have presented themselves. When the Nintendo Wii first came out, developers were forced to use their brains in coming up with ways to use motion in games. Red Steel comes to mind here; and as long as you got used to the controls, the game was responsive and intuitive.

Then, something happened. Something was in place that told developers “it’s too hard to make motion”, and in came wave after wave of “shake the stick” type games. Fast forward a little, and the PlayStation Move, along with WiiMotionPlus has made it simple to develop for motion; so we can hopefully see this¬†becoming¬†better in the future.

What I don’t like about touch screen games, specifically on iPhone, is the controls. A lot of the time, developers still need to display a touch version of buttons and analogue sticks. This is horrible in my opinion – sure, they work well, but I find my thumbs get in the way of the action. Another downfall to this technique is the lack of feedback involved. Those who have played “Street Fighter IV” on iPhone will know that I mean.

They say touching is good - but is it?

When it comes to Nintendo DS, most of the time the touch screen is used well – it was genius on Nintendo’s part to have two screens. Issues arise, however, when you’re forced to constantly swap between touch and normal buttons. Early games, again, used touch a lot better – such as the mini games in “Super Mario 64 DS” and “Yoshi’s Touch and Go!”.

So – which is better? While they both have downsides, I think that motion is the way to go for the future. There’s something cool about slashing your in-game sword in real life, or taking aim with a realistic gun. I think the technology certainly needs to be fine tuned, especially on the developer’s end so that they can get away from “shake and rattles” and deliver more sophisticated ¬†experiences.

Touch, too, has a place, but more work is needed here. For systems like DS, developers need to choose either buttons or touch.

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I think touch screen is the way to go personally but the existing technology needs to be upgraded to make it a more sophisticated experience.

One point that comes to mind is making the touch screens multi touch allowing for multiple points of contact but it can be argued that the DS or 3DS only ship with one stylus making it a tad difficult to implement this with today’s handhelds. The NGP’s touch screen on the back supports multi touch – this may be the way to go and will allow developers to really flex their imaginations.

Dancing games take motion to another level...

Motion control ala Kinect and Move aren’t my personal favorites as they both mean I have to physically move to experience the gameplay. I thought one of the major points of gaming was to relax not work up a sweat? The Wii pulls it off well as it doesn’t require much movement and is accomplished with little movements from your hands and doesn’t incorporate your whole body.

Having said that though, probably the only exception to the rule, for me anyway, are the dancing games with the dancing mat as in Mario Dance Mix on the Gamecube. Now that was one game I didn’t mind doing my thang to!

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The question this week asks which out of motion controls and touch screen gaming is “more” effective. It seems strange to compare the two different types of gaming like this as they both serve their own unique purposes. It’s kind of like asking “are home consoles or handheld consoles better for gaming?”.

To answer simply I will say that both motion controls and touch screen controls will have an important place in gaming in the future and have both been very effective to date in their own rights. Both of these control styles are undoubtedly here to stay in gaming for the future to varying degrees.

Personally I feel that touch screen gaming has become almost natural to games at the present time. It’s hard to imagine taking a backwards step now, all new handheld consoles should come with a touch screen standard. Where touch screen gaming can GO from here is probably a more tricky question. The technology can be improved to make touch screens more durable and accurate, but beyond that I can’t imagine that touch screen technology can really be advanced any further. It does what it does and it does it well already. There’s really not a lot that needs improving.

What will the NGP's dual touch input system mean for touch gaming?

Motion controls on the other hand still have quite a way to go yet before we see everything they have to offer. Kinect was a big improvement from the Wii Motion Plus (which was a big improvement from standard motion controls), but it still is not perfect. Technology can be improved in the future to make everything more accurate and enable us to do more with it. But where can motion sensor technology go in the future once it is able to accurately capture all of your body movements (including small movements such as fingers)? It’s really anyone’s guess.¬†

Maybe once the technology with motion controls is perfected games companies will start to research virtual reality more and that will be the next big thing. Or it could even be entirely possible that before we obtain “full” virtual reality that we develop something halfway there using the already existing motion sensor technology to fill the gaps.¬†

With all the talk about motion controls and touch screens it is easy to forget where we have come from in gaming however. Personally I still think that the feel of playing games with a normal controller still can’t be beaten when it comes to playing “seriously”. Motion controls, touch screen controls and regular game controllers all have a place in modern gaming and serve their own respective purposes. The great thing about modern gaming is that we as the consumer have the choice to play the way that we WANT to play our games. As current technology evolves in the future and as new technology starts to get implemented in gaming I hope that games companies continue to support all different control styles in gaming and continue to spoil us for choice.

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Motion or touch? Touch or motion? Which style of control do you like to use most? Let us know in the comments below, or join the forums to discuss in depth!

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