A video game system comprises a platform, a display, one or more I/O interfaces known as controllers, and software. The platform can be a computer or a dedicated console; the display, which may be housed with the platform, is often audiovisual; and controllers—used to play the game, can range from mice and keyboards, to panel-bound buttons, scroll wheels, and joysticks to two-handed “gamepads” and freely moving wireless devices that simulate the physical motions involved in the game.

In recent months, new generations of sophisticated gaming hardware containing high-end computer systems using dual-core processors have been introduced. Furthermore, the three new console systems currently competing for the market’s attention have more computing- and graphics horsepower than do many computers. For serious gamers, multi-GPU (graphical processing unit) video cards are viewed as a worthwhile investment. Of all the advances in processing, graphics, sound, and even the games themselves, the most momentous change is the introduction of intuitive, motion-based game control.

This article reviews the current capabilities of gaming systems, describes how game elements can enable—or prevent—intuitive game design, and how existing control hardware limits game design. Also discussed are: the operating principles of the 3D motion sensors used in the next generation of gaming systems, how motion sensing decreases the learning curve for beginning and expert gamers, and the important specifications and development principles with which game developers need to be familiar.

Reproduced with the permission of Analog Devices, Inc.