Only Kinect!

Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. 

                                                       — E. M. Forster, Howard’s End

I was invited to attend the Xbox 360 Project Natal Launch.  I don’t care much about video games, but my boyfriend Dave does, plus I was intrigued that the event was “imagined” by Cirque du Soleil.  Thus, we ventured to the Galen Center on the USC campus.  

Microsoft clearly spared no expense on this lavish event.  We were ushered in through jungle foilage and past writhing Cirque performers. Inside, we were given these strange white ponchos with shoulder pads.  We immediately felt like we had joined a cult.  There were photo booths, and we posed for a photo.  We got a cool bracelet type flash drive. We took our seats and drank our complimentary water (or was it “the kool-aid”?) and waited.  The tickets said the show would start at 7pm, but it really didn’t get underway until 8pm.  I was glad we had seats, as many folks were standing and seemed uncomfortable and hot in their ponchos.  The cirque performers interacted with the crowd to try to keep us happy.


Then the show began. As in most Cirque productions, there wasn’t much narrative.  Basically, the point was that we had been through the dawn of the video game age and were now evolving to greatness with Kinect (former code name: Project Natal).  There was a family on a couch that ascended to the top of the arena and back down. The boy from the family then made his way through the crowd, climbed some rocks and eventually got to a room where another family ran through a demo of the Kinect games. That room did a 360 degree revolve. The staging was definitely impressive.

So with screens all around us, we saw demos of various games ranging from yoga to olympics to river rafting to petting a tiger to Star Wars.  The Kinect technology is like the Wi except there’s no controller needed – you use your body.  It’s definitely super cool technology, but unfortunately we didn’t get to try it out.  There’s really nothing more boring than watching other people play video games. I felt like the demos went on too long. It reminded me of being at the arcade as a kid and having run out of quarters with 30 minutes left until my mom would be picking me up.

We discovered our shoulder pads had lights in them that could change colors and pulse to the music. This was a neat effect, but I’m not sure it was worth the discomfort of the poncho. The big shoulder pads had us bumping into the people next to us and they were hot, not to mention the disconcerting cult feeling they created.  I do think the ponchos would be great to wear at Burning Man, but unfortunately we had to turn them in after the event.  


The crowd seemed pretty bored. I noticed a lot of people leaving early. The only whoop from the crowd came for the Star Wars game.  Personally, I was disappointed that all the Cirque characters really did was flirt with the crowd and writhe around on the rocky mountain. I was hoping to see some acrobatics.  On the way out, we were given small plush tigers and panthers that can be used to unlock characters when the Kinectimals game is released. 

We left feeling like the event was mostly a waste of time and money. If this Kinect system works like they showed it to work, they won’t need all this fluffy, pompous schtick to sell it – it will fly off the shelves when its released in time for the holidays. MTV is showing the show, edited down to 30 minutes, if you want to see what it was like. 

Hey Microsoft, a baseball game would be a lot of fun. I’ll start working on my Pujols batting stance and swing now. 

One comment

  1. raysfanboy

    Sorry the event wasn’t what you wanted it to be. But those performers are pretty awesome. I saw their show in Orlando and I have to say, pretty cool. And I am a bit jealous that you got an invite to such a neat event, even if it was a little disappointing.

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