Microsoft: Forget the game controller

Is it a trend, or is Microsoft just trying to leapfrog Nintendo as it goes for more family videogame players? Maybe both. First, with the Wii, Nintendo turned the videogame controller into “a simple swing-and-swivel device. Now Microsoft wants to ditch the controller entirely and leave the swinging and swiveling to you,” USATODAY reports . With the help of none other than Steven Spielberg, Microsoft made the point at the recent E3 gaming conference that controllers are intimidating to people and – despite the huge videogame market – 60% of households don’t own videogame consoles. So it unveiled the console-less “Project Natal” with demos of “a painting game that lets players fling paint onto the screen like Jackson Pollock” and a “dodgeball-type game [that] had a player moving forward and back, left and right, using arms, legs and the whole body to ricochet balls and knock down walls of 3-D tiles,” USATODAY adds – but with no details on pricing or release date, the Christian Science Monitor adds . But Nintendo keeps innovating too, also with sensors. At E3, it showed off a “Vitality Sensor,” which takes videogame players’ pulses, Forbes reports . It’s “another milestone in Nintendo’s quest to break down traditional definitions of videogames,” Forbes says, but adding that Nintendo didn’t announce what role the sensor would have in future games.

But back to the controller. Microsoft probably hopes that the 60% of households who don’t own consoles won’t just play games on cellphones. The New York Times recently reported that the iPhone is becoming a significant gaming platform , with games representing three-quarters of “the most popular paid downloads” from the iPhone App Store (Apple also recently announced that 1 billion apps had been downloaded from the store in its first nine months). But beyond games, iPhone’s just about all things to all people – it can be anything from a baby rattle (USATODAY reports ) to a musical instrument (hear it on the YouTube video ).

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