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Microsoft Uses Cirque to “Kinect” With Gamers, and Everyone Else

Microsoft unveiled the final name of their Project Natal motion control at a press event last night—Kinect. Actually, they leaked it to USA Today around the time we press were on line waiting for the event (with cool Cirque du Soleil dancing displays—video below). While the name was no longer a surprise, videos of the games weren’t disappointment: Kinect Adventures (safari-themed minigames), Dance Central (a groovy dancing game), Kinectimals (play and take care of wild cats), Your Shape (fitness and yoga), Kinect Sports, and even a breathtaking Star Wars game. Other impressive features shown was gesture-based menus for Xbox, and video chat between users.

Although the name and archetypal nature of the games are reminiscent of the Wii (Wii Sports, Wii Fit, etc.), something about playing without any controls was special. The event was quite a spectacle: a jungle setting reminiscent of Pandora from Avatar, Cirque du Soleil performing, the audience in space-age ponchos. That was for the benefit of the public, who will be watching it on MTV later this week. The games were for the fans.

I tried my hand on a few titles at an afterparty and found them entertaining and the “controls” freeing. At the event’s start, Microsoft announced, “History is about to be rewritten.” Will Kinect be that successful? We should learn more, including launch details, at the Xbox event later today.

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Update: What is Kinect like? Below you will find a video of me playing the racing game Joy Ride.

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