Jade Raymond: controllers are "still a huge barrier", Xbox 720 needs to "go beyond" Kinect

"I have this dream that, ultimately, we're going to end up creating the Holodeck"

Are we "mainstream" yet, everybody? Can anybody send me some figures that prove beyond doubt that gaming, once culture's red-headed stepchild, is now a fully paid-up establishment medium? I'd have thought the tipping point would have been when games started to outsell films, but that's not mainstream enough for Ubisoft's Jade Raymond, according to whom control pads are still far too arcane for comfort.

I know, I know. Ubisoft, publisher of all the happy bouncy fitness sims ever, advocating non-controller-based control schemes? Be still my pounding heart. But do bear in mind that Raymond is one of the minds behind both the Assassin's Creed franchise. She's most interested in the possibilities for Real Man's Games, like the forthcoming Splinter Cell: Blacklist.


"Absolutely," Raymond told OXM in an interview you'll read in issue 88, when we asked whether Kinect would be important to delivering sophisticated, challenging experiences.

"I was a big Trekkie when I was a kid and I still have this dream that, ultimately, we're going to end up creating the Holodeck - you know, totally immersive experiences. I still think one of the huge barriers is the controller, and even people who played games when it used to be just one big red button and a D-pad can't play games now.

"You have to master face buttons, triggers and they all do different things," she went on. "So obviously we're never going to get to that really mass-market place where we're touching a really broad audience with our messages with controllers, so Kinect and other more natural ways to interact with games are incredibly important. I think we can go further.

Should next generation consoles put still more emphasis on Kinect and other, pad-free interface tech? "I think they should, for sure, and I hope that we go beyond what we already have working and extend it even further. I think we saw some great changes with the Wii and a whole bunch of people playing games that hadn't previously and I think we saw another step with Kinect.

"Ubisoft's had a lot of success with the dance games and it's funny, I got this call from my sister saying, "Jane, have you tried this game, Just Dance? I love it!" and I said "yeah, that's a Ubisoft game!" You know, she's never bought a game in her life but she's calling me to tell to try this one out. I think we need to keep pushing that.

"As more of a hardcore gamer I want to see that stuff integrated into hardcore games in a way that makes them better because as fun as all those games are, I don't really play exercise games - I can't picture myself doing that. I'd love to be able to lean and look round the corner and just integrate more natural motions. The tech for those things isn't quite there, but I hope it will soon."

On a related note, Microsoft's hiring for work on Natural User Interface tech, further validating suspicions that Xbox 720 will feature expanded, overhauled Kinect functionality.

While we're talking controller-free gaming, Microsoft has a few tips and tricks for aspiring Kinect developers. Xbox SmartGlass may be the more important innovation, given that it allows you to use your phone as an in-game GPS - here are eight things you can already do with the functionality, and 10 ways it could rock the world of videogames.