Lost in the general excitement and buzz of PlayStation 4’s announcement and the details that continue to pour out, it would be easy to forget about Media Molecule’s PlayStation Move tech demo for PlayStation 4. But it’s the significance of this demo, and specifically what it means for the PlayStation Move, that I want to talk about today.
It’s safe to say that the Move remains very much in the fold as Sony transitions into next-gen, and with Media Molecule throwing their support behind the underutilized and often maligned peripheral, I can’t help but feel that the Move might be finally getting its killer, must-have app, or at the very least, a fresh start.
For those who missed it, here is Media Molecule’s co-founder Alex Evans talking about Media Molecule’s feelings on the Move and what they plan on doing with it:
So what did we see in Evans’ demonstration? Well, it’s clear that Media Molecule’s play, create, share mantra is very much alive. But beyond simply rehashing that ethos, Media Molecule wants to take it to the next level with their plan to let you “record your dreams,” and they’ll be using the Move to do just that.
The persistence of Media Molecule’s mentality is apparent from Evans’ presentation, and I’ll delve into more details later. What I really want to talk about now are some of the things that Evans said about the Move itself.
I think it’s really important to touch on people’s general ambivalence towards the Move. Evans himself mentioned that Media Molecule has had a bit of a “troubled relationship” with the Move in the past, and I can understand why he and many others felt or still feel that way. I myself have the Move, and right now it’s just sitting there collecting dust. Sure, I had fun with it when I first got it, but when the novelty wore off so too did my interest. That’s one of the worst kinds of statement you can make regarding a piece of technology—to say that you could care less about it.
In so many ways it is hard to accept the Move as legitimate because it will always be considered a knee-jerk reaction to the Wii’s successful foray to motion gaming. And really, it’s hard not to see the Move as a Wiimote derivative— the two devices are functionally and aesthetically similar. The only real difference is that the Move makes use of a camera, the PlayStation Eye, to provide true one-to-one motion capabilities.
It is, however, important to note that Evans and Media Molecule have had a change of heart toward the Move. They now see the Move as the tool that will allow us to record our dreams in a simple, intuitive manner. And while Media Molecule didn’t exactly demo a game, they did demonstrate their ideology at work while showing us just what the Move can do when placed in the right hands with the right ambitions.
This potential to record or craft our dreams represents a huge step forward for the Move: one that will ultimately legitimize it. Until the Move is shown to be as a legitimate gaming option, we gamers will only ever see it as a two-bit Wiimote copycat.
How will Media Molecule succeed in their lofty endeavor? Well, we all know that motion gaming is an attempt to get the player more involved in the game, but Media Molecule is eschewing immersion in favor of what they know best: creative gaming and user-generated content. After all, Media Molecule has been successfully getting gamers to create and share since the first LittleBigPlanet.
In the video, one of the first things Media Molecule was able to create with the Move controller was a virtual sculpting tool in which you take these virtual lumps of clay and mold them with the Move controller.
Evans mentions that once this tool was unleashed on the Media Molecule staff, it wasn’t long until they had created hundreds of virtual sculptures, all with the Move controller. In fact, Evans goes so far as to tell us that the little clay sculptures you see in the video wouldn’t have been possible without “the PlayStation 4’s power with the Move’s unique accuracy.” Remember how I said that there was really only one key feature distinguishing the Move from the Wiimote? It turns out that the one distinguishing feature is integral to Media Molecule’s plans, which require the precision and accuracy of the PlayStation Move.
However, what Media Molecule envisions, when they say they want to enable us to record our dreams, is not simply a sculpting tool. Not surprisingly, Media Molecule also plans to bring together what individual people have created and make it available for others to piece together. Which means, as you have probably guessed, the PlayStation 4’s sharing capabilities will also be heavily utilized.
Evans referred to this idea as assisting those who are less artistic but still have a desire to participate and create. After hearing him say that, I was reminded of the Scribbler, this drawing tool created by zeFrank to help those of us who don’t necessarily draw well do just that. Like the Scribbler, what Media Molecule proposes is creation at a Web 2.0 level (and I love me some Web 2.0 talk). You take one individual’s content and remix it or adapt it until you have created something almost entirely new and the cycle continues.
The whole demo culminates in a Move-controlled puppet show where you assume that the puppets were created with the sculpting tool. It’s collaborative creation at its finest, and at a level that we haven’t really seen accessible to consoles before. Sure we use collaboration in multiplayer games (that’s teamwork), but we’ve never really seen it like this before. Someone is responsible for the puppets and their props, someone else is responsible for the choreography, and everyone is responsible for their dance.
What I find particularly interesting is that if Media Molecule is able to follow through with any of the progress they’ve made, then we won’t just be given another game—we’ll be given the power to create our own art. Just imagine all of those possibilities unleashed into the minds of creative gamers everywhere. Suddenly we aren’t just talking about playing video games, or user-generated content, we’re talking about empowering gamers, amateur and experienced alike, to experiment and create digital art to be shared and adapted like clay.
And perhaps even more interesting (or maybe ironic) is that at the center of all of this will be the PlayStation Move. Judging by what Media Molecule has conjured up using the Move, I would say they are well on their way to allowing us to record our dreams. From sculpting with virtual clay, to sharing and even creating a puppet show, the Move made dream weaving possible.
Call me crazy, but I’m really excited and interested to see what Media Molecule has in store for the future of the Move on the PlayStation 4, and I can’t help but feel that the Move might finally be getting a game worth owning. If anyone is capable of changing our minds about the Move, it’s Media Molecule with their unique brand and fresh enthusiasm for creativity in gaming—better late than never.
What do you think of Media Molecule’s work with the PlayStation Move. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below?