Capitol Hill Play-Cation

Sony tries to win local gamers over to its new controller.

The male/female ratio was roughly 20 to 1 last Thursday night at the semi-secret private bar Sole Repair, across from Neumos. Gamers waved a controller in front of a giant flat screen, sometimes appearing to paint a stripe, other times swatting bugs. If you've ever played Nintendo's Wii, this should sound familiar. But Sony, which hosted the party, insisted that the controller they are debuting, the PlayStation Move, is completely different. "See that," Sony staffer Jeff said, spinning the controller in his hand while on screen a flyswatter spun simultaneously. "That's something the competition couldn't even dream of doing." The "competition," as Nintendo was referred to throughout the night (much as a political candidate will refer only to "my opponent"), also doesn't have a camera sitting on the television, Jeff pointed out. Instead of using an avatar, you appear to be playing inside the game, as though you were seeing a hi-def Walmart security camera version of yourself. Plus there's a big neon bulb at the end, and the controller is black. See, it's completely different. But even with free themed cocktails, Sony had a tough time winning over the crowd. "I think the tech demos I saw weren't enough to distinguish it from the Wii," said participant Doug Woodbury. Alan Au, an online game reviewer, said he already owns the PlayStation 3, the game console with which you'll use the Move, and is happy with the standard controller. Even seeing the Move used in PlayStation's marquee shooter game Special Operations Command 4, he wasn't convinced he had to have one. As the booze continued to flow, talk turned from both the Wii and the Move to Microsoft's Project Natal (pronounced nay-TALL; they really need help in the naming-things department) which has no controller. The nerds really wet themselves over the prospect of a game system that recognizes your entire body's movements. But given the standard gamer body type, that's not an especially appealing idea.

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