The lights are on
Member - Level 5
I recently saw a Kickstarter campaign for a new video game peripheral - the ARAIG feedback suit (pictured above). After reading through the Kickstarter page, I have to admit - this thing actually sounds like it might, potentially, not suck. Unfortunately for the creators, I've been burned by a product all-too-similar to this one before, and now I can't help but be more than a touch skeptical.
If you've been gaming for long enough, chances are you've purchased a few products that haven't quite met your expectations. Perhaps you were hoodwinked by the appeal of a portable "virtual reality" device when Nintendo first announced the migraine-inducing Virtual Boy. Maybe you were an early adopter of Sega's [insert name of any post-Genesis console here], only to find that third-party developer support dried up seemingly moments after launch. It could be that, like one of my childhood friends, you were amazed by the idea of controlling a video game by moving your body with the Sega Activator, only to find out it didn't actually work very well at all. Or maybe you experienced the exact same thing when Microsoft's Kinect sensor released.
For me, the first time I can recall having my hopes completely shattered by an over-hyped product was when I got the Aura Interactor on Christmas Morning, way back in 1994.
I learned about this incredible piece of technology when I saw the above commercial during a Saturday-morning airing of BattleTech: The Animated Series. For weeks I begged my parents to get me one. The idea of feeling what was happening to my on-screen avatar seemed like a dream come true; like the first step toward true immersion in a game. After waiting what seemed like ages, Christmas morning finally arrived. I rushed downstairs with the exuberance only a 12-year-old who's about to open presents can have, and dashed straight for the box I knew must be my Interactor.
I can still remember unboxing the "machine that shook America" like it was yesterday. The excitement that washed over me when I ripped open the wrapping paper and saw the box - the adrenaline-pumping mix of anticipation and trepidation (would I really feel like I was getting punched while I was playing Street Fighter? And - oh my god - what would it feel like when an opponent pulled off a fatality against me in Mortal Kombat?!?). I waited - what must have been quite impatiently from my parents' perspective - for my father to get the Interactor up and running. Palms slightly damp, I donned the monstrous plastic vest for the first time, cranked the dial up to 10, and popped Street Fighter II into my SNES. That's when I realized that this thing... this thing I absolutely had to have... this thing was nothing more than a f$#king speaker that you could wear on your chest!
Disappointment ensued, followed by sadness, and, shortly thereafter, anger. The Interactor was returned to Toys-R-Us less than a week later, where I probably used the store credit to buy a few Street Fighter II action figures. I have no idea what happened to those action figures, but I'm still pretty sure I made the right decision.
So now, some 18 years later, I'm reminded of my unreal expectations, and the disappointment I felt as a result of them, by the ARAIG. Will it actually deliver the experience I imagined I was in for all those years ago? Will this thing even see the light of day, and if it does, will any developers support it? I can't deny a healthy dose of doubt, but neither can I honestly say that I'm not intrigued by the idea behind the technology. Maybe it'll be everything I had hoped and dreamed the Interactor was going to be. But, then again, maybe it'll be some other gamer's first major let-down. Only time will tell. One thing is certain though; I won't be backing this Kickstarter. As the saying goes: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and I'll feel like the biggest damn moron in the world. Or something like that.
This article was originally published at AWESOMEoutof10