When I first heard about Project Natal I thought, "OK, that's a cool concept."  When I saw the demo, I thought, Good God, that's freakin' amazing!"  But I'm a cynic, and I'm going to operate under the assumption that the demo video on Natal's functionality is a work of staged digital magic to show us what it *could* be capable of in the future.

For the sake of argument, lets say Natal does everything they say it does, and does it well.  Will developers jump on the wagon a produce quality content, or will Microsoft wind up pulling a Wii, winding up with unimaginative 3rd party software that doesn't really showcase the possibilities of the peripheral?

The Cynic says: Natal will be nothing but a gimmick, relegated mostly to Dashboard functions and maybe one or two excellent tailored 1st party games.  We're still in the age of the controller, and I just don't think people are really going to make that big of a jump and forgo it.  Yet.

The Optimist says:  Screw the Cynic!  My gears are already turning at a million miles an hour, just imagining the limitless possiblities in creating even more deeply interactive user experinces.  Could you image a game like the upcoming Heavy Rain, where instead of using controller button presses to navigate through the gameworld, you could uses your hands to sift through objects, fist fight, or open a cupboard and grab a box of cereal.  Use facial recognition technology to interact with characters, if you frown or smile, they can detect it and change their moods accordingly.  And maybe, using vocal recognition, finally allow direct vocal communication with in-game characters rather than using pre-written dialouge.  The what if's are potentially boundless.  I'm already in the process of plotting out a series of games with these interactive possibilities in mind.

Obviously, I have great hopes for Natal.  I see this as the next step towards a totally immersive Virtual Reality platform.  But that's still a ways off.  But man, it feels good to dream.