World of Warcraft played with Kinect. For science!

Tom Hatfield

You might think the man in this video is playing World of Warcraft on Kinect because it looks hilarious, but you would be wrong . He is a scientist and he is doing it for science . Dr Skip Rizzo, of the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies, has created FAAST (Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit), a piece of free middleware that allows off the shelf PC games to use motion sensing technology.

More details inside.

Speaking to Joystiq Dr Rizzo said "You can play (World of Warcraft) with some simple gestures, but it's not fully evolved so that all the literally thousands of keyboard emulations are in place to be able to play in its full form."

FAAST apparently allows you to map and configure your own gestures, customising motions you're comfortable with "So what we're able to do is to specify the gesture - and it can be any gesture. It could be jumping up and down that would move the thing right or left (although that wouldn't be natural). You could jump up and down to fire. The idea is that the software we built allows us to assign any gesture that can be picked up by the Kinect to emulate what the keyboard actions would be."

The project is aimed at using games for rehabilitation, therapy and education, and to make games more accessible to disabled gamers. With Dr Rizzo saying: "This is really the future of a lot of home-based rehabilitation, to create rehab games that require natural body action to interact with the game, as well as using games that people already know and love and trying to find ways that we can specify the body therapy, the body activity to do that. Our mission has been to do that, and we see this as groundbreaking." Adding "And that's really what the vision of our research group is all about. We know we can change the brain, and we know we can rehabilitate people after significant injuries so they become more functional. But it's hard as hell to get people to do that physical therapy or that cognitive therapy in its traditional form because it's so damn boring."

When asked about the response of gamers to the technology he said: "It's not going to be for everybody. There's a lot of people who are just going to want to sit there. They don't want to exercise. They want to play the game, and they love the game -- and that's fair enough. But there is a segment of the population that will play these games for the exercise and will enjoy the physical activity for some types of games that are well-matched."

Would you play with motion control if you could customise it yourself? If the answer is yes, you can download FAAST for free from the University website .

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