Future of Xbox Looks Social and Spirited

Video game aficionados are notoriously hard to impress, but in its official press conference Monday at the E3 conference, Microsoft revealed two new developments that cracked the shell of some of even the most cynical gamers.

—Xbox Live already allows users to play games with each other around the world, but soon they will be able to do much more than that as Microsoft is integrating both Facebook and Twitter, two of the largest social media outlets, into its videogame system. Other gaming systems like the Wii and PlayStation 3 have limited types of communication possible between users, but soon Xbox 360 players will be able to use screenshots as pictures on Facebook, announce their status on Twitter, and invite people to play on either, even if the person invited isn’t currently playing Xbox.

Natal might be a nonsense word to most people (unless you speak Portuguese, in which case it means Christmas), but Microsoft may change that with a new motion-capture technology for Xbox 360 that doesn’t require you to hold a remote or wear special gear. The system, which looks like a slim bar placed near the console, uses a 3-D camera (and includes a microphone) to follow a user’s movements precisely, recreating them on the screen. Needless to say, this is a big step for video games. If the commercial version works as well as the video demonstration, the possibilities for games, exercise programs, and even movies are enormous.

Lazy gamers who prefer sitting on a couch with only the movement of their thumbs to indicate life may have been upset, but haven’t bothered to complain.

Eric Hal Schwartz was an intern in Xconomy's Seattle office. Follow @

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