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Surprising Science

Emotions & Microsoft’s Kinect

Although we might look foolish flailing around the living room, Kinect has managed to excite our flesh, and that means our emotions aren’t far behind, says Jonah Lehrer.

As a result [of Microsoft’s Kinect], we are more scared by the possibility of virtual death (and more thrilled by the virtual victory) because our body is fully engaged with the game. For decades, video game designers have been obsessed with visual realism, as if the eyeball was the key to our emotional brain. But accurate graphics have diminishing returns. At a certain point, we don’t need more pixels—we need more physicality. And that’s what’s so exciting about the Kinect (and the Wii before that): For the first time, video games are able to deliver a visceral emotional experience, as our body is tricked into confusing fiction with reality.


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