It’s funny. When most of us thought about the next generation of gaming, we thought we'd see increased performance, better graphics, and MORE PIXELS! And sure, there’s been some improvement — maybe not as much as we’d originally hoped for, but it’s still early.
What Microsoft is doing with the Xbox One is far more revolutionary than just better graphics. And it starts with the recent update to Skype — the one that lets you snap the Skype chat onto the side of the screen as you play a game or watch a movie. For some, this may seem like a trivial update, but it could change the way we experience games forever.
Before the days of Xbox LIVE, before PlayStation Network, there was a little thing called local multiplayer. For those who may not be familiar with the term, this involved calling over a friend or two (maybe more!), huddling together on a couch, and beating each others’ asses in Goldeneye 007, the original Halo, Mario Kart, Mario Party, or some other game that really got the blood boiling. This is what gaming was all about — the joy of playing games together.
Today’s generation of consoles may make it easier than ever to play a game with someone. Heck, you can even play with strangers. But as a result, we’re losing that intimate connection — that bond we shared when high-fiving your friend (or punching them in the arm for that damn blue shell).
Microsoft is looking to recapture that experience. The new Skype update is the perfect start. By allowing you to snap Skype into the side of your screen, you can actually see the person you are playing with. You are no longer limited to just hearing their voice. You can see their reaction when you throw that last second touchdown. You can smile together, laugh together. Maybe I’m sentimental, but I miss the days of a personal connection.
Part of getting older is sometimes moving apart from childhood friends or college buddies. Xbox LIVE has already made it easier to keep in touch through games, but now Xbox One is making it so you never have to say goodbye to personal connections.
The Xbox One may have an improved Kinect, better graphics, and the power of the cloud, but it’s rediscovering the personal connection while gaming that’s truly innovative.