J-Term Journal: Team Kinection
We were at my friend’s house, all of us 21 years old, sprinting in place in front of a television screen. Not your standard half-assed knee lifts: this was the 50-meter dash in Kinect Sports, and we were playing to win.
The feeling is like trying and failing to run quickly in a dream, but worse because intentional. You are trying to be fast without moving. I also bowled an imaginary ball and threw an imaginary discus. Kinect Sports takes away the physical and environmental demands of athletics and isolates the competitiveness, while skewing team dynamics and introducing the element of looking dumb. The console takes snapshots of players motioning vigorously and then plays them back at higher speeds, so that, after your inaccurate efforts, you can laugh at yourself and bask in a little irony.
Irony, of course, helps to take the edge off the sheer absurdity of the whole idea. I had strong opinions about just two things this winter break—environmentalism and Kinect Sports—and I opine that Kinect Sports is downright creepy. It reminded me of how robot-makers discovered something called the “uncanny valley,” the precipitous dip in our comfort levels in response to something that strays from caricature too close but not close enough to total accuracy. (Example: stubby, purple robots are cute, but Realdolls are scary). And so I’ve dealt with Super Smash Bros. and even Mario Tennis, but Kinect Sports do not sit well with me. It crossed over the point where I would prefer to just dash 50 meters down the street.
Every winter break seems to haul in its unique treasure. Last year it was “Jersey Shore.” Fact: Kinect Sports is just like “Jersey Shore,” Cracklin’ Oat Bran, and “16 and Pregnant.” The chain reaction is identical: you are initially revolted, you stay with it because your friends do or because it is available, you recalibrate and are reluctantly absorbed for a while, and finally you leave feeling unwashably dirty and terribly, terribly unemployed.