I’m a pretty religious Penny Arcade reader, even going so far as to pepper my everyday dialogue – that is, the things I say to real people, when I’m looking at their faces – with phrases from the comic. (Yes, in real life I drop references to an internet comic focused on the gaming community. Someday I’ll show you the stick with which I fend off the hordes of ladies perpetually surrounding me. I call it “Sting.”) Today’s PA entry ties into what I feel is the most significant development within today’s gaming scene, with Gabe bemoaning – via a, um, novelty T-shirt – the increasing prevalence of physically immersive simulations. His complaint is that simulated experiences, like those presented in Rock Band and Wii exercise titles, require a very real level of coordination (and produce, on occasion, equally real sweat). I remember the predictions from the pre-Wii, pre-Internet halcyon 1980’s and 90’s concerning the future of gaming: we were going to strap on VR suits and gloves, and pick up our virtual swords, and fight some virtual zombies. Their matted hair would be tangibly repugnant; the smell of the grave would fill our nostrils. (Alternatively, we were going to strap on VR stirrups and riding crops and ride some virtual magical ponies. The rest – matted hair, smell of the grave – still stands.) I look back now on all the movies promising these developments – Hackers comes to mind, as do The Matrix and The Island – and can only mourn our failure to realize so noble a goal. I’m on the opposite side of the debate from Gabe; I yearn for more immersive experiences. I maintain that I’d be a much more efficient zombie killer, fighter pilot or Space Marine than video games today imply, if only I could utilize the respective tools of these trades as they were intended to be used – with both hands, and my feet if necessary. Something in my brain bone rebels when I press a button or push a joystick to swing a sword. It’s as though my deep, reptilian subconscious is shouting at me, “No! No! We built you arms for this very purpose! Entire arms for holding swords!” When I’m playing a game, I want to feel a sword in my hand, and move it in a way that threatens to dislocate my entire shoulder. I want to strain to stay upright while wearing full plate armor. I want, in short, to look left by moving my neck. As it stands now, using a cursed twin stick control scheme, I put a lot of stock in how well a game maps its skies. This is because I spend a good portion of my time looking directly up, or down, or off into the middle distance, unable to focus my gaze upon a given point. If a button could be utilized to slacken my character’s jaw and trigger a drool response, I imagine that I would inadvertently press it. I’ve really enjoyed games like Rock Band that challenge our assumptions on the nature of a “controller.” I may not be able to sync up the Left Bumper with my need to reload a shotgun, but I’ll be damned if I can’t understand the basic mechanics of a guitar and how one is played; my head can wrap comfortably around this process, as I’m doing with my hands exactly what I want my character to replicate with his own. So, gamers, thoughts? What’s your preference: an immersive simulation, or a contained exercise in hand-eye coordination? I know that I’ll be the first in line to buy a holodeck, so what’s the argument against physically demanding games?