Gaming is a barrage on almost all of the senses. In pursuit of putting you into the shoes of whatever protagonist you are playing as, game developers spend millions and millions of dollars on assaulting your eyes and ears.
Even touch is an important part of the experience as any gamer who has played with a good and bad controller will tell you. Although one sense that has never been able to fully translate over to entertainment is smell.
There have been experiments in the past with scent in entertainment, but most have involved fairground cinemas and scratch cards. In these cases, one is limiting and the other actually breaks the barrier between you and what you are watching. As technology has moved on though, there are some who are playing with the sense once again and it has been revealed that Microsoft was considering it as a controller feature for the Xbox One at one point.
In the first part of a series exploring the Xbox One controller, Games Beat sat down with Xbox’s Director of Accessories, Zulfi Alam, and explored how Microsoft invested over “$100 million” in tweaking the fan favorite Xbox 360 controller. Alam explained that many didn’t want to change the controller at all but after some persuasion, they were able to play with several ideas. Along with cameras, touchpads and speakers, Alam says the team also “looked at concepts like adding displays to the controller. We looked at concepts like adding smell.”
He went on to explain the smell concept and an example by saying,
“We built small slugs of different types of smells that could actually come out of a controller…Like, as you walked through a jungle, you’d smell the flora.””
It is easy to scoff at the idea of making a stinky controller, but it isn’t without merit. Smell can be a very powerful trigger in the human brain as anyone who has had a memory come racing back to them due to a specific smell can attest to. It just seems that the barrier between technology, implementation and the communal aspects of modern gaming stopped the idea going any further.
What do you think of adding smell to gaming? Could it have a place or is it just a gimmick? Could it be more imersive and do you think any company will be crazy enough to try it? Do you think anything else is missing from the Xbox One controller like speakers or a touchpad?
The Xbox One is released on 22 November, 2013.
Source: Games Beat