Nintendo is generally credited with creating motion controls, but in reality gyroscopic motion control was the brainchild of an independent garage inventor from California named Tom Quinn. Back in 2001 Nintendo bought up Tom’s company Gyration, gaining the exclusive right to use his motion control tech. Five years later the Wii debuted and the rest is history.
Nintendo wasn’t the first company Tom showed his technology to though — he brought it to both Microsoft and Sony first, and unfortunately for them both companies behaved like, to put it delicately, complete gaping a–holes. According to Tom, Microsoft head Steve Ballmer liked the tech, but when Tom met with the Xbox team…
“The meeting went terribly. The attitude I got from them was that if they wanted to do motion control, they would do it themselves and make a better job of it. I mean, they were just rude. In fact, the meeting went so terribly that one of the executives came over to me afterwards and apologized on behalf of others.”
So Tom took the tech to Sony, and then this happened…
“We were in a tiny little room with a big PC projector and Kutaragi comes in, introduces himself, sits down and – I swear this is true – he closed his eyes the moment I started showing my pitch. He never opened them until I had finished.”
Well at least he resisted putting his fingers in his ears and singing “LALALAICAN’THEARYOU”. So yeah, Microsoft and Sony missed out on the initial motion control craze in favor of being petulant children. Of course as soon as the Wii exploded both companies were falling over themselves trying to create their own motion control devices, something that took longer than it should have because they couldn’t replicate Tom’s patents.
You can read a lot more about Tom Quinn and the creation of the Wii in this Computer and Video Games article. Whether you hate or love motion control, it’s a fascinating bit of history and worth a read.