Any Skin in the Game is Fine with Microsoft Kinect

Last night, the game news website GameSpot kicked up a controversy over a new camera-based game controller from Microsoft, Kinect, with a post that said two dark-skinned GameSpot employees had trouble with the system’s facial recognition feature.

That prompted the website of Consumer Reports to run its own tests to see if it could duplicate Kinect’s alleged discrimination. The publication just posted its results under the headline, “Consumers Reports debunks the ‘racist’ Kinect.” (That headline was a bit of a straw man since GameSpot didn’t say definitively that dark skin was the cause of the problems, much less claim Kinect was racist. Plus can objects be racist?)

Consumer Reports said they found the problem GameSpot wrote about was related to low room lighting, rather than skin color. Like GameSpot, Consumer Reports found the issue only occurred with Kinect’s facial recognition, a feature that allows players to automatically log in to their Xboxes when they stand in front of Kinect’s camera to load their personal gamer profiles. Lighting conditions didn’t affect playing actual games with Kinect, Consumer Reports said.

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