Saturday, February 17, 2007

On a Wii and a Prayer

It has been some time since gaming has been a major recipient of my free time. Recently, however, some of the classics (Tetris, Super Mario Brothers, RC Pro Am, etc.) have re-emerged when groups of my friends gather. Perhaps its the nostalgia sprinkled with a little competition, but something about it is just a good time.

Until this week, my interest in the latest generation of console games had been strictly based on the appreciation of the technological enhancements and the ever-expanding "connective" capabilities to allow players to interact with one another. Xbox 360 was the first to the party. PlayStation3 was the prettiest girl there. But it would be a cute little Nintendo Wii that I chose to bring home with me. Though from a technology standpoint, it is little more than a GameCube with a new wireless controller and an adaptive interface, it has something else that the more complex systems can't deny--ridiculous fun for even the least committed gamers.

Just before the doors opened last Sunday morning, I joined a small crowd at my local Target store after having been alerted via iTrackr that they had some of the evasive little buggers in stock. After dealing with a touch of credit card fraud (someone had apparently stolen my information and used it to run up charges on a World of Warcraft account (I don't think we'll have much trouble tracking them down)), I was on my way home with a Wii.

Within minutes after being plugged in, the Wii was wirelessly connected to the web. We created our own character icons--Miis--and the gaming commenced. Over the couple of drifted-in snow days that followed, evenings around my house consisted of playing enough Wii Sports to find myself a tad sore.

The Wii remote is the most intuitive way to interact with technology since the advent of the mouse. Gone are the complicated sequences with a dozen buttons doing different things that have scared away the less committed gamers. Just point it at the screen, move it around, and push the button. Great work from Nintendo who seems to have emulated Apple in many ways with the creation of the Wii. It's all about creating a simple, fun user experience.

The exciting thing is that I get the feeling that this whole thing is really just in a sort of Beta format right now. There will be plenty of advancements to come and plenty of ways for third parties to create "channels" (downloadable applications) for users to interact with. The possibilities there are virtually limitless, especially since Wii connects online and allows access to the entire Web.

The next time you see a line of people outside of an electronics store just before they open--hop in line and pick up a Wii.

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