Tuesday, June 07, 2011

That's What It is

I've been bothered by the Wii U announcement all day.

Something was nagging at me, something not quite right, but I couldn't put it into words. Now, though, I can.

Look, you can bitch about the Wii, and some of the bitching would be true, but the Wii was one of the most beautiful pieces of design in gaming history. Why? Because it made video game play more like play. Instead of us death-gripping a controller in the same position for hours while we melted into a chair, we moved around like we would on a playground.

I think that was the whole idea: create a controller that allowed us to be on a playground.

That is a clean, beautiful piece of conceptual thinking. I could explain the Wii in one sentence. Consumers could grasp the idea in five seconds of a thirty-second commercial.

The Wii appealed to children, obviously, but it also appealed to that part in all of us that is still child-like.

Now we have the Wii U. Describe it in one sentence? Hell, I can't describe it in a page. There's this controller with a touchscreen and regular controls and a thing here and a whatchamacallit there, and the screens can switch and what the f-ck is the point here?

What does this have to do with play, exactly?

That's the problem. What this controller contributes to play is not easy to grasp and it's not intuitive. It has some cool features, but they're not immediately obvious.

I think this is a big, big gamble for Nintendo, unless they tie in an additional application market from the mobile space, and even then, it may be an uphill climb.

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