Earlier today, Nintendo gave their long awaited keynote speech. Known for being almost as secretive as Apple, many people speculated about some of the possible revelations at this year’s spotlight. From rumors of Punch Out Wii to a new Kid Icarus, hardcore gamers were convinced that Nintendo would use this opportunity to at least partially qwell the fears of the remnant of those who consider gaming their primary hobby. Pretty much everyone except Nintendo agrees: they were wrong.

After dropping hints that hardcore gamers would be pleased with the announcements at today’s speech, Nintendo proceeded to completely ignore any concerns that Nintendo is getting a little too cute and accessible. Instead, they showed us more of the same cute people playing sports, playing music, and walking around towns and cities. Wii Sports Resort, Animal Crossing: City Folk, and Wii Music are all super casual games that will most likely lack depth and challenge: two things hardcore gamers demand.

In the past on our podcast I’ve made my affinity for the Nintendo Wii and what it represents clear. I’ve praised Nintendo for encouraging family and friends to play together and “keep the world smiling” as they’ve said today. Nintendo is clearly committed to that goal and they’re accomplishing it. I applaud this.

The problem is that as more and more families and friends try video games, they will want to try them even more. Many of them will become the very people Nintendo seems to be ignoring: hardcore gamers. You might point out that the future hardcore gamers will be used to the sorts of games Nintendo is offering, but this can’t be the case. There’s only so much you can get out of Wii Sports before you start wishing it had levels, unlockables, and online play. It’s not just that games become less fun: it’s that the Wii becomes this generation’s treadmill, bought in a blur of optimism and abandoned after bowling and throwing frisbees at a dog gets a little too old.

Of course, for Christians the question here is whether spending significant amounts of time playing video games with your family and friends can be time well spent. I think it can. And if so, we have to ask whether we’re willing to settle for a few minutes of pretending to play the saxophone and the cowbell before everyone heads off to do their own thing.


5 Comments

  1. “we have to ask whether we’re willing to settle for a few minutes of pretending to play the saxophone and the cowbell before everyone heads off to do their own thing.”

    Haha, well said.

  2. Just for kicks, here’s Tycho’s take:

    No doubt the proprietors of Ladies’ Home Journal were breathless
    during Nintendo’s presentation, but those outside of that august
    body may derive less enjoyment. This is the deep-dish, delicious
    irony endured by the Nintendo stalwart: to see their platform of
    choice ascendant, even as their bright God turns his face away.
    Though it contained very little sustenance for our kind, the
    presentation was (as is typical) a confident, refined affair. The
    salvo was not a failure. It was simply aimed elsewhere.

    The Danes last blog post..20080716

  3. And yet I’m pretty sure anyone who actually sees the presentation of Wii Music will be less than impressed. Even housewives. (“Why not just play real musical instruments?”)

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