March 10th, 2007, 18:25 Posted By: gunntims0103
news via mercurynews
NINTENDO'S INNOVATIVE SPORTS SIMULATIONS CAPTIVATE A NEW POPULATION OF GAMERS
It's too early to say that Nintendo's red-hot new console, the Wii, is bringing huge numbers of newbies to video games. But it's not too early to /recognize/ cite the hints of exactly that kind of revolution.
Could the Wii be a short-lived fad? Not likely, but impossible to rule out. Could its converts people with almost no previous gaming interest turn out to be a relatively small pool of consumers? Sure.
But until hard research arrives, we're left with anecdotal evidence that is remarkably rich and intriguing.
Nintendo says employees are recounting one example after another of reeling people in as soon as games such as the ""Wii Sports'' versions of tennis and bowling are demonstrated. Those games are based on using the Wii's one-hand remote to simulate the movements you would make if you were playing those sports for real.
Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America president, says he has a non-gamer girlfriend how did that happen? and that he doesn't have to worry about her becom ing sick and tired of all things Wii. Instead, he says, she's usually the first one in any group to say she wants to keep playing.
Skeptics can argue that anything Nintendo reports is self-serving. But feedback from Mercury News readers has been just as emphatic. It's not just a local reaction Web readers are putting in their two cents from around the country.
And it's the bowling game, despite a huge first wave of publicity about
the tennis game, that's inspiring some of the best anecdotes.
In a comment posted on the Mercury News blogs, one gamer wrote that he never had been able to interest his mother in anything he played and that she hadn't even tried a game since the 1980s. But when the Wii entered the house late last year, ""She noticed my brother and I playing bowling, and a few minutes later . . . we were playing a video game together.''
It wasn't just a momentary attraction, either: ""She used to love bowling, but due to a bad knee and busy schedule, hasn't been able to play in years. (The) Wii brought back some of the fun that she'd been missing, so I left it at her house. She plays with my brother at least once a week. I couldn't imagine her wanting to play if the game were done with traditional controllers.''
The ""mom'' factor shows signs of emerging as a Wii theme. Before the console launched, there was considerable speculation about whether the Wii could draw in meaningful numbers of new women players. But consider this tale from the blogs:
""I also brought my Wii console home for Christmas, and my mother, who I have never seen try any game except for "Tetris' in her life, after seeing what my brothers and I were doing, asked to play some "Wii Sports' tennis! It was definitely a moment to get out the camera and take a picture!
""I thought she would enjoy it and then let others play. No! She proceeded to play game after game for over an hour! I have been completely amazed at how the Wii brought that out of her (finally!) and how she can now appreciate my love for gaming.''
There are scattered press reports of group events being inspired by the Wii a video-game bowling tournament at a retirement community in the Chicago area, for instance and a recent comment on the Mercury News blogs referred to a Wii-themed party:
""My girlfriend's dad and his partner (both 50ish) bought a Wii. Not after seeing ours in action, but after visiting a some of their friends for a Wii party. Now they have more games then me. I am amazed this is the first console they have ever owned. The pull of "Wii Sports' and "Wii Play' is stunning.''
The recently released ""Wii Play'' is a mix of sports and non-sports games, including table tennis, billiards and ""Tanks!'' (a maneuvering and shooting game). In a small way, it symbolizes the next challenge for the Wii: Sustain the interest created by sports simulations with a broader set of games.
Among the upcoming major titles are ""Super Paper Mario'' (early April), a more traditional video game despite including Wii innovations, and ""Mario Party 8'' (late May), a conglomeration of group-oriented games. If Wii newbies migrate to those games, we can start talk ing about Nintendo changing the entire culture of entertainment.
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