Now that the video game generation has moved into the new era of high-powered playtime-oddly represented by the similarly named PS3, 360, and Nintendo Wii (pronounced “wee”)-you’d think this excess of new technology would mean geek heaven. In my experience, however, the Nintendo Wii has given rise to a new video game fanbase: the non-gamer. When my Wii finally arrived in the mail-it wasn’t readily available from Santa Barbara retailers, of course-I expected my Wii-time would come at the expense of my roommates’ TV time. Why wouldn’t it? In addition to offering the new games that accompany any game system release, the Wii had the added benefit of the Virtual Console, an iTunes-like online market where nostalgic gamers can purchase titles from the bygone consoles and run through the old, 8-bit hop-and-bop stages they originally had during childhood.
However, shortly after my Wii was first plugged in, the roommates whose formative years were not brightened by brand names like Sega, Atari, and Nintendo, were playing. Why? I’d guess the novelty of a video game system controlled by handheld wireless remotes-devices I insist be called “Wii-motes”-instead of clunky controllers has made the video game experience more accessible to newbies. Instead of arcane button combinations that must be keyed in to trigger spectacular special moves, people only have to move the Wii-mote in the motion they want their onscreen analogue to perform: A horizontal swipe makes a perfect tennis swing, a quick jab makes a mean right hook in a boxing match, and an overhand casting motion throws a curve ball right over home plate.
The roommates aren’t alone. The Wii has also proven popular in rest homes, for example, where residents can finally engage in modified versions of group sporting activities without putting them in the kind of physical risk that sliding across home plate might pose in real life. Props to Nintendo, then, for making a product the young could feasibly enjoy with their grandparents.