Console Design 101

There’s an interesting column at Next Generation about console design and its effect on a system’?s popularity. Since I think Sony’s system looks exactly like the bloated joke that it is, I thought I’?d share my thoughts.

After walking us through a history lesson of consoles past (wood-paneled Atari 2600’s anyone?) columnist Eric-Jon Rossel Waugh says console design is as important as the games. Sony started a trend with the Playstation towards more adult themes, 3D games, and encased its systems in bland entertainment center camouflage to hide the fact you owned a gaming system. As a result, gaming has become a niche; much more so than when I first squeezed the trigger of the Zapper back in 1986 anyway.

It’s unfortunate, but at least now we’?re getting back to the all-inclusive mindset necessary to grow gaming and promote competition. The Wii may look like an Apple product, but both the controller and Nintendo’?s campaign with the DS to get everyone involved is a great sign for the future.

From the article: “What, then, is the ideal design for a game machine? [?] Doing the math, it would seem the ideal game machine would be clearly a game machine (Genesis). It would be distinctive and attention-grabbing (Master System), without being a nuisance (Xbox). […] It would be warm and inviting (Dreamcast), without seeming trivial (GameCube). Failing much of the above, you can’t go too wrong with simply being as nondescript as possible (NES, Wii) ? though that’s the safe route. You know what they say about the safe route.”

Sure I do. With the safe route you don’t end up looking like a George Foreman waffle iron. Oh, and since when is introducing a wildly new control scheme and then basing your console’s entire future on it the “safe route”?? So now I turn to the masses: Did the appearance of a gaming console ever influence your decision to buy it?