Like many of the other Infendo bloggers this week, I too brought the Wii home to the immediate family for the Thanksgiving holiday. After explaining to my mother that, no, I did not just drop more than $600 for a PS3, I set about setting up the console on the family room television. What happened next made me feel absolutely 100% satisfied with every dollar I had spent last Sunday morning.
The Learning Curve: For non-gamers there is a bit of a process involved in getting to know just how sensitive the controller is when applied to a game like bowling. For my parents and sisters, there was a bit of an a-ha moment when they stopped “trying” and just started bowling. My youngest sister picked it up best, and we played at least an hour between ourselves wherein she beat me twice having never played before in her life. If my life was Red Steel, that would have been my Seppuku moment. This is the most important point in a Wii console’s life, because not only is it trying to overcome the non-gamer applied stigma of being a video game console, it is also trying to establish a new control medium with people not typically associated with gaming.
The virus effect: We have the neighbors over every year, so after dinner was finished this year my youngest sister and I broke out Wii Sports Tennis for the small crowd that had gathered in the family room. The dads were hooked. “You mean you just swing?” “Yup.” “And how about spin?” “It’s all in the wrist.” Watching this virus like effect spread throughout the room was mesmerizing. That sounds a big overly dramatic on my part, but truly, three generations of people all “got it” almost simultaneously. Mothers, fathers, daughters … even our dog was interested. I spend about 15 minutes bowling various curves and speeds to show our neighbor how sensitive the Wiimote was — and he works for IBM (they designed the chip inside the console). The demo wasn’t due to confusion on his part, it was more like fascination.
Question time: I spent almost as much time explaining the Wii and its position relative to other gaming consoles as I did playing it with other this week, and I think that’s a good thing. When people are genuinely interested in something, they ask questions. They want to know more. My family did, as did the neighbors, including one 21-year old guy who you could safely say was into Xbox 360, but went away curious about what the Wii could do next. It’s hard to believe, but I kept my personal opinions to myself on “other consoles” and stuck to what I knew best — Nintendo and the Wii. That’s really all I had to do.
By the end of the week, my dad was asking prices. “How much? Sports included? What do we need? I think this is something we could get for the family.” It reminded me of Infendo’s chat with Tracey Clark, and how everyone at that Wii Party wanted one as they left. Sure there were hiccups (Blake and Matthew have excellent write ups this week) — Wii Sports Golf is too buggy for my taste, and I’m quickly finding myself on the Monkey Ball hatin’ bandwagon — but the system basically did as advertised and more. There’s no way that the first crop of games even scratches the surface as far as potential is concerned, and for that I’m almost looking forward to 2007 more than I was looking forward to getting my hands on the console in the first place.