Oui, Wii

Nintendo Wii controllerI’m not much of a gamer. Beyond a few EA Madden NFL games, I don’t play. Same for computer games. Mostly it’s the learning curve. It sucks to suck, so unless I can learn it fast, never mind.

This is why Nintendo’s forthcoming Wii intrigues me so much. It’s not trying to out-dazzle Sony’s near-vaporware PS3 or Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Fahrenheit. Instead Nintendo’s focusing on non-gamers and former gamers. In last week’s Economist, Nintendo’s CEO explained that the non-gamer market is far larger than the gamer market Sony and Microsoft are fighting over.

As lifestyles have become busier, leaving less time for gaming, the industry has moved towards epic games which take dozens of hours to complete. This is leading some occasional gamers to stop playing and deterring non-gamers from giving it a try, says Mr Iwata. There are other factors too: novices are put off by the need to master complex controllers, festooned with buttons, triggers and joysticks. And not everyone wants to escape into a fantasy gaming world. “That attracts avid gamers,” he says, but can make it “difficult for people to become interested in games”.

If Nintendo succeeds and the Wii is a hit. We can all learn something. It’s the user interface, stupid!

Look at a PS2 controller. All those buttons. They’re not intuitive. What does B1 have to do with a spin move? It’s forced. Playing Nintendogs on my kid’s DS took about a minute to figure out. If you can get a Pembroke Welsh Corgi through an agility course easily enough, why can’t you get Tiki to hit the gap just as easily?

The lesson go well beyond gaming and into new media development. The market comprising of folks who have never been on MySpace, don’t know what a podcast is, and couldn’t care less about tag clouds far exceeds the market that’s up on all those things. We have to ask ourselves why that’s true?

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project fully 1/3 of American adults never go online. Of those that do, less than one fifth have ever downloaded a video. So rather than trying to be the next YouTube we should be looking at ways to be like the next boob tube.

I don’t have the answer, but a good part of the problem is that so much web video, whether in blogs, on YouTube, or for sale on iTunes is not of interest to the average adult. This is because producers fail to take context into account. The internet largely remains a tool not a means of entertainment. Less than one fifth of American adults admit to going online sometimes just for fun.

We’re online for information. The occasional diversion is cool, but for the most part it’s about getting something done.

Video in this blog works because it tells me what the conference is about. The video gives me a better sense of the event than text would given the same amount of my time. In the spirit of full disclosure, Basic Black is my client though I had nothing to do with the video segment production.

Christopher Hastings edited the piece, compressed and uploaded it, and posted the blog entry in about an hour. It’s not polished. It doesn’t have to be. I wasn’t looking for eye candy. I just wanted a sense of what the conference was about.

Video in this blog never works because all the author talks about is the importance of video blogging and how he’s the most important video blogger. Sorry Steve, you’re not. You’re the problem, not the solution – the blogging equivalent of the first bunch of morons who bought laser printers in the 1980s, published poor quality newsletters about how publishing newsletters would change the world. Give the guy credit. He’s good at PR. Too bad he can’t make a cut to save his life.

2 Thoughts on “Oui, Wii

  1. You raise some interesting points, but without those first people printing out zines on their laser printers do you think we would have scene the rise of so many different indie publications.

    Steve Garfield, and thousands of people like him, have a voice and they want to share it with the world. Technology allows them to do so in an easier fashion then ever. That is what is so powerful about new media.

    ANYONE can create content and the people who are interested in it can find it. Not the type of thing you want to watch? That’s cool because there is an unlimited supply of other content to check out.

    I know Steve personally and it makes me laugh to think of him ever saying “he’s the most important video blogger” because he’d be the last person to say that.

    People create content because they have a passion to do so. People consume this content because it is of interest to them. It really IS that simple.

  2. I don’t think it’s that simple. Garfield’s blog has become a blog mostly about Garfield’s blogging. “Look, another media mention for me.” I sincerely admire his PR skills. He’s very good at getting attention, and I can’t say that I blame him for taking advantage. He certainly gets his share of speaking engagements and consulting gigs.

    The ridiculous signal to noise ratio in the video blogosphere has certainly dampened the enthusiasm for the medium and significantly slowed its adoption. “It’s all crap” is the common refrain I hear.

    That’s where Garfiled and his ilk have really set it back. If the most covered video blogger is a complete mess on camera, just imagine what the rest are like. And this plays into the mainstream media’s hands. “Hey public, this user generated stuff is all crap.”

    By now I expected he would have learned to shoot and edit a little, but he and most like him haven’t.

    Getting back to your newsletter analogy. It doesn’t hold. There were some checks and balances there – postage, most notably. While it got a lot cheaper to publish, it wasn’t nearly free like blogging.

    I am convinced that Garfield and those like him are a huge drag on the medium’s growth.

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: