Tag Archives: Wii 2

Pop-Gaming – We Asked For It

It’s high time I discussed the phenomenon that is sweeping the video game realm. I’ve avoided it so far – mostly because I want to pretend like it’s not there – but I can’t help but see it creeping into my daily life. What started out as mere curiosity has become a huge part of my gaming life, and I can’t imagine it subsiding anytime soon. My will may be strong, but as more people are embracing this paradigm shift I find it hard to avoid. The phenomenon I’m referring to is “Pop-Gaming”.

At first glance, you might decide to bash the Pop-Gaming market, and complain about how Farmville has given many people a false idea of gaming; or how Prince of Persia should have never been a movie. A closer look will reveal that this is what we’ve been demanding all along, but we never expected it to come to this.

As many people spent the 90s sitting at home, playing hardcore games alone in their basements, they experienced the judging glares and condescending comments of pretentious detractors. These gamers quickly began to demand respect and understanding of their hobby while politicians accused their beloved¬†Mortal Kombat, and other “violent” video games as the core reason for high school shootings and the like. As time has progressed, people have slowly dropped the misconceptions and are taking an interest in our hobby. What started out as a misunderstanding and a “waste of time”, has shifted to curiosity and respect for this thing we call video gaming.

When I think about this shift, thoughts drift into visions of game-related novels, movie adaptations, Farmville junkies, and masochistic little birds with a hankering for pork. These images are enough to make a JRPG fan go nuts and begin slandering these wannabes. My initial reaction was very similar, but as I see these mediums begin to permeate the world outside of hot, sweaty dungeon-crawling warlords, I started to realize that hardcore gamers have very little reason to complain.

Take World of Warcraft, it contains what appears to be a niche market; but how niche can 12 million players be? You may have started out on the ground floor of this MMO movement, but you’ve opened the gates and happily welcomed your friends. You showed them around, got them a glass of wine, and displayed grade A hospitality; but by the time you turned around, the entire room was filled with people. Now you are upset all because you forgot to close the door.

There has been a large movement into the realm of MMOs recently. Leaders of free-to-play games such as Nexon, have paved the road and found ways to convince normal people to pour hundreds of hours and dollars into an endless grind. That market is getting bigger, and as more companies jump on board we will see more people losing their time to the micro-transaction model.

How about first person shooters? How many of you spent countless hours in front of a computer screen with Unreal Tournament, fragging your friends and scoffing at those who just couldn’t understand why you thought that could be fun. Now the tables have turned. You complain because some of the same people who laughed at you then, have all but sold their soul to Call of Duty. It’s a fight that you’ve fought for so many years, but you never thought it would come to this.

We were the ones who wrote blog and forum posts demanding respect from unreasonable parents and conservative politicians, who said that shooting and fighting games were the leading cause of juvenile violence. We fought, and continue to fight, in fear of losing our precious games, and the battle is slowly being won. We proudly wore our Legend of Zelda t-shirts and honorably display our allegiance to the Horde and the Alliance. The floodgates have burst open and we now stare in disbelief at the wave of support we’ve ushered in.

Every movie, book, cellphone or Facebook game that comes out is not bad, but I can understand the frustration when you watch your favorite genres or series get watered down with under-par content. What was once a labor of love has slowly been loosed from the grip of the video game forefathers, altered, and injected into the mainstream of America. Now corporations have seen ways to make additional profit off of our favorite games and have all but forced us to support them.

We can’t blame anyone but ourselves. No matter how much we think that motion controls are ruining the core experience, or cell phones and Facebook have inaccurately inducted business men and stay-at-home moms into the gamer category, we supported the development of our current predicament.¬†If you feel like the issue has gotten out of hand, but you aren’t quite sure what to do about it, then I have one thing to say…VOTE.

“How,” you might ask. With your money. You may be able to get your comrades to support your antics by posting on forums about how much pop-gaming should die, but you aren’t going to affect the decision makers unless you refuse to buy their product. If Angry Birds is ruining your gaming feng shui, then don’t “accidentally” download it and get caught up in the addicting gameplay. If you have to choose between Prince of Persia and Bride’s Maids, then go with the latter…though, at that point, you may have a completely different problem on your hands.

You could, of course, choose to support this change. It’s not all bad. In fact, I find the new shift to be quite the stimulator for the industry. As revenue continues to pour in from the pop-gaming market, we will see funds shift to develop higher powered consoles that can hit the market at more affordable prices. Expect to see the Wii U announced with a fairly low price point, due to the astronomical financial success of the Wii. There’s a lot of good that social, mobile and motion-control gaming can do to support hardcore gamers. Plus, Angry Birds is just plain fun.

At the least, don’t forget the role you’ve played in making pop-gaming a reality; even you have made some bad judgment calls. So, dismount your self-constructed throne of conceit, uncover your hidden stash of Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat films, and face the facts…you’re a Pop-Gamer.

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Nintendo Announces the Next Generation – My Predictions for the Wii’s Successor

Say what you want about Nintendo, but they know how to make money. If this past generation wasn’t enough of a wake up call for gamers everywhere, then it’s time to reconsider your stance on the validity of gimmick gaming. Our first look at the Wii had many of us rolling our eyes at the idea of shaking our bon-bons in front of our TV screens; but take another look under, beside, or on top of your entertainment center and what do you see? A Wii! On November 19, 2006 Grandmas and Grandpas all over the US were shimmying their way into retail centers to buy up the cheap hardware; and Nintendo made billions.

The hardcore audiences that loyally barnacled themselves to underside of Nintendo’s ship felt neglected as it seemed like casual gamers were getting the high-scale treatment on deck. Many of them, understandably bought up other systems in hopes of filling the void that Nintendo had left them, and the recent video game converts eventually left the Wii to dust and abandonment. Now the executives at Nintendo are left to count their money, and have no one to share it with. So what’s the next step? A new console, of course.

The next generation is here, though much later than normal, and Nintendo is tasked with regaining the loyalty of their broken-hearted fans. I won’t sugar coat it, Nintendo’s success balances on their ability to fulfill the fragile hopes of hardcore gamers and finally give what they’ve been asking for. Nintendo can’t hope to win grandma and grandpa back either, they’ve had their fun, and are probably realizing their mistake in purchasing the console in the first place. They have to take two steps forward and hope to quash the steady stream of fans entering the veins of Sony and Microsoft.

If you’ve been following the gaming feed, then you know that rumors have leaked about an upcoming console that may live up to the hype; but don’t get too excited, most of us saw this coming. Rumors point to HD graphics, powerful processors, backwards compatibility, and an intuitive game pad featuring dual joysticks and a gaming screen. Perhaps it’s too little too late for Nintendo. They are known for being one step behind in the most recent console generations, and I can’t imagine Microsoft and Sony not having prototypes in the works that will once again, put Nintendo in the dust. But gimmicks are Nintendo’s forte, and gaming is about getting you to spend your money, not make you happy.

Our very own Dawna Wood commented on the rumors by saying,

Personally, even if some of the reports about its power are true, it still won’t matter. Xbox’s userbase is too loyal and invested to hop over to Nintendo, and more or less is the same for PS3 buyers not to mention the millions who have already purchased a Wii. It’s far too late in the game for a new HD console…
I have to echo her sentiments, because I can’t imagine Nintendo being successful in using HD graphics as a ploy. When we think back on the most recent waves of consoles, we see a few areas where Nintendo has failed to produce. Outside of standard definition graphics the lack of easy-to-use controllers, online capabilities, built-in hard drive, and third party support are just a handful of the issues Nintendo has faced. It’s important for these issues to be resolved or the fans may leave them for good.
We’ve seen feeble attempts to support the classic controller, and then watched as it came crashing down. We watched as Nintendo laughably tried to emulate online interaction to no avail, and cringed when we watched the beauty of Super Mario Galaxy stretch across our flat screen TVs. But in my opinion nothing hurts worse than the lack of third party support for the Wii console. It’s unfortunate to see such great talent go to waste, but when your console doesn’t support HD graphics or provide a controller with logical and easy to use functions you run the risk of alienating yourself.
It’s a shame that Wii owners won’t be able to experience the Mass Effect trilogy, or watch the beauty of a sunset over the Tamriel skyline. There are great games on the Wii like Super Mario Galaxy or the Twilight Princess, but you will quickly notice that most of the top-tiered titles are games created by Nintendo and are sequels to increasingly stale IPs. Unfortunately for Nintendo, many gamers did experience the glory of Mass Effect and the Elder Scrolls and as a consequence Nintendo lost a steady cash flow from these dissatisfied gamers. Check out what SFX-360 writer, Stoney has to say about 3rd part support:
It’s a very much needed console for Nintendo. 3rd Party Development sucks on the Wii due to the Wii’s graphical limitations. Developers can port games from PC to 360 to PS3 with little effort and cost. Porting to the Wii is nearly impossible so a new game pretty much has to be made from the ground up. You can’t blame the controls for this difficulty because look how quickly Heavy Rain and other titles accepted new input from the Move controller.
People will always buy the latest Nintendo franchise releases, but without solid 3rd party titles to collect revenue from Nintendo is pretty much dead in the water right now.
Despite the Wii’s success with pushing out old franchises, we are starting to notice a trend of mediocrity in the quality of these games. Since the release of the Gamecube, Nintendo has only had one stand out IP, Pikmin; but what’s sad about this dilemma is that Nintendo is known for its brilliance in the creation of new game worlds and characters. Link, Mario, Donkey Kong, and Samus almost single-handedly made Nintendo a successful brand, but since their creation, Nintendo has done little to introduce new IPs.
The overarching theme here is that Nintendo has to focus on its games this time around by making their system easily accessible for developers and by offering new games for their audience. There is no doubt that if Nintendo manages to hit on all cylinders then we will witness a phenomenon. Nintendo is a name that sells itself; whether they are selling a console, a Mario game, or a wooden block, people have an affinity towards the name. Add on the updated specs of a current generation console and we may finally relive the competitive days of the SNES and the Genesis.
I’ve got a feeling that Nintendo has been planning this launch for a decade or more, and the Wii was simply a product created to pull in billions of dollars. If my theory proves correct, then Nintendo will launch their new console at a very affordable price despite it’s power. It has been confirmed that Nintendo will be showing their new system at E3, and not only will we see the capabilities, but it will also be playable. I would expect a price announcement, and a line-up of launch games by the end of the show. Only time will tell if my theories prove true.
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