I am not a console game player--why, when I have a fine PC?--but I have been impressed with the ideas behind the Wii. The other day I had my first chance to actually play the Wii, which strongly confirmed my point of view.
I need to tell a story about my "worst prediction ever". After the crash of video gaming in the early 80s, I supposed that there would never be another video game console comparable in popularity to the Atari 2600. Because cheap computers, particularly the Commodore 64, could do everything a console could do and lots more, at a similar price. Obviously I was wrong, as the first Nintendo machine revived the genre.
What happened? I underestimated the buying public's fear of computers. In particular, I think parents buying game machines for their kids feared having to cope with a keyboard machine. And we have since seen a long succession of consoles dominate home gaming.
Nowadays, we have expensive consoles that are computer wannabes, the PS3 and the XBox360. Both are "frozen" technology, when compared with PCs. I still don't know why anyone would want to bother with an expensive computer wannabe that cannot be upgraded practically, when you can play on a much more versatile PC. Yes, the game software often isn't available for a PC; but in my particular case, the games I like to play (strategy wargames) are made for the PC to begin with.
What we have in the Wii is a throwback to the days when consoles were simple family fun, when people played consoles yet were afraid to deal with "complicated" computers. The new controllers allow gameplay that you just cannot have on a PC (or competing console) at present. The entire "ambience" of the Wii is that it's a fun thing to do with other people, not alone. That it's a game machine, not a technology machine. That it's for the casual player, not the hardcore type. My recent exposure at a party for a game club, with four playing at once, confirmed every one of those impressions.
So if I were going to buy a console, it would be a Wii, not a computer wannabe. (Though I can see buying a PS3 for the Blu-Ray, I'm not sufficiently into high definition movies to bother--upconversion from a progressive scan DVD is fine with me.)
My experience with game development students is that most of them are very hard core. A major task for the instructor is to convince them that they are not typical, and that they cannot plan to make games only for the hard core. The growth in games, in my estimation, will be in casual games, the downloadable games for PCs and games on such services as Xbox Live. And in simulations. NOT in AAA list games that are prominent in Best Buy or Circuit City. The Wii is selling as fast as Nintendo can make them, much faster than the competing consoles. There's a big market there, and game students need to be aware of it.
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle
"Always do right--this will gratify some and astonish the rest."Mark Twain
"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." Antoine de Saint-Exup'ery
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." Albert Einstein
"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." Albert Einstein