Experienced Points

Experienced Points
Wii Are the Champions

Shamus Young | 27 Feb 2009 21:00
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An entire console has been dedicated to helping people over the wall and turning them into gamers, and the existing gamers seethe with rage not because they personally don't enjoy the console but because the thing even exists. Part of this is due to the absurd clan warfare between the various console tribes, which is another stupid trend in gaming that needs to die in a woodchipper.

I see threads where Xbox 360 and PS3 users set aside their infantile blood feud to make fun of the Wii. They say the Wii is "lame," "annoying," or "stupid." The Wiimote is a "gimmick" and the console is "underpowered." The fact that the machine has brought in waves of new gamers to the hobby, shaken up the controller world, and provided a low-cost consoles to gamers on a budget is irrelevant to the fanboys. The mere success of the Wii has become some sort of threat and insult to the fragile egos of jabbering fanboys who see themselves as the keepers of of an exclusive priesthood.

I'd prefer to think of these Wii users as "newcomers," and welcome them with a handshake and a pat on the back. But if we're going to call these new players "casual" gamers then we need to set aside the notion that "casual gamers" are part of some strange new species of drooling imbeciles. They're just people who haven't learned to play God of War yet. A lot of these "casual gamers" will stick with the low-key "pasttime" titles and be content with that. But many will inevitably get bored watching colored blocks go pling and start looking for something with more depth. (And I must admit that I do enjoy a little colored-block plinging myself on occasion.) They will then begin to look for new fare, greater depth, and more challenge, and some of them will end up joining us here in the world of quick time events, experience points, and space marines.

Yes, the Wii has a lot of crappy shovelware titles. This is inevitable, because Wii owners haven't discovered the magic of gaming sites, magazines, reviews, and forums where you can find out if a game sucks before you buy it. Once they notice the vast difference in quality between Mario Kart and The Adventures of Lame-O in Suck World II, they are going to start looking for ways to guide their gaming dollars, and from there they will begin learning about the hobby. They would probably be doing so faster if existing gamer culture didn't regard them with such petulant contempt. The shovelware is an emergent result of having a lot of people who don't know the culture yet. Like hucksters hanging out near Ellis Island and fleecing new immigrants, this is a problem with abrupt growth, not the newcomers themselves. The solution is to get these people on their feet as quickly as possible, not peer at them through your monocle, adjust your top hat, and dismiss them as a bunch of dirty newcomers who have come to despoil your wonderful cosmopolitan paradise with their foreign ways.

Hardcore gamers arise from mainstream gamers. Mainstream gamers start out as newcomers. And newcomers begin as non-gamers who see something that looks like it might be fun and who pick up the controller to find out. The Wii is making people take that all-important first step, and for this it should have our gratitude, not our scorn.

Also, there needs to be a moratorium on using the word "Wii" in awful article title puns.

Shamus Young is the author of Twenty Sided, the vandal behind Stolen Pixels, and plays far more on the PS3 and Xbox 360 than on the Wii.

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