Wednesday, May 10, 2006

epiphany: nintendo and the WOPR rule

In the aftermath of E3, I've discovered that I don't want more pixels, I don't want Blu-Ray, and I don't even want XBox Live or HD resolution.

I just want to get my hands on the Wii Nunchaku and swing it around for a while with my kids.

Instead of allowing Sony and Microsoft to define what it meant to compete in the "next generation platform war", Nintendo sought a different path. In a move worthy of an aikido master, they seemed to have turned the strengths of their competitors against themselves.

From everything I can tell after watching the E3 presentations, Nintendo's graphics certainly weren't the fanciest of the three claimants to the throne - but everyone on stage and in the audience at the Nintendo presentation seemed to be having more fun than the others. Watching a guy run around a stage playing tennis by waving his remote at a screen was a hoot. Fifteen seconds of that sold me, moreso than an hour of droning stats on mips and pixel counts.

Who cares if their systems are more powerful, I can hear them say. That's not the goal of a video game. The goal is to have fun, and we will make it possible for more people to have more fun with our machine than the other guys, in more innovative ways, at a better price-point.

It's obvious to me that Nintendo learned the WOPR rule - "The only way to win is not to play."

As the Fish is known to say, you can't engineer fun. But you can lay the foundations for it, and Nintendo seems to have done just that. They've changed the rules to serve their strengths.

It's going to be a most excellent holiday season.


Ron said...

Interestingly, that "you can't engineer fun" remark was, in a professional context, an insult of sorts. A long time ago, when I was part of a team that was going to make a computer game for a pretty famous game company, we recieved a proposed contract from them that was the most insanely punitive contract I've ever seen. Everything in it was meant to take all our work and give us nothing. It had a stop date in it that, if we missed, gave them ALL the source code and they didn't have to pay us 1 cent!!!

I said, "There's no way I'm even looking at this with a spec that would choke a horse." And their Team Leader said, "You can't spec fun."

Needless to deal.

Ron said...

Uf-da! I meant to say:

"There's no way I'm even looking at this without a spec that would choke a horse."