Friday, February 13, 2009

Wii-Fit != Game

NPD charts are unavoidable. They're released monthly, and when it does, each and every news outlet out there, be it a magazine, a news website, or even a blog, seems to write it up as if it's an obligation. So, failing to avoid the unavoidable, I took a look at this month's chart and found it very un-surprising; Wii-whatever is on the top! Just like last month, and few dozen months before it.

Then, I thought:

Maybe, just maybe, the reason Nintendo's flagship titles* sell like crazy is because their games are not really "games" at all.
*I mean Wii-Fit, Wii-Play, Wii-Music and stuff like that, not their traditional major titles like Zelda.

This theory comes from my belief that gamers who're in gaming for epic experiences are still a minority in this stinking world, that even with stellar technological and artistic achievements numerous titles contributed, the term "video game" is still mentioned as a degrading, childish play-thing ..thing. So, whatever that will go beyond the usual nerdy audience and reach out to the "normal," busy people with real lives will inevitably float to the top of the charts. And this is where Nintendo seems to excel.

Of course, I don't have a Wii and only had some playtime with it prior to the release of the balance board. So, you can and probably should take whatever I say here with a grain of salt.

But just look at that damn thing. It's a board you stand on and some simple instructions on the screen for exercising. Yes, excercising! It's not really something where a "player" "plays" it to enjoy the experience (by this I mean characters, stories, and interaction between players and characters). And besides this instructional program, the only thing that can be considered "game" are some extras that can barely be called games.

Let's think about the majority of people who buys Wii and Wii-Fit. Without any scientific data to back my theory, I say they are some average Joe who enjoys drinking beer, going out to movies, watch television, and only when friends come over does he fire this Wii up for maybe an hour of laughs and happy happy time. Is this what I consider a gamer? They are as much a gamer as bleak a game Wii-Fit is, if you ask me.

This is why I think NPD should not include Wii-Fit, Wii-Play, or any other so-called "casual" games in the same chart as games that traditional gamers, who enjoy games for game's sake, plays.

And when we do that, and start counting casual games seprately from traditional games, I bet there isn't as much expansion in the market as there is heralded to be.

Now, please sit back and enjoy this promotional video of the popular *tiny pause for dramatic effect* Wii-Fit:

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