7.19.2008

Wii Music Drives The 'Hardcore' Crazy

I believe I'm witnessing one of the most amusing temper-tantrums to ever play itself out on the Internet.

Wii Music, since its re-unveiling at E3 on Tuesday, has sent many video game fans into a tizzy. They seem to decry its very "simple" form of play, which is for some reason very offensive to their sensibilities. They demand and hope that it fails at retail because it is not even a game, by their definition, and therefore it apparently is a product not fit for retail. Why they don't merely politely express their disinterest and disappointment, elect not to purchase it, and continue on their lives, I'm not sure. For some reason, though, they feel they need to turn up the drama level and moan and groan about how Nintendo doesn't love them, how Nintendo's purported "casual" audience is going to turn on Nintendo, how Nintendo is going to regret ignoring the 'hardcore,' etc.

Essentially, it makes the mind liquidate.

Oh, and they're also infuriated over Shigeru Miyamoto's off-hand comment about Wii Music being better than a video game because it is a toy. Read the comments there. Seriously. I read up to 265 yesterday, but as of this writing there are now exactly 300 comments.

Reading the overly dramatic commentary on this situation is quite aggravating, and yet it is also quite humorous. It shows that the shift is occurring, and that the battered 'hardcore' are flipping out over a game that exists with the goal of allowing users to play music with their Mii's. And like Wii Sports and Wii Fit before it, Wii Music is being dumped on. Whoop-de-doo. The negative reaction that Wii Music is stirring up amongst the 'hardcore' is nothing new, but this mass hysteria the product is currently generating merely shows, to me, that it is headed in the right direction. Wii Music cannot stir up a profound change without rubbing some people the wrong way, and if these are the people it will rub, then so be it.

I can understand the 'hardcore' not liking the game, but why they feel the need to whine and moan like two year olds and use Wii Music as 'evidence' that Nintendo isn't creating games for the core audience is beyond me. I can't remember the last time I've seen such a complete and utter lack of logical thinking.

As for Miyamoto's words, I believe he absolutely has a point. The linear definition of video game provides for a potentially limited experience depending on any individual game's structure. For example, Super Mario Bros.' levels and game structure doesn't change every time it's played. The player primarily uses the game's tools in order to complete the game from beginning to end, and after that, he/she may play it again, or he/she may not.

But if Wii Music can create an environment where the player uses the game's tools in order to create games for him/herself, to create his/her own fun, to entertain him/herself, then that is incredibly powerful.

Of course, even Super Mario Bros.' mechanics allows players to create their own fun, and Super Mario Bros. mechanics also provide for replayability in that the game is easy to pick up, its convenient, and it simply strikes an excellent balance between difficulty, challenge, simplicity, playability, fun, and entertainment.

But I believe something like Wii Music allows for many more opportunities for this creation of fun to happen within its open-ended structure. I also feel that it is essential to explore the concept of play, and not just in the context of a traditional video game, but instead as a form of human behavior. By then taking that information and applying it to video game products that are designed around both human behavior and jobs that consumers must get done, I think we can create many new, rich, successful experiences for people.

But that's just my two cents.

Regardless, it is quite clear that Miyamoto's comments were a semi-snooty response to a semi-snooty question, but the positive discussion they can generate is incredibly useful.

As you can probably tell, I'm personally incredibly excited about Wii Music. I'm not sure if that results in me being biased in this situation, but I wish the 'hardcore' of today realized that the games that a good chunk of them grew up on, such as Super Mario Bros., were the 'casual' games of yester-year. Games like Wii Music, ultimately, are experimental, and they will push the boundries, definitions, and uses of the video game to new places, and these places can only bring new and healthy industry growth.

I don't see what's wrong with that.

UPDATE: Joystiq hands-on and more angry comments here.