One of the things I can always count on when returning to NJ is that cousins, siblings, friends, and family will all try to "pick my brain" about the current state of videogames. And I don't mind at all, as it beats trying to feign interest in whatever they might want to talk about instead.
That's a joke, I swear.
Anyway, this year the conversations I had throughout my week back east basically fell into three categories 1) Why don't we ever see you online playing Madden?, 2) Do you think Sony is going to end up like Sega?, and 3) What's coming out in 2007 that doesn't suck?
Answers: 1) I love football, but hate playing Madden. 2) No. 3) Hopefully Bioshock and Forza Motorsport 2.
But by far the most interesting gaming-related conversation I had over the week was with my three younger sisters (ages 10, 13, and 15) about the Nintendo Wii. Now, let me get this out of the way first. If you've read my blog much at all you know that I am not a fan of the Wii. It's true that my time with it was limited to just 2 hours or so at E3 in May, but I am not sold at all on the premise of the system, the games available for said system, or the lack of technical features. But I'm okay with that because I can accept that the Wii is not for me. Everyone says it's great fun for kids and for aunts, and grandmothers. None of which am I.
I've secretly always doubted that kids really wanted to play the Wii. Kids today are far more jaded and sophisticated than most adults think. Adults want to believe that kids frolic and laugh and enjoy making fools of themselves. Some kids do. No doubt. But they will hit an age (one that is much younger than many expect) when they see through gimmicks like the Wii.
Apparently that age is somewhere between 10 and 15. At least in my family.
The oldest of the trio is 15 and asked me if I had a PS3. I told her no and that I was very happy with my X360. I asked her if she and her sisters asked for a Wii for Christmas, expecting the answer to be yes. Boy was I in for a surprise. She told me that her friends had it and she played it a few times but really hated it. She said she gets really bored with it after a few minutes.
"None of the games are really games."
I told her I agreed and that my biggest concern with it is that Nintendo has a ten-year long track record of not being able to release more than one really good game every year or two. She then responded with this gem, at which time I realized that while we may have different mothers, she is indeed my sister.
"I just don't know why they had to make a whole system out of the motion controller. Why couldn't they just make a couple of games like that, but still have a real controller for real games? It's like, the dance pad works great for some games but nobody is making a whole console out of using the dance pad. That would be stupid. Like the Wii."
I repeat, that was said completely unbaited by a 15-year old girl. And it's one of the more thoughtful commentaries on the Wii that I've heard yet.
Her 13 year old sister nodded in agreement and added that playing the new Zelda game on the Wii made her "so mad" because the controls "were stupid".
The youngest of the three, age 10, was holding judgement until she had played it -- none of her friends have it. She didn't really want to talk about the Wii though. She was far more interested in showing me how she can beat all the songs on one of the Dance Dance Revolution games on the hardest difficulty on the Xbox. Watching her dance was very impressive. And she did in fact clear even the hardest songs on the hardest modes in the game. And she's 10.